DESCRIBING plans for a 21-storey tower behind the Royal George Hotel in East Fremantle as “an abomination”, veteran Liberal MLC Simon O’Brien has thrown his weight behind the local council and residents’ opposition.
The South Metro pollie says he’s been trying to raise the issue with the McGowan government “in a civilised way”, but hasn’t had much success so far.
“I had a briefing from [East Fremantle CEO] Gary Tuffin and [mayor] Jim O’Neill and I was appalled about how their amendments have been treated by the WA Planning Commission,” Mr O’Neill said.
The council wants to limit development to six storeys through changes to its town planning scheme, but Mr O’Brien says the WAPC had left the document “covered in red ink”.
“There are people in the WAPC following an agenda which is about maximising the hypothetical levels of development, and that’s the wrong way to approach things.”
Mr O’Brien raised the issue in parliament’s upper house recently, mocking the $570,000 developer Saracen Properties paid the state government for the hotel.
“If a few of us had known they were flogging the Royal George pub for $570,000 plus tax, I think I could have got a syndicate together pretty quickly just from my colleagues here,” he said.
Revealing that he’d enjoyed a beer at the Royal George back when it was a working pub in the late 1970s, Mr O’Brien said the redevelopments of the Guildford and National hotels, without the need for accompanying high-rise development, showed Saracen’s plans were an ambit claim.
by STEVE GRANT