An invitation to sign the Woodside Petition

Many East Fremantle residents are uber unhappy with the proposal to build a very big aged care facility, wellness centre and cafe on the heritage listed, old Woodside Mansion and Woodside Maternity Hospital site on Dalgety and Fortecue Streets, East Fremantle and in the process demolish the old Woodside Maternity Hospital.

The development application to do this is due to come before the WA Planning Commission for hearing and decision next Thursday, 14 December.

It’ll either be an early Christmas present for the developer or a well-deserved acknowledgment of the resolve of the local community to achieve a moderated, sensible and reduced development that conforms with the existing residential amenity of the locality in which the new facility would operate.

We have said before that blind Freddy can see the current proposal is simply too big for the site and needs scaling down in all respects. But the developer, Hall & Prior, is pushing on regardless.

The locals have been circulating online a Petition to save the Woodside Maternity Hospital in the hope folk near and far will accept their invitation to support them by signing and submitting the Petition.

In the Petition the locals explain why the Petition matters

Why this petition matters

This is happening in our neighbourhood now. It could easily happen in your neighbourhood next.

We are asking for your help in saving the Heritage listed former Woodside Maternity Hospital from the wrecking ball. Hall and Prior Aged Care, through Fresh Fields Projects Pty Ltd , is seeking approval to for a massive 160-bed aged care home with vast commercial add-ons that swell its bulk and height to such a degree it will be visible from as far away as Monument Hill in Fremantle and down to the port, and from Stock Road in Melville.

We welcome aged care—however, the East Fremantle area is already more advantaged than most, having, according to the 2021 census,103 aged care places for each 1000 residents over aged 70 in East Fremantle. By comparison the whole of the Metropolitan South-West has only 72.9 places per 1000 over the age of 70.

What we object to, is this proposed development’s massive bulk, height and scale, and its extensive commercial add-ons . This vast commercial development will have an outsized footprint on a residential area, and is contrary to local town planning rules, particularly its extensive commercial add-ons , which were rightly rejected by the Town of East Fremantle. Yet Hall and Prior are now seeking approval through special COVID regulations brought in by the Government . It allows the Western Australian State Planning Commission to complely override East Fremantle’s local planning scheme.

Because substantial landfill will be used to build-up this already elevated site, the ground level of the development will be at the same level as the eaves of neighbouring homes in Dalgety and Fortescue streets. This massive 4 to 5 story building , towering up to 18 metres (excluding plant and equipment) above natural ground level, will overlook predominantly single story and a small smattering of two storey homes. The once much sought after streets and properties will be reduced in amenity and no doubt value. Families who currently enjoy the peace and quiet and walks to schools and parks will no longer be able to enjoy such precious amenity.

The subsequent increase in traffic and parking needs, due to the development’s use of local roads for their trucks, buses and cars seven days a week, will adversely impact the safety of the young children who use all the local streets and crossings to walk and ride their bikes to and from the Richmond Primary School. It will create major safety issues at the only supervised school crossing, located on Canning Highway.

People outside East Fremantle will also find it difficult to access facilities like Fremantle Netball Association courts, the new East Fremantle Oval and Community and Sports Centre and other public reserves. Effectively, this private enterprise development might totally change the rights of the public to come to East Fremantle to enjoy our public Recreation reserves. Access for netball and football is already difficult – this will make it much worse. For those hoping to come to East Fremantle when Shark Park reopens, think again! On a netball and football Saturday, it might be better if you don’t bother trying.

We fundamentally object to the loss of such a valuable Heritage-listed site given that Hall and Prior intend demolishing every single aspect related to its functioning as a Woodside Maternity Hospital. Yet eminent historians and WA’s peak historical body consider it a prime site of women’s history and heritage in WA, particularly its eastern wing where more than 50 thousand babies were born, and which is deemed by historians to be the centrepiece of this historical site. The hospital was established on the initiative of women, run largely by women and is greatly loved. It was given permanent protection under the State Heritage Legislation in 1998. Many fine details are lesser known, such as the beautiful terrazzo floors under existing floor covering. Yet Hall & Prior’s plan is to demolish the entire hospital, and save only the Woodside homestead, built for Fremantle Merchant W.D Moore, and even this will be dwarfed by the surrounding new buildings. This, as noted historian Jan Gothard’s described it: ‘shoulders aside women’s history to celebrate the history of one man.’

’What is the point of having Heritage law and Heritage listed buildings if we allow developers to demolish them? Despite significant new professional research and historical evidence on Woodside and its heritage being revealed—by eminent historian Charlie Fox — there is no evidence it has even been considered by the Heritage Council, and why hasn’t the Minister for Heritage consulted with the wider community about this irreversible change to the State Heritage Register? We demand that the Heritage of this site be respected, and the Heritage Council review all available heritage information and reconsider their support for this development application..

Why is this important?

This has been said many times to MPs and councillors and to Hall and Prior —who promised to create a reference group with concerned local residents but never did..
A two-storey building in keeping with the surrounding community, a home-style setting for aged care residents, and much less of a commercial building, with less noise and pollution, less lighting and air conditioning going 24/7, less excavation, which could affect structure of homes in the area, less landfill of an already elevated site, less cars, buses and trucks 24/7, therefore less accidents and better safety.

Finally, MORE SUPPORT from our Members of Parliament and our local government Councillors. Help us, do something, say something. We are residents, we are voters, we do count. Don’t brush us off with platitudes!!!

And if you think this cannot happen to you, please be aware that it so easily can, given that under Part 17 of the Planning and Development Act— and now the latest amendments to the Act, as per part 11B— allows cashed up developers and the West Australian Planning Commission to override the Local Planning Scheme permanently.

The Petition also advises that you can find more info on the history of Woodside Hospital in the Shipping News right here.

So, if you’d like to accept the invitation to sign the Petition and help save the old Woodside Maternity Hospital click here!

For more Shipping News stories on the proposed aged care facility, look here.

* By Michael Barker, Editor, Fremantle Shipping News


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