Plans to redevelop the Mills Records’ building in the centre of Fremantle have reignited a long-standing debate in the port city about the protection of its heritage buildings from redevelopment.
The record store, established in the 1940s, is facing closure following an application by the owner for the building to be turned into a five-storey tourist accommodation lodge.
This application has not been taken lightly by groups such as the Fremantle Society.
The group’s president John Dowson says it is only one of many developments that are problematic.
“It’s just another example in the tsunami of rubbish we are getting,” said Mr Dowson.
“You can’t just keep damaging your precious architecture endlessly and expect that people will still be drawn to Fremantle.”
Among other developments being fought by the Fremantle Society is the Yolk Property Group plan for an eight-story building on Adelaide street.
Mr Dowson said that it was of a low quality, and would do more to drive people away from Fremantle than create growth.
Pete Adams, the director of the Yolk Property Group, disagrees.
“We believe our mixed-use apartment development at 52 Adelaide Street and developments like ours will be of benefit to Fremantle,” said Mr Adams.
“A greater number of people living downtown will add vibrancy to the area.”
Mr Adams said the development on Adelaide street had been designed by a Fremantle-based architect who had attempted to incorporate elements of Fremantle’s past and present.
The Adelaide street development, which would house 24-one bedroom, 42-two bedroom, six three bedroom apartments plus five retail shops and one office space, was recently deferred by the council.
The plan will be reassessed following its revision by the developer.
“The architectural style has begun to reflect the desire for growth, and you’ve got these big boxes being built, but the irony is that by building them they are destroying the thing they are trying to attract people to,” said Mr Dowson.
If approved, the Adelaide street development is currently estimated to be completed in 2019.