Chamber: cottages call an error

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt shouldn’t have put up his hand to restore the dilapidated warders cottages, local chamber of commerce boss Tim Milsom says.

Mr Milsom says the council should have insisted on the government footing most of the repair bill, estimated to be between $6 million and $8 million.

“That’s a lot of money,” he told the Herald. “My personal viewpoint is we should be asking the state government to look after their own building.

“The council does not own the cottages.”

Fremantle council has accepted a department of housing offer for a 50-year peppercorn lease, taking over financial responsibility for conservation, refurbishment and maintenance.

Council’s support for the offer is subject to a business plan to generate enough income to service loans and fund ongoing maintenance.

The council says it will also seek a contribution from the department for initial conservation works.

“I think Dr Pettitt is trying to do the right thing,” Mr Milsom says. “But again, all we could insist on is a great deal of due diligence in the business plan.”

The heritage-listed cottages consist of three blocks of two-storey limestone terrace houses constructed between 1851 and 1858 as part of the Fremantle convict establishment.

The council proposes sub-letting the cottages to a suitable tenant and using the rent to pay for refurbishment plus future maintenance and management.

In a blog posted after a visit to the cottages in June, Dr Pettitt says the oldest terrace houses in WA are “amazing”: “I like the idea of opening this secluded space up to the public more often.”

by CARMELO AMALFI

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