FREMANTLE PORTS has emerged as a powerful opponent of Sunset Events’ hopes to open a tavern and concert venue at Arthur Head.
The port is one of 76 objectors that wrote to Fremantle council after Sunset applied to run temporary events at J-Shed from now till its lease takes effect in 2017.
But unlike the other 75 objectors the council’s planning committee brushed aside Wednesday night the port has major leverage—it owns the only road into the historic site.
Last year the Barnett government signed Fleet Street over to the port as freehold land, without any provisions requriing it to honour existing access to the council-controlled J-Shed.
Ports boss Chris Leatt-Hayter told the council he has no objection to the artists who currently lease the shed continuing to access the site, but Sunset’s plans are too “intensive” and there are concerns about the spectre of anti-social behaviour.
Mr Leatt-Hayter said Sunset had included in its application using port-owned car parks for its patrons without asking permission.
“It is our view that the reliance on Fremantle Ports’ land casts doubt on the validity of the application for development,” he wrote.
“Fremantle Ports is not a party to the application, has not signed the MRS Form 1, and has not been consulted during the progression of the development proposal.”
The port’s opposition has council staff scrambling desperately for solutions.
Their suggested alternatives include:
• allowing goods trucks to drive through the heritage-listed Whalers Tunnel (directly under the Round House);
• craning goods down the cliffs overlooking the sheds; and,
• building a new road alongside Fleet Street which would require reconfiguring the large roundabout in front of the port building.
In the end the council handballed responsibility to Sunset, which will have to submit an access plan if it can’t negotiate with Fremantle Ports.
About 20 inner-city residents fronted the committee on Wednesday to voice their objections, but several told the Herald they felt councillors had already branded them NIMBYs and weren’t interested in what they had to say.
Sunset boss David Chitty also addressed the committee, but after he indicated to mayor Brad Pettitt he wasn’t entirely happy with minor amendments suggested by councillors Rachel Pemberton and Josh Wilson, the mayor sent the item up to full council.
by STEVE GRANT