The neglect by the National Trust of the historic former Royal George Hotel in East Fremantle is a bloody disgrace and shows the organisation’s dismal failure of protecting the heritage buildings in it’s care.
The Royal George saga has been going on for many years, when artists were forced to move out and the building has been vacant since, making it a target for vandalism and homeless people.
Every now and then we are assured that yet again new developers are looking into the viability of renovating the building and making it habitable again, but it always turns out to be hot air and empty promises.
The Town of East Fremantle appears powerless to force the issue and demand that the site be renovated and activated.
It is an utter disgrace and something needs to be done at state and federal level to force the issue because the status quo is no longer acceptable and is endangering the beautiful heritage-listed building.
Some arty photos I took this afternoon of the J Shed art studios at Fremantle’s Bathers Beach.
I love spending time there and watch out over historic Bathers Bay and get startled by the 1 o’clock cannon fire at the Roundhouse.
Arthur Head is a very special place in Western Australia’s history, so go and visit it!
The Statutory Planning Committee of the Western Australian Planning Commission on June 28 rejected the application by Fremantle’s Kidogo Arthouse at Bathers Beach for retrospective approval for an Addition of Deck to Existing Heritage Building.
This from the minutes of the meeting:
That the Statutory Planning Committee resolves to:
1. Refuse the application for retrospective approval for development in accordance with the plans submitted thereto for the following reasons:
a. The size and scale of the timber deck visually dominates a heritage building and place and thus detracts from its heritage and cultural significance and is contrary to
State Planning Policy 3.5 – Historic Heritage Conservation.
b. The design and detail of the timber deck is inappropriate to the early colonial setting of the heritage place and is inconsistent with the Conservation Plan for this heritage place.
c. Development is contrary to the orderly and proper planning and detrimental to the amenity of the locality.
2. Give written direction to the applicant, pursuant to section 214(3) of the Planning and Development Act, 2005, to:
a. Remove the development of the timber deck extension to existing heritage building – Kidogo Arthouse; and
b. Reinstate the land as nearly as racticable to its condition immediately before the development started; or
c. Alter the development in accordance with the approval to commence development issued 30 July 2015 (Ref: 05-50134-4).
This direction is to be complied with by 31 October 2016, being not less than 60 days of the date shown on the notice of refusal.
3. Advise the applicant that, pursuant to section 214(7) of the Planning and Development Act, 2005, failure to comply with this direction within the time specified, is to commit an offence.
The motion was put and carried.
I hear that Kidogo owner Joanna Robinson now wants to take the matter to the State Administrative Tribunal.
This has been an interesting saga, as the Kidogo owner tried for years to get approval from Fremantle Council to build toilets at the southern side of the heritage building and finally received approval to build a small toilet block on the norther side. Instead of going ahead with the toilets she changed her mind and built the huge deck without the necessary approval.
If Kidogo does not get approval from SAT it will have been a very costly exercise as the deck cost $ 30,000 to build I believe and removing it won’t be cheap either.
It is very interesting to read in the Fremantle Herald this morning that Sunset Events director David Chitty has told them the company will go on and try to get approval from the WA Planning Commission for an 1,500 patron outdoor live music venue and an 850 patron tavern at J Shed on historic Arthur Head, against the vote of Fremantle Council and the wishes of the Fremantle community.
All the talk by David Chitty that he too is a Freo resident and community minded appears to be meaningless, as he wants to force his project through against the latest Fremantle Council and Planning Committee decisions. That is very disappointing for the community but the dollar signs are more powerful that community sentiment.
Sunset Events wrongly did receive approval from the City of Fremantle for a 400 patron tavern and 1,000 patron concerts, but that was not big enough for the proponents, and one can see why. Add another 500 music fans to the 12 concerts a year, and get 1,500 in at $ 100.00 a ticket plus what they eat and drink and you’ve got a substantial and very lucrative business. Add to that a doubling of patrons for the tavern seven days a week, while paying a mere peppercorn rent to the City of Fremantle and you are laughing all the way to the bank, so why bother about community sentiment and complaints.
But at the end it is not Sunset Events we should blame for being stubborn and greedy but Fremantle Council for being absolutely stupid for initially approving a totally inappropriate tavern and live music venue at one of WA’s most historic precincts. It will now come and bite them back!
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt will next week at the full council meeting declare a conflict of interest for the debate on the Sunset Events proposal for a tavern and live outdoor music venue at J Shed at Bathers Beach. The Mayor will declare the conflict because his long-term partner is an employee of CODA, the architects assigned by Sunset Events to design the tavern.
While this is the correct procedure one has to wonder why that conflict of interest did not exist last year when the temporary approval for live concerts was given, when the Mayor already was in a relationship with the CODA staffer.
Cynics might see this as a convenient way out for the Mayor who now won’t have to take part in the debate and won’t have to vote, so whatever the outcome no one can blame him.
Thinking about J Shed I feel this is a lost opportunity to create something special at historic Arthur Head. J Shed could have been a community and arts hub like the lovely Fibonacci Centre in Blinco Street that has artists and yoga studios, a small exhibition and performance space, a cute cafe and a nice deck to sit on. The Fib has small concerts, poetry readings, exhibitions, functions, a monthly flea market, etc. and is such a relaxing venue. Imagine something like that at Bathers Beach, a small deck for alfresco enjoyment of the Indian Ocean and sunset, a space suitable for weddings and wedding function, for art exhibitions and collaborations with the artists at J Shed.
Then imagine the City, with a grant from Lotterywest, uncovering the remnants of the old Whaling Station and creating another historic tourist attraction in the area. Increase the connectivity between the Fishing Boat Harbour and the Maritime Museum by extending the board walk and one has a jewel that will attract people from all over the world and many locals.
Fremantle does not need another entertainment precinct. We already got that well covered in the CBD and we know the often negative impact that has on the community. Check out the FARE (Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education) website or their DRINKTANK blog to see what impact drinking has on the community and our national health system, and it might be time for the City of Fremantle to consider their own alcohol policy.
The Planning Committee of the City of Fremantle, very well chaired by Councillor Jon Strachan, debated the Sunset Events proposal for an 850 patron tavern and 1,500 patron live music concerts at J Shed on historic Arthur Head. The City is not the deciding authority as it will go to the WA Planning Committee, but Council will need to either approve or reject the proposal and forward their decision to the WAPC, who will take that into consideration.
There were many speakers from residents and heritage organisation who voiced their concerns and many of the Elected Members agreed with them.
Councillor Bryn Jones said the six-months trial period had confirmed the concerns of the community and that the impact on the A Class reserve by fencing it off was unacceptable to him. He also believed it is fanciful to suggest alternative vehicle access through the Whalers Tunnel, the tourist footpath or a lift from Mrs Trivett Place and said Fleet Street access would need to be resolved before Council should contemplate approval of the project. “It is too big a project for the site and the scale and frequency of events is too big.”
Councillor Ingrid Waltham is a very thoughtful and deliberate member of Council who oozes integrity. The thinks, ask questions, reads information, listens to the community and will not be swayed by nice words or empty promises. She said she was a little underwhelmed by the weekend BBQ events and concerned about the large concerts. “The Arthur Head area is very important and unique and heritage is very special to me.”
Councillor Strachan asked what the City had expected from activation of the area and that the decision Council had to make was significant and that it will have great implications. He believed that 850 patrons on normal days and 1,500 during live open air concerts are too many for this small place. “That we are trying to find vehicle access to the site is an indication that the proposal is too large.”
Planning Committee voted 4-1 to reject the proposal and forward it to full council. The only Councillor in favour of the proposal was Dave Hume.
There is still a very long way to go, but this is a small but significant win for those who have been fighting the inappropriate proposal for years now.
I was gobsmacked to see that the proposal does not even include building proper toilets, but that transportable toilets would be used for a new tavern that is expecting a 21-year lease. Kidogo Arthouse pulled out of developing a small bar because they were expected to fork out $ 80,000 for toilets.
The highly controversial proposal to develop Studio 1 at J Shed into a tavern and live music venue goes to the Planning Committee of the City of Fremantle this Wednesday for alterations and additions to the original, and approved, plans.
Council can only make recommendations to the WA Planning Committee under delegated authority and is not the decision-making authority.
The major point for me is that Sunset Events applies for a venue for 850 patrons and up to 1,500 for live outdoor concerts, the latter is up 50% of the 1.000 patrons Fremantle Council approved. While the lease with the City will stipulate the number of patrons allowed it is an indication that Sunset will try to increase the number of patrons once the new tavern is open.
The concerts at J Shed so far have received criticism from residents in the West End, from artists in the neighbouring studios and from the Roundhouse volunteer tourguides. Noise and anti-social behaviour were the main issues but also the stinking portaloos left there for weeks and overflowing large skip bins. The day-time sound checks have also interrupted weddings and the traditional cannon firing ceremony which are held above J Shed and are part of the Roundhouse operations, but little respect has been shown for the oldest public building in Western Australia and people having their most special ceremony.
Fremantle Ports have expressed they are against the development and might not grant access for delivery vehicles along Fleet Street, which would leave access to the venue very much in limbo as the alternatives suggested by City of Fremantle officers are ludicrous and worst case scenario ‘solutions’
The officers suggest four alternative route for deliveries to the venue. One would see vehicles deliver near Kidogo and from there goods would be put on trollies or forklifts along the pedestrian tourist path to J Shed. Option two is to do deliveries through the Whalers Tunnel, which is highly frequented by tourists to historic Arthur Head and large groups of school children. Option three is to build a new road to the north of Fleet Street but that would require to also build a very expensive new roundabout at the Cliff/Phillimore/Fleet Street intersection. Option four would see trucks drive up Mrs Trivett Lane where a lift would be installed to take the goods down to J Shed level. That would interfere with the operation and parking for the Roundhouse volunteer tourguides and the artists up there. Anyone who believes that trucks that deliver temporary fences and stages would not drive straight up to the venue, but would lower them from Mrs Trivett Lane must be living in lala land, as it is not practical and would be very time consuming.
Fremantle Council made a huge mistake granting Sunset Events the license to operate a tavern and live music venue for 21 years and it will be up to future councils to try to clean up the mess and deal with all the problems the venue will be creating for nearby residents and long-term artists at J Shed.
There is only one more option for the community to stop the development and that is protesting to the Liquor Licensing Board that the venue is the wrong kind of activation for the significant historic area. That is the last hope for common sense.
I often noticed the puzzled or annoyed expression of people who try to buy parking tickets in Fremantle. I have heard many times that the credit card facility does not work or is hard to navigate, so how many people does it take to pay for parking in good old Freo?
The text on the machines is also small and hard to read, and of course it’s only in English. Any ideas how we can improve this and make it easier?
I would love to see the City of Fremantle recognise more that we are a destination for international visitors and install multi-lingual wayfinding signs, or interactive ones that on touch will display the language the foreign visitors speak. I would also like the hospitality industry to supply multi-lingual menus, or even better a tablet with the flag ikons of countries so that patrons can read the main menu in Japanese, Chinese, etc.
At the Roundhouse one of the most appreciated services is the translations we have in many languages. It is a basic service to international tourists, so if a volunteer organisation can do it surely professionals and governments can do something similar
FROM THE STATE HERITAGE OFFICE ON THE WEST END HERITAGE PLANS:
As you are aware the Heritage Council recently resolved that West End, Fremantle is of cultural heritage significance in terms of the Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990, and that stakeholders should be consulted on the proposal to recommend the Minister for Heritage enter the place in the State Register of Heritage Places.
We are seeking your comments on the proposed entry of West End, Fremantle in the Register. The register entry will be based on the three documents which are available on our website using the links below, so please read these carefully:
· Draft assessment documentation
· Curtilage Map – showing the area of land that is proposed to be registered
· Zones of significance – showing the level of significance of the various areas within the West End
Submissions can be made using the form on our website, or by returning the West End Submission Form by post or fax, or by emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional comments or information can be submitted in a separate attachment. Please provide your submission to us by Monday 2 May 2016.
Please note that all owners within the West End, the City of Fremantle, and other key stakeholders, including tenants, have also been asked to comment on the proposed registration.
Following the closure of the comment period all documentation will be presented to the Heritage Council and a recommendation on whether to recommend the Minister enter West End, Fremantle in the State Register will be considered.
The ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ on our website provide answers to commonly asked questions about the State Register and the registration process. More information can be found at http://westend.stateheritage.wa.gov.au/ including a brochure on the State Register, our publication on making heritage your business advantage, and some words from owners within the precinct http://www.stateheritage.wa.gov.au/state-heritage-register/fremantle-west-end/owners-supporting-heritage-listing-of-west-end.
Dr Kelly Fleming
Senior Heritage Officer
State Heritage Office
The Fremantle former Police Station and Courthouse complex has been sold but officially the new owners have not been disclosed. I hear on the grapevine though that it might be Fremantle-based developers Silverleaf, who are developing Atwell Arcade at the moment and are in the planning process stage for a 12 storey mixed commercial development on the Woolstores Shopping Centre site.
Real estate agent Savills had the property for sale for the WA State Government at an asking price of $ 5,95 million, but it is unknown what it sold for. Recent reports in the media have indicated the fire sale by the State has seen many properties sold well under value.
The Police precinct is 7,000 square metres and has seven buildings on it ageing from 37 to 115 years old.
With the renovations of the Warders Cottages along Henderson Street well under way, and soon up for sale, it will be exciting to see life brought back into that historic part of the inner city, so I am looking forward to finding out what the plans for the precinct are.