LONG time heritage buff and former Fremantle deputy mayor John Dowson is set to be re-elected unopposed as president of the Fremantle Society at next month’s AGM.
This is despite unrest among some members criticising him for his continuing opposition to the Kings Square redevelopment.
Late last week the council released the latest development application for the Kings Square project, showing the old Myer building being sliced down the middle to create a new covered walkway. It would link to a second walkway between Myer and the Queensgate complex which is to be demolished to make way for a new six-storey mix of offices, retail and cinema.
Mr Dowson, in characteristic style, faced the criticism down by simply rejecting it out of hand.
Recently prominent academic and urban planner Linley Lutton replied to an email Mr Dowson had sent his committee criticising the squre project.
“The bulk of Fremantle residents would probably not understand why the Fremantle Society is so against this redevelopment of the Myer and Queensgate buildings.”
“Yes,” he wrote “it is higher than some may like, and it does not reflect the heritage character of other buildings edging Kings Square, but they are buildings of their time reflecting a much-needed change in central Fremantle.
“If the FS wants to make comment then please focus on objective issues which you consider to be problematic rather than simply commenting on building height – and perhaps try and find some positives as well!”
Another society member who wished to remain anonymous said Mr Dowson’s public rhetoric was over-the-top and his comments about a “tsunami of sub-standard developments” didn’t help the cause.
Despite the unrest, Mr Dowson was the only person who put his hand up for the hot seat and is set to be re-elected.
Mr Dowson told the Herald: “Listen it’s not just my opinion. The society has commissioned independent reports from architects who have also criticised developments approved by Fremantle council.
“Fremantle is a national treasure that’s being trashed and we have to speak up, sometimes with strong language, to protect it.”
by STEPHEN POLLOCK