EAST FREMANTLE council has defied planning minister Rita Saffioti in its efforts to prevent over-development beside the historic Royal George Hotel.
At a packed council meeting on Tuesday (August 6), the council rejected some of Ms Saffioti’s amendments to a proposed scheme amendment for the site, which would pave the way for Saracen Properties to develop an apartment complex beside a restored hotel.
The council’s planners were particularly concerned about a clause allowing a seven-storey limit to be ignored by the state-controlled Development Assessment Panel, saying the community had been led to believe this would be a firm cap.
“If the minister were to support the modifications in their current form the potential impact of a building height exceeding seven storeys would not become apparent until a development approval application was lodged,” a planning report to the council read.
There were 233 public submissions on the amendment, most supporting the council’s position on a seven-storey limit and other planning controls which had been removed.
Only 16 submissions were made in favour of the amendment, arguing a taller building would help combat urban sprawl and give a better architectural outcome.
The WA Heritage Council supported the amendment, noting it “responded well” to earlier recommendations it had provided.
The council said it had “no specific objection” to a height limit of seven storeys, but would consider proposals of any heights across a range of heritage factors.
But the Fremantle Society blasted the Heritage Council, calling it a “developers’ club diluted with planning department staff who refuse to accommodate Town of East Fremantle requests”.
“The 170-page report on the Royal George Hotel going to council recommending it accept the seven storey ‘compromise’ is not a victory for the community as some claim, as it will seriously damage the hotel’s landmark status in the George Street heritage area,” society president John Dowson said.
“The whole issue has been a travesty from the day Alannah MacTiernan handed the hotel to the National Trust without informing the Town of East Fremantle, to the process of handing the hotel to a developer for just $570,000.”
by STEVE GRANT