EAST FREMANTLE council fears it’s found a loophole that would allow the developers of the old Royal George Hotel site to go higher than seven storeys.
Back in November planning minister Rita Saffioti told the council to advertise a scheme amendment with the seven-storey limit, but CEO Gary Tuffin told the Herald this week that after some “digging” his planners became concerned it wasn’t set in stone.
Mr Tuffin said the WA Planning Commission had reinstated a clause taken out by East Fremantle.
It gave the decision-making authority the right to vary conditions when a development application was considered.
Only the plot ratio, and not height limits, were quarantined from that discretion and Mr Tuffin said the council wanted clarification if that could mean a taller, thinner building before signing off.
The council was given an extension until June 25 to make a decision, after which the amendment will be sent to the WAPC’s statutory planning committee which will form its own recommendation for Ms Saffioti.
The Friends of the Royal George have also raised concerns that new residential design codes released by the McGowan government could usher in a “high-rise construction that would not pass the ‘pub test’ of what a seven-storey building looks like”.
In a letter to Fremantle Labor MLA Simone McGurk, friends spokesperson Genevieve Hawks said above-ground basements, mezzanine levels and lofts appeared to be no longer considered a separate storey.
“Moreover, each storey can be as high as five metres, and ‘natural ground level’ is an indeterminate starting point that can be raised before construction starts,” Ms Hawks wrote.
“As scheme amendment number 15 currently stands, a ‘seven storey’ building could tower over the Royal George Hotel, extending higher even than its spire.
“This is not what any of us envisioned when we celebrated the government’s announcement that the development behind the hotel would be capped at seven storeys.”
The WAPC was contacted for comment, but we didn’t hear back by deadline.
by STEVE GRANT