A town divided

YOLK Property Group has applied to demolish two old buildings at 9 and 11 King William Street in Bayswater’s town centre, with the development-friendly state government lined up to decide the height of their replacement.

A previous planning approval giving Yolk the go-ahead for a six-storey building, on the proviso the facade of number 11 was preserved, lapsed on August 12.

The company’s new demolition application argues that not even the facade is worth keeping.

Most current Bayswater councillors opposed the previous development, which was approved by the state-controlled JDAP, but in June the state government announced it was taking over planning control for the area by mid-2020 to “maximise development opportunities” during the upgrade of the train station as part of the airport link.

Some core members of Bayswater Deserves Better have formed a new community group in response to the state government takeover, calling themselves Respect Bayswater’s Heritage Heart.

Bigger projects

They now fear an even bigger project is in the pipeline, as other similar areas under state government-control allow for 12 storeys.

Spokesperson Angie Maher fears “another canyon of high-rise units, soaring above convenience stores and fast-food outlets”.

“This is a crucial moment for the future of Bayswater village,” Ms Maher said.

“Many other heritage areas in Perth, including Maylands, Guildford, Claremont and Cottesloe, have shown the courage, initiative and civic foresight to develop their villages while retaining the historic design principles which make these local communities so attractive.”

Yolk director Pete Adams said it was “too soon” to comment on any future development because the demolition application was still pending. While the development’s been waiting in the wings, he says; “we have given both the coffee shop and Future Bayswater free rent on the site for the last three years.

“We are currently working with various groups to assess ways in which the site could be used for community events in the future.”

Demolition consultation closed September 25.

‘It feels like this area is ready to fricken explode.’

THE demolition application has reignited tensions in a divided town, with an anti-demolition protestor ejected from the Bayswater Growers’ Market on September 21.

The long-delayed apartment block project has split the community between members of Future Bayswater who want tall developments to revitalise the area, and members of Bayswater Deserves Better who want to retain historic buildings like number 9 and number 11.

“It feels like this area is ready to fricken explode,” one Bayswater local commented this week in the midst of yet another flurry of Facebook debate.

At the Growers’ Market run by Future Bayswater, ardent BSB supporter Greg Smith was told to get out of Bert Wright Park after he handed out flyers urging people to put in a submission opposing the demolition.

That earned the ire of councillor Chris Cornish.

“As a believer of free speech and free access to public land, this concerns me and so I will be requesting the CEO of the City of Bayswater to investigate,” Cr Cornish said.

The council waives the $13,000 annual hire fee at the park for Future Bayswater.

Future Bayswater spokesperson Paul Shanahan shot back a lengthy reply, saying Mr Smith was hassling people, had been “threatening” and had a protest sign with an expletive.

Mr Smith chuckled at this account, saying the stall holder he allegedly threatened was an old friend he’d stopped for a happy snap with before being told to scram. He said he only grabbed the protest sign after he’d already been asked to leave.

“I thought: This is completely appropriate, I’ve been protesting this shit about knocking down this building for three or four years now.”

He stuck some of the pamphlets he’d been handing out on the back of the sign and stalked back towards the park.

“I thought there’s a bigger issue here than 9 and 11 King William Street. There’s the issue of freedom of speech, freedom of political comment.”

Stories by David Bell

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