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Form, not function, the issue

I respond to the letter, Different Heritage at Stake: FPA, by Fremantle Port Authority chairman Ron Aitkenhead (Business News, June 29-July 12).

The FPA is demolishing the historic North Quay grain silos but claims that it holds heritage as a priority by ensuring continuation of the Fremantle Port, which has existed since 1897.

‘Heritage’ has been selectively redefined by the FPA to simply reflect what the organisation would be doing anyway – operating a port.

This position ignores the contention of the Heritage Council of WA, National Trust (WA) and all other heritage organisations that the North Quay silos is a vitally important heritage building in WA.

Heritage organisations consider structures as holding heritage significance, not functions which, even if long term, are usually transient.

Buildings are visible history and tangible links with our past. They can last for centuries if maintained and can be converted for other purposes – but a pre-requisite for this is having reverence for what they represent.

The FPA states that advocates of retention of the silos have questioned the need for additional land.

Specifically, the question being asked is how much difference the 1.4 hectares the silos cover – 5 per cent of the land available – will make.

Regarding the assertion that there is probably a hidden agenda of wanting a ‘boutique port’, the only ‘agenda’ is keeping the silos.

Conservationists believe that the silos have a place at North Quay – no matter how the area looks and functions.

I hope that the State Government will heed the calls to at least halt demolition and preserve the 1943 hospital silos, which comprise one-sixth of the complex and cover only 0.25 ha.

Retaining the little World War II silos is critical because this would mean a ‘silo presence’ at the quay, as opposed to having no sign at all that these very important grain silos existed.

Preserve our irreplaceable industrial and war-time heritage.

Tina Spadaccini, Crawley

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