The future of the popular arts precinct known as The Pickle District remains in limbo as a multi-level development plan awaits approval, despite large community opposition.
More than 300 submissions were made to the Joint Development Assessment Panel to stop the demolition of several art galleries and creative spaces for the building of a Bunnings, along Cleaver Street between Newcastle Street and the nearby freeway.
The owner of Linton & Kay Gallery, Linton Partington, believes the JDAP process takes control away from local council planning and seems to make it harder for a community to have its say.
Curator and exhibition manager at the Holmes à Court Gallery, Laetitia Wilson, has worked in the precinct for five years. She says she has seen the Pickle District grow from a dull industrial area into a vibrant arts hub.
“The Bunnings proposal has driven through the heart of the community and will kill the culture we have built here,” she says.
Dr Wilson claims there has been a lack of communication from the developers about the project’s timeline, which has left some businesses unsure about where they stand.
She believes despite the support from the community, the future of the arts precinct looks miserable.
Linton Partington’s gallery is just one of the businesses due to be demolished as part of the development. He thinks the community submissions in support of the Pickle District were largely ignored by the JDAP board.
Masters of marine biology student at the University of Western Australia, Bri Beaulieu, is devastated her favourite study space will also be one of the businesses to go due to the development.
She regularly travels almost 20 minutes from her house in Doubleview to the Cleaver Street Café because there are no creative space coffee shops near her.
“I’m really upset, I feel like there are so many better places to put a Bunnings. It feels like bulldozing a cultural hotspot,” Ms Beaulieu says.
Linton Partington admits he has become disillusioned with public outcry as an effective form of resistance after battling to save the West Perth arts precinct.
“It’s really disappointing because the Pickle District is something unique that doesn’t exist elsewhere in Perth,” he says.
The Department of Planning, Lands, and Heritage, the body in charge of the JDAP process, has been contacted for comment.