Cottages feud

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FREMANTLE city council was slapped down by the National Trust this week after it reportedly accused the Trust of delaying the redevelopment of historic warders’ cottages on Henderson Street.

In an email to Greens heritage spokesperson Lynn MacLaren, which was copied to mayor Brad Pettitt, Trust chief Tom Perrigo accused the council of peddling “nonsense”.

“I refute all such information and allegations,” Mr Perrigo said in the email.

Dr Pettitt said he wasnt’ the one who’d made the comments. He emailed Mr Perrigo: “It appears there is some confusion as to where this is all up to. I’ll get our staff to get and (sic) update and get back to you.”

The mayor told the Herald he’s concerned about how long it’s taking to restore the vacant cottages: “Leaving such important heritage buildings empty for so long not only diminishes Fremantle it threatens the heritage with vandalism and damage.”

He says he’d prefer the cottages to remain in public hands and leased to a third party.

But, in December 2011—four days before Christmas—the council quietly voted in his absence to support strata title applications enabling the cottages to be sold “individually and privately”.

The application never eventuated after a report to the WA housing department stated the cottages’ heritage was best managed “under a single ownership and management body”.

Councillor Andrew Sullivan—the Greens candidate for Fremantle at next month’s election—was one of the 12 who voted for the cottages’ privatisation. This week he stated he’d changed his position.

“At the time, I was prepared for the strata title option to be further investigated,” he said. “With the benefit of a lot more information and community feedback, I can safely say I will not support strata title subdivision into individual dwellings.”

A confidential report completed last month estimates proper conservation of the cottages will cost $6 million.

Dr Pettitt doesn’t think low-income housing is the best use for the cottages.

“The warders’ cottages would be better used for hotel or short-term accommodation with a mix of commercial sprinkled through,” he told the Herald.

by CARMELO AMALFI

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