Freo's View

COUNTDOWN TO COUNCIL AMALGAMATIONS

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

It’s only a few more sleeps till the W.A. State Government will announce the new council boundaries in the local government reform process. The report by Local Government Minister Tony Simpson is due for this week, so stay tuned.

Fremantle ran the very positive Fremantle Forever campaign, initiated by the Fremantle Society, to get the best possible boundaries for our city, but against merging with the City of Melville, and all indications are that we will get close to what we have asked for with new Freo boundaries at Stock Road encroaching into Melville, and taking some of the southern beaches and parts of Cockburn.

What is disappointing though is that media reports claim Premier Colin Barnett is not happy with the Local Government Advisory Panel’s recommendations and wants to pull the City of Perth out of the process, which will make those in Leederville wonder if democracy and local community input for them will be all but gone.

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 CRIME PREVENTION IMPROVEMENT NEEDED

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle, LAW&ORDER by freoview on October 16, 2014

The City of Fremantle Community Safety and Crime Prevention Plan was on the agenda of the SGSC last night with Councillors expressing disappointment that very little had been achieved in the areas of street drinking and anti social behaviour. The need to focus on measurable annual outcomes and have a smaller target rather than a broader field was also seen as necessary to improve the Fremantle CBD.

It was rightly pointed out that the City might need to separate the CBD from outer areas, such as Beaconsfield, that also have social problems and need to be targeted.

It was agreed the focus  in the inner city should be on street drinking, anti social behaviour, street lighting, violence and theft.

I am not sure how much impact a few local council safety officers will have on this as it is really the responsibility of the WA Police. Improved street lighting in certain areas would be helpful though and will reduce the perception some pockets of the CBD are dangerous at night. It might even be possible to use motion sensors to add light only when people enter an area instead of having lights blazing all night in less frequented parts of the city.

Roel Loopers

ABOUT PARLIAMENT, POLITICIANS AND BULLIES

Posted in australia, fremantle, government, politics by freoview on October 15, 2014

The remark by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott that he would “shirtfront” Russian leader Vladimir Putin in Brisbane made me think about how disappointing the Federal and Western Australian state parliaments are. The bullying and grandstanding, the pushing and shoving and daring, and politicians behaving like immature schoolboys, is embarrassing. Parliaments are like a board of directors, but the way our politicians behave would make shareholders call for their resignation and the Australian Stock Exchange would investigate them.

There must be a shortage of rocks in Australia as most rocks are in the heads of those who voted for the morons who are supposed to represent their electorates. Who on earth voted for the silly Clive Palmer and his moronic uninformed puppets? Jaqui Lambie is living proof that it does not require brains to be dangerous, with her insulting and ignorant ranting.

Political parties no longer have conviction and principles, the only principle that applies is to oppose the policies the opposing party is proposing. Just say no when it comes from the other side of parliament and the public think you are doing your job. It’s highly unproductive time wasting.

Where are the charismatic characters of the past, the great orators, the people who stood by what they believed in? Oh, the good old times.

What we have instead is boring bland bi-partisan Bill Shorten, so afraid of being seen as different from the Liberal leader that all he does is a bit of pretending by shouting in parliament. Bill is the beige suit no one notices, he blends in well with the surroundings. He is the wallflower of parliament, but comparing him to a flower is far too colourful for his persona, he is more like a wall weed really. Australia might see the world’s first ever bi-partisan election, where boring Bill will wait till the Liberal advertising slogans are out and he’ll just copy them so the voters won’t walk away from Labor. So we’ll see posters and billboards next to each other with one reading FOR A BETTER AUSTRALIA VOTE LIBERAL and next to it FOR A BETTER AUSTRALIA VOTE LABOR. We could even see Labor volunteers at polling booths with Abbott facemasks. To paraphrase a TV commercial, Bill will say I’ll do whatever they are doing.

In W.A. parliament things are not much different from Canberra. There is a lot of shouting, yelling and finger pointing but very little constructive dialogue. While Premier Colin Barnett might be a bit arrogant at times at least he has some charisma and that can’t be said about Labor leader Mark McGowan who always looks as if he just got out of bed and did not have the time for a shower and to put clean clothes on. Mark has a bad hair day every day and should accept he is balding and get the St George’s Terrace corporate look of a Number Two haircut and buy some nice good fitting suits. There is so much immaturity in insisting to oppose whatever the other parties want to do that it astounds me it keeps going on in our parliaments.

It is refreshing to see that local governments are not party-political in that sense. In Fremantle there is almost too much goodwill between the Elected Members and while there is good informed debate, it can hardly been called robust and no one ever raises their voice. While I’d hate to see local government copying the silly immaturity of state and federal parliaments I’d love to see a bit more controversy and heated debate and disagreement at local level. That said however, local government is the greatest form of democracy and I am always delighted when members of the community take advantage of the fact that they can address Councillors face to face at Council and Committee meetings. We need to safeguard that State Government will not erode that important aspect of our democracy and slowly invades local government like Vladimir Putin is doing in the Ukraine.

No wonder the Australian people are disillusioned with our politicians. I no longer feel represented by any party as I hate the gutlessness of Labor but am also not in favour of Liberal policies, while the Greens don’t do it for me either.

Roel Loopers

DAP IGNORES FREO COUNCIL WISHES

Posted in fremantle by freoview on October 14, 2014

It is disappointing that yet again the State’s Design Advisory Panel has ignored a recommendation by Fremantle Council. This time it’s about a new building for Leighton Beach where Freo Council wanted the requirement that street level would be built so it is adaptable to become commercial in the future and not be kept residential indefinitely. The DAP disappointingly did not see the need for street level activation and ignored the COF recommendations.

This is an ongoing problem and something the residents of North Fremantle also have to be very aware of. Over 100 met today at the North Freo Community Hall to find out first hand what building heights to expect on proposed sites under the Amendment to Local Planning Policy 3.11 that deals with McCabe Street and the former Matilda Bay Brewery site.

Even when Freo Council caps the heights at 33 metres maximum the DAP can overrule that, and are known to have done that in other councils.

My observation tonight was that the majority of people do not understand the planning process and do not know the limitations of local government.

It would be good for the City of Fremantle to produce a leaflet and on-line about how the process works, what the DAP and SAT are there for and what the limitations for local council are.

And looking at the presentation and 3D shadow impact, I wonder why Council always shows development as one huge box, when in reality that is unlikely to happen. Can’t we have three images showing building form/footprint possibilities, so no one gets too paranoid about a huge bulky box that will never be built.

There was something special and very community about the respectful meeting with next door in the adjoining hall kids learning how to play instruments. I thought that was rather cute.

Nice to see Mayor Brad Pettitt and Councillors Andrew Sullivan and Dough Thompson at the meeting and also Fremantle Society president Henty Farrar.

Democracy is still very much alive in good old Freo.

Roel Loopers

BEAZLEY KIILING FIELD

Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on October 13, 2014

Kim Beazley

It is always disappointing to see the clear- felling of trees on a large area, and even more so when it is in a Fremantle residential environment.

It is sad that so many mature trees have to be killed at the Kim Beazley site in White Gum Valley to make way for residential development.

I believe State agency Landcorp should do better and insist that developers keep a large percentage of trees even if that makes a development more costly.

It is also disappointing that the Men’s Shed will be demolished and might have to move to the Hilton Bowling Club. The site of the shed will become a community garden, but that won’t make up for the loss of the many trees.

Roel Loopers

ROAD2RAIL NEEDS VOLUNTEERS

Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on October 12, 2014

The Fremantle Road to Rail Campaign is alerting the Fremantle community about the government plans to carve a truck freeway through the area.

R2R is letterboxing every house in the greater Fremantle area to educate residents.

Maps have been prepared for volunteers, each area should take about 3 hours maximum to complete. Volunteers can do it at their own pace or join in a collective effort.

Do you want to help? Here’s how to get involved:

• Monday October 13, 7:00 pm
FERN (corner Montreal Street and High Street, Fremantle)
Maps and leaflets will be available for collection.
Stay for the vegan meal as well, if you want (suggested donation $10)

• Saturday October 18, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Fremantle Councillors’ Lounge (up the rear stairs, Fremantle Town Hall)
Fremantle Road to Rail meeting to organise letterboxing
Collect maps and leaflets, also come ready to activate your networks for letterboxing, if possible

• Sunday October 19, morning
Letterboxing
Afterwards gather to celebrate with a free vegan lunch at FERN, 1:00 pm

• Monday October 20, 7:00 pm
FERN (corner Montreal Street and High Street, Fremantle)
Maps and leaflets will be available for collection.
Stay for the vegan meal as well, if you want (suggested donation $10)

• Sunday October 26, morning
Letterboxing
Afterwards gather to celebrate with a BBQ lunch (meat with some vegetarian, some vegan) at Sam Wainwright’s house (21a Jarvis Street, O’Connor), 1:00 pm

And prepare to march in the joint Save Beeliar Wetlands/Road to Rail contingent in the Fremantle Day parade, November 9.

For more information call Luke on 0426 992 881, Sam on 0412 751 508 or Barry on 9433 6946.

ONLY DEVELOPMENT THAT RESPECTS FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle by freoview on October 12, 2014

Development is always going to be controversial in Fremantle- and probably in most councils-but here even more so because it could impact on the heritage significance of our city. Does that mean that higher modern buildings should not be built in Freo? No, of course not! It is all about getting the balance right and with that I don’t just mean height but probably more so location. A well-designed modern building of appropriate scale and bulk in the right location will become an asset to Fremantle, while a building of similar height and bulk in an inappropriate location could be a disaster. And that is a concern because many developers want to develop in the heart of the city and in the historic West End of town, without necessarily considering the impact new buildings will have on the streetscape and unique historic attraction of Fremantle.

When one realises that the concerns of the local communities are often ignored by Councils or overruled by the State’s Design Advisory Panel(DAP) and State Administration Tribunal(SAT), one has to start getting worried. But I also warn for unrealistic expectations to retain the status quo in Fremantle, with some people opposing new development as a matter of course, unwilling to accept that additional height is the modern way of building. We will have to accept that the Fremantle of the future will not be low-rise only.

It does not help that Fremantle Council is in a bit of panic mode, with very little happening at the much boasted Kings Square development, hence they are extremely keen to accept any other development and it is disappointing that the Design Advisory Committee (DAC) experts we pay for are also willing to compromise and even cite commercial viability as a reason for approving mediocre design.

The Fremantle community should not have to accept average new buildings like the one on the corner of Short and Pakenham streets, or the Hilton hotel and Westgate Mall developments. We should not have a Council that is so keen to get short-term economic recovery that is bends over backward to accommodate developers.

I do however have less concerns for development along Queen Victoria and Beach Street. These streets have a few important old buildings but the rest is or was pretty average and new development there will enhance and revitalise the area. That does not mean that we should have to accept big, bland and boring boxes of mediocre design and building quality. Fremantle should always demand the best because we are a special and unique city that deserves outstanding design and quality of buildings.

Victoria Quay is going to be very interesting. Done well it could become a great attraction with waterfront alfresco cafes and restaurants and attractive public open spaces, and hopefully there will also be significant recognition of the history of place.

I personally have no problem with a taller 10-12 storey building at VQ over the rail line from Queens Street because the other buildings will be spread out to allow for view corridors and will be 4-5 storeys only. What is essential though is that the public realm will be developed synchronously with the first buildings and not been left as a late addition to the commercial buildings. COF are making that mistake in the CBD where buildings are approved by Council without any indication of where new public open spaces will be developed to accommodate workers, residents and visitors, and that is unacceptable short-sighted planning by the City of Fremantle.

I am excited about the modernisation of Fremantle, but it needs to be done with extreme care and consideration for the unique ambience of our city. Freo is not the only council battling economic decline. It happens all over WA, Australia and the world, so let us just chill out a bit and take more time before we rush into inappropriate development in the inner city.

Forget the blackmail that developers won’t build unless they get substantially more height. Fremantle will attract the right developers who are willing to show consideration for our heritage and who are willing to compromise, because in the long run that will be good for them. A unique town centre with outstanding buildings will increase the value of their properties.

Fremante Council needs to relax and stay firm and have a clear quality vision for the CBD. They need to stop compromising on quality and realise it is not their task to make development commercially viable. It should also demand that the Design Advisory Committee only assesses the design quality of a building, not it’s commercial viability. That’s not what they get paid for and it’s not part of their brief.

Roel Loopers

PROMISING VICTORIA QUAY DEVELOPMENT PLANS

Posted in aboriginal, fremantle, fremantle ports, victoria quay by freoview on October 9, 2014

The City of Fremantle Special Projects Committee had a first discussion about the just released plans for Victoria Quay by Fremantle Ports. My first impression is that the Ports have listened and taken all the community workshops input into account and the plans are so much better than the two ugly ING boxes proposed years ago that were abandoned due to public pressure.

What we now see is a series of low 4-5 storey buildings with just one higher 10-12 storey building east of Queens Street.

This is an integrated plan and a lot about connectivity between the CBD and the waterfront, with a shift of the busport to the east and a new entry from Queens Street.

There would also be a new railway crossing at Pakenham Street, and Peter Huges Drive in the Port, north of the railway line, would be extended all the way to Cliff Street, which would be an alternative east-west connection to Phillimore Street.

I think these are sensible and acceptable plans that  still require detailed fine-tuning and consideration, but as an overall concept they are positive for Fremantle and to activate Victoria Quay, so well done to Fremantle Ports and consultants CODA for listening so well to the community and all the stakeholders.

On behalf of the Fremantle Society I spoke yesterday against the proposal for a substantial building on Pioneer Park along Short and Pakenham streets and warned that we can not afford to lose more green open space in the inner city, even more so because new development will see many more people using the CBD and they will need green lingering nodes and places for people to relax and children to play.

I pointed out that the City’s desire to activate the reserve was partly to blame on them because they have done little to make the park attractive. For example why is there not a playground near the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre that attracts a lot of kids?

But thinking about it this morning I thought I could envisage a row of 2-3 storey residential townhouses along Short Street being quite attractive and taking up only a small percentage of the green space.

I believe that the City of Fremantle in general needs to better plan public and green spaces, as they do at Subi Centro in Subiaco where the Carter Lane precinct is being promoted as “Green Spaces Galore” and being a “distinctive feature of the precinct.”

There is a bit of ambiguity in the statement that Victoria Quay would have retail that does not undermine retail in the CBD. How is that going to work? The area is designed as a commercial/retail/tourism precinct so that would have cafes, bars and restaurants which would no doubt compete with those along the Cappuccino Strip and elsewhere in the inner city. It’s a silly notion really to believe a new waterfront destination will not attract people away from the CBD. Of course it will, but that is just the way the world works and CBD traders will have to counter act that.

Concerns were raised that there is the opportunity for building heights to go up if they have excellence in design, but that no limit has been set on the additional discretionary height. That is not acceptable and needs to be addressed, and there needs to be a Design Advisory Committee appointed for that and not been left to the discretion of Fremantle Ports.

The idea raised by some Councillors that there could be a “development authority’ for implementing the VQ development is not a bad one as it would bring cohesion to it and deal easier with stakeholders like the Public Transport Authority. This would also take care about a possibility that only the commercially most viable buildings would be built but the public realm neglected.

I am not sure why there would be the need for weather proof access to the train station from the Post Office in Market Street, as Councillor Sullivan keeps talking about. It sounds a bit too much to me as those ugly passage ways they build between school buildings and I can’t see any need for that in a city environment. All over the world one crosses station forecourt squares without being protected from the rain or sun, so why Fremantle needs to have something like it, that will be a visual barrier at Market Street, and needs to be high enough to accommodate buses and trucks, is not something I support. It is a walk that takes two minutes so why we would need protection from the rain and sun I do not understand.

The timeframe and implementation of the plans are crucial I believe. Ideally we would not want VQ commercial office space to compete with that being built at Kings Square, so hopefully Sirona Capital will get a head start and pre-lease the Myer and Queensgate buildings soon and can get started on the development there that is most essential for the re-activation of the inner city.

I am worried about Freo’s short-term future but excited about the long-term one. The modernisation and revitalisation of our city is essential to retain the State’s second city status and it is crucial for our local economy and traders. The entire development of Fremantle though needs to be handled sensitively and the authorities need to insist on high quality and well designed new buildings. Boring bland concret boxes will not do and have to be rejected vehemently.

Roel Loopers

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