$20m CBD civic square plan

A NEW $20 million civic square has been earmarked for the Perth CBD. The plan involves demolishing the old Law Chambers building and replacing it with a public square.

Architect Ken Adam has been pushing for the project for the past nine years.

“It’s affordable and a whole lot better than some of the things that are being talked about,” Mr Adam said.

“This has the potential to be a city square the likes of which Perth has never seen. It will be even better than Forrest Place.”

One obstacle for the project is land ownership. The Law Chambers building is 60 per cent owned by the Perth Diocesan Trust and the Public Trustee holds the rest.

However, the Public Trustee’s land also includes the shopfront for the Morgans building. The Morgans tower is on PDT land.

If the PDT buys the Public Trustee land – which is believed to be for sale – this

complication will be resolved. For the project to proceed, the PDT would require compensation.

Mr Adam said the two levels of car parking below the site could be kept to help pay some of the compensation.

Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass believes the car park could be developed further to help sweeten the deal.

“This is a unique opportunity to create the new civic heart of Perth,” Dr Nattrass said.

“We could have the Town Hall, St George’s Cathedral and the Old Treasury Building Hotel opening onto a square - and the Perth City Council could act as a catalyst to bring that about.”

Dr Nattrass said council could initiate a land swap to help compensate the PDT.

The PCC owns land adjacent to land in West Perth which the PDT owns and plans to develop.

At the PCC’s July 25 meeting, the council agreed to defer a proposal to bituminise its West Perth land and turn it into a car park.

“I can’t believe we came up with such a proposal. That’s 1960s thinking,” Dr Nattrass said.

“We’re there to lead planning in Perth. We should be able to say to developers of the PDT land that we have the ability to offer them greater development opportunities.”

Dr Nattrass hopes to secure WA Government and Federal Government funds for the project.

Federal Member for Curtin Julie Bishop said she would push for Federal money depending on how the project progressed with the PCC and the WA Government.

“Unfortunately I learnt about the project after the Centenary of Federation funding closed off,” Ms Bishop said.

The funding helped pay for a number of infrastructure projects around Australia including Federation Square in Melbourne.

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