Hotel heritage worry

ONE of the eternally-empty blocks in Northbridge might finally be filled, with a 12-level hotel approved for 8 Parker Street.

Perth council’s planners are keen on the proposal as it will offer “a world class boutique hotel” opposite Russell Square and bring an end to the occasional trash blowing through the site.

But the Hellenic Community of WA is concerned construction could damage its buildings to the north.

Fragile

In a letter to Perth council planners the Hellenes warned the 1898-built Tower House is fragile.

“Unless great care is taken during any construction activity, there could be irreparable damage to this unique building,” they wrote.

The state-listed heritage building has had a $70,000 restoration in the past 18 months.

HCWA is worried earthworks for the hotel’s basement could damage Tower House and the Church of Saints Constantine and Helene across the road, and icons could fall from the walls if vibrations are strong enough.

If the development goes ahead the Hellenes want a full survey of their building before, during and after construction, and for works to be halted if any damage is detected.

The Heritage Council agrees, writing a letter to Perth council that Tower House is a “good and rare example of a two storey residence in the Victorian Italianate style” and “any damage shall be made good to the original condition”.

Perth council planners put conditions on approval requiring monitoring for any movement or vibration impacts.

The Heritage Council recommended the hotel be set back further so dwarf Tower House or the church.

Perth council planners acknowledged it was a little taller (5.6m) and the side setbacks were considerably less than what’s prescribed in the rules, but said the variations were fine since it’s a particularly narrow site and a previous approval had already okayed a smaller side setback.

Designed by Baltinas, it’ll be run under the hotel brand Tellus.

The building’s radar-defeating angles are “not intended to mimic nearby heritage buildings but rather create a distinction between new and old”.

Compatible

The colour scheme is intended to be “compatible and complementary to the earthy tones of the adjacent Tower House and the Greek Orthodox Cathedral”.

The building’s $14 million price tag means it’s just within the threshold at which council can approve it (any higher and it goes to the state government’s Development Assessment Panel) and commissioners endorsed it en bloc on November 26.

Tower House is on the state heritage list because it’s a good intact example of a boarding house that ran from 1898 to the 1930s, and “demonstrates what was considered an acceptable commercial venture or small business operation for single widowed women”.

It was bought by the Greek orthodox community and used as a rectory from 1952 until 1985, and is now a wedding venue.

by DAVID BELL

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