Bridgeport Hotel development held up by heritage concerns

Almost a year after plans for a redevelopment of the Bridgeport Hotel became public, the same old issues are holding up the development.

Design and car parking are factors, but the big one is heritage: does the original facade of the 1884 hotel remain beneath the daggy brickwork, and if so, is it worth preserving?

No-one knows for sure – even the two heritage architects hired to assess the matter came to different conclusions.

In a report to the Murray Bridge council assessment panel, which met on Friday, assessing officer Glenn Searle suggested a licensed boundary survey or the removal of a few bricks could answer the question.

If the original stonework remained, panel member Marc Voortman suggested, maybe it could be used to decorate the interior rather than being preserved on the outside.

"The heritage fabric of that building has been so substantially affected over time that ... I don't believe (it) has too much heritage value," Mr Voortman said.

"Yes, the brickwork could be pulled away, there may be heritage behind it, I'm not convinced one way or the other.

"In any case, the proposal we're looking at would require its removal."

Because the building is locally heritage listed, the developers would need to prove it was in poor condition before they could demolish it.

That remains the plan for the site: to level it to make way for a six-storey, 100-room hotel with sports and lounge bars, a restaurant, a gaming area, a function centre, a gym and swimming pool and a bottle shop.

The building would be constructed of pre-fabricated panels finished in white, bronze and dark grey, with Colorbond roofing.

The design of the hotel has evolved since The Standard published several concept images last December, but no updated images were available for publication.

However, Mr Searle described the new design as "a significant improvement", with fewer blank walls and more glass and outdoor dining at street level.

Council engineers expressed concern about aspects of the plan, including the need for a safe pedestrian crossing over to the Marketplace shopping centre.

But Mr Searle said such issues could be worked around so long as the heritage question could be answered.

"As the site is a landmark, its re-development – if approved – will change the urban fabric of Murray Bridge and has the potential to set the scene as a catalyst for further development and change," he said.

"It is therefore critically important that the development is a prime example of good planning and design."

The council panel will forward its advice to the SA Planning Commission, which will make a final decision about whether to approve or reject the proposal.

A representative of the Bridgeport's owners, the Eureka Hotel Group, attended Friday's meeting but declined to comment.

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