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Another city heritage site under demolition threat

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The developer behind a proposed 15-storey office tower to replace King William Street’s Southern Cross Arcade has been forced to put its plans on hold while the State Government considers granting an adjoining local heritage-listed art deco building – which would be demolished under the plans – state heritage status.

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Australian developer Charter Hall lodged plans with the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP) in July to bulldoze the Southern Cross Arcade and neighbouring Sands and McDougall building to make way for a 15-storey office tower with ground floor retail space.

The nineteenth century Sands and McDougall building, remodelled in the 1930s, was formerly used as a printing press and its external form and front-facing art deco detailing are local heritage-listed.

In August, the SA Heritage Council decided to provisionally list the building at 64 King William Street as a state heritage place, describing its “highly intact” front façade of coloured cement, copper panels and metal grilles as an “outstanding and early example of art deco architecture in South Australia”.

However, the council is still waiting to confirm the provisional listing, with a public consultation due to wrap up on November 24.

Under the state’s heritage laws, changes to heritage places “should not diminish, destroy or conceal significant elements of the place”, with total demolition not normally permitted.

Developers must also get approval from Environment Minister David Speirs to alter a state heritage place, or non-listed properties in the vicinity of a state heritage place, where the work is considered to “materially affect the context within which the state heritage place is situated”.

Charter Hall, which last year completed construction on a $260 million redevelopment of the GPO building on Victoria Square, has proposed bulldozing the Southern Cross Arcade and Sands and McDougall building and constructing a 15-storey tower including 40,000 square-metres of above-ground office space and 3000 square-metres of retail on the ground floor.

The proposed building, designed by Cox Architecture, will extend from King William Street through to James Place, making it one of the biggest office towers in Adelaide if it is approved.

The original art deco heritage features on the Sands and McDougall building. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

A State Government planning spokesperson confirmed to InDaily in a statement that Charter Hall had placed its development application “on hold” but had not withdrawn its plans.

The spokesperson said the SCAP had not been involved in any discussions with the Heritage Council about the application.

“Questions pertaining to the applicant’s request to put the development application assessment on hold should be directed to the applicant,” the spokesperson said.

However, Charter Hall’s capital and product development head Adrian Harrington declined to respond to questions from InDaily.

Anyone, including Charter Hall, can make a “for or against” submission to the Heritage Council as part of the public consultation to confirm the Sands and McDougall building’s state heritage listing.

“Only after considering any submissions received will the Council determine whether or not the provisional entry should be confirmed,” an Environment Department spokesperson said.

“The proposed development is yet to be considered by the State Commission Assessment Panel (SCAP), the body delegated by the State Planning Commission to perform its development assessment functions.

“The assessment of the application is currently “on hold” at the request of the applicant.”

A render of the proposed 15-storey office tower planned for 60 King William Street. Image: Charter Hall

Charter Hall’s regional development director Simon Stockfeld told The Advertiser last month that the company hoped to start construction on the tower early next year, with completion scheduled for the middle of 2023.

“We’ve been through the pre-lodgement process and it’s been a good consultative process with the State Government and Adelaide City Council, to put forward a fantastic redevelopment for this site,” he was quoted.

However, the Adelaide City Council’s place director Klinton Devenish told InDaily the council would not support the demolition of the Sands and McDougall building – regardless of whether its state heritage listing is confirmed.

He said the council’s senior heritage architect had reviewed Charter Hall’s plans and advised that the proposal “fails to meet the requirements of the development plan that seek the retention and conservation of listed heritage places, and the incorporation of these heritage places into future development”.

He said the Sands and McDougall building’s integrity was considered “high”.

“The proposed development fails to adequately justify demolition of the heritage place, nor does it address any of the fundamental objectives or principles of development control within the development plan which address retention, conservation and reuse of the city’s heritage assets,” he said.

“The demolition of the Sands and McDougall building, whether it be a local heritage place or state heritage place is not supported.”

Southern Cross Arcade, which was built in the 1970s at the site of the former Southern Cross Hotel, houses a food court and retail outlets and is not heritage-listed.

The SCAP last month approved the demolition of the local-heritage listed former Bank of South Australia building on Pirie Street to make way for a new 21-storey, $160 million Hyatt Regency Adelaide hotel. 

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