Freo hotels boom

THE number of hotel rooms in Fremantle may leap from around 300 to more than 800 courtesy of a rash of applications set to go before local planning authorities.

Mayor Brad Pettitt says he knows of at least five hotel applications in the pipeline, “from the early stages of ‘we’re thinking about it’ to development applications actually coming in”.

A sixth hotel is being built in Bannister Street. Most are in the 80 to 150-bed range.

The slew of short-term accommodation is an unexpected result of the council’s Amendment 49 process, designed to open up the CBD for inner-city apartments. But not all the applications are slated for the East End.

The Herald understands Sirona Capital—which is developing Kings Square and the old Myer building alongside the council—has an application imminent for the corner of Pakenham and Short Streets, just behind Spare Parts Puppet Theatre.

While there are positives the mayor says the council would like to see more long-term housing in the mix: “That has been fascinating with what’s coming back from the visioning stuff—do we want all these new developments just to be hotels or do you want people living there,” he says. “You can’t create community with hotels.”

More than 250 people packed Victoria Hall last week for the launch of the council’s “community visioning project” and Dr Pettitt says after the acrimony of the skate plaza debate, it was good to see residents working together.

“When you start thinking about the decades ahead, people start thinking more cohesively and far more collaboratively.”

While conscious about not being seen to dominate the agenda with his personal vision, Dr Pettitt says his bucket list for the future includes reconnecting the city with its waterfronts.

“We are a river and harbour city and an ocean city that feels entirely like it’s not connected to those things.”

He wants to see Queen Street revitalised and says there have been talks with the owner of the carpark on the old Gas and Coke site about the council acquiring land when the site’s developed. It would be used to plant trees to make it a more inviting boulevard.

He also wants to see a dozen “transformative” projects emerge, similar to The Auckland Plan that has led the NZ city’s revival.

“Cantonment Hill comes to mind for me as an opportunity to create a parkland that’s unrivaled,” Dr Pettitt says.

“I would like to see us doing quite a bold lighthouse project—which is a project where you do it as a way of saying ‘this is what’s possible for a development for the 21st century’.”

He says that project could be the Kings Square redevelopment, with an architectural competition due to start three weeks, but the Stan Reilly site is also an option.

This week Cr Rachel Pemberton flagged a rethink of the council’s suburban density codes as she’d like to see more “baby blocks” with small houses to increase affordable housing options.

She says the current planning regime encourages sub-divisions with two massive houses taking up all the available land. She wants guidelines to ensure small blocks have greenery and aren’t dominated by garages and paving.


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