I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Urban Development and Planning a question on the subject of progress on the Le Cornu site.
The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: Honourable members would be aware that the old Le Cornu showroom was demolished some 22 years ago. Since that time, five separate development approvals were granted by the Adelaide City Council between 1989 and 1997. The government granted major development status in 2007 and final approval in 2008. The proponent was quoted as stating that, because the development was approved for six storeys instead of nine, it was no longer viewed as a profit-making venture in the short term.
The remainder of the site has very recently been cleared and, as we have been made aware via a property dinner speech, the Treasurer has outlined his view that the attitude and mindset of South Australians are the greatest obstacles to planning and development. My questions are:
1. Is the minister confident that, following the demolition process, site construction will in fact commence?
2. Can the minister name a time frame for when the sods will be turned, foundations laid, etc?
3. Was a construction time a criterion for its major development approval?
4. Given that this project has major development status, courtesy of his government, what is the reason for the delay since its approval? Does the minister blame the conservative nature of South Australians for it, as may be the Treasurer's view?
The Hon. P. HOLLOWAY (Minister for Mineral Resources Development, Minister for Urban Development and Planning, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister Assisting the Premier in Public Sector Management) (14:34): The Le Cornu site was approved back in 2008. Of course, shortly thereafter we had the global financial crisis, which has obviously made it difficult for the proponents of projects to raise finance, and that would have unquestionably affected the Le Cornu project as much as many other. But, as we emerge from that situation, it is certainly my hope that that development will proceed fairly soon.
When you have a major project approval, there are a number of conditions with it and, as one progresses, at various points along the way you will need to get permission to do that. The proponents of the Le Cornu site sought permission and were granted for the demolition of the remaining buildings sometime last year. That work, as I understand it, has now proceeded and those buildings are gone, so one would hope that the work will proceed, but of course it is entirely up to the proponents. I am not answerable for the corporation developing it, but what I can say is that major projects are subject to time frames.
As I said, the most recent request from the proponent came on 7 January this year. This was the staging of works that included the demolition, and that is substantial. Under the initial approval, I am advised that substantial work on the site must be commenced by 18 September 2010. Of course, in relation to these projects we will often have applications for extensions and, if the company does request that, it will be considered on its merits and on what evidence can be provided; invariably, with these sorts of projects the approval is for a particular time period. Often with large projects and difficult projects, there may be very good reasons why the project is delayed, but certainly from my point of view I would expect that, at the appropriate time for the decision to be made, we would have some evidence that the project does intend to proceed.