Freo's View

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

FREO FUTURE IS LIVING IN HOPE

Posted in fremantle, retail by freoview on October 17, 2014

I have had feedback from quite a number of people on the thousands of words Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt has written on his blog under the header Retail in Fremantle, specifically the third and last part The Future of Fremantle High Streets, so I had another read and agree with those who say it’s more fluff than substance.

The Mayor writes that Fremantle retail needs to be more than just food and beverage and no one would disagree with that, but Brad Pettitt does not say how the City wants to achieve that, and that is probably because the City has little to none to say about what kind of retailers the shop owners lease their spaces to, hence we will suddenly have four 7-Eleven shops in Freo.

I do agree with the Mayor that High Street in the West End has the potential to become Freo’s most attractive shopping strip because of its retail diversity, but just hoping for a retail mix of unique shops such as Love in Tokyo and Common Ground together with national mainstream brands like Zara and Country Road is pretty much unrealistic dreaming for at least another five years, until the planned increase of central city residents and office workers has become a reality. But will existing retailers survive that long?

The Mayor writes that we need “to curate our high streets to make them more coherent, diverse, attractive….” but he does not say how the City is going to try to influence that, but saying that pop-up shops can be part of the short-term solution. He admits in a comment under the blog post that the present planning scheme does not allow the City of Fremantle to not allow certain retailers to open shop even if we already have enough of similar retailers, so how do we curate against that?

We are aware than plans are in place at Kings Square, etc. to build 70,000 square metres of A-grade office space, but that development keeps being pushed back and unfortunately won’t be happening for many years to come I fear.

Our only hope it seems is the, to be developed, new economic development strategy that should be outcome based and deal with reality rather than dreams. Director Tom Griffiths is a very capable officer who left his mark in Perth, so I believe the new strategies he and his team will come up with will be very positive for Fremantle.

The one reality we will all have to live with is that substantial change will not happen in Freo for another 3-5 years, so patience is required and trying to work harmoniously together to achieve that. Constant criticism by locals is not helpful as it will create the perception in outsiders that Fremantls is just going down hill and no longer worth a visit. Fremantle is still a great place to live and relax in so we need to tell that positive story while avoiding spin.

Roel Loopers

LET’S HAVE PERCENTAGE FOR PUBLIC OPEN SPACE

Posted in aboriginal, fremantle, local government by freoview on October 16, 2014

Public open space green and otherwise is something that needs to be carefully planned in a city like Fremantle and I don’t believe enough emphasises is put on that by Fremantle Council. We keep hearing that is is difficult/impossible to get land owners of different large properties to agree to collaborate and develop together so that public open space can be integrated between developments, so why not give an incentive to developers who are willing to incorporate public open space.

What about a percentage for open space policy, where a developer who builds a smaller footprint building to accommodate true public open space will get the percentage equivalent of lost floor space as additional height.

It all appears ad-hoc and reactive how local councils (not) plan for public and green open space and I believe that needs to be and can be improved, especially when higher-density living is now the target of the Western Australian government and many local councils, including Fremantle.

There will be a real need for spaces for office workers, apartment residents and visitors to relax and meet in, places where children can play, markets and events can be held, and where we can all chill out from the fast and often hectic modern life we live. To give developers an incentive to support more public open space could be a step in the right direction.

Roel Loopers

STEP FORWARD FOR KELP BAR RESURRECTION

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle, local council by freoview on October 16, 2014

After nearly three years of trying Fremantle  Kidogo Arthouse owner Joanna Robertson has finally been given the green light by the City’s Strategic Planning and Services Committee to go ahead with submitting a planning approval to build toilets at the heritage listed former Shipswrights Building/ Kerosene Store.

This is not the end of the saga by a long shot because the financial implications will be huge for her as Council is expecting her to also pay for the sewer connection between the Bathers Beach House and Kidogo.

Architect Pul Burnham, who designed Little Creatures and the Clancy’s refurbishments, designed an unobtrusive small dwelling, that is not connected to the old building, on the northern side of the art gallery.

What is most amazing shortsightedness by Council is that they did not consider to engage in a joint venture with Joanna where they could have added much needed public toilets at Bathers Beach. The attraction to Fremantle residents and visitors to go to Bathers Beach will drastically increase but there are no change rooms or toilets and that will mean the private operators in the area will run de facto public toilets and that is unfair to them and unacceptable.

To open a tiny bar for just around 100 people and having to pay the additional costs for the sewer extension could well mean the lovely Kelp Bar will not be revived and that would be a shame and a loss to Fremantle.

Roel Loopers

QUALITY LIVING TO AGE WELL AND HEALTHY

Posted in aged, fremantle, living by freoview on October 15, 2014

Two articles in the West Australian today caught my interest. The first one is about a study by Edith Cowan University on green public space, something we in Fremantle often talk about but where we don’t seem to be making any inroads.

The ECU study found that people who live in suburbs with good green spaces feel healthier than those who don’t have a park in the vicinity, but also that the quality of the space is more important than the proximity to where people live. Pioneer Park in Freo is a good example of a boring unattractive open green space that the City has not invested much money in, hence not many people use it. It’s the chicken and the egg thing.

The second article is about supplying spaces for “active-ageing” with an estimation that 5,7 million Australians will be over the age of 65 by 2030.

One of the requirements according to the article is less emphasis on rush-hour public transport but a steady supply of busses, trains, lightrail, so seniors can use them during the day and seven days a week.

There is also the need for new model ag-integrated buildings, and of course public open space to relax and meet people is essential to that as well.

Roel Loopers

FREO WOOLSTORES FOR SALE

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle by freoview on October 15, 2014

Woolstores

The Fremantle Woolstores Shopping Centre site is for sale and you can find out more about it at http://www.jil.com.au/properties

It is interesting that the present owners wanted to develop it into nearly 500 residential apartments but now have pulled the plug on that. It shows that Fremantle council should not give in to the pressure developers put on them.

I remember well that a consultant for the owners told Council they would not develop unless more height was granted to them, and disappointingly Council obliged and gave them a few more storeys well above the maximum nine storeys the Mayor wanted to support.

The owners now will obviously demand more money because the allowed building height for the site has increased the value of the property.

Roel Loopers

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