AN OLD-SCHOOL river baths, short-stay accommodation and jet-ski moorings are all part of a radical multi-million dollar facelift planned for the riverside Dome Cafe in East Fremantle.
The WA-based chain’s ambitious plan for its flagship outlet includes the addition of 16 rooms, a 21m x 8m natural river-water swimming pool, a 50sqm deck and a new floating pontoon.
Dome CEO Nigel Oakey says he wants to enhance the family amenity of the foreshore by providing free facilities, like swimming baths and moorings.
“I think the natural pool will be a great throwback to the old days when people used the river a lot for swimming and recreation,” he says.
“There will also be free moorings for recreational non-motorised craft, like kayakers, another section for small motorised boats, like tinnies, and another T-junction for larger boats.
“The only paid moorings will be be for historic and specialist boats.
“Although the site is not heritage listed it was founded in the late 1800s as WA’s first commercial oyster farm and was established by the first Greek immigrant to WA.
“We wanted to reflect some of that historical aspect in our development, especially the accommodation.
“We think our scheme is probably a first in terms of a private developer building substantial community amenity of this ilk.”
The WA parks and wildlife department (which swallowed the old Swan River Trust) is expected to make a provisional decision on Dome’s application on April 5.
East Fremantle council, which has no decision-making power over the site, has recommended approval.
Some councillors did express concern over a shortfall of 19 parking bays—purchasing the land required would have cost Dome at least $400,000—and a lack of notice from the department, which prevented community consultation.
“The application was not advertised to surrounding neighbours,” council officers reported.
“The application could not be appropriately advertised in a timely manner due to the time constraints required by the department of parks and wildlife.”
Mayor Jim O’Neill refused to talk specifically about the proposal, but said in general residents liked to be consulted.
A departmental spokesperson said the proposal was advertised in statewide media, but local community engagement sessions were not required by law and were not held.
Mr Oakey says Dome plans to hold its own public forum at the cafe in May.
“There is a high and quick turnover at parking beside Dome, so I don’t think the parking shortfall will be an issue,” he says.
He anticipates the facelift could be complete within 12 months.
Dome is also in the final stages of negotiations with Melville city council about taking over the lease of the Deep Water Point cafe on the Mt Pleasant foreshore.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK