I just got back from the Fremantle Town Hall and I feel utterly deflated, or maybe defeated is the better word. Here I was naively believing I wasn’t fed bullshit when we were promised tight design guidelines would be in place to make sure high buildings, approved through Planning Scheme Amendment 49, would be of exceptional standards, the “heritage buildings of the future”, as Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt kept telling us. The well-paid Design Advisory Committee would make sure of that.
And then you see the proposal for an eight-storey hotel building at the Point Street carpark site, adjacent to the heritage-listed former Boys School and Princess May Park, and you know they have taken you and your protests for granted. They have fooled you with their assurances, and you were foolish enough to trust them and believe they would do the right thing and get great modern buildings built in the Fremantle CBD.
What I saw today has truly devastated me. Not that they even bothered with a 3D model or anything, no just boring 2D plans of an extremely boring and ugly building, a building that has no place in Fremantle, no matter if it is of six-star green quality, because the exterior of the building is of minus six in creativity and design quality. It is boring and ugly, maybe just okay for semi-industrial O’Connor, but definitely not for inner city Freo.
If this building gets accepted by our Elected Members I will have lost all trust in them and the building and planning process that is in place in Fremantle.
In another example of City of Fremantle piecemeal planning the Tourist Wheel on the Esplanade has to be moved to make way for the controversial Skatepark. Only a few months ago the operators replaced the larger Skywheel with the slightly smaller ferris wheel that is there now. No one at the City of Fremantle bothered to let the operators know then that their wheel would have to be shifted by a few metres, when the logical thing to do would have been to do it when the replacement ferris wheel was installed.
According to Tourist Wheel manager Hendrik Dijkstra it will cost nearly $ 150,000 to move the wheel and he is obviously not happy to do that, although the city has offered to pay half of the cost.
What upsets me most is that we keep hearing about bad planning and mediocre decision-making in Fremantle, but I still have to hear that an officer or director was moved on because of it. It appears the executive at the City of Fremantle are happy to continue with mediocrity, when this city is crying out for excellence and innovation. It’s not good enough!
The Fremantle Strategic Planning and Services Committee gave in principle support yesterday for Kidogo Arthouse owner Joanna Robinson to explore the possibility of creating a 150 capacity small bar at the Bathers Beach location. Joanna operated the highly successful KELP Bar there during the far less successful ISAF sailing championships. Locals embraced and loved the chaotic little arty bar and asked for it to become a permanent feature in the West End of Fremantle.
Joanna will now have to produce plans for toilets, etc. and get planning and heritage approval and a liquor license.
With the development of the adjacent Fishermen’s Co-op building by the owners of Cicerello’s and plans for a music bar venue at J Shed, Bathers Beach could well become a great entertainment area along the Indian Ocean and a real attraction for tourists and locals. It would also compliment the fantastic energy of Little Creatures and the Fishing Boat Harbour.
Plans for toilets to be built on the southern side of the former Kerosene Store make sense as old photos show there used to be a shed there attached to the building. This should be supported by council as it is the most logical, practical and sensible location for them.
It is very good that there is now a path with solar lighting between Kidogo Arthouse and J Shed on Bathers Beach, but I have to question why it was not extended to link up with the South Mole, which would have been the logical thing to do. It is this type of piecemeal planning and development Fremantle people get very irate about, so why do city officers keep doing it. It is unfinished and should connect to the mole, as many locals ride their bikes and walk there while tourists love to have a walk on the mole before wandering down to Bathers Beach and the Fishing Boat Harbour. Just do things 100% for a change City of Fremantle!
A media release from the City of Fremantle, so I publish it in full and hope the community will turn up en mass for the next Visioning 2029 workshop.
NEWS RELEASE – Thursday 18 July 2013
Visioning 2029 – what do you think are the key challenges we will face in the future ?
“What will the future look like?” is a conversation that the next Fremantle 2029 workshop will have on Thursday 25 July in Fremantle with visioning facilitator James Best. “How different will future conditions be, is Fremantle resilient in the face of changing Global factors, what are the local trends and issues that could impact on our quality of life,” said Mr Best.
James Best is a Futurist and the 2012 National Planning Champion, and passionate about working together with stakeholders to ensure the future is as good as locals and traders imagine. “Building on the July workshop where 94 local residents spoke passionately about what they love about Fremantle and its people, this workshop will consider what Fremantle could be when it celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2029
Mr Best said he future doesn’t just happen, we need everyone together to be thinking how we make a brighter future, for tomorrow and the next fifty years.”
Some of the questions we might ask ourselves are: what could the future hold, is Fremantle capable of being a vibrant city that welcomes everyone or destined to host vacant shops in beautiful old buildings ? What role does retail play in the future, what impact will climate change have, will an aging population need us to think differently about community ?
The output from all these conversations are being recorded on the web and social media, www.freo2029.com.au, Facebook, twitter @freo2029, and videos of events, presenters, vox pops on www.vimeo.com/channels/freo2029
One of the key themes emerging is the strong sense of community, a city where the community celebrates the values and social connections found in a country town, with the benefits of a city infrastructure and services for people to live, work and play in Fremantle.
Some of the big ideas and quick wins discussed at the July workshop include strengthening the strong sense of community and local economy, a focus on living affordability for ordinary people, improving connections between the city centre and suburbs with public transport such as more cat buses, bike friendly infrastructure and in time Light Rail, and looking for a sustainable approach to business, community and the environment in a drying climate.
This is your opportunity to be part of a conversation about how can Fremantle best ensure that the quality of its lifestyle, community values and natural environment are retrained as the Perth Metropolitan area grows ?
Come and be part of this important conversation on Thursday 25 July from 5.30 for a 6pm start until 9pm at Drill Hall at 19 Mouat Street, Fremantle.
RSVP essential at www.freo2029.com.au
It is really good to see development is happening in Fremantle, especially at our gateway Queen Victoria Street. The Fort Knox apartments are for sale, the East West furniture traders are on the move (again) and now the former Toyota site is for sale as well. It is a big 4762 sqm site that is available as single or double development. It allows for mixed use of up to 17,719 sqm of floor area, so a mix of retail, office and residential would be pretty good in that part of the city.
At the other end of town in Bannister Street there are two building sites in progress in the short street, a new proposed, but badly designed, short-stay accommodation development for 8 Pakenham is on the cards, and a good-looking design by North Freo architect Murray Slavin for a 4 storey building is proposed for 11 Cliff Street which was recently bought by a shipping company.
Development is essential for Fremantle but I am apprehensive about what some developers put up and councils accept. I went to Cockburn Central this morning and it is plain ugly and soulless. May nothing like that ever happen here in Freo!
At at group discussion during a Fremantle Vision 2029 workshop there was the interesting consensus that one of the challenges for Fremantle’s future is diversity of housing. Our group believed that in the future we needed to build more communal residential dwellings where like minded people could share not only common parts, e.g. laundry, public open spaces, solar power, but also cars, bikes, scooters, or have a mini bus for the ‘commune’ if public transport was not available. To achieve some kind of communal building program might require a non for profit organization as a go between between Landcorp and developers, as just releasing land without considered planning what should be build on it will continue the urban sprawl.
There was also widespread acknowledgment that Australians have to change the Great Australian Dream of owning a house to a smaller, more realistic, dream, because society can no longer afford for everyone to own their own large properties. Houses need to become more realistic and smaller to adjust to our fast increasing population. Higher density housing will be essential in our cities because the costs of building infrastructure for the urban sprawl are astronomical and not sustainable.
What it comes down to is for the community to learn to share and be less selfish. For example why do thousands of individuals have boats they rarely use when pens are hard to find. Would it not make more sense for friends and families to share a boat, so they are used more often, are less of a financial burden, and would require less mooring pens.
High on the agenda were also light rail and Rapid Bus Transit, local community edible garden projects, wind and solar farms and being more community minded. All common sense stuff really.
It was also agreed that we do not have to reinvent the wheel in Fremantle and have to research how other countries are preparing for the future because most of what was proposed during the evening is already in place or planned elsewhere.
Opportunities to take bikes on public transport, a trailer behind the bus for example, were seen as incentives for people living on the outskirts to leave cars at home and use public transport instead, which would also benefit Freo’s parking problems.
The group was adamant that whatever changes Fremantle needs they should not be done at the price of losing Freo’s unique character and identity. To preserve that was considered essential.
Community workshops are good creative fun, but I often wonder how practical they are since new councils often ignore the planning and directions of former councils. How can we make sure that the direction the Fremantle community wants to take now will not be ignored by future councils and state and federal governments? Closer collaboration between the three forms of government is essential.
In my opinion one of the major challenges for Fremantle’s future is to accept change and to be consistent for long periods about where we want to go and how to achieve it.
Photos COPYRIGHT Roel Loopers/Profile Photography
You will not get much argument from me against good development and progress, but I wonder if Fremantle is going the right way about it and if our decision makers have their priorities right. And I am not the only one questioning that.
One of the complaints I hear often about the City of Fremantle is the lack of proper planning. Many in our community are worried about what appears to be ad hoc decision making by the administration and council. There are also concerns that masterplans implemented by previous councils are being ignored or not to be seen as relevant or important by the present elected members, hence all the time and money spent on these plans years ago were wasted because here in Freo we simply start from scratch and all over again and reinvent the wheel, even when our all new wheel is a non functional square wheel instead of the proven to work round one.
There is a Phillimore Street masterplan, announced years ago by then minister Alannah McTiernan, Fremantle Ports also have big plans for Victoria Quay that involve Pioneer Park and Phillimore Street because there will be a new railway crossing and traffic lights at Pakenham Street and Market Street will have a dedicated right turn and possible traffic lights. The masterplan also involved a better crossing at Cliff Street. So what, the City planners think, and spend a lot of money on realigning Phillimore Street just ahead of all the planned big changes for the area. That probably means a lot of the present work will be redone in a few years from now. How many tens of thousands of dollars were wasted on this?
Something similar happened down South Terrace where a roundabout was built near the Fremantle Hospital emergency department to then get rid off it a bit later because it did not work. Who planned that and what did it cost?
There is also a masterplan for Kings Square but with lack of foresight and ignoring the recommendations of the community consultations the City in another piece meal planning decision quickly puts a contra-flow bicycle lane down William Street, that could well be superseded next year when development at Kings Square starts and a shared-street should be implemented there. Many more thousands of dollars wasted.
The recent decision for a youth plaza also ignored the masterplan for the Esplanade a previous council made. Why?
While the walls and buildings at Arthur Head are falling to pieces the city will be spending $ 300,000 on beautifying the area with solar lights, pathways, signage, bike racks, so where are the priorities. It should be more important to maintain the historic buildings and walls that are there than to create new things. Of course we would all like to see better connectivity, better paths, better lighting, etc. at Arthur Head but first things need to come first and our heritage needs to be protected and maintained.
I don’t even want to go on about the arts hub shambles at Arthur Head that has taken nearly two years to resolve and we still don’t know if artists Greg James and Jenny Dawson will stay on.
Constantly reinventing the wheel while ignoring the hard work of previous councils comes across as arrogance. Making ad hoc decisions that lack proper long term planning and ignore masterplans and community consultations smells like a bit of panic to me.
We all want Fremantle to move forward, develop and see progress. We all want our retailers to do better, see new shops open and have more people living in the inner city, but decision-making has to be considered not on the hop. Good planning should go step by step but that often does not happen in Freo. No wonder Liberal backbencher Simon O’Brien is calling for a development authority to take over when residents and business people alike are pulling their hair out about some of the decisions made in our city.
It will be an interesting evening at Fremantle council today with the Strategic Planning Committee looking at a whole range of items. Some have been in the news extensively like the Bathers Beach upgrade, the Henderson Street Warders Cottages, and making the Esplanade into an A grade reserve. There is also the severe tree root damage along Essex Street that urgently needs to be addressed, and quite a few more interesting bits and pieces, so I’ll be going along and will report on the meeting tomorrow.
I was part of a stakeholders group on the Bathers Beach improvements and the officers have recommended the changes we decided were important, like replacing what is known as the dust bowl with grass to create more play and seating space and get rid of the dust problem businesses and people have complained about.
The Warders Cottages have been vacant and neglected for years now and the City of Fremantle will be looking if it would be commercially viable to take them over from the State Government, renovate them for $ 6 million with extensive future maintenance costs. We can’t allow them to rot away more and remain the awful eyesore they are, so hopefully a business plan will find it viable for the City to renovate them and recover cost through making them into short-stay heritage accommodation, a small bar, or so.
Some say there there is reason in all madness, so there might well be a very good explanation for what has been going on in Fremantle‘s High Street. I am not a city planner and I know nothing at all about the prime locations for bike racks in the inner city, but why does the City need to put a parklet in a parking bay in front of New Edition to put bicycle racks on, straight opposite where there are already facilities for bikes on the other side of the street. These are going to be removed I have been told.
From memory the bike racks next to Breaks Cafe where only put there earlier this year, so have the experts now discovered they are on the wrong side of the street, or whatever the reason might be? It would be interesting to know also what this relocation does cost.
When I first saw the work going on I believed we would have another alfresco cafe area similar to that at the Moore&Moore Cafe in Henry Street, but the Grumpy Sailor Cafe people tell me that is not the case.
Oooooooooooh the mysteries of planning in Fremantle.