East Freo locals plan tower battle

ABOUT 50 East Fremantle residents met on Wednesday night to prepare a battle plan to fight a proposed 18-storey tower beside the Royal George Hotel.

Organised by the Friends of the Royal George, the meeting at the Glyde-In Community Learning Centre was attended by East Freo mayor Jim O’Neill who offered the group resources for the campaign.

Mr O’Neill stood at the back of the room with his deputy Michael McPhail and CEO Gary Tuffin answering questions and offering support.

“The town will offer whatever we can, in terms of photocopying information that people need, a meeting place – we will do whatever we can to support the Friends of the Royal George,” Mr O’Neill said.

The council is opposed to the proposed tower and has initiated a scheme amendment to try and limit it to six storeys, but the ultimate approval lies with the state-appointed development assessment panel.

Friends member Genevieve Hawks told attendees to contact WA planning minister Rita Saffioti to air their concerns, handing out contacts for other local MPs she said needed to be told about the opposition.

• East Fremantle residents rally to stop an 18-storey tower beside the Royal George Hotel. Photo by Molly Schmidt


“The first step is coming together and supporting this amendment,” Ms Hawks said.

Guest speakers included former Fremantle Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, former Fremantle Society president Ian Alexander and Rethink the Link campaign coordinator Kim Dravnieks.

Mr Alexander suggested “campaigners need to be more visible” and “there is a place for public demonstration, such as standing on the site when construction is due to start”.

When Ms Dravnieks asked the group who was prepared to lead the fight, almost half the room raised their hands.

She stressed the importance of working together staying focused in the face of conflict.

“No one respects name-callers and rudeness,” she warned, advising the group to do their research and back themselves with facts.

Developers Saracen Properties says it needs to build about 40 apartments in an 18-storey tower to pay for the hotel’s $4 million refurbishment.

The amendment is before the WA planning commission. Saracen bought the site from the state government last year.


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