A CONTENTIOUS three-storey building set to greet visitors to East Fremantle’s town centre has made it through the council’s planning committee despite a 453-signature petition opposing it.
The mixed-use building which features a commercial tenancy below a two-storey apartment and rooftop “vergola”, is built on a 211sqm sliver of left-over road reserve that for the last 10 years has been leased out to the adjacent East Fremantle Medical Centre as a car park and small garden.
Medical centre owner Hilary Fine unsuccessfully tried to purchase the land when her lease ended and Main Roads decided to sell it off, and is now fuming that her single-storey front entrance might end up with a 10-metre concrete wall looming over it.
“When you have the image of a 600sqm building on this sliver of land, and which should have been sold to me at a fair price, you have to wonder how it all got to this,” Dr Fine said to the Herald shortly before making a deputation to Tuesday’s planning meeting.
She’d had the land valued at $90,000 on the basis it was too small to build on and was only useful for a car park, but Main Roads’ own valuation put it at $300,000 and it was snapped up by company director and engineer Luke Beaumont.
His plans include an underground basement with a car stacker and storage area, an office and carport on the ground floor, a two-bedroom apartment on the next two floors and a rooftop garden with the pergola, described by council planning staff as a “patio with adjustable louvre roof”.
They noted concerns amongst the 12 formal submissions and petition that it was a small site in a key location.
“However, this lot was formally created by the WAPC (and then sold to the current owner by the state government) and the new owner has the right to seek approval for the development of the land under the planning requirements that apply to the Town Centre and which can be approved by council,” their report to the planning committee noted.
“The commercial tenancy will activate the street and provide for more pedestrian activity in the Town Centre and the addition of another dwelling in the Town Centre not only adds to the Town’s dwelling target and resident population but also activates the Town Centre.”
The building is higher than permitted in East Fremantle’s town planning scheme, but there is discretion under its town centre guidelines, while the council will also have to forgive a one-bay shortfall of car parking.
Dr Fine is also angry that a heritage listing over the 100-year-old medical centre building was removed by the council nearly 10 years ago without her knowledge, something she says goes against East Fremantle’s town planning scheme which mandates consultation.
“Basically I did do four big developments for the medical centre and had to get a heritage report, and my building was finished by 2011 and was accepted.
“In 2012 the council actually said they wanted to increase the heritage protection and I assumed it had a listing, but then responding to this application we discovered in 2014 someone advised them to remove it for the intrusive additions.”
Dr Fine says if the listing had remained, the planning department would have had to take greater note of the impact of the new building, and it might have been knocked back. The building still has to get through full council on November 21.
by STEVE GRANT