Saved! Fort Largs buildings get heritage listing (almost)
Raise a toast; give a cheer, Fort Largs can still be saved!
This week there is reason to celebrate as two buildings on the Fort Largs site nominated for heritage listing by the National Trust have made it through the provisional listing stage, after a three month public consultation phase. Barring intervention from the Minister for the Environment, Water and Natural Resources to remove the provisional listing, these two important buildings – the former Barracks and Drill Hall – will be confirmed on the State Heritage list at the next meeting of the State’s official Heritage Council on March 6.
However, there is need for vigilance before that date, as there is an opportunity for the Minister, Ian Hunter MLC, to seek to remove these buildings from provisional heritage listing. The current State Government has an appalling track record of using these powers to remove such buildings from provisional listing and, in so doing, to pave the way for their destruction.
Most dangerously, this power has been exercised by the State Government in recent years to enable the demolition of Union Hall at the University of Adelaide, the Steam Biscuit Factory (Jade Monkey venue) in the city and the former Nurses Home at Glenside Hospital.
Regrettably, the local State member for Port Adelaide, Labor MP Susan Close, has refused to come out strongly in support of retaining the fort and other heritage listed buildings in public ownership to make sure they are properly protected and preserved and remain accessible to the public for all time. She has offered only the following tentative words of support for one of the most significant heritage places within her electorate.
“Fort Largs is an extraordinary part of the Peninsula’s history – and South Australia’s. I support the best possible heritage protection for this cultural asset and will personally judge any private, government or council proposal on how well it protects the heritage and, if feasible, allows the public access to our Fort.”
Fortunately, the local Council has been much more supportive of the campaign to save Fort Largs, with the City of Port Adelaide and Enfield posting on Twitter that,
“Council supports the retention by the State Government of the Fort and other heritage listed buildings onsite”.
Regardless of the enormous local support to retain the Fort in public hands, the State Government continues with its plans to sell off the whole Fort Largs site, including the original fort and other heritage buildings, to a property developer. Perhaps they have forgotten that Fort Largs is one of the most important military history sites in our state, as well as the place where our police force trained to serve the community for more than fifty years. The Fort is where thousands served or enlisted to fight for their country in World War I and World War II. As we start the year that marks the centenary of the sacrifices at Gallipoli, their memory and service must be honoured and preserved, not sold off for a quick profit.
The National Trust and other community organisations continue to campaign to prevent the sell-off of the state’s heritage at Fort Largs. You can lend your voice to the campaign by making a comment below, signing our online petition or joining the Save Fort Largs campaign on Facebook.
It’s not too late to keep our heritage in public hands at Fort Largs. The battle to save our fort is just beginning. Join us to keep this unique place as a permanent memorial to the people who have served their country and our state over 130 years, owned by and accessible to all of us, for all time.