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Square poses controversial queries

BARRACK Square’s facelift looms as one of the most controversial public works programs in Perth.

WA Premier Richard Court wants to build a glass and chrome monolith to house the 18 bells of St Martin in the Fields, given to Perth as part of Australia’s bicentennial celebrations.

Mr Court said the bell tower would give Perth a new icon.

There has been no word of Perth’s other icon — a tower standing double the height of Central Park out of the Swan River.

The tower was mooted in the Perth City Council’s street lighting strategy and was expected to cost $265 million — more than two thirds of the proposed cost of the entire lighting plan.

While the bell tower and its controversial design are yet to be considered by Cabinet, the Perth City Council has left the way open for the tower to be placed in Barrack Square.

At its March 23 meeting the PCC approved plans to do away with the roundabout in the centre of Barrack Square, leaving space for the tower.

While the government considers its plan for the bell tower, the PCC continues its works to upgrading the Swan River foreshore.

Council CEO Garry Hunt said it wanted to create a place for visitors and residents to “sit contemplatively and enjoy the view”.

Later in April, the parks which the city has created along the Perth foreshore will also be floodlit.

Mr Hunt said the PCC upgrade of the foreshore was following the theme of the gateway to the city.

“We’re trying to encourage people to come and use the foreshore,” he said.

“We anticipate there will be less traffic along Riverside Drive when the Graham Farmer Freeway opens.”

Lord Mayor Peter Nattrass said the Swan River was the city’s greatest asset.

“We have got to use that to better advantage,” Dr Nattrass said.

“But at the same time we have to be sensitive about it.

“There are people who don’t want the foreshore touched and others that want to do things to attract people to the foreshore.

“Wherever you go in the world, if the city has a river there are initiatives to attract people there.”

Councillor Laurance Goodman said he was in favour of Mr Court’s proposed bell tower, design and placement.

“It will provide variety to the city,” he said.

“If we can encourage people to come to the city and tourists to stay it is to our benefit.”

Currently 80,000 people visit the CBD through the working week. Of those, 65,000 are commuters, 15,000 are shoppers and the remaining 5,000 are tourists.

But Mr Goodman branded the rest of the Riverside Drive redevelopment — including the sinking of Riverside Drive and the council works — as “a bit extravagant”.

“We could be spending the money set aside for these projects in other ways in other areas of the city.

“There are certainly much better projects,” he said.

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