Still not exceptional

BETTER, but still not exceptional.

The proposed 10-storey redevelopment of the Woolstores shopping centre didn’t make it through Fremantle council’s planning committee this week, although there were encouraging signs for developer Gerard O’Brien.

His company Silverleaf Investments wants to transform the daggy centre into a modern mix of hotel, restaurant, office, pub, aged care, car park and apartments.

But Mr O’Brien’s design must be “exceptional” in order to qualify for the upper storeys, and despite nine trips to the council’s Design Advisory Committee for advice, he’s yet to convince its members he’s got there.

The DAC found the hotel component was based on commercial demands rather than design consideration, and that wasn’t sufficient for such a prominent location.

The council’s planners sided with the DAC, pushing for the plans be sent to the state-controlled development assessment panel with a recommendation for refusal.

But councillors were more sympathetic and recommended the JDAP give Mr O’Brien more time to finesse his design further.

Fremantle Society president John Dowson and architect Ken Adam spoke against the proposal, with the former saying the enthusiastic councillors were ignoring the advice of their own expert committee and the majority of submissions which objected to the plans.

Mr Dowson also presented the latest assessment by architect Malcolm Mackay, who was commissioned by the society to cast his eye over the plans.

Mr Mackay said the designs probably wouldn’t qualify as a standard development, let alone exceptional, in three council areas where he’s a member of an advisory committee or panel.

by STEVE GRANT

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