Steve Grant, Fremantle Herald, 28 March 2015
RESIDENTS who've volunteered hundreds of hours towards a masterplan for Cantonment Hill say they've been completely undermined by Fremantle council and kept in the dark about key developments.
Cantonment Hill working group member Patrick Howard stood before councillors at this week's council meeting—where draft architectural plans were presented—to say implementation of the draft masterplan was "off the rails".
Group members were aghast to see drawings for a restaurant/convention centre appear in the draft, when it had been specifically ruled out by the working group.
"The convention centre thoroughly flouts the master plan," Mr Howard told councillors.
Later, Mr Howard told the Herald he believed Cr Andrew Sullivan directly approached the architect with his own personal vision for the area, bypassing the working group. Cr Sullivan confirmed to the Herald he'd provided architect Sasha Ivanovich a sketch of his ideas, drawn on the back of an envelope, but says the draft presented to council bears little resemblance to his suggestion.
He says his proposal for a "low-slung, ground floor cantilevered building off the left that … mixed in with the tea-trees" had become a highly visible arm off the building's first floor, which he doesn't support.
There had been some discussion about burying the architect's plans, but given the firm had been asked to explore ideas, it was thought they should be released to stimulate discussion.
Cr Sullivan says there's concern within council the working group's aims aren't achievable.
"I guess for a few elected members the notion of how can we activate the top of the hill without some form of activity is troubling us," he told the Herald.
Mr Howard says community members had also been left in the dark till the last moment about plans to install Fremantle Sea Rescue into the historic signal station.
He told the Herald the organisation had approached the council in May last year, but the group first learned of the proposal when it appeared on an agenda in January.
Mr Howard says he understands FSR's desires to move into the signal station as it's prime real estate and would give the organisation an incredible presence, but he says it won't do anything to activate the hill.
Mayor Brad Pettitt told the Herald the council is looking at Sea Rescue's tenure being only medium-term while it musters resources to bring the masterplan to fruition.
He says the signal station's in such poor condition that public access isn't permissible without breaching multiple building codes.
Having FSR there will at least give the site some presence.
Cr Sullivan says he has vague memories about Sea Rescue contacting the council early last year but insists it was only when expressions of interest were called much later in the year that a formal approach was made.
Community members aren't the only ones feeling left out: Cr Rachel Pemberton appeared miffed the architectural plans had bypassed her special projects committee, despite Cantonment Hill being within its scope.
Deputy mayor Josh Wilson assured her the snub was only because it had been a torturously long process and he was trying to get things wound up so potential users could seek funding and make informed bids.
by STEVE GRANT
Garry Gillard | New: 28 March, 2015 | Now: 2 April, 2016