No go for Royal George Hotel high-rise

No go for Royal George Hotel high-rise

THE owners of the Royal George Hotel site have confirmed plans for a 21-storey redevelopment next door to the heritage-listed watering hole are dead in the water.

The Town of East Fremantle passed amendments to the site’s local planning scheme at a special council meeting last week in an attempt to tighten development restrictions, including limiting any future development to seven storeys.

The ultimate decision lies with the Planning Minister Rita Saffioti, who will decide the fate of the site based on recommendations from the WA Planning Commission.

However, Saracen Properties project director Joel Saraceni said this week they were no longer considering 21 storeys.

The Town of East Fremantle had previously placed a six-storey cap on any development, but Ms Saffioti’s modifications to its scheme amendment last November instead raised the maximum height limit to seven stories.

Mr Saraceni said height would become a secondary factor in determining the project’s viability, with plot ratio the most important issue.

“The minimum we require is a plot ratio of 2:1 and we have been abundantly clear with the Town on this over the past two years,” he said.

“Unfortunately, due to the shape and size of the available land a plot ratio area of 2:1 cannot fit within seven stories unless you don’t provide parking within the building.”

At a special council meeting last Wednesday, councillors made amendments to Ms Saffioti’s modifications, including shoring up the seven-storey limit and limiting the maximum plot ratio to 1.5:1.

An artist’s impression of what a six-storey development at the Royal George site would look like. Photo: The Town of East Fremantle.

Mr Saraceni reiterated Saracen Properties’ commitment to starting the $6m restoration works by June 2020, but said it would be impossible to complete the project without knowing rules for the rest of the site.

“We envisage the two buildings (new and old) to be connected both physically and through their uses,” he said.

“The construction of the new building and the restoration simply need to occur at the same time and finish together.”

More: Restoration of East Fremantle’s Royal George Hotel on the table 

Friends of the Royal George Hotel spokeswoman Genevieve Hawksok said parking was already a nightmare around the area and a larger-scale development would have resulted in even more chaos.

“A lot of the houses don’t have driveways or a garages, it’s completely piped as it is and there’s nowhere else to park,” she said.

“There is no room for overflow from the development and even if they provide parking on site, you can’t compel people to park there.”

Ms Hawks said most locals just wanted to see the Royal George restored to its full glory.

“People’s great regret will be if the hotel has deteriorated to the point where there’s hopefully not an argument about it being beyond restoration. That would be tragic.”

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