Heritage treasure to high-rise apartment block?

The town of East Fremantle is in uproar as a high rise development threatens a heritage treasure.

Saracen Properties plans to build a 21 storey apartment block behind the Royal George Hotel in East Fremantle as part of a restoration plan for the heritage-listed hotel which they purchased last year.

Due to community backlash the local council made modifications to Scheme Amendment 15 in June this year which capped the proposed tower at six storeys. This plan was submitted to the Western Australian Planning Commission for consideration.

Fremantle Labor MP Simone McGurk tabled a petition in WA parliament on August 23 opposing the 21 storey tower which received over 1800 signatures in just 10 days.

The Royal George Hotel.

East Fremantle resident and spokesperson for the Friends of the Royal George Facebook group, Genevieve Hawks, said the town felt it was a poor decision to have such an enormous building on the corner of a narrow road.

Ms Hawks said despite being encouraged by the local council to “make posters, banners, door knock, and write letters,” the town felt disillusioned.

“How much more vocal do we need to be?” she said.

“How much more of a stupid idea does it need to be for the government to start listening to us?

“In terms of how we actually communicate with the government in a way that will actually get a result, we’re all at a loss because we don’t know, are they going to build it despite community unhappiness?”

Along with major concerns regarding traffic and parking, she said it would take away from the heritage value of the area.

“I think it’s just at odds with the character of this place, I think the government should regard this as a little heritage jewel,” she said.

Deputy Mayor of Fremantle Ingrid Waltham said it could be difficult for councils to represent the interests of both the community and the city.

“It can be tricky, but I still think that the community needs to stand up when they think something is wrong and is inappropriate, and we always listen,” she said.

The town is waiting for a decision on the number of storeys allowed at the site from the WAPC and Minister for Planning.