University of Notre Dame development proposal angers community


An artist’s impression of the proposed development.
An artist’s impression of the proposed development.

HEIGHT continues to be one of the most contentious points of new development, with a local community group up in arms about a proposed five-storey building for Fremantle’s West End.

The University of Notre Dame has submitted plans for a five storey development at 3-5 High Street that would house the university’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and a 200-seat performing arts theatre, plus a small bar or cafe and retail store on the ground floor.

But Fremantle Society president John Dowson said the proposal was too large and too high for the area.

“That intersection is made up of a one-storey, a two-storey and a three-storey building; the scale is thus set and should be respected,” he said.

“It also, like the newish three storey Notre Dame building nearby in Cliff Street, has too much glass in its design.

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“The monoculture caused by this very successful university when it crowded out existing pubs and businesses should not continue.

“The new building should be located outside the West End in the Westgate Mall area perhaps, so that students have to permeate through Fremantle, and just maybe have to walk four minutes to one of their buildings – as happens in true university towns like Oxford and Cambridge.”

A University of Notre Dame spokesman said the university hoped to keep the site’s heritage facade and transform it into a state-of-the-art teaching and learning facility.

“Notre Dame is enthusiastic about what its proposed development will bring for the future education of its students and the vibrancy of the West End as a dynamic and creative precinct,” he said.

“Notre Dame’s architects and planners have sought and incorporated advice from the Heritage Council of WA and the City of Fremantle’s design advisory committee throughout the design process.

“The university has proposed five storeys to meet the needs of its increasing student population and to provide them with the best possible facilities and importantly, the fifth storey is set back so the building appears to be four storeys when viewed from street level.

“We believe that the proposal follows best practices in its design, materials and responds to contemporary architectural concerns, as well as its scale and relationship to the existing facade, adjoining buildings and greater streetscape.”

The spokesperson said if the plans were approved by the City of Fremantle, they would work towards an early 2019 opening.