Bellevue: historic blunder feared over Darling Range Hotel proposal

Bellevue's Darling Rage Hotel.
Artist's impression of a development to the Darling Range Hotel.
Bellevue's Darling Rage Hotel. Artist's impression of a development to the Darling Range Hotel.

RESIDENTS fighting to protect Bellevue’s Darling Range Hotel from becoming a service station say such a development would compromise the 112-year-old building’s historic value.

The comments follow a Metro East Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) decision this month to conditionally approve the latest proposal for the Great Eastern Highway facility – including keeping part of the original hotel – which had been earmarked for demolition, and public art for Horace Street.

Bellevue Residents and Ratepayers Association secretary Dianne Arvino said the developer’s intention to partially retain and renovate the hotel would do little to preserve its heritage significance.

Ms Arvino said they were “extremely disappointed” an alternative motion backing the application, which had been recommended for refusal, was unanimously supported at the July 7 hearing.

Minutes from the meeting said the reason approval was granted was because concerns previously raised – including the heritage aspect of the proposal – had been addressed.

Prior applications for the development were rejected by the panel, with the most recent in April for not complying with an amendment to the City of Swan’s local planning scheme prohibiting a service station as a land use for the site.

Swan chief executive Mike Foley said the City believed the application should have been refused again on that basis.

“The proponent will now need to provide the required information, as set out in the conditions of the JDAP planning approval, to the City prior to site works commencing,” he said.

“They will also need to make an application to the City for a building permit and a demolition licence.”

Mr Foley said the inclusion of some form of reference to the history of the building was not the suggestion of the City but a decision made by JDAP.

“It remains to be seen whether the inclusion of this element will satisfy those opposed to the development for heritage or historical reasons,” he said.

Ms Arvino said it offered no protection for the hotel, with one third still to be knocked down.

“It is shameful on the part of the decision makers that a random service station development application has more value than the historic 112-year-old Darling Range Hotel,” she said.

“There’s no conservation works being done on the building … if the intention was to preserve our heritage, they’d actually be looking at reinstating the verandas, restoring the bricks.

“In their photo the chimney was actually gone.”

She said once the service station was against the hotel there was little chance it would be heritage-listed.

“We were on the back foot from the beginning because the City didn’t recognise the historic value of the building and had it on its municipal inventory,” she said.

“That may be able to change; we actually lobbied for them to have it in their review… that will be up for decision by the council on what level it will be put in the inventory.

“It really needs to be put on a level that’s protected from demolition; it needs to be on level two.”

She said the service station had also taken priority over a long-term plan for a neighbourhood centre to revitalise Bellevue under the City’s Bellevue East Land Use Study.

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