The City of Cockburn will ask the State Government to replace plans for full restoration of South Fremantle Power Station with a more financially affordable solution that would halt its deterioration and open it up to the public in the short to medium term.
At last night’s Ordinary Council Meeting, Cockburn’s first for 2018, the Council voted unanimously to request Landcorp and Synergy investigate alternative reuse options as an interim measure for the building rather than wait until a more substantial redevelopment can take place.
Landcorp’s 2014 redevelopment master plan for the iconic building includes total reconstruction and restoration to the standard of a substantial residential development, plus relocation of the adjacent switching yard.
But the City says full realisation of coastal development in North Coogee between South Beach and Port Coogee will never be realised while the building remains a blight on the landscape because the master plan’s financial viability may take several years to be feasible.
The City hopes to circumvent similar challenges faced by East Perth Power Station which, despite having remedial works to launch its redevelopment in 2004, still remains undeveloped 14 years later.
Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett said it was time for action.
“It’s time to realise the full potential of the Cockburn Coast for families, those with a business, ‘not for profit’ flair for innovation and creating the jobs of the future,” Mayor Howlett said.
“The opportunities are endless and will tidy up that section of the Cockburn Coast that is currently transitioning from its industrial history to become, over time, a vibrant and sought after location.”
The City supports investigating adaptation of the building for use as public space that sensitively and authentically embraces its 34 years as a power station and the past 32 years as an abandoned ruin much-loved by the community which can only access it illegitimately.
A City planning report advocates for minimal intervention to the place including stabilisation of the structure and maintaining key sections without the burden of cost that full restoration would demand.
The building’s significant fabric would be conserved while the degraded roof structure would be removed, creating flexible spaces to accommodate permanent and non-permanent structures for commercial use such as cafes and shops.
Restoration work would include lighting to showcase the building’s cathedral-like spaces, austere interior, raw materials and design, and highlight the urban art for which it has become famous.
The redevelopment would recognise the distinctive landmark’s industrial heritage, tracing its lifecycle from a power station to its abandonment and decay.
Green and hard landscaping would add recreational amenity and reflect the site’s reclamation by nature and the community.
Some future uses could include playgrounds, outdoor cinema, art displays, BMX events, functions and performances.
The City will also ask Synergy’s permission to access the building to compile a photographic record of urban art at the building as previous requests for Synergy to do so, have gone unanswered.
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