Freo's View

ON THE CUSP OF CRAP

Posted in fremantle by freoview on October 29, 2014

What is it about the Curtin University of Sustainable Policy(CUSP) people that they have a need to say utter nonsense in the media?

Professor Peter Newman is quoted in the West Australian newspaper today that developers were stopped to build high-rise “because a few strident people violently objected to anything over two storeys…”

Come off it Professor! Even in Fremantle people have learned to accept that higher density living is essential and more sustainable than the urban sprawl, and I have yet to hear about any violent protests against higher development anywhere in the Perth region.

Only eight days ago another CUSP ‘expert’ Dora Marinova was in the West saying Fremantle had to choose between being an attractive port city or an industrial hub. That is more CUSP nonsense, as it is not a City of  Fremantle decision but a State Government one, and the port and the tourist town have worked side by side very well for decades.

What is essential though is very well planned and designed medium to high residential buildings with lots of green open space and pedestrian friendly streets. Far too much emphasis is being placed on cyclists and not enough done for pedestrians, and the reality of a very rapidly ageing population is ignored.

If Fremantle Council get its ways we’ll have cyclists speeding past cars that are only allowed to drive at 10 km/h while there is no speed limit for bicycles.

Calls for safer and dedicated pedestrian crossings at the Cappuccino Strip and Marine Terrace have been ignored by those who have a fixation with bikes.

Not many people are against higher density, Professor Newman. Instead of blaming those who oppose bad and cheap buildings you should talk to the property development industry and point out that the community wants classy, well-designed and great buildings and not the cheap and ugly crap they keep proposing.

Why doesn’t CUSP become a vocal advocate for city planning and building excellence, as that would create the higher density and sustainable beautiful cities we would all embrace. Attacking those of us who want to protect the unique lifestyle and character of our community is cheap and unbecoming for a university.

Roel Loopers

FREO’S URBAN INFILL FUTURE

Posted in city of fremantle by freoview on October 26, 2014

The Sunday Times reports today on the, yet to be published, Find the Gap book by Assistant-Professor Julian Bolletor of the Australian Urban Design Research Centre.

Bolletor argues that urban infill is essential for sustainable growth of our cities and suggests that we need to sacrifice urban space, such as parks, gardens, golf courses, universities open spaces, etc. It is a point I made only a few weeks ago about some very wide verges in Fremantle that could be developed for residential living.

Professor Bolletor is known in Freo as the man who launched the Fremantle Visioning 2029 project at the Fremantle Town Hall with his lecture The Future of Australian Cities. He then told the audience that Fremantle should be the centre of densification and substantial urban infill, but that we “should build on our strength” and take advantage of Freo’s cultural and natural amenity, connectivity, employment and Freo’s character and heritage and he warned that residential high-rise was not the way to go. Instead we should embrace density that gives back sustainable, liveable, affordable and integrated living.

Urban infill is no doubt a discussion Fremantle needs to engage with and if done well and at a human scale it could enrich our city’s character. Outstanding 5-8 storey buildings could greatly enhance the amenity of central Fremantle and beyond, but it is essential to include the outer CBD and suburbs in that kind of development, because it is highly unlikely real affordable housing will ever become available in the inner city where property and land values are far too high to accommodate affordable and social housing.

I am waiting in anticipation to read the Freo Visioning 2029 report by consultant James Best to see what Fremantle residents think about the future of our city.

Roel Loopers

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

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