Burt green light

FREMANTLE council last week provided conditional support for a significant new housing development on Burt Street.

The new development site, bordering Burt, Skinner, Vale and East Streets, and close to the Fremantle Arts Centre and John Curtin school, will consist of five new buildings incorporating 272 apartments, two restaurants, a gym, an arts studio and a performing arts centre. 

Broad support from the council comes with a request to the Department of Communities, which owns the land, to address a visitor parking shortfall and a recommendation to establish cash-in-lie funding for additional parking in the area. 

The council has also requested the height of the buildings on the Skinner Street frontage be decreased to align with existing height controls.  

Edge Visionary Living was selected in May 2020 as the development partner for the  $129 million project, which is classified as public works.

Construction is expected to support 530 jobs and generate $205m in economic activity. 

The 1.4-hectare site has been vacant since 2017 when the final lot was cleared. A decision to demolish the seven multiple-unit state housing complex and an associated community centre was made in 2011. 

The site previously accommodated 62 Homeswest units housed across three-storey blocks but was subsequently rezoned as a R160 site. 

Under the terms of the development, at least 45 per cent (81) of the first 180 homes built must be affordable of which 10-15 per cent (18 – 27) will be public housing. A breakdown of the proposed public and affordable housing has not yet been presented.

The current development proposal includes 486 car bays; however, all are located within the basements of the four buildings, accessed through Vale and Burt Street, with only 63 currently allocated as non-residential bays. 

Parking was raised as a concern during a Fremantle Arts Centre Precinct (FACP) meeting earlier this year, held with the developer, where local developer’s claim of ‘net zero impact’ on parking didn’t take into consideration the current use of the land for daily parking and events in the area. 

FACP members recommended a reduction in the number of apartments to accommodate more parking bays. 

Concerns were also raised in the council’s planning committee report, which highlighted current street parking in the area around the development as a ”major issue” and unable to accommodate the current high demand. 

The report said putting further pressure on existing public facilities was “not reasonable nor a good outcome for the community of Fremantle”. 

Of the 38 objections received from concerned local residents, accompanying the proposal, the vast majority put car parking as one of the reasons for objecting. 

The council estimates a shortfall of up to 100 visitor car parking bays and recommends the creation of additional street parking in the verge areas adjacent to the site – while noting the sensitivity of existing mature vegetation and other natural features around the site. 

The city’s engineering department reviewed the proposal and accompanying traffic impact assessment and advised Burt Street should not be used for any site parking but Vale Street could be widened to potentially accommodate 46 new parking bays. 

A similar widening of Skinner Street may be plausible. 

The Public Transport Authority has been asked to consider providing additional funding to re-instate the red CAT bus in the area.  

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