Freo's View

COUNCIL GRASS ROOTS DEMOCRACY AT WORK

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle by freoview on October 2, 2014

Is the future of Fremantle high, ugly and boring or will Council insist on design quality and mixed-use diversity? This is a question Fremantle Councillors should have a very deep think about, because the decisions they make now will have a huge impact for a very long time. It is no longer appropriate to see building applications as individual. Long-term strategy and guidelines for development need to be considered and implemented if planning is to step up considerably and professionally and away from piecemeal approval that does not consider the overall impact.

Another boring apartment building will go up at Leighton Beach and again there is no effort made by the developers for street-level commercial activity. The MIRVAC speaker also said a 100-bed hotel would be proposed for Leighton Beach soon as well. Great idea for the vitality of that beach just a few metres away from the North Fremantle train station.

But parking is already a major problem for  parents who drop off their children at the Surf Club and the area is quite boring really, especially the walk from the train station to the beach. It would be nice to see more shops and cafes opening there to make the uninspiring place more attractive. Something Manly-like would be nice.

The future for McCabe Street in North Freo, on the border of Mosman park, is high-rise and very controversial, withy many speakers warning about the impact 33-42 metre high-rise would have on their neighbourhood. They rightly questioned why community consultation was done on proposed 17 metre-high buildings, but the Planning Services Committee was now discussing buildings of up to 42 metres. As one speaker said, that is like putting a high-rise on top of a high-rise,and it should go back to more intense community consultation.

The fact that public open spaces for the area were not part of the deliberations, also received criticism.

Overshadowing of the neighbourhood, all the way to the river, but also affecting Leighton Beach is something Council really needs to take into account.

Councillor Andrew Sullivan appears to be the one on Council who often pushes for more height, and citing commercial viability, and he said that the extra height-to 42 metres- would produce a more interesting physical built form, but luckily most other Councillors disagreed with him and the clause for additional discretionary  height above 33 metres was deleted on the motion of Mayor Brad Pettitt.

For me one of the more interesting parts of the deliberations between the Elected Members was that several said they were not confident they would get the carefully balanced designed required for such a tall building. That is because the State’s DAP or SAT overrule many local council decisions and allow inappropriate and mediocre buildings against the wishes of the local community.

A negative for the Fremantle community is that Councillor Sullivan is one of two Freo Council members on the Design Advisory Panel(DAP) and not allowed to represent Council views, but only his own personal-more height-ones. That to me is a worry. The second Freo member on the DAP is Deputy Mayor Josh Wilson.

The item will go back to full council in a few weeks from now, so let’s debate community ambience, public open and green spaces, traffic management and quality control.

While I not always agree with the decisions Councillors in Fremantle make, I admire the fact that they are very thorough in their deliberations and take their job seriously. It’s always fascinating to hear the deliberations as it is grassroots democracy at work.

Roel Lopers

FREO HOSPITALITY TICK OF APPROVAL

Posted in city of fremantle by freoview on October 2, 2014

The Fremantle Council Planning Services Committee had a full agenda on Wednesday evening with many speakers from the public gallery. It is not an envious job to be a Councillor, as it is impossible to please everyone when it comes to making planning decisions that affect neighbours and sometimes the entire neighbourhood. The Elected Members do have a good go at it and a serious and detailed debate about the items.

The renovations/extensions of the Carriage Cafe on the Esplanade were finally approved and will now have to be ratified by State Government since it is an A Class Reserve. Negotiations about a new lease will then still have to follow with Carriage owner Kel Smith wanting a long lease to warrant his investment, so let’s wait and see what will happen there as Council soon will be discussing a new Masterplan for the Esplanade Reserve.

Many people spoke against a building in Malcolm Street that would impact on the heritage street scape of Malcolm Street and arguing it was not just a collection of buildings but it had a spirit of place and it was an experience of joy to walk down the street.

It was deferred to full council.

Good news that the owners of the very popular Cedar Tree Lebanese restaurant will be allowed to build a new one out of sea containers in a hidden South Fremantle corner at Brockman Place. No doubt it will be a funky little place for only 40 patrons with excellent food cooked by Ali.

Roel Loopers

PHOTOS TELL STORY OF FREO’S LIMBO

Posted in fremantle by freoview on October 1, 2014

symbolic 1 symbolic 2 symbolic 3

Three photos which I believe are symbolic of the limbo Fremantle is in. There are positive signs of progress and development but there are also signs of the City being stagnant because property owners, the COF and State Government are not keeping up the maintenance of heritage buildings.

When will the first promised $ 2 million be spent on the Warders Cottages? Politicians are great at making announcements but often don’t follow up on their promises. We are still waiting for the Department of Housing moving to Fremantle!

Roel Loopers

MEA CULPA FOR CARING FOR FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle by freoview on September 29, 2014

One of the reasons I started this Freo’s View blog four years ago was to provide a forum for the community to debate all things that matter to Fremantle.  I was expecting that there would be people who’d criticise my articles, and fair enough, what I write only represents my personal views, preferences and taste, and other people have different views, likes and dislikes.

But to receive comments that I am uninformed-even ignorant-and that I an “reactionary idiot” is quite funny because I do more to pro-actively inform myself than most Fremantle people.

Not only do I attend as many Council and planning committee meetings as I can, I also try to be at most planning information sessions about new development and attend most community workshops on just about everything. I also constantly look on the internet at city planning from around the globe to see what the new trends are.

Those who claim I am against development, or against “outsiders” developing in Fremantle, quite clearly do not know what they are talking about and have not read my many articles in support of development, so let me spell it out once again.

I don’t like the Hilton Hotel development at Point/Adelaide streets because I find the design boring and mediocre. I do like the saw-tooth roof building planned for the Spicers site and I believe the design of the Queensgate building is acceptable, while the plans for the MYER redevelopment could have been more daring.

The Civic Centre building design for Kings Square by Kerry Hill architects has a bit of class and is appropriate, but it failed to be iconic and that is disappointing.

The Atwell Arcade development is also disappointing, but at least the heritage aspect of the mall as a thoroughfare will be retained and that is important, but the exterior should have been so much better. The same applies to the short-term accommodation on the corner of Pakenham and Short street. Yes, the heritage character of the interior is respected but the exterior is really a slap in the face for the West End heritage precinct. The development on the corner of Banister and Pakenham is also a pretty bland box of nothingness.

I do like the Cliff Street development by architect Murray Slavin. This will be an inconic modern building that compliments the heritage buildings next to it.

Let me make a few more points; I am not a NIMBY, as none of the planned development is anywhere near my backyard in White Gum Valley. Contrary to those who propose inappropriate development in Fremantle I am not commenting because of personal financial gain, but solely because of my love for Fremantle.

Contrary to others I do not believe that any change and transformation is good for Fremantle. Change just for the sake of change is not progress and mediocre new buildings will in the long run be a negative for our city. I am also a big believer in integrated planning, instead of stand-alone development, and I would like to see a higher emphasis on residential CBD development and not mainly commercial and retail.

Disagree with me as much as you like, but at least inform yourself and attend Council and information meetings, as I do. I spend many hours a week trying to help make Fremantle a better place, without any financial benefits for myself. I promote events, festivals, businesses, art exhibitions, etc. on this blog and support Freo as a destination by publishing stunning photos of the city.

I have a real passion for Fremantle and I do not apologise for that. I will continue to support great modern development and criticise bland mediocrity, no matter how many people attack me.

Mea culpa for caring.

Roel Loopers

DEVELOPMENT SCRAMBLED EGGS

Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 26, 2014

The Fremantle Network get together at Clancys on Thursday was in two parts. The second part was about a great social housing project at 100 Hampton Road and I will do a separate article on it later, as I want to go and take some photos first.

The first talk was by Pete Adams of the Yolk Property Group, who will be building the short-term tourist accommodation at 50 Pakenham Street, and I can’t let him get away with silly generalisations.

Mr Adams questioned why Fremantle was so obsessed with no height and claimed town planning in Freo had been dominated by the vocal minority.

Fremantle is only obsessed with height in inappropriate locations, Pete Adams. If you want to build in the West End you know before you even purchase a property that there is a four-storey limit, so why try to get more height? Pretty silly really, don’t you think? Blaming that on a vocal anti-height minority group is pretty immature. If you want more height why not develop a bit further East at Queen Victoria or Beach Street for example.

On your website you claim that the Yolk Property Group “understand the Western Australian and Victorian lifestyle” Really?! I don’t think that the lifestyle in Fremantle is anything like the one in Melbourne.

You also claim that “before we design a standout development we look at how we can blend in. We get our design cues from the historic language of the location.”

Sorry, Peter Adams but that is just PR spin, because the building you designed for 50 Pakenham Street in the historic West End pays little reference and homage to the heritage area. It is a very mediocre building.

Inform yourself, Pete Adams, and read the letters to the editors of newspapers from all over Perth, where people complain about out of character buildings in older suburbs, and start paying a bit more respect, instead of blaming planning issues on those of us who are pasionate about the lifestyle and uniqueness of Fremantle. Hot air and empty words on your website should be replaced by great design and sensitivity for the location. Dazzle us with facts and great buildings, instead of hyperbole.

Roel Loopers

DON’T LET FREO LOSE SENSE OF PLACE

Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 22, 2014

City planner and architect Linley Lutton makes some valid points in his opinion piece in the Fremantle Herald. Lutton was on the City of Fremantle Design Advisory Committee until December last year, so he knows the process and what goes on behind the scenes.

Lutton argues that Fremantle Council facilitates poor development that ignores the importance of sense-of-place, that triggers strong memories and shapes our identities. He writes that Freo’s heritage West End is the most valuable asset in entire Perth.

That a member of the Design Advisory Committee expressed that commercial viability had been taken into consideration when dealing with the Atwell Arcade development proposal is a no-no according to Lutton, who claims that is well outside the formal terms of reference given to the DAC. Lutton writes there is nothing in the planning scheme either that allows for variations because of commercial capability.

I agree that one of the main concerns about recent development approvals is that they do set a precedent that can be used for future development, as far as increased height, bulk and mediocre design goes, and that is a worry because we have not seen the approval of any outstanding buildings for the Fremantle CBD yet.

Lutton warns that the community should be alarmed that the advisory committee and councillors have started a process of eroding the character of place, something he believes is not replaceable.

Development at all cost will harm Fremantle in the long term, so vigilance is the essence and insisting that Council only approves outstanding buildings in the inner city that show consideration, and are respectful, to our heritage.

Roel Loopers

FREEDOM OF CHOICE, NOT FUNDAMENTALISM

Posted in city of fremantle by freoview on September 21, 2014

In an interview about PARK(ing) day on WA Today Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said that the heart of the city should be for people and that parking should be on the periphery. I wonder how many inner city traders agree with that philosophy, that appears to want to make the CBD into a car-free shopping centre.

My problem with some of the sustainability philosophy is that it seems to replace reality. And I am not the only one, as newspapers are full with letters where people complain about the lack of common sense of their local councils.

Sustainability is the new bible for a few, the new religion, and like most religions it attracts righteous zealots who tell us we’ll end up in sustainability hell unless we do what we’re told. These sustainability fundamentalists do not want to hear any arguments because it is their way or the highway. They know what is best for us, so the community will simply have to change their lifestyle and follow the belief of the sustainability church. Forget God, Allah and the reverend Fred Nile, the Lord of sustainability is more powerful than anyone and only his teachings are right and relevant to this new world.

Parking in the inner city? Come off it, people can park on the outskirts and walk into town, or hop on public transport. You want car bays at new residential, office and hotel development? You must be kidding. What’s wrong with hopping on a bike, walking or using trains and busses? (Interesting to note in that regard that the WAPC is considering changing the rules and demanding a minimum number of parking bays at new buildings).

According to the new religion people don’t need to have a car, no matter how old or disabled they are or that they have a family. Everyone should just join the happy sustainability congregation that is more concerned about the environment tomorrow than the people today. In CUSP they believe.

It does not matter to them that what Freo’s 30,000 residents do is less than a drop of water in all the earth’s oceans and that the real environmental efforts should be coming from the powerful industrial and over-populated nations. Stick that argument in a plastic back to take home. Oh, I forgot, you are no longer allowed to use plastic bags in good old Freo, or should that be renamed Sustainability Heaven. Time to stop plastic bottles as well, as a US city just implemented?

We are dealing with a PR spin machine that doesn’t like green, but it loves a good bit of bitumen and concrete. They replace public green open spaces with vertical hanging gardens, so unless your children are monkeys they really have no grass to play on. They plan for high-density buildings but not for public spaces. They want more people to live and work in the CBD, but don’t plan for relaxation, lingering nodes, playgrounds, picnic and BBQ spots, and grass to kick a footy on.

But hey, that’s progress and economic development for you, because all those people deprived of inner city car bays will spend a lot more time walking through the city and that will be good for the economy, because what else can they do but shopping and having lunch.

We must assume that drones will then fly our sustainability-approved, soy latte, free-range, gluten-free, organic, degradable shopping bags to our cars that are parked some kilometres away on the periphery, but that is not something our forward looking council has thought about much yet. And to paraphrase Treasurer Joe Hocking, old and disabled people don’t go out a lot anyway, so why should COF be concerned about their parking needs. As for kids, home detention replaces nature play for  generation ME.

The future of the progressive city of Fremantle will be a lot of irate and unhappy people living in a healthy environment. Freo could become a ghost town for bike-hugging sandal lovers, as shoppers will stay away in droves, but that’s life. One person’s hell is someone else’s heaven. Halleluja and amen, or whatever they say in that new religion.

For the record, I believe that looking after the environment is essential and extremely important. I know that everyone means well, but I can’t stand dogmatism, hence my sarcasm, for which I apologise right now.

The point I am making is that it might be better for my health for me to become a vegetarian and teetotaller and exercise more, but I don’t want anyone to force me to that, and the same applies to all the above. Do not force your lifestyle and belief upon others. Your exorcism will be wasted on me.

Roel Loopers

 

 

 

WAPC WANTS TO PROTECT OLDER SUBURBS

Posted in architecture, fremantle by freoview on September 21, 2014

It is promising to read in the Sunday Times today that the Western Australian Planning Commission is considering changing the laws on high-density buildings. This is the result of many local governments and communities complaining that out of character dwellings are being erected in older suburbs like Fremantle.

The WAPC considerations would see a minimum number of car bays per home, which is contrary to the no car bays at all at some new residential and commercial buildings and hotels the City of Fremantle wants.

There would also be a limit on the number of units that can be built in high-density buildings if the WAPC changes go ahead.

It sounds like good common sense to me. The unique character of the older suburbs needs to be protected because they are the main reference to our past and part of our history.

Roel

AND ANOTHER FUTURE PROJECT FOR FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle by freoview on September 17, 2014

From the City of Fremantle website today: The Committee for Perth announced today (Wednesday 17 September 2014) at the Fremantle Leaders Luncheon that it is undertaking the landmark Future Freo project that will use evidenced based research to closely examine greater Fremantle.
The year–long project will produce a report that will detail Fremantle as it is today as well as identify opportunities and challenges to ensure that the region is an economically sustainable and vibrant place to live, work, play and invest for current and future generations.

I wonder though where Fremantle City is going with all its surveys and strategic planning because nothing appears to be integrated. We are still waiting for the release by consultants James Best of the very lengthy Visioning 2031 project and the very many workshops. In the meantime the City has formed a Special Projects Committee that will start from scratch without access to the Visioning 2031 report and so will the Committee for Perth.

Surely a better approach would be to read the findings of previous projects and use them as a base to move forward from.

Roel Loopers

CHALLENGING LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM

Posted in fremantle, western australia by freoview on September 17, 2014

There is a good opinion piece in the West Australian today about the local government reform process and the fact that so many councils do not want it to go ahead, or want it but with different boundaries. The question is if the WA State Government will be brave enough to push through the controversial forced amalgamations, which would constitute another broken election promise for the Barnett government. It could well become a huge election platform at the next election with the likelihood that many communities would be very angry with the Liberal Party for implementing boundary changes they don’t want.

Especially in the Liberal stronghold western suburbs this could become a real issue and while that might not personally affect Colin Barnett, who is unlikely to continue, it would make it much harder for his predecessor and his party to win another term in government.

I see great benefits for a Fremantle merger with East Fremantle and strategic parts of Melville and Cockburn, but to combine seven or nine western suburbs would be a far more challenging process, especially since most of them are against it. But even further east Bayswater is not happy to go with the City of Swan, or whatever.

The whole process of getting more submissions to more proposed changes to council boundaries is starting to look more like a shambles, that the National Party does not want to be part of.

Local Government reform will fail anyway because State Government is not brave enough to also want to implement it in the country where amalgamation probably would be very effective for the smaller councils.

Can we anticipate that the Barnett government will keep delaying the implementation of the reform in fear of an election backlash? If so, what would that mean for the individual councils who really can’t engage in long-term strategic planning unless the time line for amalgamations is firm and definite. Investors and developers would also want to know where they invest their money, so an indefinite delay is unacceptable.

Let’s see what Local Government Minister Tony Simpson will announce in a few weeks from now.

Roel Loopers

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