General

Mergers in the house

BRIDGETTE SATTLER

October 29, 2013

The 1930s-built Claremont Civic and Administration Building, which burnt down in November 2010, is finally being rebuilt on the original Stirling Highway site – with the spectre of council amalgamations in mind.

Claremont Mayor Jock Barker said the strong possibility of Claremont being part of a future amalgamated western suburbs council had greatly influenced plans for the rebuild.

“The building is being built in a modular style so that it can be increased in size to accommodate an increased local authority,” Mr Barker said.

The clock stuck at the time of the fire

“Amalgamation has seen the need to plan for it, and that has been done.

“It’s now just gone into the builders’ hand.”

For the past four-and-a-half years the State Government has been consulting with Perth’s 30 local authorities with a view to merging the number of councils down to about half that number.

Mr Barker, who was recently re-elected unopposed as mayor, said that in a future amalgamated western suburbs council, Claremont had been earmarked as the natural centre.

The clock on the front of the building, pictured, is still stuck at the time the 2010 fire broke out, 7:00pm.

Laura Reibel, of the Department of Local Government and Communities, said that planning for major projects against the backdrop of potential council mergers was something for each local government to determine for themselves.

“Councils are being encouraged to be particularly conscious of the changes ahead and act prudently in making decisions,” Ms Reibel said.

“[This] could include consulting their neighbours and giving consideration to the needs of the broader community.”

The building is on the state heritage register, and as such had to be assessed by the State Heritage Office before rebuilding could begin.

Excecutive Director of the State Heritage Office, Graeme Gammie, said his agency had supported and advised the Town of Claremont and the architect of the project.

“The State Heritage Office encourages sensitive development and new compatible uses of a place because this is the best way of assuring its future,” Mr Gammie said.

The State Heritage Office recommended that the front, art deco, facade be completely restored in the same style it was originally built.

The agency also insisted that the back of the council chambers be built in a completely different style to the remaining facade at the front.

“It made the process a lot longer and a lot more expensive, but that was what we had to do,” Mr Barker said.

“MPS Architects have included a lot of glass and steel for a more modern look, to comply with the Heritage Office.”

The rebuild is expected to be completed in 2015.

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