FREMANTLE council has given conditional approval to a five-storey hotel, commercial and tourism precinct at the old police station and courthouse on Henderson Street.
This week’s planning committee accepted the latest plans which knocked a storey off developer Silverleaf Investment’s original aim for the hotel.
The site includes the courthouse, lockup and warder’s cottages which are on the state heritage register and have the highest level of protection.
However the police station isn’t listed so it will make way for the hotel.
Despite the high level of heritage protection and a swag of conservation conditions applied by the council, the courthouse’s interior will also be significantly modified through the removal of walls to create the restaurant space.
Planning committee Jon Strachan says the decision to approve these works were a compromise between its heritage value and making the buildings usable again.
“We were guided by the advice of the State Heritage Council that if the walls were to go they should leave nibs to show the original layout.”
Cr Strachan says while the fabric of the buildings were in good condition, aesthetically-challenged cops had left the interiors pretty blemished over the years.
He says while other recommendations from the heritage council were included in the conditions, he was critical the SHC wouldn’t consider the impact of the five-storey hotel on the surrounding heritage buildings because it wasn’t itself listed.
He felt a bit more guidance from the heritage council might have pegged the height further, as councillors had the state-controlled JDAPS in mind when approving the application.
“Not assessing the affect on surrounding buildings can lead to a situation where the council is, not maliciously, making the defence of heritage more difficult,” Cr Strachan said.
by STEVE GRANT