FREMANTLE Labor MP Simone McGurk and the Fremantle Society are calling for stronger heritage protection for the newly restored warders’ cottages before they’re sold on the open market.
Premier Colin Barnett visited the convict-built Henderson Street cottages on Thursday to officially put them up for sale, but Ms McGurk and the society say there’s too much uncertainty about how new owners will treat them.
“One concern I have with the individual sale of the cottages is that there will likely be variable outcomes across the cottages, which are significant as they are uninterrupted terraces,” says Ms McGurk.
“The public will want to see that there are strong heritage protections in place to look after these gems.
“I’ll be interested to see the outcomes of a restoration worth $2 million over 18 cottages, considering the National Trust’s estimate to repair the cottages was $6m.
“Originally the government allocated $8m to their revolving heritage fund, but that was cut to $4m, with only half of that spent on the cottages.”
Society president John Dowson has written to heritage minister Albert Jacob asking for more heritage safeguards.
“The sale of the cottages should not proceed until there are very clear caveats in place which protect the properties from unsympathetic development of any kind which, internally or externally, reduces the heritage values of these primitive but highly significant buildings,” Mr Dowson wrote.
“The new downpipe installed right over the most important stone in the buildings, with ‘VR 1851’ (signifying the construction date of the cottages during the reign of Queen Victoria), is unfortunate clumsiness which should be remedied.”
The cottages were originally used to house warders of Fremantle’s world heritage-listed Fremantle Prison.
They were purchased by Homeswest in 1991 but were abandoned in 2011 when they were deemed uninhabitable and too expensive to repair for social housing tenants.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK