Hard cell for hostel

At a meeting in January 2012, the WA Planning Committee approved plans that would see short-term tourist accommodation incorporated within the former women’s block of the heritage-listed Fremantle Prison.

However the plan, which was originally for 205 beds and the construction of a two-storey building in the eastern courtyard, became void after no development occurred on the site for two years, forcing the applicants Youth Hostels Australia WA to resubmit and repeat the process.

YHA WA adjusted the plans for the second go-around, reducing the capacity from 205 beds to 172 beds and reducing the new building from two storeys to one.

City of Fremantle Statutory Planning manager Natalie Martin Goode said the City, which acts as a ‘referral agency’ to the WAPC, which will make the final decision, supported the proposal.

‘The proposed use is consistent with the Fremantle Prison Heritage Precinct Master Plan which states ‘short stay accommodation, designed to meet a range of budgets is considered to be a compatible use with the tourism/retail and special event uses proposed for the site.’

Concerns were raised about the potential for any damage to the heritage-listed prison, with City officers recommending that when development started, all work would be done in a way that would not damage any part of the building.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said it was an ‘excellent adaptive reuse’ of the unique prison site.

‘I think it will be a very memorable and affordable form of tourist accommodation which will be a great addition to the tourist accommodation mix in Fremantle,’ he said.