A FILM studio proposed for Fremantle Port will reportedly feature towering 25-metre high walls that will obscure water views on prime quayside land.
Little Creatures co-founder Howard Cearns and property developer Adrian Fini are behind the screen and studio facility proposal. They have teamed up in an attempt to secure the millions the McGowan government has put on the table for industry to set up a Perth film hub.
The Herald contacted Mr Cearns about the vast 25 metre high studio plans but he declined to comment, saying the proposal was with government.
The Herald has heard that Fremantle Ports is concerned about the height of the proposed studios, but when we bumped into outgoing CEO Chris Leatt-Hayter on Thursday morning, he wouldn’t bite and would only say that “there is a process” and the port was one of several sites being looked at by various interested parties.
The port authority would not be the only one. When the Herald told Fremantle Society president John Dowson about the towers he wrote to members saying they were inappropriate.
“It would be a privatisation of public space with high security and minimal access for locals,” Mr Dowson said.
Mr Dowson said the building would destroy the scale and heritage of the area.
“Victoria Quay is a highly significant maritime precinct with close links to the adjacent heritage listed West End, and the predominant form of Victoria Quay should not be higher than the existing sheds on the wharf,” he said.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said he was keen to ensure the site was well “activated”. He said the film studio should be an attractor to the precinct.
He neither confirmed nor denied that the proposal included massive walls and security fences which would make the area inaccessible.
“I haven’t seen any designs beyond some early concepts,” Dr Pettitt said.
“Some height along Victoria Quay is not a major concern so long as sightlines, permeability, connectivity and good design quality are achieved as per the Victoria Quay Precinct Plans that we have previously agreed to.”
Dr Pettitt has been gunning for a smaller studio at a council-owned site on Jones Street in O’Connor after lobbying from representatives of WA’s screen industry.
“Jones Street would be used as a stepping-stone for the development of larger studio facilities on Victoria Quay, which may take a few years to plan and build,” he said.
But the Herald received a tip that senior bureaucrats within the state government were not interested in the Jones Street hub. The word has it that the government wants to bring in big budget Netflix-type filmmakers and spend the money in one hit.
The race for the film hub funding recently got more intense with the government extending the deadline for proposals to develop the facility.
The Herald has heard the extension was due to a big-name eastern states consortium putting their hat in the ring at the last moment. A spokesperson for the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries said: “there had been a number of approaches from local, national and international parties indicating they couldn’t meet the original deadline.”
by ATHENA FINN, STEVE GRANT and MIGNON SHARDLOW