A LAST minute effort to stop the demolition of the former Swan Districts Senior Citizens Centre (SDSCC) has failed with the majority of City of Swan councillors voting against its retention.
The old senior citizens centre, which is in the process of being demolished as part of the subdivision process for the implementation of the Midland Oval redevelopment masterplan (MORM), was an urgent business item at the city’s December 15 council meeting.
A report in the supplementary agenda said if the motion to stop demolition of the building was successful the city would breach a commercial contract and incur additional expenditure in seeking to preserve the site and the partially demolished structure.
“The motion proposes the SDSCC be restored and used as an ‘intergenerational facility’; however, with a raft of community facilities already in the Midland area there has not been a needs analysis that has supported this proposal,’’ the report said.
The SDSCC sits on a parcel of land in the MORM that the city intends to sell with the report saying it will return a positive net financial benefit to residents and ratepayers.
In August 2022, the Midland Society presented a petition with 141 signatures asking for the senior citizens centre to be repaired and developed as a community hub.
The council voted for the chief executive officer to report back to the council about the feasibility of the proposal, which five community groups said did not happen.
Instead they said in response to the petition a supplementary agenda was published on the city’s website.
Those groups – the Bellevue Residents and Ratepayers Association, Guildford Association, Midland Society, South Guildford Community Association and Woodbridge Ratepayers Association – presented a joint statement to the council, which said the first thing the community knew about the city’s plan to demolish the senior citizens building was when a demolition fence was installed around the building in November.
They said no comprehensive analysis of the purpose and needs of an intergenerational community centre for Midland had taken place and the report did not address the sustainability value of utilising a purpose built building already in situ, compared with the waste and cost involved in demolition and building from scratch.
“This report says nothing about the social value of the existing building, including its heritage value,’’ they argued.
“This report is one sided as it doesn’t consider the possibilities of a refurbished community centre helping to activate the Midland Oval precinct.
“We also don’t agree that the old dialysis centre is appropriate as a community centre.
“It was designed for medical purposes, unlike the senior citizens centre which was designed for community purposes and includes a well-equipped large commercial kitchen.”
In his deputation to the council Midland Society chairman Patrick Irwin said the senior citizens centre was built in 1973 after public fund-raising.
“It has aesthetic value as intact example of late 20th century Perth regional style; historic value and social value regarding Swan Districts Senior Citizens Association and public volunteers over the decades.
“It was opened I believe by the premier of the day – but only given a category 3 management category, which means it is not even on the City of Swan heritage list.
“In fact very little is on the City of Swan heritage list, other than the heritage precinct and buildings therein, which are state registered.”
Midland Society executive member Francesca Irwin said going ahead with the demolition, just before Christmas, when no one had been advised demonstrated a blatant disregard for the residents and ratepayers.
“As soon as the sign went up letters and emails of concern started being sent to the council raising objecting and asking about the report,’’ she said.