Short-sighted piecemeal planning seems to be very much what Western Australia is all about, both at state and local levels. The planned Coogee Coast development south of Fremantle’s South Beach, that includes the heritage significant former South Fremantle Power Station, is another example of non-integrated planning.
While Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett and Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt say that the influx of some 12,000 residents would make lightrail the perfect form of public transport, Lands Minister Tony Redman stated that a bus priority corridor along Hampton Road and through the new development would be adequate. Who is he kidding?!
We constantly hear from State Government experts that higher density living along transport corridors is the way forward for fast-growing Perth, but a bus service that would accommodate 10,000 commuters during rush hour each day is just a ridiculous and outdated proposition. It would require some 200 busses to drive from Coogee to the Fremantle train station between 6.30-8.30 am to shift that many people. 200 busses in 120 minutes along Hampton Road? YES Minister.
Why can’t the cost for lightrail be included in the massive development, so that the developers who are going to make millions from it actually pay for most of the transport infrastructure required. Imagine that same light rail also looping past Fiona Stanley Hospital, and the Murdoch and Curtin universities and we might start seeing the light on how to deal with traffic congestions and the associated air pollution.
Now that the laws on electric bicycles have changed the chance is that Western Australia will see a lot more, and cheaper, bikes imported from Europe. It would be great to see many more electric bikes, as it might help convince older people and those who need to go a lot uphill, or travel with kids, to hop on the bike instead of into the car.
That raises the question if the City of Fremantle will install recharging points for the power bicycles, so there is no need to worry about running out of power on the way home. Like WiFi investing in electric bikes and supplying users with recharging points would be very Freo. What about it Councillors!
The City of Fremantle media advisor thinks I was a bit harsh on his CEO Graeme McKenzie and asked if I would publish the full statement McKenzie made to the Fremantle Gazette. Of course I am happy to oblige with that request but I think I was pretty on the spot with my criticism, even if the COF is going to address the community concerns in more detail soon.
Here is Graeme McKenzie’s email to the Gazette:
The Kings Square business plan was scrutinised and signed off over two years ago and has now become a legally binding contractual agreement between the City and Sirona Capital – It simply can’t be undone. So while I appreciate the public interest in the topic, the time for debate has well and truly passed and serves no real purpose now other than to distract us from the real work of getting on with this $220 million development that will provide Fremantle with all of the benefits that were identified in the plan.
Having said that, and in the interests of putting this issue to bed once and for all, we’re currently putting together additional information to address some of the recently raised questions about the plan which we will release in the next week or so.
In the interim, I need to make it clear that the business plan for this project was the most comprehensive business plan ever released by the City of Fremantle, containing information far exceeding the minimum requirements for a business plan produced by a local government. To put this into context, try to obtain a copy of the business plan for any of the major state government projects like the Perth Freight Link – we can’t!
The plan was prepared with the input and review of a range experts that included professional valuers, lawyers, quantity surveyors, architects, and accountants. It was based on the best information and knowledge at the time, so anyone now looking at the plan is not viewing it through the same time lens. Interestingly though, with all other inputs being equal, the fact interest rates have dropped significantly over the past three years means an NPV assessment today would produce a better result than it did when it was undertaken back then. I also make the comment that the NPV assessment was not the sole determinant for this project to proceed.
I encourage people to read the business plan, which can be found on the City’s website to understand the benefits a project of this nature can bring to Fremantle
I am stunned and utterly disappointed to read the response by City of Fremantle CEO Graeme McKenzie in the Fremantle Gazette today in reply to persistent questions from the community about the Kings Square project and to reveal all the financial aspects of the contract with Sirona Capital.
McKenzie said that the time to scrutinise the business plan had been and gone and that the legally binding contract simply can’t be undone. “…..the time for debate has well and truly passed and serves no real purpose other than to distract us from the real work of getting on with the $ 220 million development…..” the CEO is quoted in the Gazette.
This is an amazing Public Relations debacle by the CEO who will no doubt outrage the community with his statement that somehow the time for questioning the financial implications has lapsed and those who question it should just shut up.
No one asked for the project to be shelved, Graeme McKenzie. The community just wants to know if the City of Fremantle’s predictions of a 6.15 per cent rate return and a positive $ 4 million net present value, or NPV, are correct or if they are overly optimistic figures that are far away from the facts. According to Fremantle resident Martin Lee his calculations show a negative rate return and a negative NPV of $ 30 million, so these figures are far too far apart to not want disclosure of the financial reality of this very important development project for Fremantle.
Why the Fremantle CEO wants to put fuel on the fire with these arrogant statements in the media is beyond me. It is disrespectful to treat the community with contempt and Graeme McKenzie needs a few lessons in PR and diplomacy, because his response in the Gazette will only convince more and more people that something is not right.
It was not easy to find a table in one of Fremantle’s cafes, bars, restaurants and pubs on ANZAC Day Monday as 6000 US sailors substantially boosted the normal weekend crowd. The Fishing Boat Harbour was packed and so was the Cappuccino Strip, but this couple found one of the few quiet spots at Little Creatures.
Whenever I conduct one of my ROEL’S FREMANTLE PHOTO TOURS I always stress that photography is all about awareness, being in the moment and being observant. I point out details, changes in light and shadows, reflections in windows, etc. Photography for me is all about discovery and having an eye to see a good photo in the forrest of visual pollution around us.
Today I walked past this empty billboard wall, but it had become it’s own public artwork from the remnants of posters stuck there previously. How many of you have walked, cycled or driven past that South Fremantle wall without noticing the beauty of it?
Fremantle has got 20% more people living here for six days with the US Navy boosting our 30,000 residents by 6,000. The navy personnel is on a well-earned R&R after months of deployment in the Middle East fighting the Islamic State.
The Nimitz Class supercarrier Carl Vincon is in Gage Road and the sailors are being ferried to Victoria Quay by the Perth Diving Academy, while the USS Bunker Hill and USS Gridley are at berth at C Shed.