Society bypass

THE Fremantle Society has bypassed Fremantle council and asked the Turnbull government to protect a larger area of the West End than covered by last year’s state listing.

The society lobbied the WA Heritage Council to include Kings Square and the Fremantle train station and prison in the listing, but the heritage council sided with the local council and restricted the listing to the area between Market Street and the railway line, arguing it aligned with the city’s gold rush years.

Now the society has asked the federal environment and energy department to consider the larger footprint for inclusion on the national heritage list.

The department has accepted the nomination, which will now be assessed by the Australian Heritage Council.

“The Fremantle Society argues in its detailed submission that the historic town, despite damage by the present council, is still worthy of the accolades, benefits and status that a national listing would bring,” society president John Dowson emailed to members this week.

• John Dowson

Distinctive landmarks

He wants the council, business community and residents to support the listing from Arthur Head, along the inner harbour to the prison’s limestone ridge, and back along Fishing Boat Harbour.

“Within these boundaries the city centre is identifiable from several vantage points as a cohesive whole; a comfortable human environment with a familiar street pattern, traditional architecture and a number of distinctive landmarks,” the society’s submission read.

“Currently there is a significant number of inappropriate and oversized buildings being approved by a council desperate for ‘revitalisation’.”

Mayor Brad Pettitt said national listing was “notoriously difficult” which was why only the prison and warders’ cottages had been included.

“The debate over the most appropriate national listing boundary is to be expected and is healthy, but the risk of accepting a bigger boundary is the significance of the area will be devalued by the inclusion of areas lacking any special heritage significance,” Dr Pettitt said.

“The state listing of the West End was recently achieved because it was a coherent boundary that had a strong identity beyond the value of its individual buildings and one which was also supported by the majority of property owners in the area.”

by STEVE GRANT

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