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Developer fights to stop East End function centre

A prominent Adelaide landlord and developer has launched a Supreme Court battle to stop a function centre being built in the grounds of an historic East End mansion, near where he plans to erect a 16-storey apartment block.

May 16, 2023, updated May 16, 2023

Developer Theo Maras told InDaily he was unable to comment on the ongoing Supreme Court case, which is being presided over by the state’s Chief Justice Chris Kourakis.

However, court documents seen by InDaily confirm the Maras and Cambridge Groups – the developers behind the yet-to-be-built 16-storey “Rymill Apartments” development on the corner of Hutt Street and Bartels Terrace – have applied for judicial review.

They want to quash planning consent granted by the Adelaide City Council’s assessment panel in May last year to neighbouring Rymill House Foundation, allowing it to build a function centre on the grounds of the state heritage-listed mansion on East Terrace.

The foundation, which raises funds supporting education, heritage, sporting and welfare organisations in South Australia, wants to build the 246 square-metre single-storey function centre to support its charitable work and to “provide an income source that assists in underpinning the ongoing care and conservation of historic Rymill House”.

Described in planning documents as a “simple, glass box”, the glazed pavilion would sit alongside the circa-1884 property’s Hutt Street boundary and have the capacity to host events of up to 225 people standing, or 140 people seated.

InDaily understands the building’s construction is on hold while the court case is underway.

A render of the proposed function centre at Rymill House. Image: Enzo Caroscio Architects

State heritage-listed Rymill House. Photo: Stephanie Richards/InDaily

The Maras and Cambridge Groups have previously argued against the function centre, saying it should not have been approved in a residential zone, does not provide enough off-street parking and, under existing licensing conditions, could operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Planning consultant Fabian Barone of Future Urban, representing the East End developers, reportedly told the council’s assessment panel meeting last year that the function centre was also “at odds” with Rymill House’s state heritage listing and could actually accommodate a total of 336 people.

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Other neighbouring residents have argued that the function centre would result in noise, drunkenness and unruly behaviour in a predominately residential corner of the city.

All up, the council’s assessment panel received 15 representations from city residents responding to a public consultation about the proposed function centre, with 13 of those saying they opposed the development.

But the assessment panel voted in favour of the development 3-1, in line with a recommendation from council planning staff.

A spokesperson from the Rymill House Foundation said they were unable to comment while the matter was before the Court.

The council’s assessment panel, which is listed as an “interested party” in the originating application for judicial review, also declined to comment.

It’s not the first time the Rymill Apartments developers have been involved in a judicial review.

In February, the Supreme Court refused an application lodged in 2020 by a neighbouring resident who opposed the $27 million apartment tower’s 16-storey height, allowing the development to proceed.

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