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Legal fraternity may benefit from fire sale

WIGS and pin stipes will replace the big red trucks and wailing sirens at Perth’s fire station if a proposed new legal precinct goes ahead.

The city fire station at the eastern end of Hay Street is in the middle of the proposed precinct, including a new courts complex.

The east end of Hay Street is looking to a new role as the Department of Housing and Works and the Ministry of Justice seek to formalise the city’s legal locale.

Following several years of research, a site on the corner of Hay and Irwin Street has been earmarked as the preferred location for a new courts complex.

“Over the last few years we’ve evaluated about 30 different sites in the city,” Ministry of Justice media coordinator for public affairs, David Harris, said.

“It’s across the road from the central law courts and it’s also in what’s perceived to be the legal precinct – that’s why it’s the preferred site.”

The new courts complex was supported by the Court Government and now has the backing of the Labor Government.

“It’s still early days yet and we’re waiting to get all the reports back,” Mr Harris said.

Spowers Architects has been awarded a contract worth more than $100,000 to undertake a town planning and urban design and master planning study of the Hay/Irwin Street site and the adjoining properties.

The study will take into account how a legal precinct would fit into the CBD and will develop a planning and urban design framework for consideration of the development of a courts complex.

The proposed complex would incorporate the district court and aspects of the supreme court. The district court is currently housed in 30 St Georges Terrace.

Law Society president Clare Thompson said a formal legal precinct would be a terrific idea for the legal profession in WA.

“It’s good for the clients of the court, it would mean it’s easier to provide good service,” Ms Thompson said.

“It’s also a good thing for the legal profession. Obviously it makes things more efficient.

“Also, in terms of the whole culture and ethos of the legal profession, there are lots of positive implications.”

Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide all have legal precincts where lawyers can interact close to the courts.

Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia has confirmed that it is considering its options in relation to the city fire station.

“It’s not on the market but we’re looking at options for the best use of the building,” FESA WA manager media and public affairs, Peter Jackson, said.

The Hay Street location is not ideal for operating trucks due to the traffic in the city and the maze of one-way streets at that end of Hay Street.

“Selling the building would be one option, as would keeping administration here and moving the fire station,” Mr Jackson said.

“It’s not in a particularly great location here.”

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