Victoria Square

12 May 2010 questionsarchive

 I seek leave to make an explanation before asking the Minister for the City of Adelaide a question about Victoria Square and Victoria Park.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: In April, as the newly appointed Minister for the City of Adelaide, the minister announced her desire to see a revamp of Victoria Square. Subsequently, the Adelaide City Council released a $100 million master plan, with significant changes to the square, to which it has committed $24 million of its own funds, while the state government is providing $2 million for a 'design' study.

Last year, the Adelaide City Council released a master plan for Victoria Park, at a total cost of $16 million, to which it committed $4 million of its own funds. It applied unsuccessfully to the federal government's Community Infrastructure Fund. So, large parts of that plan have now been shelved. My questions are:

1. Does the minister fully support the master plan for Victoria Square?

2. What report, expert advice or external material does the minister rely on to set Victoria Square as the number one priority for the city?

3. Does the state government have any plans to provide significant funds for the master plan and, if not, what source of funding does the minister anticipate will help to finish it off?

4. Does the government have any plans to assist the city council with Victoria Park?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister for the City of Adelaide) (14:20): I thank the honourable member for her questions and for her interest in this most important project. This is a project that stimulates the imagination of all South Australians because Victoria Square is the centre of our city and something that is important to all of us.

Along with that great interest in Victoria Square, history has shown that one of the problems of attracting such a great degree of interest is that it also attracts a great degree of differing opinions. And there's the rub: over the years, although there have been a number of plans and proposals put in place, it has been difficult to get a strong general consensus or even strong support for a particular project and, unfortunately, most of them have waned.

However, I am pleased to say that the Adelaide City Council unveiled the draft Victoria Square master plan this month which is obviously aimed at reactivating Victoria Square and creating a really vibrant public space for the city centre. I have been on the public record in the past with criticisms about Victoria Square and its disconnectedness with the rest of the city and the lack of opportunity for people to gather there for events. One of the examples I gave was that it was a great place for a rally or a march to lead off from but was fairly poorly equipped to accommodate many other types of events or activities. Although it has done some successfully, it is limited.

The draft master plan has been developed by a council-appointed multidisciplinary design team working collaboratively with stakeholders to model a major civic space aimed at trying to benefit all South Australians in some way. I understand that construction has been planned for two stages, similar to the ongoing revitalisation of North Terrace. I understand that the first stage, which is planned to begin next year, will convert the northern part of the square into an open space for large events. Stage 2 is expected to commence in 2012, and that is the section with a stormwater management and garden component.

I think that this is an exciting concept put forward for Victoria Square. It builds on the significant investment already committed by this government to reactivate the city as a whole, including investment in the new Royal Adelaide Hospital and so on. The total cost is estimated at around $100 million. At this stage, the Adelaide City Council has budgeted $24 million for the build, with the remaining funding coming from other sources, including federal and state governments, and the possibility of private investors is also to be investigated.

The state government has already committed $2 million for a final engineering and design study to be completed by the end of this year so that construction can begin in 2011. The Adelaide City Council is currently undertaking a consultation process, seeking views from the public, which I understand closes on 7 June 2010. Apparently, the council has set up a pretty snappy website where one can do a bit of a flyover and make comments online, but people can also put forward submissions in other more conventional ways. I certainly encourage all South Australians to have their say about Victoria Square. I think it is most important that we get a wide cross-section of views about this.

The consultation process is being run by the Adelaide council, and it is now time for all South Australians to give their opinion on that draft master plan. I think that is a very positive thing to occur. Obviously, the work around Victoria Square overlaps with our 30-year plan agenda—also our integrated design strategy plan that we will be setting up, and our commissioner—and would be considered as part of that as well. As I said, I encourage all South Australians to take part in that consultation process. That is the stage that it is now up to. I look forward to seeing what the Adelaide City Council comes back with after that consultation process has been completed.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (14:26): I have a supplementary question arising from the answer. Given the minister's answer, can she advise how much the state government is providing and what sources of federal funding may be involved; and will she say whether this is a fully funded project or whether still outstanding funds are to be allocated?

The Hon. G.E. GAGO (Minister for State/Local Government Relations, Minister for the Status of Women, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Government Enterprises, Minister for the City of Adelaide) (14:26): We are only at the master planning stage; consultation has not been completed. The designs and the plan have not been completed and signed off on, so they would not be fully costed yet. I do not think the honourable member has any understanding. I have already put on the record that the estimated cost so far is $100 million. The Adelaide City Council has put aside $24 million, the state government has committed $2 million for the final engineering design, and federal funding and other private investments will be investigated.

This is a project that is being both coordinated and controlled by the Adelaide City Council. It is their project; it is their master plan. They are responsible for the consultation. After that consultation they will then bring back the results of that with, no doubt, a proposal for the state government to consider further, and I relish the opportunity to consider that further proposal.