Liberals announce town hall precinct solution

The Port Augusta City Council has welcomed the announcement that the state Liberal Party will make the old town hall precinct available for development if elected on Saturday.

Mayor Sam Johnson said it was about time a solution was reached.

“This is a fantastic result for Port Augusta,” he said.

“After a decade of nothing from the current government it is great to see a result that will allow Port Augusta to finally develop the main street and get something happening on that site.

“It is a key site for Port Augusta and it is currently in a dismal state.”

The maintenance of the building has been going downhill since 1983, when the council built new chambers and vacated the town hall.

Among its ailments are the subsiding side walls, which have left footings unsecure and the building in need of relevelling.

The crumbling facade is of particular concern to the community, with a verandah assembled several years ago to ensure falling pieces did not hit pedestrians.

As it stands the hall facade and sides of the building are heritage listed therefore any development would have to work around that unless the listing was removed.

In past communication with the Labor government Dan van Holst Pellekaan has called for retaining the heritage listing of the hall facade but removal from the rest of the building to allow development.

Mr Johnson said the city could now move forward, and council could hopefully start working with developers.

“It is no secret that the CBD is calling out for more development and this is the key site in the centre of it,” he said.

“With the right development undertaken on this site we have the ability to change the feel and look of the current CBD allowing for our businesses to prosper further and attract more businesses.”

Mr Johnson commended Dan van Holst Pellekaan’s work on the issue.

“It is great to see a policy that is a direct need for the city of Port Augusta, and is a clear indication that the current member for Stuart is not only just listening, he is  also getting a result that is meaningful to the people of his electorate for which I commend him on,” he said.

“After many years of no result, we finally have a result and the people of Port Augusta can now champion yet another great project and continue driving this city forward.”

The transfer of the state land is subject to state government approval once a council desired developer comes forward.

The disused Port Augusta Town Hall precinct will move closer to being developed if the state Liberal Party wins the election on Saturday.

AGREEMENT: Liberal candidate for Stuart Dan van Holst Pellekaan and Port Augusta City Council mayor Sam Johnson shake hands in front of the disused town hall.

AGREEMENT: Liberal candidate for Stuart Dan van Holst Pellekaan and Port Augusta City Council mayor Sam Johnson shake hands in front of the disused town hall.

Liberal candidate for Stuart Dan van Holst Pellekaan today announced that if elected, his party would provide the entire block to the council for the purpose of development.

“I can today announce that, if elected, a Marshall Liberal government will provide the entire block of land that makes up the town hall, old courthouse and car park precinct as a contribution to a responsible development proposal,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.

“This will now enable council to progress serious negotiations with potential developers."

For years the block and buildings has been left to wilt because of a failure to reach an agreement between council and the state government.

The building is owned by Port Augusta City Council, however the land is owned by the state government.

Mr van Holst Pellekaan said after years of campaigning for a solution it was a relief to have made some progress.

“I am pleased that after decades of disuse the town hall may now be redeveloped into a facility which benefits Port Augusta and the surrounding district," he said.

“This opens the door for a range of proposals including retail, hospitality, entertainment and other opportunities that would benefit the people in Port Augusta."

Under the agreement the land will only be transferred once a development proposal has been approved by both the Port Augusta City Council (PACC) and the state government.

PACC city manager Greg Perkin welcomed the announcement and said that the commitment would achieve what the council has been seeking for more than five years.

“By council being able to control the land, it would be able to facilitate much needed development in the CBD and re-enforce business and shopping activity in the main shopping street.”

This story Liberals announce town hall precinct solution first appeared on The Transcontinental.