Park protest

• Protestors doing guerrilla crocheting, so they can “wrap the Royal George in love”.

RESIDENTS opposing a 21-storey apartment block on the Royal George Hotel site in East Fremantle are holding a demonstration at Locke Park today (Saturday September 22).

The “orderly demonstration” will start at 10.30am, and Fremantle federal Labor MP Josh Wilson and Labor Bicton MP Lisa O’Malley will have a “mobile office” at the park, where residents can discuss local issues.

Friends of the Royal George have sent about 100 letters to the government asking for a six-story limit on the Saracen Properties’ development, and spent $800 on 50 corflute signs opposing the high-rise.

Mal Christison, who lives near the hotel on King Street, says the community learned how to fight against the government during the Roe 8 demonstrations.

“Just like then, we will occupy the site if we have to – I don’t think government wants anything like that again,” he says.

“When you talk to politicians they are very sympathetic, but in the background it just seems to be going ahead.”

Some FRG members have been crocheting and knitting and plan to “dress up the Royal George in love”.

East Fremantle council lodged a planning scheme amendment, limiting the apartment block to six storeys, with the WA planning commission.

But it has recommended changes that would likely see the 21-storey development go ahead, and now the final decision rests with WA planning minister Rita Saffioti.

Saracen project director Joel Saraceni says there’s no way they could cover the $4 million cost of restoring the Royal George Hotel if council capped the tower at six storeys.

“It made it virtually impossible,” he told the Herald. “It just didn’t provide enough development potential.”

Mr Saraceni says council’s concept drawing of the six-storey tower is not accurate and doesn’t cover parking space.

East Fremantle mayor Jim O’Neill says he’s feeling positive about Ms Saffioti ruling in their favour.

The Herald understands the council are expecting a decision on its planning scheme amendment by mid-October.

by MOLLY SCHMIDT

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