The History Council is concerned that the Perth Waterfront Development is proceeding without a full recognition of the impact on one of the State’s oldest recreational sites. As a State owned and registered site, the site should be conserved for future generations. Only when there is no alternative should a heritage site be resituated or demolished.
The Perth Esplanade and associated buildings, particularly the old Kiosk (now the Grand Palace Restaurant) are permanent entries on the State Heritage Register. The Heritage Council of Western Australia advises that “Entry in the State Register recognises a place’s value and importance to Western Australia and helps ensure that it is conserved into the future.” (http://www.heritage.wa.gov.au/the-state-register.html)
The assessment documentation for the site identifies that it is of great significance as a site of reclamation “creat[ing[ a network of public open spaces and river amenities aimed at integrating the city environment with the river” and that it “provides a contrasting setting for the backdrop of the city environment” (Heritage Council, 2003). It is valued for its association with Anzac Day marches, from 1916, as the site of the Proclamation of Self Government in 1890, and as a venue for social and cultural events, including rallies, sporting events and concerts. The site is held by the City of Perth as a Crown Grant in trust for the people of Western Australia, for recreation purposes.
The Heritage Council, who have responsibility for preventing destruction, demolition or injudicious treatment of places with cultural heritage, has advised that they do not oppose demolition of the site, due to its reclaimed, or constructed, character. A place as defined in the Heritage of Western Australia Act includes land, even below the low water mark, and the works or buildings on or in the land.
The History Council is concerned that there appears to have been little or no consideration of alternatives which would allow the site to be retained for adaptive reuse. The impact of the demolition on the associated heritage structures on or near the Esplanade, such as the Lawson Apartments, Weld Club, Supreme Court and Supreme Court Garden also does not appear to have been fully considered.
As a site of State heritage the Esplanade should be conserved and interpreted, providing a continuing focus and unique identity for the city and the State.
The Council has made submission on the 2011 Metropolitan Region Scheme Amendment for the Perth Waterfront, and on the 2012 Detailed Design Guidelines and Metropolitan Region Scheme Amendment.