Freo split on tavern plan
Planned: The proposed new venue. Illustration: Supplied

A multimillion-dollar concert venue, arts hub and microbrewery planned for Fremantle's historic West End is likely to be approved.

The City of Fremantle is expected to give the development the green light.

Sunset Events, the company behind music festivals Blues 'n' Roots, Southbound and Laneway have applied for a 21-year lease to redevelop J-Shed and surrounding areas at Arthur Head Reserve.

The company wants to open a 1500 capacity concert venue, 850 capacity tavern, craft brewery, cafe and gallery space.

Managing director David Chitty said the aim was to integrate local creative industries into an "artisan food and beverage space".

"Our vision draws on the relaxed and bohemian culture that already exists in Freo," he said.

A city council public consultation period revealed strong public support with more than 268 submissions - or 80 per cent - in favour.

But the Fremantle Inner-City Residents Association said its submission was backed by a 216 signature petition objecting to the plan.

Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said the situation was yet another example of how the council had to try to balance competing views.

"I appreciate and understand reservations some residents might have about noise and amenity when it comes to a large venue like this being in their area," he said.

"At the same time the proposal has many merits - it will invigorate the area and be a major hub for our local creativity industry.

"It's a difficult task for council but we try to get the balance right."

But FIRCA J-shed committee chairman Dick Baynham accused the council of turning a deaf ear to its residents.

"This is about council plainly disregarding the views of its electorate and planning a large-scale development on one of the State's most significant A-class reserves," he said.

FICRA backed an alternative motion for the Sunset Events proposal to be scrapped and expressions of interest requested for a small bar with a maximum capacity of 120.

Dr Pettitt said many of the concerns residents raised were about the size of the venue and the number of patrons. The council would consider limiting numbers to 400 or 500, with an option to increase the limit at council discretion.

The West Australian

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