THE unsightly exterior of the former Exchange Hotel will be demolished and the building’s heritage elements conserved, following a commitment by the Shire of Murray.
After unsuccessful negotiations with two potential developers, an options paper was presented to the council last month with the council resolving to protect both the 1866 Dr Bedingfeld cottage, hidden within the hotel building, and the 1925 accommodation section.
Shire president Maree Reid said while it had taken a long time to arrive to this decision, due diligence was necessary to identify whether a developer could build around the heritage components and successfully return the building to a hospitality operation.
“While both projects had potential, one requested a significant cash contribution from the council and the other conflicted with heritage objectives and would have detracted from the town square and foreshore,’’ she said.
“The council undertook an extensive Expression of Interest negotiation and was not going to compromise finances, amenity and the heritage of this critical piece of Pinjarra’s history.
“The council will not leave a legacy of destroying one of WA’s oldest and precious buildings.
“While the outside of the building is an eyesore, Dr Bedingfeld’s residence is a treasure that still exists inside the unsightly exterior.”
The council has allocated up to $435,000 to remove the external building sections added to the heritage components in the 1960s and undertake conservation works on the 1866 and 1925 sections.
Following the completion of works, the council will make further decisions regarding the building’s use from feedback received through an extensive public consultation campaign.
The council will ask the State Government to support the heritage assets as well as funding to protect St Johns Church in the Edenvale Homestead precinct which requires urgent work to ensure its survival.