Government pledges park lands makeover at new WCH

The State Government has touted a 30,000 square metre increase in publicly accessible park lands as part of the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital proposal, as a mayoral candidate calls for a review of the project’s implications for hoped world heritage listing of the green belt.

Oct 19, 2022, updated Oct 19, 2022
Render of the proposed new Women's and Children's Hospital, on the site of the current Thebarton Police Barracks adjacent to Bonython Park. Image supplied by State Govt.

Render of the proposed new Women's and Children's Hospital, on the site of the current Thebarton Police Barracks adjacent to Bonython Park. Image supplied by State Govt.

Areas surrounding the old Adelaide Gaol which are currently inaccessible to the public would be “transformed” under the proposal announced by the government on Wednesday.

Last month, the government revealed the state heritage-listed Thebarton police barracks would be bulldozed to make way for a new $3 billion Women’s and Children’s Hospital in the western park lands.

“Much of the space around Adelaide Gaol is currently inaccessible … the run-down area will be transformed into open, green space for families to use and enjoy, removing fences and significantly increasing the availability of park lands,” the government said.

“The northern olive groves – cordoned off to house SA Police’s horse agistment area – will also become much more accessible, revitalising the space in a family-friendly environment.”

Park lands advocates, however, have previously warned that many of the olive trees – planted in the 1860s – will be destroyed by the project, as conceptualised by plans previously released by the government, along with other old trees.

The president of the Adelaide Park Lands Association, Shane Sody, said it was curious that the government now believes in removing fences to open up closed areas of the park lands.

The association has been campaigning for Kate Cocks Park near the barracks – part of which is fenced off and degraded – to be rejuvenated.

“If the Government thinks it’s a good idea to tear down fences and restore the park, let’s do it now, rather than nine years in the future,” he told InDaily.

Part of the government’s plan includes a major new city playground to be built adjacent to the hospital to give children, including patients, ‘a place to have fun and enjoy green space close to the new hospital’.

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“Easier access to Park lands meets – and well exceeds – the Government’s commitment to a zero net-loss of accessible Park lands space in shifting to the new WCH build.”

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Chris Picton said the new hospital will allow more park lands to be used by the community.

“There are thousands of families who spend lengthy periods at hospital and having open space connections and an exciting new playground development is particularly important for the wellbeing of siblings,” Picton said.

It comes as former senator for South Australia and Adelaide Lord Mayor candidate in upcoming Adelaide City Council Elections Rex Patrick questioned how the hospital project would impact moves to have the park lands world heritage listed.

“The Adelaide City Council must commission an urgent review of the implications for an Adelaide Park Lands World Heritage listing of the State Government’s plan to locate a new Women’s and Children’s Hospital,” Patrick said.

“The Council has conspicuously failed to develop a comprehensive City Plan to guide the future evolution of our state’s capital – the consequent political and planning vacuum has been all too quickly filled by a State Government inclined to see the Park Lands as little more than convenient real estate.”

Patrick who announced his independent candidacy for Lord Mayor in August, said securing a World Heritage listing for Adelaide’s Park Lands and City Plan would be an important goal he would advance if elected as Lord Mayor.

“The State Government has been short-sighted and foolish to give no proper consideration to heritage issues, including an Adelaide Park Lands World Heritage bid, in its WCH plans,” he said

“The Park Lands and City Layout of Adelaide would be a worthy addition bringing international recognition of Adelaide’s unique history, heritage and status as an exemplar of city design over nearly two centuries.

“The potential implications of the State Government’s WCH plans for a World Heritage bid must be the subject of an urgent evaluation – dislocation of the unique ‘figure-of-eight’ character of the Park Lands is a serious problem; a concern reinforced by the government’s declared interest in further expansion of the new WCH beyond an initial footprint.”

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