Residents voice opinions on fate of Cottesloe’s former deaf school site

Registrations of interest in purchasing the WA Institute for Deaf Education in Cottesloe closed yesterday.
Registrations of interest in purchasing the WA Institute for Deaf Education in Cottesloe closed yesterday.

RESIDENTS living near the heritage-listed WA Institute for Deaf Education in Cottesloe have flagged saving trees, including a park or community area and keeping density low as some of their concerns as registrations of interest (ROI) closed for the site.

“It’s going to be hard because anyone who buys it is going to pay a lot for it, and to maximise the return they are going to want high density, which is not conducive to Cottesloe,” Gibney Street resident Tennille Eagleton said.

The Department of Lands, conducting the sale for the State Government, would not reveal how many ROIs had been submitted before the September 4 deadline, which had been extended from August 30.

A department spokeswoman said the new date was set to give submitters time to use A3 or A4-sizes for their ROIs, after the Probity Auditor found there was uncertainty about which formats were allowed.

In July, the State Government announced the 20,000 sq m site was for sale – excluding 1000 sq m for a potential 600 sq m building housing the WA Foundation for Deaf Children, which still uses rooms in the building that was built in 1896.

However, the site has no structure plan, which determines the amount of housing that could be built on it and, subsequently, the land’s value.

“I’m pleased to see there will be some development, and I hope it’s sympathetic to the community’s amenity,” Warton Street resident Michael Pugh said.

Cottesloe council considered putting in an ROI itself, but in the end agreed to meet Planning Minister Rita Saffioti to “assert” the site was used only for aged care, like the adjacent Wearne Hostel.

The council will change its local planning scheme so any development at the deaf school site complements Wearne’s expansion.

Fields around the deaf school are currently used by residents for dog walking, exercise and children’s play.

“It would be good to at least keep a playground, but others in my family would prefer nothing is built there,” Warton Road resident Melissa Reid said.