The City of Subiaco and private property firm Sanur are locked in a bitter battle over a seven-week street closure which has devastated local businesses.
The City of Subiaco and private property firm Sanur are locked in a bitter battle over who is to blame for a seven-week street closure which has devastated local businesses.
The company, which is the city’s largest private landholder, had been progressing plans to develop 424-436 and 440 Hay Street into a commercial and retail precinct when it raised concerns about the structural integrity of the buildings.
In February, council documents confirmed that the facades of both properties, which lean over Hay Street, were in an active state - with one engineering report going as far as to recommend their demolition to eliminate the ongoing risk of collapse.
The buildings were vacated and the section of street adjacent to the buildings closed, with the council voting to appoint a structural engineer with heritage experience to undertake a building assessment; arguing that, having been constructed in 1912 and 1921, they held heritage value.
But the company warned that the plan could put $250 million worth of capital investment, more than 2,000 jobs, and Subiaco’s future as a retail destination at risk and businesses in the once busy precinct voiced concerns about the impact the closure was having on their operations.
Earlier this month, the city issued a Building Order to compel Sanur to stabilise the buildings and allow it to reopen Hay Street, but the company appealed the order to the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) in a bid to exchange it for a demolition order.
The matter is due to be heard in mid April.
Yesterday, the city accused Sanur of delaying the reopening of Hay Street by rejecting a proposal and process that would have been quicker and less costly for both parties than heading to SAT.
In a statement released by the city, acting chief executive officer Cliff Frewing said the city was disappointed that neither of these proposals were accepted and warned that the partial road closure would continue to impact businesses in the area.
“Unfortunately, it seems most likely we will now have to wait for the SAT hearing in April to know what the next steps and timeframes will be to reopen the full extent of Hay Street," he said.
Sanur has engaged Multiplex to assess the city’s concept, but has argued that the work required to evaluate it will take as much time as the SAT hearing.
Sanur director Cara McIntyre said that the concept would see the shops braced by external scaffolding and remain vacant and boarded up for the foreseeable future and insisted demolition of the buildings remained the fastest way to reopen Hay Street.
“Notwithstanding that the proposal was little more than a stunt and blame shifting exercise by the city ahead of the SAT hearing, Sanur is attempting to evaluate the proposal responsibly even though there is no requirement for Sanur to do so at this time,” she said.
“Sanur has only ever sought to participate in an orderly planning process for its Subiaco properties.
“With the city continuing to maintain its entrenched position on blocking any change in the suburb, we had little choice but to take a decision on demolition to the SAT.”