Grand delays

PERTH city council’s planning committee has deferred heritage listing a hotel part-owned by lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi following an appeal from her husband who only wants parts of the building protected.

The committee on Tuesday night heard the former Grand Central Hotel on Wellington Street was an alcohol-free “coffee palace” built during the gold rush at the turn of the 19th century. Staff said it is the only one of its kind left and while not significant enough for a state listing, it is worthy of a local listing.

In recent years the building has been a backpackers hostel with a colourful reputation on website reviews and complaints to the council, but it was refurbished and rebranded earlier this year as the “Akara Hotel”.

Mr Scaffidi has previously told the council a complete redevelopment is planned, although he hasn’t given a timeframe.

A deposition presented on his behalf to this week’s committee meeting claimed the hotel bore little resemblance to the original building. Because of that, Mr Scaffidi doesn’t want the whole lot listed.

Economic development and activation director Annaliese Battista told councillors there had already been three heritage reports on the Grand Central since the council first considered its listing in March 2015, and a fourth would not change the staff recommendation to list the whole building.

But committee chair Judy McEvoy agreed with Mr Scaffidi’s request for a deferral, citing the uproar from business owners when the western side of William Street was designated a protected conservation area.

“My mind goes back to William Street, Kakulas Brothers and all that. It just created havoc…I don’t want this to happen again”, Cr McEvoy said.

“There needs to be more tic tac toe between our staff and the planner. Obviously the owner’s not happy…that’s something that needs to be considered.”

Crs Jim Adamos and Keith Yong both vote for the deferral.

Cr Reece Harley, a heritage buff, later told the Voice sections of a building can’t be listed separately.

by TRILOKESH CHANMUGAM

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