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'Overbearing' 13-storey housing block recommended for Glenelg foreshore

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A state government development manager has recommended SA’s key planning body approve a 13-storey apartment block development on the Glenelg foreshore – despite the Government Architect opposing the plan due to its “overbearing mass”.

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Adelaide developers Chasecrown in February lodged an application to transform the Seawall Apartments site on the Glenelg South Esplanade with a $165 million, 93-unit residential development.

But the proposal has attracted council and community opposition due to the proposal’s height and destruction of local heritage.

The project, due to be assessed by the SCAP in a closed meeting on Wednesday, will require the demolition of seven buildings, including a 139-year-old local heritage-listed former seafront mansion.

The 13-storey proposal is also located in a five-storey zone, although the council’s development plan allows for additional height if the development is “immediately adjacent” to the 12-storey precinct located above, provided the proposed building achieves a “transition in scale” down to five-storeys.

The SCAP on Friday released a 649-page State Government report into the proposal compiled by Development Assessment Manager Jason Cattonar from the Attorney General’s Department.

Cattonar recommended the SCAP grant development plan consent for the project at 21-25 South Esplanade, describing it as “consistent with the uses of land” prescribed by the development zone and “not seriously at variance” with the council’s development plan.

“The design of the proposed development is considered to be of a suitably high architectural standard that responds to the premier location of the subject site,” Cattonar wrote.

“The development incorporates contemporary architecture that responds to Precinct 4’s expressed desire for articulated building facades that incorporate balconies that take advantage of coastal views.

“The manner in which the proposed development transitions in height is considered to suitably minimise impacts on adjoining land within Precinct 4 and adjoining residential zones.”

Cattonar acknowledged opposition to the proposal expressed by the Holdfast Bay City Council, the State Government Architect, 24 adjoining landowners who will appear before the SCAP on Wednesday, and a petition signed by 3000 people.

In her submission to the SCAP, State Government Architect Kirsteen Mackay said she was unable to support the proposal in its current form due to concerns about “massing and built form”.

“The proposal is yet to fulfil the responsibility to deliver a high benchmark for good design, particularly in terms of public realm contribution,” Mackay wrote.

“In my opinion, the proposed singular built form composition presents an intensity of development and as an overbearing mass in its current form, which is exacerbated by the extensive site width.

“I am of the view that a more appropriate built form composition for this large site would be achieved through establishing a general building height for the majority of the site that is more consistent with the Development Plan intent, informed by the pattern and rhythm of the South Esplanade streetscape that comprises buildings of various scales on sites with narrower frontages.”

The Council’s Development Plan states that residential developments in Precinct 4 should be “predominately” up to five storeys in height, but Mackay states that “two-thirds” of Chasecrown’s proposal is 13-storeys tall.

She also said the proposal required a “fundamental review” of car parking numbers and building height before it is considered by the SCAP.

Holdfast Bay Council Mayor Amanda Wilson said she was “confounded” the project could be recommended for approval despite Mackay’s opposition.

“We’re not averse to the site being developed for accommodation, but as long as it’s done in accordance with the rules,” Wilson told ABC Radio on Monday.

“We don’t want to have a big 13-storey building taking up that entire land mass – it’s one of the biggest areas of land in Glenelg

“We’re just confounded really that the State Government architect can say ‘no’ but the recommendation be ‘yes’.”

Chasecrown says the proposal will create around 400 jobs and “a visually rich interface with the South Esplanade promenade and the beach” and “[contribute] to Adelaide’s credentials as one of the most liveable cities in the world”.

“It is the last large-scale opportunity to create meaningful numbers of residential accommodation in the precinct,” Chasecrown states in their SCAP submission.

“The major short and long-term economic benefits to the immediate business precinct and activity levels cannot be overstated.”

The project was not opposed by the Airports Authority or the Commissioner for Highways.

A spokesperson for Chasecrown told InDaily today it “respects the work of all relevant parties involved in preparing for SCAP’s assessment”.

“We continue to recognise the SCAP process and therefore don’t believe it’s appropriate for us to comment any further ahead of Wednesday’s SCAP meeting,” the spokesperson said.

Local Member for Morphett Stephen Patterson was not available for comment this morning.

Destruction of heritage building ‘consistent’ with development control

The heritage listed former seafront mansion at 22-23 South Esplanade, Glenelg (Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily)

Cattonar said the proposed destruction of the heritage-listed building at 22-23 South Esplanade is “consistent” with the principles of development control relevant to heritage conservation.

“The proposed demolition of the Local Heritage Place (LHP), ‘Seawall Apartments’, is deemed to be consistent with the intent of the relevant Objectives and Principles of Development Control that speak directly to the conservation of LHPs and the circumstances in which demolition is appropriate,” he wrote.

Three heritage consultants made submissions to the SCAP, with a 2-1 majority not opposed to demolishing the locally heritage-listed building.

As InDaily reported in April, Holdfast Bay Council heritage adviser Andrew Stevens agreed with the assessment by developer-commissioned heritage architect Bruce Harry and Associates that the building no longer warranted local heritage listing.

Heritage consultant Sandy Wilkinson, commissioned by adjoining landowner Andrew Zweck, was the only heritage adviser to oppose the apartment’s destruction.

Cattonar said he took the advice of the council and developer-commissioned architect to conclude there is “negligible original external form and detailing [on the heritage building] that is worthy of being conserved”.

“Having considered the collective opinions of the heritage architects, I am inclined to apply more weight to the opinions of Mr Harry and Mr Stevens given the degree of agreeableness in their respective opinions,” Cattonar wrote.

“The reports prepared by Mr Harry and Mr Stevens offer a credible, historical account of the dwellings together with an ordered and comprehensive reasoning as to why the dwellings do not exhibit the qualities ascribed to them.

“Overall, it is considered that the Building has been so significantly altered that the overall heritage value is low and it would unlikely meet the threshold for listing as a LHP if applied for today.”

Wilkinson did not respond to inquires from InDaily before deadline.

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