As part of our plan to upgrade parks, reserves and sporting facilities in West Torrens, Council was the recipient of Federal Government funding to upgrade Apex Park, Lockleys Oval and Mellor Park.
The nature of these intertwined projects required that works began at Apex Park, then proceeded to Lockleys and finally to Mellor Park. Works have now started on Mellor Park, as outlined in the 2015 Mellor Park Precinct Masterplan.
Works proposed for Mellor Park include:
- The demolition of the existing Lockleys RSL Building, the Windsor Theatre building and the Mellor Park Tennis Clubroom and tennis courts to allow for both off-road car parking as well as additional open space.
- A reduction in the number of tennis courts from two publically accessible courts (and four club courts) to one public access court plus one 3-on-3 basketball court.
- The construction of a memorial to recognise the former Lockleys RSL Sub-branch and Memorial Hall association with the site.
- Installation of a Heritage Marker to honour the Soldiers Memorial Hall;
- Construction of visual 'movie history' walls to pay tribute to the former Windsor Cinema.
- New public toilet facilities.
- New playground.
These works are aimed at activating greater community use of the reserve, (e.g. by retaining and upgrading the former senior citizens building and utilising this as a space/venue for community groups) and returning as much of the balance of the reserve as possible to green/open space. While part of the existing building's footprint will make way for car parking, this use needs to be viewed in the wider context of the total redevelopment of the site and the aims and outcomes sought to be achieved from this redevelopment.
What about the cinema's heritage significance?
A development application was lodged in 2018 seeking the demolition of the theatre (and adjacent former RSL and Mellor Park Tennis Club buildings).
As part of the process of assessing the application, an independent consultant was engaged in late 2018 to provide independent heritage advice regarding the proposed demolition. That advice was provided to the Council Assessment Panel (CAP), which is also comprised of independent members/experts. Following their consideration of the independent heritage advice, the CAP imposed a reserved matter and three conditions on its approval of the development application.
The reserved matter and those conditions were as follows:
A full architectural survey of the Local Heritage Place to be demolished shall be undertaken by a suitably qualified architect and/or heritage expert with the following information provided:
- a scaled drawing of the building;
- a survey that identifies sequential development of the building and physical evidence that can be used as interpretive or entry statement material; and
- details of landscaping that is to be provided following the demolition of the building.
- The development must be undertaken, completed and maintained in accordance with the plans and information detailed in (the Application) except where varied by any conditions listed below
- During the course of demolition, and following completion of the demolition works, the existing building fabric shall be retained and safely stored as required for reuse for the construction of the masonry walls that are approved herein.
- The masonry walls shall be constructed in a 'Flemish Bond' pattern to the satisfaction of Council.
During the past few weeks a few questions have been raised with Council about whether or not we have made the right decision. CEO Terry Buss gave a statement to Council at its meeting on 15 September 2020. You can read that statement here
What about the Poster Walk?
Due to the method by which the posters were affixed to the walls (glued), it is not possible or feasible to remove and reuse them. Several parties (including the State Library and the West Torrens Historical Society) have photographed the posters that are displayed in the Poster Walk. The Council will also preserve elements of the Walk in the guise of the provision of two visual history walls in the south-western area of the site, and will endeavour to retain the original posters by the removal of a section of the internal wall.
While the Lockleys Soldiers Memorial Hall did have a local heritage listing, and while the Council appreciates that many people will have fond memories of it (particularly during its use as a theatre), independent heritage consultants and the independent members of the CAP have determined that there is insufficient heritage merit in retention of the building.
As indicated above, there are a number of initiatives will that will nevertheless pay homage to the building's past use as a both a Soldiers Memorial Hall and also a theatre. In addition to those measures, the proposed redevelopment will also honour the former hall/theatre by using bricks retained from the hall building to outline the building footprint. Members of the former Lockleys RSL Sub-branch and RSL Adelaide Sub-branch have also been engaged to assist with the development of concepts for a memorial to be constructed on the site.
Further, as part of the Masterplan and development process, Council consulted with the community in regard to the proposed redevelopment. The responses that Council received during these consultations were positive and supportive of the proposed demolition of the theatre.