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Your views: on Urrbrae gatehouse demolition, public health leadership and a greener city

Reader contributions

Today, readers comment on a heritage site being targeted for road widening, the politics of pandemic restrictions, and rejuvenating the CBD.

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Commenting on the story: Historic Urrbrae gatehouse to be bulldozed – but study finds ‘relocating it is feasible’

The whole concept of removing or relocating the historic Gatehouse indicates a lack of willingness to consider alternatives. We have not been informed of the cost of the proposed removal of the Gatehouse and trees on the Waite campus and subsequent widening of the road.

We have no reason to think that Mr. Wingard’s Department has seriously considered alternatives such as increasing public transport on the roads in question to decrease the need for private vehicle use. We have not been shown proof that the proposed work at this corner would, in fact, ease congestion further south on Fullarton Road.  

To propose the destruction of a heritage building and significant trees without apparently exploring every possible alternative is simply vandalism. Margaret Neate

Not only does this Government lack the desire to conserve heritage listed places like this one, it also doesn’t seem to grasp the basics of road design and traffic flow.

By widening all directions to three lanes straight ahead, only to have them merge after the intersection uses up significant space – in this case occupied by a heritage listed building – as well as adding to the heat soak in summer and runoff in winter.

It also yields no benefit as while more traffic may get through each change of lights, the same traffic is forced to re-merge, creating a bottleneck that at peak times will still back up to the intersection. 

It’s poor engineering at best, and complete vandalism at worst. – Toby Miller

I cannot believe the government would even contemplate acquiring an historic site for destruction. Heritage legislation was put into place for a reason. That makes a joke of our laws. It makes every historic site vulnerable, not to mention the trees. I’m disappointed in this government. – Angela Harris

$100 million for road upgrade. Tunnels for South road. Lot Fourteen space programme. Can’t move one single-story building. Yeah right. – David Sinclair

Of course the Urrbrae Gatehouse can be moved. Much larger buildings in Adelaide have been relocated or repositioned. It is only ever about money and the lack of will by those in positions of power to preserve our history.

We should be so proud of our history that nothing should stand in the way of ensuring we preserve it. Look at the lessons memories of the past preserved and celebrated in the great cities of Europe – where would they  be without having preserved and celebrated history.

The legacy of Peter Waite deserves to be respected and celebrated. My grandmother always used to say “boy, there is always another way!” Let’s find it. – George van Holst Pellekan

What a lot of rubbish. There are two (well at least two) pubs in Manchester in England that date back to the 1500s that have been moved three, yes three times rather than demolish them.

The USA purchased a bridge in London and an old pub and moved them lock stock and barrel to America and there are lots more similar stories. Lets face it, either the Government is money hungry – surely not! – or they are saying our workers don’t have the skills to move the building, and I don’t believe that.

Just because you lot (the Government) will all be dead in some years to come, your children and our children and their children would like to see something more than 40 years old. – Mike Ogden

Why not dismantle it and reassemble/ rebuild it on modern foundations well inside the grounds? If Egypt can dismantle and relocate a massive 3000 year old ancient monument for the Aswan dam, surely we can do the same for a small heritage building which is part of our state’s history!

We all need to fight for this decision to be squashed. – Brian Davey

The creation of a heritage tourism precinct is underway, incorporating Carrick Hill, Urrbrae House, the Waite Arboretum, Mitcham Historic Village, Brownhill Creek Recreation Park and Ellison’s Gully.

Both State and Federal governments have supported this initiative to boost tourism and jobs. It makes no sense to demolish the Gatehouse, which is a State Heritage Listed asset within the precinct.

Especially when the Gatehouse has just been extensively restored and can be relocated 30 metres south.

The community will strongly oppose the demolition and Minister Wingard needs to change the decision from a political embarrassment to a political win as quickly as possible. – Ron Bellchambers

I trust that all those concerned about the Urrbrae Gatehouse understand that if it and a number of trees at the edge of the Arboretum are not removed, then families in about 18 homes along the north side of Cross Road will lose their homes, as the Department will then want to widen Cross Road on the north side rather than the south side.

Think about if it were you or your family were to lose their home, which would receive priority for retention – the Gatehouse and trees, or the many homes. Tom Wilson

I find it incredible the current government can justify and believes that it has the right to order the demolition of the Waite Gatehouse, along with the significant trees that would need to be removed – for just more bitumen. Shameful.

Yes, the intersection needs an upgrade but can this not be undertaken without the destruction of heritage land, buildings and trees? These belong to all South Australians, not just those in power at the moment. Mitcham Council area and the foothills cannot afford to lose any more valuable green canopy, not to mention the botanical importance of the trees as well as the wildlife habitats they provide. 

Our ancestors would surely be turning in their graves at this announcement. I implore everyone who cares about this significant historical site to stand up and fight against this injustice. – Sarah Brooke

Time we stopped spending millions of dollars creating wider roads and encouraging vehicle usage. Develop public transport. Destroying our heritage to save a few people a few minutes is ridiculous. Just imagine if a private developer tried to do this!

The Government needs to come clean – how much will relocation cost? What percentage of the project is that? What is the business case for the work? – Jeremy Browne

I strongly oppose the destruction of the Urrbrae gatehouse, which is a very well known historical asset of SA, viewed by the thousands and thousands of people passing it every day.

If needed, it must be relocated and not destroyed. That would be a case of wanton, state-sanctioned vandalism. – Joh Hartog

I find it incredible the current government can justify and believes that it has the right to order the demolition of the Waite Gatehouse, along with the significant trees that would need to be removed – for just more bitumen. Shameful.

 Yes, the intersection needs an upgrade, but can this not be undertaken without the destruction of heritage land, buildings and trees? These belong to all South Australians, not just those in power at the moment.

Mitcham Council area and the foothills cannot afford to lose any more valuable green canopy, not to mention the botanical importance of the trees as well as the wildlife habitats they provide. Our ancestors would surely be turning in their graves at this announcement.

I implore everyone who cares about this significant historical site to stand up and fight against this injustice. – Sarah Brooke

Once again we see the prevailing attitude of government trashing heritage and destroying magnificent  historic trees. It is irresponsible and hypocritical when the minister responsible claims his department look after green canopy. – Iris Iwanicki

Reminiscent of the sawtooth shed on the Port River at Semaphore. It appears that short-sighted cost considerations govern decisions which last for generations and ignore intangible benefits to, and wishes of, the community.

This type of travesty has been going on for far too long. – Eric Sando

It is beyond belief that State Government can at the very same time claim to be ‘saving our heritage’ and restoring our ‘green canopy’ while approving demolition of a State listed building and an entire road frontage of mature eucalypts in the Waite Arboretum.

Disgust and disbelief were my first reactions, as one who enjoyed working at the Waite between 1974 and 1986 when the Waite Agricultural Research Institute was indeed the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Adelaide University and the centre of all agricultural research activities in the State by State Government decision.

Those working in the main Admin. Building – which was constructed some 40 years after Peter Waite’s Gatekeeper’s Lodge – were well aware of then Waite Director Professor Jim P. Quirk’s regular forays into North Terrace campus with Peter Waite’s Will in hand, to remind the Vice Chancellor’s Office that Waite’s bequest was conditional on maintenance of the buildings and grounds for the future benefit of agriculture and training of farmers and agricultural scientists in South Australia. 

If this building and part of the Arboretum can be lost for the sake of ‘expedience and convenience’ what hope is there for what remains of the once world renowned W.A.R.I., Peter Waite’s “Urrbrae House”, outbuildings, grounds and The Waite Arboretum?  When is the last time anyone looked at the conditions pertaining to Peter Waite’s Will? – Carol Bailey

It is disgraceful that the state government has arbitrarily decided to demolish such a wonderful piece of SA history. I object vehemently, as I’m sure many others do. – Margot Ayres

Commenting on the story: Stevens overrules Spurrier to lift customer caps on pubs, hospitality venues

The difference of opinion between Prof. Spurrier and Commissioner Stevens is absolutely understandable, and both are to be respected.

In regard to Prof Spurrier’s apology about the pizza shop and the purported lie her apology is a high point of professional integrity. It enhances the trust we can have in professional recommendations when such a person can recognize the emergence of additional information and admit that it changes the situation. Full support! – Robert Bogner

The first line in the article should read ‘SA State Emergency Co-Ordinator Grant Stevens…’ followed by ‘Stevens, who is also the SA Police Commissioner’.

The over-rule of the chief public health officer is in his legislated role as state coordinator during an emergency, and not as SA Police Commissioner. By reversing this as you have, you are sensationalising a news story rather than reporting on it, trying to pit police against health professionals and stimulating public outcry. I expect more journalistic integrity when reporting on such an important issue to a public on edge. – Dariusz Krol

Commenting on the opinion piece: Green space and free thinking, not free parking, will rejuvenate post-pandemic CBDs

I understand the idea of trying to create green spaces within the city limits, and narrow down the streets to allow more pushbike riders to stop and buy a cup of coffee.

So what do you do with the family of four who want to go shopping? Park the car at the show grounds and catch a taxi? Oops sorry, no cars. Ok I will walk across the southern park lands, which nine times out of 10 looks more like a waste land than the beautiful park land it should.

For business to survive you need easy access and people. Sure, let the café precinct onto the road and at no extra cost to the business, and restrict access to the laneways and green them up and maintain them as they are all ready trying to do, but the city won’t survive if you only allow the minority. It has to be readily available to the majority, with easy and cost-effective car and public transport access. – David Broad

It’s fascinating to watch the attempts to go back to the past, even if that is evidently impossible. After all, this pandemic is just a warmup. There will be more, the chances are increasing as we degrade the environment.

I’d love to live in Adelaide’s CBD. But I want it to be a place that’s dominated by green, not drive through roads for cars, and gracious buildings not car parks. We could so easily still do that here, we are behind in turning it into a Melbourne-like skyscraper city. 

Why not stop that plan? Start renovating the empty business buildings and the empty old buildings to be reasonably priced, quality residential buildings. Make lots of the resultant apartments 100sqm or more. Subsidise the price of those at government level instead of spending billions on roads that destroy the essential nature of Adelaide. Build new buildings no higher than typical European dimensions: five stories. 

Make the reason Adelaide is liveable not whether you can drive everywhere quickly but that one can have a great life without driving at all. Get a critical mass of people living in the CBD and the Adelaide Council wouldn’t have to spend its meetings trying to figure out how to get more people to drive into town. Cathy Chua

I totally agree. What I love about cities is the civic spaces (small and large) where people can linger and socialise. I do not love the intrusion of motor vehicles, especially waiting for traffic lights to turn so I can carry on about my business. 

Please, please, ACC, let’s take advantage of this change in traffic levels to encourage people into the CBD for socialising and commerce, not to encourage cars in. 

Create more parklets for outdoor dining so businesses can cope with restrictions on numbers indoors.  

Create more Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in which people can move around easily, are encouraged to linger and chat, and where all generations and abilities will want to live (I’m very lucky to live in such a place). These low-traffic neighbourhoods promote good mental wellbeing. 

Link these spaces together into a sort of Passegiata where people can stroll, see and be seen – this has always been a draw in the most liveable cities of the world.  

I look forward with optimism to seeing our city centre transform into a healthy, green, sociable, vibrant place to live. – Pam Keirns

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