Freo's View

URBAN DESIGN IMPORTANT FOR WELLBEING

Posted in environment, fremantle, urban design by freoview on October 25, 2014

I am very interested in urban design because I believe that if we get that part of developing our cities right it will create a better lifestyle and better health, so it was interesting to hear the concerns about “Urban Heat Islands” on ABC TV last night.

Urban Heat Islands are the areas in cities that have an elevation of temperatures compared to the areas directly adjacent to them and can add up to six degrees to an area. It is often a result of urban design problems, e.g. not enough urban green open space and insufficient trees.

But the colour of roofs and walls of buildings are also important, with dark colours a big no-no in warmer climates like Fremantle. It is important to build more solar-passive houses and enlarge the tree canopy, and there is the need for more green vegetation that is supported by irrigation.

It was interesting to hear that the City of Sao Paulo in Brazil has added 200 square kilometres of green space over the last years to fight pollution and improve the health of the residents. This should be a lesson for Fremantle where we are losing green space and trees and are contemplating to build on Pioneer Park, when we should really be adding new green open spaces in the central city.

In this light the following from the University of Canberra is also important, so please do the survey as it will help all of us to better understand.

The University of Canberra has launched an Urban Wellbeing Survey that is focussed on collecting and providing information about wellbeing and way of life in Australia’s most populous cities.

This survey is distinctive because it covers much more than health and wellbeing; it also covers factors that can have a big effect on wellbeing, such as travel, access to services, community wellbeing and social connectedness.

Here is a summary of what it covers:
§ Socio-demographic characteristics
§ Walkable urban design
§ Travel behaviours and attitudes
§ Building comfort in work and home
§ Access to and quality of amenities and services
§ Neighbourhood cohesion, governance & safety
§ Social participation, inclusion and exclusion
§ Physical activity
§ Connectedness, efficacy and marginalisation
§ Mental health and wellbeing
§ Physical health and health behaviours

The survey is open now through November at: http://www.urbanwellbeing.org.au. Anyone over 18 can do it and can enter the prize draw if they want to. We also have a facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/urbanwellbeing.org.au.

The Urban survey is being conducted in tandem with the Regional Wellbeing Survey which covers all of regional, rural and remote Australia, as well as the rural-urban fringe: http://www.regionalwellbeing.org.au.

The urban and regional versions of the survey are linked so that people can choose whether they go into the urban or regional version when they begin the survey based on where they live.

Roel Loopers

COMMUNITY, NOT DEVELOPMENT, MADE THE DIFFERENCE!

Posted in city of fremantle, western australia by freoview on October 24, 2014

While everybody is entitled to one’s own opinion it is disappointing to me that Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt is trying to get political milage out of the very good Local Government Reform for Freo.

The Mayor is quoted in the Fremantle Herald that he believed Fremantle got the boundaries it asked for because of Councils pro-development attitude.

I like to believe, Brad, that State Government was so gobsmacked to see there was finally a situation where the Fremantle community agreed with and backed Council, that Colin Barnett decided if we all wanted those boundaries they were happy to give them to us, and that has very little to do with the pro-development attitude of some Elected Members. ; >) Happy Days!

Roel Loopers

NO VISIONARIES IN MODERN POLITICS

Posted in fremantle, politics, visonnary by freoview on October 24, 2014

The death of iconic Australian politician Gough Whitlam made me wonder what leadership is and if visionary politicians still exist in Australia. Vision in modern politics appears to be dependent on opinion polls and that has created boring sameness in the political landscape, to the point where we almost have a political desert where no new trees are being planted for the future. People are leaving political parties in droves and it is hard to engage younger people in the political process because they are disillusioned with what is going on.

We have become very cynical about our federal, state and local governments and there is little trust. We do not see politicians as an extension of our communities, because there is an us and them attitude on both sides. Do politicians still represent their electorate and do they really speak for us and want the best for Australia, Western Australia, or Fremantle, or is it about feeding their own egos?

As an older person who is quite engaged in local politics I often feel my views are no longer being taken into account, but I am even more concerned that younger people don’t engage in the process, because they should let us know what kind of Freo and society they want in the future.

When I hear the many ‘visions’ of Fremantle Council I wonder if they lack the reality to deal with the fact that we have a rapidly growing ageing population in Australia. That seems to be ignored because we have a Council hell bend on telling people to hop on their bikes, get out of their cars, and don’t expect parking bays if you want to live in Freo’s CBD. That to me is discriminatory against older people because they often don’t have the fitness or courage to ride bikes or even use public transport after certain hours of the day. No car bay dwellings also ignore the needs of families who have to get their children to sporting and social events, and public transport just does not stack up to provide that sufficiently on weekends especially.

The two major visions for Fremantle in recent times were Council being pro-active on the council amalgamations and the, in my opinion slightly flawed, Economic Development Strategy.

Good vision to me is about inclusiveness. It is not about alienating some groups in our society and it is not about narrow-minded and one-eyed philosophy. Visionaries don’t create an us versus them political environment but inspire people to come on the journey with them. Leaders should inspire us to take ownership and be part of the solution, but sadly that rarely happens. People like Gough Whitlam, Paul Keating and Bob Hawke all were very controversial, but they had something Kim Beazley, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard never had, and I don’t believe John Howard and Tony Abbott had it either. Charisma, inspiration and vision are lacking in modern day politics.

In local politics visions needs to be created through real community engagement and it has to be a broad and integrated vision with many outcome targets. The implementation has to be done realistically, providing for new needs before getting rid of old ones, e.g. we should not reduce CBD parking bays before we have provide new periphery parking spaces, and while providing Youth Plaza and things to do for younger people, it is essential to also plan for a very fast ageing population. To tell us all to hop on our bikes and leave the car at home is naïve and inconsiderate to those who don’t have the fitness or courage to do so.

Vision is about looking after the entire community, not just a select small part of it. The amalgamation outcome has shown that if we do have a vision and argue our points strongly we can achieve better outcomes for all. We need to learn from that and collaborate more intensely and intently.

Roel Loopers

DEVELOPMENT HOPE FOR FREO’S BIGGEST EYESORE

Posted in fremantle by freoview on October 23, 2014

It looks like there are finally serious efforts to do something about Fremantle’s most hated eyesore the Woolstores opposite Clancy’s.

The site at 48-68 Cantonment Street has been vacant, derelict and neglected for as long as I have been coming to Fremantle and the ugly buildings are the first thing cruise ship passengers see when they disembark in Freo.

There is now a so called Heads of Agreement(HOA) between the City of Fremantle and owners MMAGS Holdings to jointly find a solution and the right development for the site and heritage architect Phil Griffiths is the consultant on heritage issues.

So far it appears to be agreed on by the HOA that the 1920s building can’t be demolished and needs to be developed and restored to its former glory, while the 1950s building could be partially demolished and adaptive re-use considered, but full demolition should be avoided.

Past plans for the derelict site have included residential apartments, a hotel and an art incubation centre. It is unlikely a hotel development would be considered now that a Hilton hotel is being built over the road at the Point Street carpark site, so hopefully we see a great residential development similar to the Heirloom by Match one at the Dalgety   woolstores at Queen Victoria Street.

The development of the Cantonment Street site would be a huge step forward to Fremantle’s revitalisation, so let’s hope we won’t have to wait another 30 years for it to happen.

Roel Loopers

NORTH FREO HIGH-RISE WORRIES LOCALS

Posted in city of fremantle by freoview on October 23, 2014

Fremantle Council last night sensibly deferred a decision on Local Planning Policy 3.11 of the McCabe Street area in North Fremantle after a motion by Councillor Doug Thompson, and after Council had listened to many concerned public speakers.

The proposal for the area of buildings of up to 33 metres heigh worries many local residents and while that could easily be dismissed as the typical not in my backyard attitude, the McCabe Street plans really need an integrated approach and that is a problem because traffic and roads are not Local Government decisions.

Overshadowing, noise, loss of amenity, traffic jams, parking problems, loss of privacy, were all issues the locals were worried about, so sitting downs with officers and Councillors for another month or so won’t harm any future development on the site.

Councillor Rachel Pemberton had, what she called, a bit of a rant on how necessary high-density living is because fringe development obliterates nature, etc.

I support higher density in the right areas of Fremantle but need to remind those who see high-rise as the saviour that people in big cities are desperate to see some nature and leave in droves on weekends, creating traffic chaos on Friday nights to get out of town and on Sunday afternoon to get back in. I experienced that while living in Sydney. The traffic jams and pollution were very bad and created huge frustration.

People who live in high-rise buildings often have a sense of isolation and not feeling part of the community. Anti social behaviour, noise, lack of privacy, lack of open green relaxation space, etc. all contribute to problems that can affect the health of those who live there.

There is no doubt that traffic in the McGabe Street area needs to be managed and well planned before any increase in building heights is approved  and an integrated working party of the community, City of Fremantle, Town of Mosman Park and State Government should be formed to deal with these issues.

But residents everywhere will also have to acknowledge that any kind of new development will always impact on their life. All change does and that’s why so many people are reluctant to embrace change. The world is an evolving place and nothing will remain the same for ever in my and your backyard. That’s just the reality of life we all need to learn to live with.

Roel Loopers

PARRY STREET DEVELOPMENT

Posted in fremantle by freoview on October 21, 2014

26 Parry Street

There is an information session at 5.30 this Thursday about this proposal for 26 Parry Street in Fremantle. I am not sure if this is at the tennis club there but I actually like this design and the street can do with a bit of modernisation.

Unfortunately the session coincides with the goodbye for Chamber CEO Tim Milsom so I won’t be able to attend.

What is your opinion?

What is even more interesting though is that the neglected Marilyn New owned woolstores opposite Clancy’s at 48-68 Cantonment Street is on the Council agenda tomorrow evening, but it is “Confidential” so not open to the public. I hope the Elected members will not bend over backwards to approve more height or allow part demolition of the iconic heritage building.

Roel Loopers

FREO WANTS LESS CARS IN THE CITY

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

There is an interesting article about the proposed Fremantle Transport Strategy in today’s West Australian.

It reports that plans are on the way for speed limits as low as 10 km/h and for shared roads that will make “pedestrian kings.”

There is also the aim to let on-street parking make way for wider footpaths and green spaces and discourage motorists to drive into the inner city. The newspaper quotes Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt “Heart of the strategy is to make motorists not to want to drive into the centre…”

The City would also encourage developers to build car-free homes and endeavours to make Market Street a shared pedestrian, car and bicycle street by the end of this year.

I wonder though if this could be yet again a cart before the horse approach by COF because first the carparks on the ring roads will need to be build before an attempt should be made to reduce CBD car parking.

The last thing the struggling retailers need at present is to make it more difficult for motorists to get into the inner city, but these arguments appear to fail to make any impact at Fremantle Council.

Roel Loopers

FREO ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY MYTH

Posted in aboriginal, city of fremantle, local government by freoview on October 19, 2014

Many Councils have already released this year’s annual Catalyse local government survey, but we in Fremantle are still waiting for it to be made public, as we were last year and the year before, because Freo Council is delaying its release without giving an explanation why.

I have now also asked three times why we are not seeing the James Best report on Fremantle Visioning 2029 that was a huge community effort with many long consultation workshops. It finished late last year but ten months later the report still has not been released and that is unacceptable.

According to a report in the Subiaco Post consultant James Best’s company received $ 30,000 to do a similar visioning project there, so it would have cost the City of Fremantle at least that. When can we expect the release of the report that is supposed to be something like they did in the City of Auckland in New Zealand and when will the Catalyse survey be made public?

Roel Loopers

HOW READY IS FREO FOR CHANGE?

Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on October 19, 2014

With the State Government’s Perth Future Plan being all about stopping the unsustainable urban sprawl and the creation of suburban high-density infill, I want to be the Devil’s Advocate and make myself even more unpopular in Fremantle than I already am.

I wonder how serious we really are about the environment and how willing we are to compromise and be realistic about Freo’s future. Can and should Fremantle grow without high-rise, and if not, where are the right locations for higher density living?

The experts want is all to happen along transport corridors and near train stations but most of us in Fremantle would hate to see high-rise in the inner city, so what are the alternatives?

I am surprised high-density housing is not being built at the Knutsford/Amherst streets development as it would have done little damage to the Fremantle skyline there, and busses run along Amherst Street and High Street that is just a short walk away. There is a high-rise in the Stevens reserve plans though and that probably makes sense because of its proximity to public transport.

Low-rise urban infill in Fremantle could also happen along Samson Street for example. There are very wide verges and a wide median strip there that could be released for low-rise residential development and South Street in some areas could handle 4-6 storey buildings without having a negative impact on the surrounding area.

The question though is if the Freo community is ready for this kind of change and I believe it is not. It is much easier to make claims about how progressive and sustainable we are and how environmentally aware, but when it affects our own backyards walking the talk is all that much harder.

Roel Loopers

AND YET ANOTHER PLAN FOR THE FUTURE

Posted in fremantle, future, western australia by freoview on October 19, 2014

The Sunday Times today has a preview of the Perth Future Plan that will be released by the W.A. State Government this week. If Premier Colin Barnett and his cabinet are serious about implementing it they should soon make announcements about State Government departments and agencies moving to Fremantle, since one of the objectives of PFT is the creation of jobs in activity centres such as Fremantle, Joondalup, Midland and Armadale.

The PFT is also about taming the urban sprawl and creating high-density infill along transport corridors like Canning and Stirling highways, but should also include South Street in Fremantle in my opinion. It is estimated that 3,5 million people will live in the Perth metro area by 2040, so higher density makes a lot of sense and is dealing with the reality that the urban sprawl is too expensive and not sustainable.

One of the more interesting aspects the Sunday Times reports is that the Perth Future Plan states that high-rise towers will not be allowed to destroy the fabric of established suburbs. I reckon the people in Subiaco would want to ask why a 17 storey tower was approved then for the former markets site at Rokeby Road.

Roel Loopers

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