Tangled in tape

• Bethen McManus from Kavanagh Studio of Irish Dance. Photo by Jeremy Dixon

• Bethen McManus from Kavanagh Studio of Irish Dance. Photo by Jeremy Dixon

LEISURE and sports businesses are choosing to operate illegally in Stirling because planning red tape makes it too hard to go legit.

The council planning scheme does not permit recreational businesses to operate in industrial zones, affecting dance studios, squash courts and indoor cricket centres.

Dance instructor Teresa McGorry says many business owners flaunt the regulations and simply open without approval .

She’d opted to do the right thing and apply for a licence for her Frobisher Street dance studio, but was rejected.

“The city advised me it was in an industrial zone so I wouldn’t get approval,” the 42-year-old Irish dance instructor told the Voice.

“The crazy thing is I can open a noisy dance studio in a ‘commercial’ zone—beside quiet offices and a doctor’s practice—but not in an industrial zone miles away from anywhere.

“With the influx of Irish immigrants into WA and the Riverdance phenomenon there is a huge demand for Irish dance classes.”

She’s hoping to get around red tape by opening the Kavanagh Studio of Irish Dance as a club.

The Voice understands the space she hopes to use has been empty four years.

Sirling city councillor David Michael reckons Ms McGorry has a point.

“I would support activities like a dance studio, gymnasium or indoor cricket or volleyball centre in industrial areas in certain circumstances,” he says.

“Council should have discretion so that we could assess any adverse effects on parking for existing local businesses and industries.

“As well as promoting increased physical activity, this could also decrease the level of crime in industrial areas after business hours.”

A report on the proposed change will be presented to council in the next few weeks.

Last week Spacemarket launched its Why so empty? app, enabling users to tag onto an interactive map disused buildings which they believe could be occupied.

Since 2011, Spacemarket has been pairing up disused buildings with artists and businesses in Perth.

Advisor Reece Harley says based on the city’s Forgotten Spaces Report he estimates at least 40 buildings in Perth are lying dormant, including The Savoy Hotel, The McNess Memorial Arcade and the Hotel and Theatre Metropole.

He says building code red tape is getting in the way of premises being utilised, including finicky regulations relating to the thickness of window panes, the height of balustrades and the pitch of staircases.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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