IT might be back to the drawing board for the University of Notre Dame after Fremantle councillors voted to knock back a proposed Cliff Street development on Wednesday night.
The five-storey proposal on the corner of Cliff Street and High Street, which was slated to be the new home of Notre Dame’s School of Nursing and Midwifery, as well as incorporating retail space and a 200-seat theatre on the ground floor, received widespread community indignation for its size and architectural design.
Several speakers at the council meeting said they were unhappy at the building’s look and its inability to blend in with the heritage listed Victorian-era buildings around it.
Resident Roel Loopers said “the architectural design is atrocious” and the development was inappropriate because the university needed to “break all the rules” to get what it wanted.
Fremantle Inner City Residents’ Association committee member Maryrose Baker said the university should take note of how the new MSC Building managed to work in the heritage area.
Only Fremantle Chamber of Commerce chief executive Olwyn Williams spoke in favour of the development at the meeting.
Fremantle Society president John Dowson said the report was “refreshingly strong and clear” in its defence of the area’s heritage.
“The bulk and scale of the five- storey design is too large for the site,” he said.
“Five storeys in the West End is simply not allowed and even at four storeys the design had major flaws.
“The overall impact would have killed the modest well-articulated scale of surrounding buildings except for the Marina Village next door, an aberration and not a precedent.
“Notre Dame should withdraw the plans and design them for another site outside the West End.”
While debating the item, Councillor Rachel Pemberton said it was a design that would dominate the view.
“Most of the other buildings in the area have their detail at ground level, it makes the area special,” she said.
“I think it would be great to make use of this site, but this building is not right.”
Councillor Dave Coggin agreed.
“We’ve supported good quality development in the West End before,” he said.
“I’m not going to approve a development that does not come close to addressing problems.
“It is a terrible outcome, it’s really poor and you don’t need to be an expert to see that.”
Notre Dame vice-chancellor Celia Hammond said they respected the result.
“The university fully respects the City’s decision, the way in which it has considered the feedback, the manner and nature of the feedback provided by community members at the meeting and the
way the meeting was managed,” she said.
“We are hopeful the final outcome will benefit both the university and the Fremantle community.
“We will continue to follow the process and consult with decision makers to work towards a successful outcome for both the university and the community.”