PERTH COUNCIL’s planning committee voted on Tuesday to delay recommending the heritage listing of a 112 year-old hotel owned by Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi.
The building at 379 Wellington Street now known as Akara Hotel meets most of the Heritage Council’s criteria for listing.
City staff recommended Council proposed to include the property in the City Planning Scheme No. 2 Heritage List, and to give the owner and occupier the reasons for the proposed entry and 21 days to make a submission on the proposal.
Instead, the planning committee resolved to defer the decision back to City staff seeking “further investigation”.
The heritage values of the property have already been subject to investigation.
The Hotel, identified as Property I in previous confidential Council reports, was considered at meetings held on 17 March 2015 and 5 April 2016.
Because Council endorsed further assessment of the place and the owner was aware of the proposal to investigate, by the time of the September 13 Committee meeting it was no longer considered necessary to present the information as confidential.
Grand Central Hotel, Motor House, and Kastellorizo (Wiluna) Flats were considered to require further heritage assessment prior to progressing the heritage listing process.
While the results of inspections of Motor House and Kastellorizo (Wiluna) Flats were reported to Council at its July 19 meeting, the Grand Central Hotel was not included in that report pending receipt of additional assessment of the place, which has since been completed.
According to City staff, the Hotel is an example of an alcohol-free hotel built for the Temperance Movement, and was built during the WA gold boom, “a significant cultural and development phase in the history of the State”.
The Hotel is also one of the last remaining coffee palaces constructed in the city that is still used for purposes similar to the original.
City staff said the changes made to the building in the 1930s had heritage value in their own right, being representative of the 1930s modernisation of gold boom-era buildings.
The report noted substantial refurbishment and alterations to the building has occurred, but some original features of the interior remain.
The committee heard a State Heritage Office Heritage Assessment, the City’s own assessment, and an independent heritage consultant commissioned by the City found the place has heritage significance for its aesthetic and historic values, is rare, and has a moderate degree of integrity and authenticity.
Long-time supporters of the Lord Mayor, Cr Jim Adamos, Cr Keith Yong and Cr Judy McEvoy, voted to reject the recommendation of staff and instead moved that the item “Proposed Entry of Grand Central Hotel… in the City Planning Scheme No., 2 Heritage List” be “deferred for further investigations and discussions to be carried out between City of Perth Officers and the property owner”.
The Committee argued it was “appropriate to defer the item” and “expressed a desire for City of Perth Officers and the property owner to consider matters associated with the proportional registration of the building as outlined by the property owner’s representative”.