FREMANTLE council staff have recommended Notre Dame’s proposed five-storey nursing and midwifery school in the West End be knocked back.
Councillors got a sneak peak at next week’s council meeting agenda last night, and mayor Brad Pettitt told the Herald the planners felt the top storey couldn’t be justified in the state heritage-listed precinct.
Dr Pettitt said the council’s heritage architects had also raised concerns about how the historic facade on Cliff Street integrated into the overall design.
Although the ultimate decision will lie with a state-controlled development assessment panel, the recommendation will come as a relief to the Fremantle Society, which reckons council staff keep approving “alarming” developments in the West End.
In a submission about Notre Dame’s proposal, the society says five storeys aren’t permitted in the West End and the university should be encouraged to build the new school slightly outside the West End to break its education monoculture and encourage students to spread throughout the city centre.
“The plans as shown, besides being overscale and at least one storey too high for the site, are very mediocre and incongruous with the quality surrounding the site,” the society’s submission said.
Some of that “quality” includes the “America’s Cup disaster next door” where a block of flats was plonked on top of the old Tramways Building.
“That development is an aberration and not a precedent, and Notre Dame’s plans when seen from High Street are actually significantly bigger,” said the submission.
The society urged the council to ignore support from the WA Heritage Council, claiming it had become a “developers’ club intent on softening heritage rules”.
Society president John Dowson told the Herald he was busy preparing a list of promises Notre Dame had broken from previous developments, including reinstating verandahs and undertaking what he calls renovation rather than restoration.
by STEVE GRANT