Developers warn government over Crown & Anchor ’emotion’

The Property Council says “emotionally driven and populist” intervention in the Crown & Anchor hotel demolition plan would set a “dangerous precedent”, after supporters rallied at parliament calling for the venue’s protection.

Apr 29, 2024, updated May 03, 2024
"Save the Cranker" supporters rallied at the Grenfell St pub before marching to Parliament House on Sunday. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

"Save the Cranker" supporters rallied at the Grenfell St pub before marching to Parliament House on Sunday. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

The developer’s association issued the warning on Sunday after about 2000 people marched to Parliament House to protest a Singapore company’s bid to gut the historic East End pub and leave two walls as a facade under a 19-storey student housing tower.

Crown & Anchor development

Part of the crowd which marched from the Crown and Anchor to Parliament House on Sunday. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Premier Peter Malinauskas on Friday also revealed that he had sought advice on “potential policy intervention” into the developer’s application, which will be decided by planning authority the State Commission Assessment Panel.

The Property Council last night issued a statement saying the development bid had prompted debate “driven by emotion”, and “emotionally driven and populist decision making would be a monumental failure and undermine the independent planning system”.

“Political interference would set a dangerous precedent, which would have far reaching consequences,” it warned.

Property Council executive director Bruce Djite said: “The government must not entertain the idea of undermining the state’s independent assessment process and more broadly the entire planning system,” he said.

Crown & Anchor development

The planned 19-storey student apartment tower on the Crown & Anchor hotel site which is zoned for up to 15 storeys. Image: Brown Falconer/Plan SA

“It is not the job of politicians or advocacy bodies to decide what is or isn’t a good development – to do so would set a dangerous precedent and completely undermine a fundamental reason the planning system exists.

“If politicians are to interfere in the state’s independent planning process, it would materially increase the sovereign risk of investing in South Australia and signal that the state is hostile to business and capital investment. This would be a disastrous outcome during a housing crisis, especially at a time when several projects struggle with feasibility.”

Djite said the Property Council “cautions the government from entertaining the emotive calls to dictate the use of private landlords’ assets or who their tenants should be. Such interference sends negative market signals, jeopardising much needed future investment”.

“It is up to a landlord to decide what their asset’s best and highest use is and what business or business type they would like as a tenant,” he said.

Djite also said the Property Council was surprised that the state Liberal Opposition would “consider supporting such reckless policy or decision making”, after Liberal MLC Michelle Lensink spoke at Sunday’s rally and said the party would support a motion being introduced by the Greens calling for the Malinauskas Government to protect the Crown & Anchor and strengthen heritage laws.

Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Greens MLC Robert Simms, who will introduce the motion to the Upper House on Wednesday, said state planning laws were “broken” and must be updated to recognise cultural heritage.

“It is not acceptable that a developer can simply protect the facade and rip the guts, the lifeblood, out of the interior,” he said.

“It’s an absolute travesty, and don’t buy the government’s spin when they say they can’t do anything about this; it’s Labor that created this planning system and it’s the Labor Party that must fix it.

“It is time for Peter Malinauskas to face the music. It is time for a planning system that actually listens to the community, not developers, not the big end of town. We need to show the Labor Party that we want a planning system that is about us, and that we as citizens have a right to shape the communities that we want to live in.”

Adelaide Lord Mayor and former Rann Labor Government minister Jane Lomax-Smith told the rally that “the rules are crook” and she did not blame developers but the government, which set state planning laws.

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“A decade ago, our government lifted the height limits so that now you can build 23, 34 storeys – anything goes,” she said.

Photo: Dave Eccles/InDaily.

“The simple reaction to that is, that’s what the value of the land is. It’s called the reversionary value of the land. The buildings aren’t worth anything – the Cranker is not worth a penny.

“What’s worth money is the land, and the fact that our government changed the rules to allow massive development so that all our pubs now will be under threat because you can buy them cheaply and you can build – the sky’s the limit.”

Lomax-Smith said Labor’s changed planning legislation had created an “ideological divide”.

“For about a decade or so people in this building (Parliament House) have thought that the only thing that matters in our city is development potential, more towers, more buildings,” she told the rally.

“The reality is a city is about people; it’s about liveability, it’s about interaction, it’s about artists and individuals fulfilling their potential, it’s about an ecosystem of which you are part.

Crown & Anchor development

Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith and Liberal MLC Michelle Lensink (left) at the “Save the Cranker” rally at Parliament House on Sunday. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

“If we forget that and we think it’s only about development it will be a very sad affair, because it will look like a street in Houston on every corner,” she said.

“It will be a wind tunnel. There will be no street activity, there will be no places that artists and performers can afford to go and it will be impossible for us to live here. So it’s really important to get the balance right.”

A three-month public consultation period opens today after the Crown & Anchor was granted interim state heritage listing on Friday, giving provisional protection until a heritage assessment is carried out.

Photo: Dave Eccles/InDaily.

Adelaide band Pelvis performs at the rally. Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Photo: Dave Eccles/InDaily.

Photo: InDaily.

Photo: Tony Lewis / InDaily

Photo: Dave Eccles/InDaily.

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