Punters fill Town Hall as council backs the Cranker

Adelaide City Council has voted to tell the Malinauskas Government of its concern about a development threatening the Crown & Anchor hotel, as its public gallery filled with punters seeking protection for their beloved live music venue. 

Apr 10, 2024, updated Apr 17, 2024
Crown & Anchor supporters fill the public gallery at the Adelaide City Council meeting. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Crown & Anchor supporters fill the public gallery at the Adelaide City Council meeting. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith will now write to Premier Peter Malinauskas, Arts Minister Andrea Michaels and Planning Minister Nick Champion expressing the council’s concern about proposed development threatening the Crown & Anchor. 

Last night, councillors voted eight to three to show their support for the historic East End pub and call for change in the planning and design code to better protect living cultural heritage.

It comes after Singapore-based Wee Hur Holdings last month lodged a development application to build multi-level student housing involving partial demolition and “adaptive reuse” at the Grenfell St site. 

Established in 1853, the Crown & Anchor is one of Adelaide’s oldest pubs and a live music stalwart for decades. It was awarded local heritage listing in 1991.

The State Commission Assessment Panel will assess the development application. While the Adelaide City Council doesn’t have control over the outcome, it has been asked to provide comments to the panel. 

The council’s official response to the state planning commission has been submitted as “no objection” to the development, with submitted comments that are not publicly available to view via Plan SA.

The agenda prepared for last night’s meeting said the council could only comment on the building facade and how plans measured up against the planning and design code. Currently, there is nothing in the code that emphasises preserving buildings for arts and cultural heritage reasons, so the council’s submission could not address those issues. 

Deputy Lord Mayor Keiran Snape, who brought the motion to council, said everyone he spoke to had fond memories of the pub affectionately known as “the Cranker”, saying its living culture was “priceless”. 

“As important as our built heritage is, the Crown and Anchor is so much more than just bricks and mortar,” he said. 

Councillor Janet Giles – a board member for Adelaide’s UNESCO City of Music – noted the success of the Save the Cranker campaign, and said she first heard about the issue on social media. 

At the time of writing, the petition to “Save the Crown and Anchor Hotel” has passed 16,270 signatures. 

Crown & Anchor supporters at the Adelaide City Council meeting with councillors David Elliott, Carmel Noon, Keiran Snape and Janet Giles. Photo:
Tony Lewis/InDaily

Councillors Arman Abrahimzadeh, Henry Davis and Simon Hou voted against the motion to support the Crown & Anchor, with Davis saying it does “basically nothing”. 

Davis said he was against putting “further onus on heritage development” and that a better way forward is to “properly consider what heritage means as a challenge to the landlord” and how to preserve and activate heritage spaces.

“It becomes completely uncommercially viable over time to invest in those types of heritage things because the cost is simply untenable,” he said. 

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“I won’t be voting for this because it doesn’t do anything apart from write a fuzzy letter to the Premier, which you know, everybody here knows, will go nowhere.”

Councillor Henry Davis. Photo:
Tony Lewis/InDaily

Snape said the motion was a “no-brainer”. 

“You talk about profits, you talk about commerce, yet from my understanding the Crown and Anchor is in fact running a very successful business model with a lot of community support, many of whom are here tonight,” he said. 

Giles raised concerns about a trend in the way developers view pubs like the Crown & Anchor, specifically calling out the 16-story Kings Head tower that was approved by the state commission assessment panel. 

“At the time, the proprietors of the development said their intention was to keep the King’s Head operating as a live music venue and reinvigorate a social offering…that was in July 2022…nothing happened on that site since then,” she said. 

The Crown & Anchor is owned by Adelaide developer Gerry Karidis’ Karidis Corporation, which bought the site in 2016.  Photo:
Tony Lewis/InDaily

Giles said live music venues like the Crown & Anchor are essential to giving musicians their start. 

“My son once played at the Exeter and that was so exciting,” she said.

“It was terrible, but that’s the sort of encouragement that musicians today need – an early start, a local start,” Giles said.

The “Save the Cranker” campaign has called on their community to show up at the Legislative Council gallery at 4pm today to support a motion introduced by Greens’ Heritage and Planning MLC Robert Simms. 

The motion calls on the Malinauskas Government to protect the Crown & Anchor and call for heritage laws to be strengthened “to reflect the cultural and social value of the pub”. 

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