North Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital earmarked as prime residential site
Paul Starick, Chief Reporter, The Advertiser
June 11, 2020 7:39pm
North Adelaide’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital is being earmarked as a prime residential and commercial site once medical facilities are relocated, as part of a plan being prepared for Adelaide’s Riverbank.
In the first update to the burgeoning precinct’s masterplan in seven years, the new road map aims to capitalise on successes, such as Adelaide Oval’s $535 million upgrade.
It also will aim to guide future development.
Major proposals worth billions of dollars in total already put forward include a concert hall for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and a multipurpose arena for concerts, events, tennis, basketball, soccer and other sports.
State Planning Commission chairman and Riverbank Entertainment Precinct Advisory Committee chairman Michael Lennon said the hospital’s relocation next to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, for which the State Government has already committed $550 million, created a unique opportunity to consider the King William Rd site’s future.
He said the coronavirus pandemic likely would trigger increased demand for residential precincts near arts, cultural and tourism areas.
“The (hospital) site is at the edge of the Parklands,” he said.
“It’s a bridge between the Riverbank and Melbourne St.
“It’s got a unique perspective back to the Parklands and to the Riverbank and the city.
“It’s a spectacular site.”
He said it would help fill an important residential and cultural void in the city.
“Given the trend towards smaller households and the importance of things like tourism, the arts, culture and international education, then creating quality residential precincts in the city will be a priority for everyone,” he said.
Mr Lennon said the updated Riverbank masterplan would identify potential future uses for the hospital buildings and possible structures.
The precinct plan will be funded by the Capital City Committee – a partnership of the State Government and Adelaide City Council.
Renowned Adelaide architect Guy Maron in January revealed concept plans for a concert hall on the banks of the River Torrens at Elder Park, saying he preferred the site because of “the romantic notion of having it on the Riverbank”.
A concert hall was among measures proposed in an Arts and Culture Plan released last September by Premier Steven Marshall.
Adelaide Festival Centre chief executive officer and artistic director Douglas Gautier said the centre had been an longstanding and enthusiastic supporter of the case for a specialist concert hall.
“Adelaide is a UNESCO Creative City of Music and now, more than ever, we want to plan for the future of live music in South Australia,” he said. “The new Festival Plaza will not only be a beautiful and engaging place but also a gateway to the Riverbank Precinct’s entertainment, business and sporting attractions.”
City Council chief executive officer Mark Goldstone said the Riverbank’s role was vital from societal, economic and environmental perspectives.
He said future planning should consider changing demands of residents, visitors and workers, while respecting and enhancing the Parklands.
The Riverbank precinct has been a hotbed of interest for new developments in the past 12 months.
The Sunday Mail in February this year revealed rival plans for multipurpose, roofed stadiums vying for State Government backing to house major concerts, soccer, basketball, tennis and other court sports in the precinct at a cost of up to $1.3 billion.
A previous plan for a $200 million Memorial Drive upgrade was expanded under a business case developed for Adelaide Oval’s Stadium Management Authority, to match a separate proposal for the city railyards.
The tennis centre upgrade plan, which would involve closing War Memorial Drive to through traffic, was being pitched as significantly cheaper than the rival proposal for Adelaide’s railyards, which would cost between $900 million and upwards of $1 billion.
The railyards proposal also involved a multipurpose arena, but south of the River Torrens and west of the Morphett St bridge, with various configurations for concerts, conventions, events, tennis, basketball and soccer – the latter with a retractable grass pitch.
The plan included a major commercial precinct, likely to include a hotel, medical research centres, outlet shops and short-stay accommodation servicing the nearby Royal Adelaide Hospital and SAHMRI. It was backed by the Adelaide Venue Management Corporation, which operates the Adelaide Convention Centre, Entertainment Centre and Coopers (Hindmarsh) Stadium.
Costs of both proposals would be defrayed by selling off the latter two. But there has been little public movement on the proposals in recent months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.