Your High Street
In the 1800s the Anglicans had a church plumb in the middle of their King’s Square facing down High Street to the Round House Jail at the other end. God looking at the devil.
That church was demolished to make way for the current St John’s Church and to allow the Fremantle Town Hall to be built. High Street was extended through the Square and, at the other end, the Round House stopped functioning as a jail and became a tourist attraction. God no longer was keeping an eye on the devil.
Pity, because High Street at the moment needs a lot of help. At the King’s Square end, the “Green” council has just flattened a solid 50 year old building in order to spend $50 million it doesn’t have building a new one no-one in the community asked for. Rumour has it that because council has never paid their peppercorn rent in King’s Square to the church, that is why the church is seeking Victoria Hall for just $1.
At the other end of High Street, after wasting years trying to turn Arthur Head, where the Round House sits, into an alcohol venue, council is now faced with serious issues about the current state of the area due to a lack of maintenance. The scaffolding there gives some indication of just how much work, time and money is going to be needed to get Arthur Head back into good condition.
Meanwhile High Street itself is suffering jaundice from the yellow lines of Felice Varini. Whatever fun and joy was generated by spending $150,000 putting yellow lines over the buildings in High Street, the resultant mess that is still to be cleaned up is not good for trade, tourists, or heritage. The cleanup will be done by one painting company working its way slowly down High Street, one building at at time.
Council has allocated $115,000 to clean up private buildings, but that amount will increase if any owner is unsatisfied with the standard of repairs and demands more. The amount will increase if owners succeed in legal action. One owner is taking the council to court, as a trial. Offered $6,000 by council to remove the yellow lines, the owner’s view is that a simple patch and repair will not work, and that the whole building needs repainting, at a cost of over $40,000. Ratepayers will wear the cost of the court case, and any decision against council.
Out of this catastrophic immaturity in civic affairs down the length of High Street between King’s Square and the Round House, some good could possibly come – if council held off the building of a new administration centre, and if High Street got some serious restoration and not just patchwork as a result of the yellow line debacle. Look at 7 High Street pictured above. Underneath the plastic paint sits a dramatic tuck pointed building. If all the paint was removed from the building, it would never have to be painted again, and the result would be a sharp, original and dynamic gem on a prominent intersection, not just another heritage building covered in plastic paint.
This is the time for council to go beyond the bare minimum, and seek to have good heritage outcomes where possible down High Street in partnership with the owners. The aim should be to get the best possible result with each building affected by the yellow lines, and to have our premier street looking as good as possible, and significantly better than it was before the fiasco.
But, better results in Kings Square, High Street and at Arthur Head will not come unless ratepayers ask for them. It is Christmas after all. Santa’s email is busy, but the mayor and councillors can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org