I recently posted a policy proposal to commence development of a new Plan for the City of Adelaide. At a time of capital constraint for our city and state, it is time to review our City Plan for for the first time in nearly 25 years – a fact that would make Colonel William Light turn over in his grave…!
Alongside this city-wide City of Adelaide Plan Review, we should engage with community and stakeholders to develop a Central West Precinct Master Plan. 17 years ago, as an Elected Member of the City Council, I called for this – to ensure that we optimise both the development potential plus achieve the enhancement of public amenity in the large zone from Victoria Square/Tarntanyangga in the east and westwards, bounded by Franklin St to the north and Wright Street to the south – to West Terrace. Concepts were developed – and these gather dust in the ‘archive of lost dreams’. Ah the joys of contesting the Lord Mayoralty – the winner junks the best work of their competitor. Such is the ‘bonfire of the vanities’…
At that time (2000-03) I was Chair of the Adelaide Central Market Management Committee. We faced declining patronage – its biggest threat to survival. That decline has continued – from c80,000 at its peak to c40,000 per week. Alongside immediate measures to grow demand from inner-metro residents, the best way to ensure the long-term sustainability of our beloved and precious Market – is to substantially grow the permanent residential population on its own doorstep.
The Central Market is not an island unto thee – it is the belly of our city – at the cultural heart of a larger precinct – a place where we can grow both population AND public amenity. The newly rebuilt Her Majesty’s Theatre is a welcome enhancement to the Central West. And so too the forthcoming $400m Victoria Square Arcade redevelopment. Yet these alone will not ensure the future prosperity of our Central Market. We need an integrated Central West Master Plan that will identify the desired mix of future uses and demand drivers – and the sites of greatest development potential. We must end the current ad-hoc and piecemeal approach to building our city.
How might the Central West best contribute to future city prosperity? Just think about the former Franklin Street bus depot site that has languished now for decades. A new arts and entertainment complex? A Concert Hall for our beloved Adelaide Symphony Orchestra? A new City Aquatic Centre (with the return of alienated Park Land to open landscape)? And how about some future award-winning designs for apartment complexes that will integrate all-age friendly communities? The former Balfours site is now home to thousands of new city residents – students, retirees and city workers. For all of these people, the Adelaide Central Market is not just an expression of culture – it is their most convenient place to shop. Convenience and culture are the key to the future viability of our Central Market.
It is time to plan for the future of the greater Central West Precinct.