PAGES and pages of public submissions slamming a large police complex on South Terrace have been ignored by the state-controlled Development Assessment Panel, which approved the development last Friday.
More than 200 submissions called on the JDAP to reject the proposal by WA Police to build a four-storey district police centre in the buffer of the world heritage listed Fremantle Prison, which will involve destroying a section of convict-built wall built in the 1850s.
The comments range from reasoned arguments about the location, bulk and impact of the building on the surrounding streetscapes through to splenetic rants from outright cop-haters.
“A ridiculous proposal. Not only for the outrageous scale, but because there are so many under-utilised buildings in Fremantle that could be adapted to suit this purpose,” one submitter wrote.
“This building would be a great way to ruin a tourism and entertainment district,” another wrote.
Many submitters noted the cost, which started around $50 million but ended up doubling.
“This is an abomination on so many levels,” one submitter wrote.
“The fact it’s being proposed next to an almost-empty and neglected public hospital speaks volumes.
“That a new building of this scale is proposed during a worsening economic crisis, in a time of intersecting social crises, when Fremantle already has empty building like Marine House perfectly suitable for refurbishment, tells us exactly what this government and local council’s priorities are.
Fremantle council recommended the JDAP reject the application.
Fremantle Society president John Dowson spoke at the JDAP meeting and later told the Herald he’d never seen such an outpouring of community anger against a development.
Following the JDAP’s approval, Mr Dowson wrote to police minister Paul Papalia warning he risked having the scale of a world heritage area destroyed under his watch.
“Leaving aside the vastly overcalled proposal, its insensitivity to the world heritage buffer zone, the damage to the significant colonial wall, the archaeological issues, and the appropriateness of the location for a large police complex, the hundreds of submissions should really alarm you because of the vitriol and hatred expressed towards the police,” Mr Dowson wrote.
But assistant police commissioner Greg Knott told the JDAP meeting the size of the building was needed to accommodate extra officers from recruitment programs and to cater for Fremantle’s growing CBD.
“Essentially future-proofing the building and providing a value-for-money solution for the government,” AC Knott said.
Attract and retain
“This facility significantly enhances WA Police Force’s capacity to attract and retain officers and staff to the Fremantle District.”
Mr Dowson said while scoping out early works on the site, he spoke to a contractor who revealed that the excavators had uncovered an old well.
The society president said he fears valuable archaeological material will be lost because excavators just don’t have the same finesse as a team of archaeologists.
by STEVE GRANT