THE former chairman of the Heritage Council of WA has criticised Fremantle council for sending in bulldozers before archaeologists at its proposed car park at the corner of Point and Adelaide streets.
Last week the council started levelling part of the block it sold to Malaysian developer SKS Group, whose plans for a Hilton-brand hotel have stalled for the last two years. The council took back control of the area in order to build a car park to pick up the slack during the Kings Square redevelopment.
Fremantle Society president John Dowson initially raised the alarm, writing to the council’s planning director Paul Garbett saying the council’s own policies dictated an archaeological dig should have been carried out first.
But Mr Garbett disagreed, saying the site was neither on the council’s heritage register or in a heritage area, so there was no need.
“For council to say this is not a heritage site is quite unbelievable,” Mr Dowson shot off to the Herald.
“Yes, the recent buildings there replaced heritage ones, but there have been significant heritage buildings on that site since early settlement and the demolition of the recent buildings, which did not have basements, means this is an opportunity to research the site.”
Former heritage council chair Ian Molyneux, who also previously served as Freo council’s heritage architect, agrees and says if it hasn’t been listed as an important site, that’s simply because the authorities have been lax in the past.
“So it is not a heritage site nor on a heritage list,” he says.
“It is however, well and truly by any definition, an archaeology site.”
Mr Molyneux says the problem’s not restricted to just Fremantle, blaming CEOs, mayors, minister, staff and other state bureaucrats for stifling listings.
by STEVE GRANT