"I’m contacting you as one of a concerned group of people calling for the state government, council and New Port Quays developers to re-think the waterfront development of the Port of Adelaide. The global financial crisis and recent EPA assessments have effectively stalled development for the time being and it’s in this hiatus that I’m hoping you might find the time to become more informed and to support the call for a development re-think.
Because the New Port Quays development area is relatively spread out and earmarked to happen in stages over time, the iconic buildings of The Adelaide Milling Co and Harts Mill are seen as a current flash point. Here’s the link to the Harts Mill Project website www.hartsmillproject.org. On it you’ll find lots of information including some pictures showing what could happen if the development proceeds according to the New Port Quays plan. In the galleries you will also see aspirational pictures of similar spaces developed with greater sympathy for urban design and public places.
If you’ve got 5 mins, let me tell you why I care...
Harts Mill and The Adelaide Milling Company buildings stand on ancient shell middens where for centuries people have come to share stories and food. That’s a story I can’t ignore and which I know so little about but which deserves so much more respect than an apartment block! The story I am more familiar with is less significant and is the settler story.
The new colony of South Australia was wholly dependent on Port Adelaide from 1831. Until the 1940s, almost everybody and everything arrived or left South Australia via the Port. Through Port Adelaide, country towns were connected, mining and primary production was enabled, power was supplied, boats were built and repaired, trains were first run and, by 1900, over a thousand ships were visiting the harbour each year and Adelaide’s port was the 3rd largest in Australia. This is a history unique in our state and, luckily for us, many of the architectural artefacts of that history remain – albeit in some disrepair.
The Port’s history, while visible in those buildings, has significant social markers, too. It nurtured the union movement - workers, women’s and Aboriginal rights. (Ironic, isn’t it ,that it’s a Labour government co-authoring the current redevelopment plans). It is the home of the 1st Meals on Wheels in Australia; the 1st female elected to a local council (Anna Rennie in 1950); is the 1st declared state heritage area; and, for the boaties, the first Regatta was held (1838) and the 1st sailing club established. In a connection to Hart’s Mill, Captn John Hart was the 1st President of the Port Magpies Football Club (formed in 1870) and the first match was played on Captn Hart’s land at Glanville.
Whether you are a Port supporter or not, and I don’t just mean football, Port Adelaide has deep significance in the history of Aboriginal people and South Australia as a settled free state. It would be a shame to lose all the artefacts of our story. I reckon, it takes a healthy curiosity to see more than the events of our own comparatively short individual lifetime or immediate family but surely the history our grandchildren will see will be shaped by the actions we take, or don’t take, now.
Hey, if history isn’t your thing maybe economics will have more resonance...
Most of the Port’s waterfront land is owned on your behalf by our state government and much of it has been contaminated due to the Port’s important industrial past. It is now being remediated using your taxes and will then be ‘sold’ to the Consortium... for a song. The redevelopment of our asset is being underwritten by our tax payer dollars and all the profits will go to the New Port Quays development consortium Now there is transaction value to the State in the form of land tax but little multiplier value once the apartments are sold. It makes me wonder how Sydney’s economy would have benefitted if Bennelong Point was fitted out only with apartments (private space) rather than a very costly Opera House (public space)? The same could be asked of Federation Square in Melbourne. Sure the developers would have got great returns on the once only sale of each apartment but they wouldn’t regularly draw thousands of people to the space, would they? Public spaces not only provide public amenity but they support local businesses, generate tourism and build a vibrant, cohesive communities. If you’re a little interested in this idea check out Public Waterfront spaces http://www.pps.org/waterfronts/
Thanks for indulging our friendship and for reading this far. I promise not to bother you again on this matter but I do hope you opt to be involved in the future by posting a comment on www.hartsmillproject.org and bookmarking the page so that you can keep informed. We’re keen to hear your thoughts, ideas and suggestions. And, please, pass this email on to others you think would be interested.
I wish you a very happy Christmas, a safe New Year and all the best for 2011!
MA Soc. Ec. (OD)