Building vacated for asbestos works

At a council meeting last week, City of Perth councillors agreed to give six months notice for tenants West Television (WTV), Chris Huzzard Studios and Free Range Gallery to vacate the council-owned building.

A council report said asbestos fibres were identified inside the gasworks warehouse in early 2015, leading to the closure of affected areas, and a plan to replace the roof was commissioned in August.

Construction of the new roof is expected to start in September and cost $140,000 (excluding asbestos removal).

“The City has been working with relevant consultants to ascertain if there was a feasible method of undertaking re-roofing with the tenants in situ but this has not proved possible,” Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi said.

“The asbestos has been managed during this time in accordance with the asbestos management plan.”

The council report identified possible alternative premises for the tenants on Stirling and Lake streets but this was not confirmed.

WTV general manager Tibor Meszaros said he was not notified before the matter, a late item on the agenda, appeared at council.

“We hope we could possibly use another part of the building – with time (a move) could be possible and can be done,” Mr Meszaros said.

“No fixtures could only be used here – 99 per cent is movable, we just need time to plan and relocate.”

WTV has leased the premises from the City of Perth since 2003, as has Chris Huzzard Studios.

Mr Huzzard said he had to close two of his eight studios because of the asbestos hazard but the City had been “very supportive”.

“Council were great and they tested everything really well, so we would be happy to work with them in whatever way they see fit to make it an amazing and safe space for the public again,” Mr Huzzard said.

“All of our gear is portable and if we build a temporary site we’d make sure it was still fabulous.”

The council report said former chief executive officer Gary Stevenson supported recommendations for a redevelopment plan with the aim of demolishing the building within the next five to 10 years.

Ms Scaffidi said no confirmed redevelopment plan had been agreed to as the council wanted to ensure all options were considered.