Spiring to great heights

EAST FREMANTLE council has given a half-hearted thumbs-up to new planning guidelines for the historic Royal George Hotel.

On Wednesday planning minister Rita Saffioti approved an amendment to the town’s planning scheme which will peg development behind the hotel to just above the height of its spire.

Hotel owner Saracen Properties will have to submit its designs to the state’s design review panel and convince the heritage council of their merits.

“The modified scheme takes into consideration the views of the Town and community and the landmark significance of this state heritage listed place,” Ms Saffioti said.

East Fremantle CEO Gary Tuffin’s first response to the amendment was to have a dig at the state’s planning department before conceding Ms Saffioti had helped.

“The Town would have preferred its proposed Amendment was recommended for adoption by the WAPC without modification, and we were very disappointed with the wholesale changes made by the Department of Planning (DoP),” Mr Tuffin said.

“Whilst we would have liked to have seen the Minister reinstate our original proposed scheme text, her further modifications to the DoP modifications more closely aligned to our original proposed scheme provisions, most importantly capping a maximum height.”

Bicton MLA Lisa O’Malley said capping the height ensured the development would ensure the hotel’s heritage significance would not be overshadowed.

“With a balance struck, the work to rejuvenate this cherished site back to life can now begin.”

Saracen was reported as being reasonably happy with the amendment, which falls short of the 21-storeys it initially wanted.

Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk said it had been a long road to get to this decision.

“The scheme protects the unique heritage of the neighbourhood, while allowing sensible development which will see the long awaited restoration of the Royal George.”

by STEVE GRANT

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