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Listing foils Graham Flats plan

AN INFORMAL Perth City Council plan to acquire and demolish Graham Flats in West Perth and turn the site into a public square has been stopped.

The pensioner housing block has been placed on the State Register of Heritage Places.

Councillor Laurance Goodman said council had talked about turning Graham Flats into a public square for some time but had never formulated a firm policy on it.

West Perth traders had been pushing for the move for some time.

“There were always a couple of problems with the plan. Firstly the cost and secondly a social problem,” Mr Goodman said.

“Where would you put the people?

“I think the key to the whole issue was providing alternative accommodation for the Graham Flats’ residents.”

Graham Flats is across the road from a council-owned site that is earmarked for a car park.

Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass wants to offer the council site to the Anglican Church as part compensation for a plan to demolish its old Law Chambers building in East Perth and turn that into a public square.

The council-owned land is next door to an Anglican Church property that is earmarked for redevelopment.

Dr Nattrass also wants council to give the church extensive development concessions.

However, even with the land and the concessions, the church will still be out of pocket if the old Law Chambers building is demolished.

Mr Goodman said alternative accommodation could have been built on the council site for the residents of Graham Flats.

Graham Flats was one of the first purpose-built, multi-storey public housing blocks in WA.

The flats, built on Colin Street in 1958, were named after then Housing Minister Herb Graham.

Heritage Minister Graham Kierath said Graham Flats was representative of the WA Government’s adoption of the post-World War Two social planning philosophies being implemented in Europe and America.

“More than 40 years after its construction the building is still associated with the care of the elderly and has become something of a West Perth landmark,” Mr Kierath said.

Its one shortcoming – the lack of a lift – was rectified in 1987.

Mr Kierath said the building also had architectural significance because it was built in the post-war international style, featured moderate proportions, careful massing, effective detailing and a high quality of architectural design.

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