Steelworks reprieve

A PLAN to demolish a 1930 steelworks in West Perth has been put on hold, with Perth councillor Jemma Green requesting city staff investigate if it has enough historic value to warrant heritage listing.

Landowner PFJ Investments want to knock over the Coolgardie Street building “to facilitate the sale of the land”, according to a Perth council report.

• The steelworker’s shortly after it was built, as seen in the Daily News in 1931.

Refurbished

“The applicant has stated that the existing building is a significant under utilisation of the development potential of the site permitted under the city planning scheme and is no longer reflective of the changing character of the area.”

The applicant owns abutting lots and is keen to sell them as a land package, but because they don’t have a development application lodged for a building to replace the steelworks, the council’s refusing to let them knock it down.

The city only permits demolition if a feasible plan’s in place, avoiding empty “eyesore” blocks in Perth.

“I’m totally against this,” Cr Judy McEvoy said.

•  The “Makutz Steelworks” sign on the Steelworks is still just visible today.

“I think we’ve learnt our lesson over the years in the city: I can take you to Bennett Street now and show you something that was bulldozed, at a guess, 19 years ago, and is still sitting there in its ugly state behind a wire fence”.

Cr Reece Harley said, “I’ve been inside the building myself, and like other warehouses in the district it seems structurally sound”.

He said a great outcome would be if the building could be kept for adaptive reuse or incorporated into the development of the site.

“There’s been other cities of similar sized that have been refurbished for other uses, like the Gordon Street Garage.”

In January 2014, the then-council approved the demolition of the 90-year-old Michelides Tobacco Factory, with Cr Harley being the only dissenting vote.

There was no development application in the pipeline to replace it, but owner Graham Hardie said the building was in poor shape and unsafe so it need to go.

Three years after the demolition, and there’s still an empty site sitting on the corner of Lake and Roe Street.

by DAVID BELL

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