Minister to meet over hotel heights

PLANNING minister Rita Saffioti says she’s planning to meet with East Fremantle council to discuss its concerns about variable heights at the old Royal George Hotel site.

Although Ms Saffioti released a proposed scheme amendment for the site last November which included “maximum height … not permitted to exceed seven storeys” the council has since discovered that’s not set in stone.

If the amendment were adopted, a building could still be approved above that limit if the relevant decision-making authority thought it worthy enough to vary the rules.

New state design codes have also raised the height considered to be a storey so developers can squeeze in more mezzanine levels, lofts and basements.

Any development on the Royal George site is bound to be above the threshold that would see it flicked to the state-controlled development assessment panels, so East Freo would have no say on the outcome.

As a result, it wants the amendment tightened up with additional wording.

“The minister understands how significant this site and amendment is to the community,” Ms Safiotti’s office replied to the Herald.

“That is why she requested that the modifications be readvertised for public comment, rather than finalise the amendment straight away.”

Her office said the council could recommend more variations to the scheme amendment in its submission to the WA Planning Commission, whose recommendation gets passed on to the minister.

She has also met with Saracen Properties, which owns the site and had proposed a 21-storey tower to go in the car park alongside the hotel.

by STEVE GRANT

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