25/06/2015 - 11:53

Height limit halts Guildford Hotel restoration

25/06/2015 - 11:53

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Height limit halts Guildford Hotel restoration

The owners of the Guildford Hotel say the historic property is in danger of sitting decrepit for the foreseeable future, after the City of Swan moved to impose a two-storey limit on apartment development at the back of the site overnight.

Guildford Hotel co-owner Luke Martino said he was shocked and disappointed by the decision, after the City of Swan went to its constituents in January and canvassed their views on a 25-metre development, or seven storeys, at the hotel.

But at a special meeting of council last night, the City of Swan voted to allow an amendment that only allows two levels of development.

City of Swan Mayor Charlie Zannino said about 100 people attended the meeting.

“We heard mixed views on whether or not to allow multiple dwellings on the rear of the site and, from those who did not object to the scheme amendment, differing views on what height would be acceptable,” Mr Zannino said.

“This was a difficult decision for council, but we have listened to the views of the community and read the report from city staff.

“With all of this information, we have made the decision that we feel is in the best interests of the local community and of having the iconic building restored.”

Mr Martino said a seven-storey development was an essential requirement to fund the restoration of the hotel, at which works began in March following nearly eight years of sitting in ruin.

“We’re at a crossroads now and think the project will probably have to go on hold until we get some decision on the whole site because it’s inextricably linked from an economic sustainability point of view," Mr Martino told Business News.

“It’s a real tragedy that it’s come to this; we’re hoping that we can resolve it quickly but the reality is it may sit there for another five or 10 years just like it is and that’s real sadness for me.

“We’re trying to work through how we can get this thing back on track.”

Mr Martino said he understood the debate and the concerns of the community, but maintained the boost to the immediate area from the restored hotel and a mixed-use development, which would include a market and a high-end provedore as well as apartments, were extremely compelling.

He said he had lodged a petition with 160 signatures from residents supporting the proposal in parliament, and again at the council meeting last night.

The two-storey height limit is in line with the City of Swan’s planning guidelines for the entire Guildford area, a threshold put in place to ensure the character of the heritage precinct is maintained.

But Mr Martino said the limit was too much of a constraint for development, and not just at the Guildford Hotel.

“All our resources and feasibility, the numbers we’ve done, you just can’t make anything work at that level, with the cost of construction and everything else that goes into these projects,” he said.

“The whole area won’t progress if that’s going to be the limit.

“I understand the conservation policy but our plan is actually in line with conservation policy.

“It’s just a matter of opinions and we need to get the debate into the WAPC.”

Mr Zannino said an apartment development at the Guildford Hotel would only be assessed once the restoration works were complete.

“The plans for these apartments will also need approval and will be subject to a review by an advisory committee plus community consultation,” he said.

“This will now go to the minister for planning for a final decision.”

The hotel was to be operated by The Publican Group, which owns five other venues in Perth.

The portion of the Guildford Hotel site earmarked for apartments. 

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