Freo's View


Posted in fremantle, high-density, living by freoview on December 8, 2014

It was very interesting to read two articles in two newspapers on the weekend about high-density living. In the West Australian Kate Emery wrote that Western Australians don’t have the mentality for high-density housing and that the W.A. Planning Commission(WAPC) is proposing to State Government to change the R30 and R35 buildings codes because there has been a huge community backlash against inappropriate and out of character high buildings being detrimental to the overall community amenity. The WAPC also wants to increase the minimum parking requirements for new dwellings.

In the Subiaco Post renowned urban planner and architect Dr Linley Lutton writes under the headline “Frantic Density Push Is Alarming” that …”experts warnings from those outside the industry are rarely heeded.” And that the warning for a huge population growth in Perth is an unrealistic and alarmist over-estimation of future growth.

We have already witnessed that planning schemes by Local Governments are completely overridden by State Government agencies and are a real worry to especially older suburbs like Fremantle Subiaco, Cottesloe, etc.

Lutton writes “High-density European and Middle Eastern cities work because they provide a diversity in stimulation, convenience and interaction opportunities. The piazzas, squares, courtyards, parks, shops and streets of these cities are where people live and grow. Most high-density development in Perth offers none of these things.”

 The article continues that Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that only 5-7% of people living near suburban train stations actually use the train to go to work. A 2010 study in Australia, Canada and the USA showed that the main users of public transport were those living in the low-density outer suburbs, not those who live in high-density areas with railway access.

Dr.Linley Lutton also warns for health impact of high-density living along main streets near traffic noise, especially on the older population, because poor air-quality and noise trigger mental and physical health problems.

Lutton suggests that self-sufficient suburbs with a variety of housing densities and with ample employment opportunities, and less need to commute far and wide to work, would be a better way to plan for the future, and I could not agree more. In an ideal world no one living in Rockingham should have to commute to Joondalup for work.

Fremantle Council also needs to heed these warning and realise one cannot change a decades-old entrenched culture and lifestyle overnight. Change happens slowly and only when the community embraces it and takes ownership of it. Collaboration and integration is what is needed, not a narrow focus anti-car mentality.

New developments like Kim Beazley and Stevens Reserve offer very little in lifestyle enhancement, with no green lingering nodes between buildings and only a strip of green on the periphery. As Lutton points out, the piazzas, parks, town squares, etc. are needed to create a lifestyle people embrace. Much better and more creative and innovative city planning is required in Fremantle and the ambiance of the CBD needs to be improved with modern seats, shade structures, green areas, more trees, play nodes for children and better and creative lighting.

Higher density living will only be embraced by the community if it supports and enhances the Freo lifestyle and when it allows for diversity.

Roel Loopers

10 Responses

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  1. Chris Cornish said, on December 10, 2014 at 10:32 pm

    I’m pleased to say that at the City of Bayswater’s council meeting last night my motion to “pursue a scheme amendment to prohibit multiple dwellings in residential areas coded R40 and below” got through.
    Great thought needs to go into planning before allowing these developments in quite residential areas; parking is a major problem when some 2 bedroom residences can have as little as 0.75 bays!


  2. Mark. said, on December 10, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Roel its quite clear the average person in WA doesn’t want to live on the 5th floor of some concrete dog box.
    Denis McLeod eluded to this on his comment of people buying 160sqm blocks way out and building their own home rather than living in some high rise development.
    We have seen over the last couple of weeks several high rise evacuation from fires the risk to families has a huge increase in high rise  incidents.
    One high rise FIRE over east, saw a 1000 people evacuated from just one building.

    Looks like COF is doing what it does best, driving for more concrete.
    The 202020 report left us a bleak situation.
    We had to find a suburb with 2 airports to find a place with more hard surface than freo.

    I wonder, the councils are driving higher density, more restricted street scapes, higher and higher buildings, more challenges for emergency services, so who ensures the emergency services are equipped to cope with the ever increasing challenges that councils planning is making for them?
    Lets be sure communication between council and state government is not real flash, kings sq issue, pops to mind.
    It seems police have more issues  to deal with yet less man power to deal with them too.

    Burt St is about to become the latest high density issue for the “well represented” residents of freo.

    At council meetings you see little communities from a street or a suburb coming to stand up for their little patch, or sense of community, time and time again u see council have a choice to build that community and support what they stand or back the next crappy development which doesn’t suit the area, or has no parking or ridiculously high R rating, councils  normally direction decisions is go with the crappy development and crush a little more community spirit.

    I’ve heard lots of discussion about the importance of wards lately their importance as they allow the formation/operation of  the precincts. (An irrelevant point as of course precincts can exist and function without wards)
    So if precincts are so important and fundamental to our representation then u think more than one councillor would have shown up for the annual combined precinct end of year get together, so guess  which councillor had the interest to show up, councillor Massie!
    “Action’s speak louder than words”


  3. freoview said, on December 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Paul, this blog and I have been making positive change suggestions for four years, so it is not about what should not be done. But change needs to be integrated and not stand alone, piecemeal planning as you rightly point out about the -so called- Integrated Transport Strategy- that lacks vision.



  4. freoishome said, on December 10, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Why is everyone getting their knickers in a twist? Fremantle, like the rest of world, has to change, and the CoF is preparing to do that with a planning approach. We have to be less car dependent, we have to increase residential density.
    What will that mean in practice?
    Do you think that means every existing home within the City ward will suddenly be demolished and replaced with 20 storeys? This isn’t communist China, so I doubt it. What is likely to happen is that some blocks will be higher density, and based on Amendment 49, that will be a variety of height buildings all in the medium density range, not high rise. Nobody has argued with the principle within the City’s Economic Plan that we need more permanent residents with the CBD, ie, 1500 more. In fact most are arguing not to build on existing green space, so where are they go if not in higher density?
    Worth watching ABC Catalyst TV show from last week, available on iView, as that was about City planning and population growth.
    The CoF Integrated Transport Strategy is open for public comment until the end of the week. It has solutions, but it lacks a vision of transport in 15-20 years time, so feels like solutions looking for problems. Do we want any streets being pedestrianized, if so what is the vision, the picture of how those streets will operate, instead of tarmac will they have trees, fountains, lots of seating, or will it just be, as now, occasional road closure for specific events, with minimal amenity for walking? What will these walkers do, just drink coffee, is this essentially just a hospitality precinct?
    I know Linley Lutton is not anti density, per sa. He is arguing for place making as well. If one was to imagine a Piazza or Square in Freo, Kings Sq is a possibility, but that would not work surrounded by Adelaide/William/Newman/Quarry streets full of motorists! Likewise Henderson St Mall doesn’t work as well as in might because it is a car park. High St from Market all the way to Cliff could be pedestrianized and would transform all the retail, leading to the iconic Round House and Bather Beach. If these streets and car parks are closed off to make the diversity, convenience and stimulation, which roads should become major motoring routes?
    Is this blog only about what should not, could not be done?


  5. David said, on December 9, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    In Vcitoria high density developments have been banned in existing residential areas.mehat does the tell you? Perth don’t repeat the mistakes of Victoria. Housing obesity and people literally living on top of each other is a recipe for urban disaster.


  6. Caroline said, on December 8, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Agree with all


  7. Julie Matheson said, on December 8, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Reblogged this on Local Govt. and Subiaco.


  8. Suzanne said, on December 8, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Yes, it has been mentioned over and over again, world-wide, that Cities are ‘greening’ up, whereas Fremantle reclaims parks and green spaces for concrete.


  9. Colin Nichol said, on December 8, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Let’s hope all this sets up a reality-check


  10. dickbaynham said, on December 8, 2014 at 6:21 am

    Agree entirely Roel, without green and public open spaces cities have no souls – and for all the empty rhetoric from people espousing green credentials, Fremantle seems to get browner by the day.


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