There is a very interesting article by Ken Acott in the West Australian today, comparing the different attitudes toward traffic management in Perth and Vancouver, with the Canadian city years ago making a deliberate decision to prioritise away from vehicle traffic and building freeways, while the W.A. Government has added hundreds of kilometres of roads to accommodate motorists.
I believe there are important messages here for the City of Fremantle and the way we plan our city. While there is already some effort of making Fremantle more cyclist-friendly, I don’t believe we are consistent enough and still have a piecemeal planning approach that is neither futuristic nor holistic enough. Old-school planning and governance cannot cope with modern ways of planning, so that is where drastic change is required.
Vancouver planned “genuine green zones” and tried to make suburbia more compact, while they prioritised shared streets for pedestrians and cyclists, and to a lesser extend vehicles. They also changed traditional commercial and retail zones into residential, something that Fremantle should have considered when planning Kings Square, instead of wanting out major city square to only house offices and retail, instead of the perfect mix of upper floor residential as well.
Fremantle needs to become more people-centric, not just bike-centric and that means making genuine changes like closing the Cappuccino Strip for cars and busses. It is disappointing that 30 Strip traders can tell Freo Council they don’t want that and that then is the end of it, while far more Fremantle people see real benefits in closing Marine Terrace and making it a genuine meeting place. It could even have a weekend market, a bi-monthly long dinner or lunch event, shaded seating, extending the alfresco areas of the cafes, etc.
Even with all the Kings Square community consultation there was no real strategic traffic planning for the CBD and that is what is needed. Where does Fremantle want to be in twenty years from now? Do we want the traffic flow from Adelaide Street to go past Kings Square, through the High Street mall and into the West End, or do we want circle routes that bypass the inner city, as they do in many European cities, and make the CBD more people friendly and attractive than it is now.
Former Vancouver City Planner Brent Toderian will be visiting Perth in October and I suggest the City of Fremantle should make a good effort trying to get him to a public forum or workshop, so we can listen to the inspiration Vancouver has become for many cities around the world.
How do local governments really know what younger people want? We rarely see young people participating in community workshops and the few who do turn up, often only do because they are students of urban planning, sustainability, etc.
How can Fremantle Council engage younger people? What needs to be changed so that local government becomes interesting to them, because, after all, we are designing our future cities for them and, to a lesser extend, for the 55+ year-olds who do come to community consultation meetings.
Take the city of Kansas in the USA for example where the demand for inner city apartment living by 25-40 year olds became apparent, a new entertainment precinct was created, a stunning new performing art centre, a streetcar/lightrail, and a $ 90 million 30-storey 500,000-square-feet-tower was refurbished to make it into a ‘vertical city’ to house residential, offices, retail, a university satellite, childcare, and a public roof garden.
Inner city living in Kansas City has increased 50 percent since 2000.
So what will the City of Fremantle be doing to attract younger people to participate in the process of creating the future of our city? Bike paths along boring buildings won’t do and neither will the pretty dull and uninspiring nightlife of Freo. What do we need to provide as a community to have more happy young people living here? How can we revitalise the city so young people want to live, work and play here?
I want to hear the opinions of young people. I want to listen to them, so I know what they want, and we can assist them to enable that.
The sale of 7 Quarry Street by the City of Fremantle to Fremantle Park Investments(FPI) is in jeopardy due to the National Rental Affordability Scheme(NRAS) Credits no longer being available to FPI.
The City believes it cannot enter an agreement with FPI unless affordable housing is part of the development,while the FPI through its solicitors argues the sale of the property should go ahead because the withdrawal of the NRAS credits is not their fault.
The City wants FPI to investigate if they can come up with a similar proposal of a percentage of affordable housing in collaboration with other organisations, so one can only hope this won’t become a costly legal exercise.
FPI is the company of developer Bruce Moriarty who pulled out of the proposed development of the former Energy Museum site, to do the Quarry Street development instead. I hear though there are other parties interested in developing the museum site.
The concept plan for the Fremantle Park Club amalgamation of the Fremantle Lawn Tennis, Fremantle Bowling, and Fremantle Workers clubs was on the agenda at Wednesday’s City of Fremantle Strategic Planning and Services Committee, which was tightly and professionally chaired by Councillor Dave Coggin.
The “clearly defined project” could become a model for other clubs in the area and is considered major infrastructure in the inner city, with the possibility of also building a City carpark on the Parry Street site.
A merger of the clubs would be very good for the east of the inner city and would create much-needed recreational and sports facilities for new residents, like those of Heirloom by Match, moving into the area. It would sit well close to the Leisure Centre and only a two-minute walk from the future Hilton Hotel, so hotel guests could also benefit from the new clubhouse, that should include a gym.
I believe this would be an exciting development for the rather dull area along Ellen and Parry streets that could invigorate the clubs and that part of the city.
There is an interesting opinion piece in today’s West Australian by UWA’s Dr Stephen Neille on how we need to design our cities. It is something I and others have written about on this blog as it is in my opinion absolutely essential for Fremantle to only erect new buildings in the inner city that are distinct in architectural design and high building quality.
Dr. Neille quotes US urbanist Michael Sorkin that “each city has the right to elaborate the basis of its own distinctness” and he argues that “in order to maintain urban vitality it is necessary to elaborate on the design of the city and its evolving form”
I don’t believe we do that well in Western Australia, and Fremantle does it even less than Perth. There is a sense of piecemeal haphazardness in the way our cities evolve with little respect or reference to existing streetscapes and buildings. Urban planning should be about the whole, not individual buildings, because a single inappropriate building can do infinite damage to the urban landscape and identity.
As Dr. Neille writes in the West, it needs careful curation to create consciously designed environments to explicitly connect the city to its settings, to help celebrate the city’s character.
For me that balance of old and new, heritage and modern, but always exceptional buildings, is vital to Fremantle’s growth and progress and to maintain the uniqueness of our city.
The CARRIAGE CAFE on the Fremantle Esplanade is an institution. With the Youth Plaza skate park now next to it, the owners want to make the cute little cafe even more attractive, so they have applied for development approval. Public submissions are invited by the City of Fremantle, so here is how the owners want it to look in the future.
The Western Australian government plans to take more local governments decision-making power away and wants the State Planning Commission to take over as the sole body to decide on planning, developments and sub-divisions.
Single houses that comply with design codes will be exempt from local council approvals and on-line applications will be the way to streamline the often tedious and lengthy process.
While this will delight property developers and architects, it should be a concern that local communities will lose considerable power to decide on the future of their suburbs to the State. We could get an Elizabeth Quay development at Fremantle’s Bathers Beach if Premier Colin Barnett fancies it.
I am surprised to hear from the Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk that the State Government released a masterplan for the former South Fremantle Power Station site, as I was not aware of it.
Landcorp wants to develop the building and surrounding land into residential with 900 new dwellings and the Power Station at the centre of it. The previous plans for a large marina have been dropped.
The idea of residential apartments in the heritage-listed building is good, but the proposal to build more apartments on top of it, to match the scale of the old stacks, is a worry, as that would drastically change the architecture of the impressive historic building.
Landcorp also plans for a rapid bus route to the area that could be changed to light rail, but that would require changes to Hampton Road.
Simone McGurk rightly points out that the relocation of the still in use switchyard on the northern side of the power station would cost well over $ 100 million, so is the State Government prepared to make that investment in what could become a great new asset to the enlarged City of Fremantle, once the council amalgamations have been implemented?
The clock is ticking fast for the Fremantle Kings Square development, with Sirona Capital being quoted in the Fremantle Herald that they will soon be announcing who their major tenant(s) will be.
I checked out the Sirona info screen at Many 6160 today and the “Project Delivery Time” was November 2014, July 2015, September 2016 and December 2016. It would deliver over 30,000 sqm of prime office space, plus retail.
If all this goes to plan Freo will have received a massive CBD facelift by the end of 2016 that will hopefully revitalise the city and be a huge boost to retail. I know two years is a long time, but hang in there and don’t give up yet!
Read the article on ugly buildings in today’s West Australian by visual artist, urban planner and architect Malcolm Mackay. It is a good read that should be a wake up call to us all, especially in Fremantle and other older suburbs, that we don’t have to, and should not, accept modern buildings that lack elegance, class, and design excellence.
Mackay points out the stunning architecture at I’on in South Carolina, USA, and laments that Perth demolished so many of its beautiful old buildings.
We in Fremantle are fortunate to have retained many of our heritage buildings, thanks to the tireless efforts of the 44 year-old Fremantle Society and passionate individuals, but some of the new building proposals signed off by the City of Fremantle are just not up to scratch.
Fremantle does not need or want big bland and uninspiring concrete Lego boxes. We want great modern architecture that compliments our heritage buildings and that emphasises the very unique Freo lifestyle.
It is very important we stay alert and don’t let mediocrity creep in and that we accept ugliness under the guise of progress.