Public comment on application DAO370/15 and DAO373/15 Arthur Head

John Dowson - Image from the Fremantle Herald (Click to read article)

John Dowson – Image from the Fremantle Herald (Click image  to read article)

I am aghast at the damage Fremantle Council seeks to wreak on the hugely significant but fragile historic Arthur Head area, a place where the whole of Western Australia was claimed for the British Empire in 1829, where the state’s oldest public building the Round House sits, and where much of the state’s early history had a beginning.

This severe damage is part of a pattern where council seeks to ‘revitalise’ an area they think is underutilised, and then goes so far overboard, they end up doing irreparable damage to it.

The reasonings and arguments put forward are laughable. The impact of the proposals is significant and negative and does not ‘highlight the cultural and historical values of the historic West End’.

Having written 4 books on Fremantle and having been Chairman of Council’s Heritage and Special Places Committee, I have seen the enormous research done on the significance of this area and have studied the various policies of council regarding this area. What Sunset Events is proposing is simply exploitation, and the encouragement of a booze barn mentality in a sensitive area.

The area in question has seen changes, and yes J shed itself was moved and split in two. But that is no reason to allow large additions and intrusive roof decks, which will ruin the ambiance and setting of what is a heritage area of high significance. Drop ping a few bits of public art around the site will not improve the area, but simply clutter it. The real heritage and significance is what is there already, and the artists using J shed have for many years provided an appropriate use of the building with public access allowed.

It is also laughable to say that the proponent has significantly scaled back his proposal to make money by limiting numbers to 1500 people for special events and 400 to 800 at other times. Those figures are enormous, and as a businessman and resident who lives 200 metres away and who has lived in that area for 25 years, I do not want the social impact of large alcohol fuelled events, let alone the day to day impact of 400- 800 people on a small and sensitive site. What I do want to see is the council read its own policies and safeguard, restore, enhance and develop the area as befitting one of the state’s prime heritage sites.

I strongly oppose the proposed timber decking and viewing areas as having a negative and intrusive effect on the heritage values of the area and the viewlines to the Round House and Arthur Head from various angles.

I strongly oppose the rationale presented by the developer that his proposal reinforces the idea of an ‘arts hub.’ That is patently false, as the obvious intent of this proposal is to sell as much alcohol as possible to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

I strongly oppose the rationale given that additions proposed are ‘temporary’. The intention is obviously to have the additions there for the duration of the very long lease proposed. The additions proposed will significantly reduce the heritage significance of the important whaling and boat building history a couple of metres away from the intended development.

This is not a low impact proposal but one that swamps the area, swamps the ambience, and swamps the heritage.

John Dowson

Steamship Buildings

10-12 Mouat Street


Western Australia 6160


This entry was posted in heritage, Local Government Amalgamations, Public Open Spaces and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Public comment on application DAO370/15 and DAO373/15 Arthur Head

  1. You have no good arguments other than self interest. This is a great spot for events and noise, and much less people would be affected here than somewhere else.

    • Self interest? I live in the Northern Suburbs? My interest extends to all poor planning decisions across Perth and WA, that have negative impacts on heritage sites, the urban forest, urban natural areas and public opens spaces. What is your “self interest”, going and see bands and getting trollied or make profits from people who do?

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