Shire of Murray steps in to protect Exchange Hotel heritage

The exterior of the former Exchange Hotel will be demolished and the building’s heritage elements conserved, following a commitment by the Shire of Murray council at its September meeting.

After negotiations stalled with two potential developers, council resolved to protect both the 1866 Dr Bedingfeld cottage, hidden within the Hotel building, and the 1925 accommodation section.

Shire President Maree Reid said while it has taken a significant period of time to arrive at this point, due diligence was necessary to identify whether a developer could build around the heritage components and successfully return the building to a hospitality operation.

“While both projects had potential, one requested a significant cash contribution from the shire and the other conflicted with heritage objectives and would have detracted from the town square and foreshore,” she said.

“The shire undertook an extensive expression of interest negotiation and council was not going to compromise the shire’s finances, amenity and the heritage of this critical piece of Pinjarra’s history.”

Heritage: The Exchange Hotel photographed in the 1870s. Photo: Supplied.

Heritage: The Exchange Hotel photographed in the 1870s. Photo: Supplied.

Cr Reid said the council would not leave a legacy of destroying one of Western Australia’s oldest and precious buildings.

“While the outside of the building is an eyesore, Dr Bedingfeld's residence, is a treasure, which still exists within the unsightly exterior,” she said.

The Council decided to allocate up to $435,000 to remove the external building sections added onto the heritage components in the 1960s and undertake the conservation works on the 1866 and 1925 sections.

Following the completion of works, council would then make further decisions about the building’s use after extensive public consultation.

The Shire of Murray would request the state government support the protection of the heritage assets as well funding protection of St Johns Church located within the Edenvale Homestead Precinct which requires urgent works to ensure its survival.

Cr Reid said she expected the work to begin in early 2018.