Redevelopment of Royal George Hotel Impacts Locals Town Continues Advocacy, Will Seek Solutions

Published on Friday, 5 November 2021 at 4:20:26 PM

Following yesterday’s decision by WA Planning Commission (WAPC) to approve the redevelopment of the Royal George Hotel site including refurbishment of the building and the construction of a nine-storey building with 24 apartments at the rear, the Town of East Fremantle has expressed concern about its impact on the area.  This approval comes at the end of a long campaign where the Council has fought hard for the best result for the community.

Site history: 

  • State government sell Hotel and land to Saracen Properties P/L in 2017.
  • Minister for Planning approves development controls in 2020 allowing for zero commercial parking to be provided and limiting building height.
  • Landowner lodges a development application under new planning legislation which facilitates determination of development application by WAPC in 2021.
  • Council invited to make submission on the development application July 2021. 

Key points of the redevelopment:

  • The development is worth $24 million.
  • Provides for “adaptive re-use of the hotel with an artisan food and beverage production area, cellar door sales, a small bar, restaurant and 10 restored hotel rooms”.
  • The new apartment building on the northern side of the hotel will house 24 apartments and 52 cars bays mostly in an underground car stacker, including 44 residential bays and eight commercial bays for hotel staff.

Public comment

  • 238 public submissions were received on the proposal:
    • 39 per cent were against the development, citing the lack of parking for the hotel and the height of the apartment building, which is about 3m higher than permitted under the Local Planning Scheme.
    • 41 per cent supportive subject to changes being made, and
    • Only 20 per cent were in favour.

In response to the approval, Mayor of the Town of East Fremantle Jim O’Neill said: “Guided by our community’s concerns about many aspects of this proposal, the Town acknowledges this decision and appreciates that this decision will anger many locals.”

Mayor O’Neill explained that the planning approval process was no longer in the hands of the Council.  Changes to planning legislation in July 2020 (in response to COVID) meant that the WA Planning Commission were the determining authority for the planning approval, despite this the Town has lobbied hard to get the best possible result for the East Fremantle community, and particularly those living close to the site. 

“This is not a perfect result or outcome by any means,” he explained, “we are thankful that this important heritage building is receiving a sensitive restoration and will finally be a centre piece for Plympton, East Fremantle and greater Fremantle. The commercial uses will allow it to be open for the community. Our concerns about the building height of the apartment development on this site have not been addressed, and this we know will be disappointing to residents in Plympton Ward and others,” he said.

He said that the Town’s other requests for reduction in height and scale of the building from the outset had been given some consideration, but reiterated concerns that the proposal still exceeds the building height limit by three metres.

Mayor O’Neill explained that parking is at a premium, in the George Street and wider Plympton Precinct, and the addition of all these new apartments and the reopening of the Hotel will add to that congestion. The development, as approved, will not cater adequately for the expected parking demand by the hotel patrons, staff and residential visitors as only 8 bays have been provided for staff and 2 for residential visitors with no parking for hotel patrons

“We know the outcome of this development is being watched closely and is very important to our community and we can reassure them that Council has fought hard to put local interests first. Council staff, elected members and the community have put a lot of time, effort and resources to argue for a reduction in the height of the development and addressing negative traffic and parking impacts. The local community has been united, well organised and focused when leading a campaign that was based on the realisation that there needed to be commercial development to restore the Hotel. The local community were willing to accept quite a large development to ensure the restoration of the Hotel but unfortunately what has been approved has not taken many of these concerns into consideration,” he said.

The development approval has been conditioned to require the developer to work with the Town to provide where possible additional parking in nearby streets and this includes a financial contribution to the Town. The approval also requires the additional parking to be installed before the new buildings are occupied and the Hotel opened.

“George Street is special,” he said, “it has unique heritage significance and constraints and any proposals for this precinct need to be undertaken carefully. We would have preferred, and have worked hard for, a better outcome here.”

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