If you were to hear that a large crowd of people group together at Adelaide’s iconic venue, Thebarton Theatre, you’d probably expect that they were dancing to a live band or laughing at a comedian. However, in the case of yesterday evening, close to 700 people came to Thebby for a public meeting about its future.

The Inner West South Road Action Group organised a public meeting as the first step in their campaign to urge the State Government to reject the evaluated highway and sunken road options for the section of South Road from River Torrens to Anzac Highway as arguments were made for the tunnel option.

Director of Weslo Group, Bob Lott, said the campaign wasn’t just about saving the iconic theatre, but how it’s made a presence within the community. “Anything other than a tunnel will destroy this precinct. This vibrant precinct must not become a sterile area,” says Mr. Lott.

Concerns that were raised in the meeting centered around how locals would be affected by the change. Resident and convenor of Inner West South Road Action Group, Cath Cashen, addressed that the surrounding neighbourhood would be changed for the worst with hundreds of properties to be acquired, as well as no pedestrian crossovers and causing a split in the community. Similarly, James Franzon of the Hilton Hotel raised a concern about the impact on his business, especially if the State Government was to go with an option outside of the proposed tunnel. “A tunnel will preserve the community, heritage, schools, and churches and the South Australian economy will benefit. The cheapest option is not the best option,” says Mr. Franzon.

Mayor of West Torrens, Michael Coxon, says that the City of West Torrens was committed to the tunnel option for that section of South Road. He said a tunnel would be safer, more community-friendly, heritage friendly, good for business, good for investment. “Whilst it might be the more expensive option, this must be measured against how a tunnel that would serve the community and the state of South Australia into the future,” says Mayor Coxon.

The meeting came to a unanimous decision to endorse the tunnel option, stating: “This meeting of residents, business owners and concerned citizens resolved that any completion of the North-South corridor should be in the form of a tunnel – built in a manner which preserves our heritage and maintains the integrity of our suburbs; and calls on the Inner West South Road Action Group to continue to advocate on our behalf and keep us informed.”

The community is still continuing to fight for the Thebby to still remain in place, with a Change.Org petition that was made to prevent the theatre from being demolished has reached over 60,000 signatures and counting.