DEVELOPMENT at the Royal George Hotel site in East Fremantle has effectively been capped at seven storeys by WA planning minister Rita Saffioti.
Ms Saffioti’s decision, which was announced late this week, puts an end to owner Saracen Properties’ plans to build a 24-storey apartment tower behind the heritage-listed hotel.
East Fremantle council had wanted to change its planning scheme to limit development to six storeys, but Ms Saffioti has told it to readvertise the proposed Amendment 15 for 28 days at the slightly higher height.
Ms Saffioti has also told the council that any further development proposals are to be run past a new “State Design Review Panel”.
“The Royal George Hotel is a Fremantle landmark and we are responding to widespread community interest about the future development of the site,” Ms Saffioti said.
“The modifications to Amendment 15 will facilitate the restoration of the Royal George Hotel building and provide for appropriate development on the site to ensure it continues to be a significant heritage landmark.”
Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk said the minister had listened to the community and struck the right balance.
“The Royal George will be restored to its former glory with sensible development befitting a heritage neighbourhood,” Ms McGurk said.
“After years of neglect, it’s a relief to know the Royal George will become the centrepiece of the Plympton Ward precinct once again.”
Her neighbouring Labor colleague Lisa O’Malley said the hotel was a classic corner pub.
“This part of East Fremantle has a very passionate community who treasure the historical significance of the area,” the Bicton MP said.
“I hope everyone can get behind this amendment and get involved when it is advertised by the local government.”
Saracen Properties project director Joel Saraceni said he had some concerns a seven-storey redevelopment was achievable under the 2:1 plot ratio imposed by Ms Saffioti.
He said if the company could make seven storeys work they would keep going with the project, but warned it would be a big, bulky building.
“It would not be the first time planning rules have got in the way of good design, and that’s what people complain about in Perth – the lack of good design,” Mr Saraceni told the Herald.
The news wasn’t so good for East Fremantle over the old Roofing 2000 site on Stirling Highway, with the minister saying she’d allowed extra height at the rear of the site as long as open space and mature trees were retained.
by STEVE GRANT