THE WA Planning Commission has approved the redevelopment of the historic Royal George Hotel despite a last-gasp plea from a local that it looked like a “modern art version of a prison”.
Saracen Properties’ second stab at a redevelopment of the site is a refurbishment of the hotel and a nine-storey apartment building at the rear.
The application was decided by the State Development Assessment Unit, a powerful, bureaucrat-heavy authority created by the McGowan government to speed up “significant” developments during Covid, but criticised by others as further marginalising residents from big decisions that affect their neighbourhood.
The design was supported by East Fremantle artist and long-term hotel advocate Tony Jones, who’s been watching its “sad decline and neglect” through his kitchen window.
“This development offers a wonderful opportunity to match the old with the new and the commissioning of Michael Patroni will ensure a building of architectural merit and distinction,” Mr Jones said.
However resident Susan O’Sullivan was less than impressed with the design which she described as a “cold, slab of an eyesore”.
But the unit sided with supporters, with the State Design Review Panel commending the proposed building’s “strong architectural design”.
Saracen will have to negotiate with the Town of East Fremantle, which unsuccessfully asked for the height to be reduced to fit in with its town planning scheme, to provide more on-street parking after many residents and local businesses such as Brush Factory owner Peter Unsworth raised fears of clogged streets and customers driving away.
The developer will have to put up $261,000 to construct additional street parking bays or pay the council to improve the parking situation around George Street.