SUNSET EVENTS’ plan to transform the J-Shed in Fremantle into an entertainment venue suffered a small but significant setback this week.
A Fremantle council committee voted against the proposal following a six-month trial which some neighbouring businesses and residents say caused too many problems.
Sunset wants a tavern, bar, micro-brewery and roasting housing on the A-Class reserve and following the trial asked the council to increase patron numbers from 400 to 850 in the tavern, and from 1000 to 1500 at an outdoor concert venue.
Only one councillor, Dave Hume, voted for the proposal.
Cr Bryn Jones said the proposal had grown too big and was impacting the site’s amenity.
“The trial seems to have confirmed the concerns people had before it started,” he says.
“And this permanent proposal would be on a larger scale.”
Cr Jon Strachan said the council’s 2012 expressions of interest for the site had envisaged a site to showcase local artists and be of benefit to the whole community.
“The community events haven’t done too well and it seems that alcohol is the primary product, not food,” he says.
Locals crammed the gallery to vent their frustration. Resident Suzanne John says she saw concert goers defecating in bushes and men urinating because portaloos at the venue stank.
Cheryl Greaves, who coordinates the Round House volunteer heritage guides, said sound levels had spoiled tours and a wedding at the Roundhouse.
“Heritage belongs to all West Australians, not just Fremantle council,” she told the chamber.
Another local said the trial had reduced the A-Class reserve to a ”bloody pub.”
Sculptor Greg James, who owns a gallery at the J-Shed, said excessive noise and traffic before and during concerts had forced him to close on those days.
Sunset Events’ CEO James Legge said he thought the trial had gone well and he was happy to work with locals and the council to iron out any issues.
Kieran Wong, director of architectural firm CODA which prepared Sunsets’ plans, said the proposal affected less that 5 per cent of Arthur Head.
The recommendation to refuse will go before full council in three weeks.
The WA Planning Commission will have the final say on Sunset’s proposal, with Fremantle council only able to offer a recommendation.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK