Museum parking could go

PARKING in front of the WA Maritime Museum and new Gage Roads brewery could be removed to create an open plaza under new plans drawn up for Victoria Quay.

Fremantle Ports confirmed to the Herald it had engaged architectural, engineering and urban design firm GHD Woodhead to develop concept plans aimed at improving the public amenities on Victoria Quay.

Ports community relations manager Neil Stanbury said the plans were being kept under wraps while they were further refined, after which the public would get an opportunity to comment.

“The concepts include creating one or more civic spaces of some kind, plus improving pedestrian and cycle connectors in and out of the precinct,” Mr Stanbury said.

“The museum certainly has been consulted and, like us, supports making Victoria Quay more comfortable and attractive for visitors.

“Of course, they are mindful of any parking impacts and we’ll continue to work with them and other stakeholders.

“We’re pleased the state government supports investment in better public amenities on Victoria Quay and our focus is on improved shade, seating, usable public spaces and connectors to the CBD.

“The western end of Victoria Quay is heritage listed and we’re absolutely committed to preserving the aesthetic, historical and cultural elements which underpin that.

“We’re confident more shade trees and vegetation can be introduced on Victoria Quay without impacting on the heritage significance and its future interpretation.

“The conservation plan for Victoria Quay emphasises how change has been a constant on Victoria Quay throughout its history.”

Fremantle Society president John Dowson isn’t so sure the greenery will complement the quay’s heritage.

He says the 20-year-old masterplan which is supposed to guide development along the precinct doesn’t show avenues of shrubbery and he’s frustrated that years of planning is being swept aside because of a bunch of new-found priorities.

One of the ideas floated in the Ports’ new plans is to move one of three ageing cranes from the quay’s slipway precinct – one of its most important heritage areas which contains the soon-to-be restored Collins class submarine and remnants of the secret submarine base which operated from the harbour in World War II.

Mr Dowson says another report by a Slipway Precinct Committee years ago (Professor Fiona Stanley’s late husband Geoff Shellam had been a member) had laid out how it could be developed into a tourism drawcard, but nothing had happened.

Mr Dowson believes the port authority had been stonewalling because it still had designs on building a hotel within the precinct.

He says he’d hate to see convenient but sterile changes made to the quay while precincts with authentic pulling power such as the slipway were neglected.

Mr Stanbury acknowledged that the slipway had slipped down the list of priorities for the moment.

“Eventually that site will be re-developed and done in a way that fits with the masterplan for Victoria Quay,” he said.

“The state government last week allocated $3.5m to the Maritime Museum for work on the submarine and slipways, which will enhance that area.”

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