City eyes historic precinct

The refurbished Coogee Hotel.
The refurbished Coogee Hotel.

THE Coogee Hotel and post office could provide the foundations of a new historical precinct on the coast, with the City of Cockburn to consider buying it.

The State heritage-listed site, a window into what was a thriving precinct from the 1900s to the 1920s, is owned by Main Roads.

The road authority is planning to sell the Cockburn Road property this year, with the State Government spending $480,000 on conservation works in preparation for the sale.

Cockburn Deputy Mayor Carol Reeve-Fowkes called on the council to investigate the feasibility of buying the sites with the National Trust of Australia.

She said the site was significant to the Cockburn community and should become a destination for tourists and visitors.

“It could be a great opportunity to ensure a renaissance for the hotel and post office and a new destination for tourism in Cockburn,” she said.

“The chance to work alongside other agencies is an opportunity that’s too good to miss for our future generations.”

A report will be put together for councillors to consider.

Ms Reeve-Fowkes’ “matter for investigation” came at the end of Thursday’s council meeting when a structure plan for the site had earlier been voted through by councillors.

The structure plan suggests subdivision of the lot, with rezoning to promote commercial use of the Coogee Hotel, reuse of the post office building and development of some residential dwellings.

Among 44 objections gathered during the public consultation period were calls for the site to be used for a community purpose, such as a museum.

There were also objections to residential coding, a potential increase to traffic and concerns about the plan negatively impacting on the site’s cultural heritage.

In a deputation to councillors, State Heritage Office representative Mike Betham said it was not unusual for heritage buildings to change use.

He said it was important the facility was usable and could pay its own way “so it doesn’t slide back into the situation it was in recent decades”.

“Once it is sold it will still have the protection of the Heritage Act. The place will still be on the state register and whoever does buy the property has to get approvals for alterations,” he said.

Jon Burgess, director of the firm behind the structure plan Burgess Design Group, said the proposal was not an overdevelopment of the site.

“The structure plan needs to provide the potential to activate the re-use of this site,” he said.

“It needs to be flexible to allow for integration of a range of uses across the site and … with its surrounds.”

Heritage Minister Albert Jacob said the structure plan would allow prospective buyers to “purchase with confidence, knowing exactly what development can be progressed on this site”.