Business plan to push oval’s cred

But image worries Society

FREMANTLE council has endorsed a business plan for the redevelopment of Fremantle Oval so it can lobby for funding, but two big, glassy buildings shown in artist impressions have the Fremantle Society up in arms.

The plan, ushered through following a brief debate at Wednesday’s monthly meeting, moots an “active community hub” which maintains the oval’s WAFL status but also opens the door to a bigger stage.

Mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge said recent work by the city which had brought in English rugby and the Leeds soccer team showed the oval’s potential.

“It brings a lot of international visitation, it brings a lot of international media, it lands us a lot of international exposure,” she said of the recent games and training at the heritage-listed site.

“But the other thing it does it builds the case for Fremantle to be a key location for major sporting events and it builds the case for the next steps of this business plan which is to go out and do the advocacy work that we need to turn Fremantle Oval into the world-class venue it can be.”

Ms Fitzhardinge said clubs and punters had told the council they loved using the oval, but its facilities were ageing and the historic Victoria Pavilion was totally removed from the playing area.”

The business plan suggests a second club could join the South Fremantle Football Club in being based at the oval, while an integrated “football, sport, recreation and education facility” would also be created.

But Fremantle Society president John Dowson said the council had been premature by including design ideas showing the glassy structures.

“This should not be a rerun of battles that took place such as the initial insensitive siting of the Dockers’ building at the northern end of the oval,” Mr Dowson said.

“There should not be expensive business plans passed by council which contain such insensitive material. Years of planning policies and heritage studies should guide what is presented by council and others.”

Councillor Jenny Archibald responded that the document was only a business plan, not a development application, to give the council some ammunition to lobby for funding.


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