THE heritage value of Armadale's 78-year-old district hall would be severely undermined if a planned upgrade went ahead, according to Art Deco Society of WA president Vyonne Geneve.
The City of Armadale is planning a $3.5 million upgrade of the 1936 heritage-listed building to improve its functionality.
The concept plans include enlarging the main hall space by the partial or complete removal of the 1938 mezzanine gallery, adding a new toilet block to the building and upgrading the kitchen, meeting rooms and storage facilities.
Ms Geneve wrote about the Armadale District Hall in her masters thesis and has serious concerns that the hall’s original design and character will be lost.
‘The Armadale District Hall was utilised as one of the earliest 1930s-built picture-going venues,’ she said.
‘I am concerned that this aspect of the building, including the bio box, the ticket box and the 1938-built balcony, remain in the redevelopment and the interpretation of the place as part of the ongoing cinema history of WA.’
New extensions to the hall would be completely out of character with the Jull St Heritage Precinct, she said.
Ms Geneve also raised concerns about what she claimed was a lack of independence in the heritage assessment process.
‘The fact that the architects are now responsible for the proposed development and apparently the heritage impact statement suggests that there is no indication of the required independent heritage professional involvement.’
City of Armadale chief executive Ray Tame said the final design would be a balanced representation of its two guiding principles of respecting the heritage values of the building and ensuring the upgraded hall was functional and well used for generations to come.
‘The City is working closely with the Heritage Council of WA to ensure that any proposed changes fulfil heritage requirements,’ he said.
‘While the final design may or may not include removal of the gallery (1938 mezzanine gallery), the City has been advised by the Heritage Council that the current concept, which includes removal of the gallery, does comply with their requirements.’
Mr Tame said independent heritage oversight was critical and was undertaken by the Heritage Council of WA.
‘It is normal for well-respected heritage architects to undertake the work that is subsequently submitted to the Heritage Council,’ he said.