FREMANTLE council’s insistence on a footpath 6.65 metres wide makes its approval of the Woolstores shopping centre redevelopment a pyrrhic victory, says the developer.
Silverleaf Investments boss Gerard O’Brien says the extra-wide footpath would make his new shops too narrow to lease out.
“Standard footpath widths in Australia are 3.5m wide, being the old 12 foot,” Mr O’Brien told the Herald.
“We are proposing to use our land to create a 5m wide footpath, however council have asked us for further concession to create a 6.65m wide footpath, which is double the width of St George’s Terrace and Pitt Street … go figure why.
“This results in the already proposed narrow retail shops on Queen Street being too narrow for a retailer, so they will not be leasable.
“Further, the offices on level 1 that shield the carpark will again be long, narrow runs with no depth, thus making these non-functional.
“The entire site is master planned and there is no discretion with altering the Coles footprint.
“We do not want to build non-viable, compromised stores which add to the already massive vacancies in Fremantle, and as the JDAP independent members said, ‘why would Fremantle decline the best opportunities only to have more on-grade parking, vacant shops and tattoo parlours?’.
But Fremantle Society president John Dowson said back when the council was developing its controversial scheme amendment 49 and gave the Woolstores site a 12-storey ceiling, it was on the proviso the footpaths be the width the council had now approved (see his letter on page 4).
A staff report to council says the setback was introduced to even up building alignments along Queen Street because its width is variable, would allow a future road widening and improve pedestrian movements.
It also notes the wider footpath might leave room for a parking bay to serve the hotel propose for a later stage of the development.
Mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge moved to delete the officer’s recommendation, saying “the commercial reality needs to be taken into account”, but she could only get support from deputy Frank Mofflin and councillors Geoff Graham, Fedele Camarda and Bryn Jones and the motion lapsed.
by STEVE GRANT