Waite gatehouse question to minister

18 March 2021

Mr DULUK (Waite) (15:14): My question is to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. What measures will the government undertake to protect the heritage status of the Waite Gatehouse, and would a potential relocation of the gatehouse as a whole building provide greater heritage status protection than the proposed deconstruction/reconstruction of that building?

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (15:15): I thank the member for his question. I understand it is going through a process as we speak, which I think sits more in the Attorney's or potentially the Minister for the Environment's portfolio. However, that is going through a process.

We have actually had a really great outcome with this. We had a problem with that intersection where we needed to upgrade it; there had been 35 accidents there over the past five years and, sadly, a number of deaths. We had the funding, again in partnership with the federal government, and we were very keen to improve that intersection. It is right alongside a school, of course, so safety is a really important issue there as well.

When we looked at the design, the preference was not to take the 18 homes that could potentially have been taken with that, and potentially the gym from the school as well. We came up with a design and we worked with the university and went through a number of situations. We started the conversation with the university late last year, looking at what we could do around looking at potentially moving it, and we went through few processes with that.

I made it very clear when I first looked at it that it just didn't look like a viable option, and I wasn't comfortable with the amount of money that needed to be spent, but we put that offer on the table for the university to look at as well. They considered it, and coincidentally came to the same conclusion I came to, from the department's advice: that it wasn't a sound operation to carry out without a guarantee that the building would be standing long term and be usable in the end.

We did come to a really good landing, and I thank the university for working with us on that, as well as the community. It was great to accept their feedback and listen to what they had to say. We always had a couple of million dollars in the project for heritage and for potentially repurposing the building as it is taken down. I think we have landed in a really good situation, and the university has agreed with that as well. Going forward, the building will be repositioned up near the main building, Urrbrae House, and it will actually be functional.

I commend the member for Unley as well; he played a really significant role in enabling this to happen and was a linchpin in bringing this all together. I think what we have ended up with is a really good solution. We are going to keep the character of the gatehouse; in fact, I am told it is actually going to be moved up closer to the original gate that was involved with that gatehouse. I'm informed that was removed a number of decades ago, so the gatehouse did not have a purpose there as being a gatehouse anymore. That will be brought back into the piece of infrastructure there.

The key part of this, and working with the university, is that the actual gatehouse will be repurposed, fundamentally for volunteers to use and access. When the building was so far away from the main house, the university didn't have a reason to use it. Internally the salt damp and deterioration meant that the building hadn't been used inside for decades. It will be repurposed and re-used, and the volunteer group who do such an outstanding job at the arboretum and that entire facility there will have a bit of a base, a bit of a home. Other Friends groups as well could potentially use that.

Again, I commend the university; it was a pleasure working with them. I think we found a really good solution that the community will appreciate, and the legacy of Peter Waite will be maintained. When we were looking at picking up the house and moving it, one of my concerns was about the significant and scientifically interesting trees that could potentially be impacted. With this deconstruct and reconstruct process we have less of an impact on those trees.

To all stakeholders involved, when we do these projects—and this is an important project—road safety and keeping people safe on our roads are incredibly important. We want to deliver that better piece of infrastructure and have minimal impact on the community. The 18 houses will be saved and there will be minimal impact on the school as well, and we will be able to save the gatehouse and have it usable into the future. That is a really great outcome for the community.