Freo's View


Everyone who regularly reads this Freo’s View blog knows that I have been vigorously scrutinising what is happening at Fremantle Council for many years and that I have been outraged at times with my criticism when things are not done properly or not done at all, but I sometimes shake my head when I read the ridiculous negativity on social media about our Council and Elected Members.

According to some comments Freo Council is following a Greens doctrine and according to those critics the Greens are socialists. However, Fremantle Council is strongly supportive of the capitalist idea of investment and development in our city, so that is not very socialist. How can that specific criticism of Council make sense to anyone?

Those same critics also say Fremantle should be more supportive of its retailers. It is doing that by encouraging residential, office and tourist development, but those who say Council is not doing enough to support our retailers are also against higher density and infill. To be financially successful and sustainable retail needs high footfall and that means many more people living and working in the CBD and visiting it.

No new retailers, especially major ones, will open shop in Fremantle unless they know that the numbers will add up and that means many more people walking the streets of the CBD seven days a week and not just on weekends.

People complain about Freo City not doing enough and demand better and more services and want to get more free parking and reduced parking fees, without supporting a substantial increase in residents and offices. They also do not want to pay higher rates or for the city to sell off assets, so how is the City going to pay for services that are more expensive every year when it does not create more income?

I believe the community should be part of the solutions and work closer with council, and I do realise it takes two to tango. We need more respectful communication from both sides and Elected Members not ignoring community input. We need better transparency and accountability, but we also need a community that stops the often silly conspiracy attacks on Council. It is all about respect and to stop the political point scoring that too often happens. Fremantle is a very good city that can become a whole lot better when we work together on improving it.

Development is essential to make Freo grow and prosper but it needs to be very good development that reflects on the character of our city. It can be done, as I have been shown at the Elders building in Cliff Street where the Mediterranean Shipping Company will move into later this year.

North Fremantle architect Murray Slavin took me around this morning and it is a stunning new building full of natural light, while the former Elders building has been restored to its old glory. It is a tranquil environment to work in and looks great from street level as well.

It will also bring 160 new office workers to the West End and that will no doubt be good for local cafes and retailers.

For Fremantle to move forward it will need to grow. The status quo is not sustainable and that’s why I believe the ‘socialist’ building boom will be good for Freo in the long run.

Roel Loopers

15 Responses

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  1. Mark said, on July 30, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Spot on Andrew
    Their direction and action, gives me the same
    I suppose they have to ensure they maintain these minority groups for each election cycle.
    With the lack of interest in local election it doesn’t take much to direct and outcome

  2. Andrew.L said, on July 29, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    One would think the ideologies of our left leaning council are doing this on purpose to devalue the city to meet the aim of the policies implemented under the current Mayor of ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Affordability’. This mantra is driving the demise of Fremantle!
    The push for so called housing diversity not only includes higher density, but the changes to the LPS 4 to allow the so called 120sqm “Tiny Houses”, aka trailer parks. This is another tool in the party led kit to drive down values in the area. Good for the hipsters and hippies moving in, but bad for the working people that have saved and built up wealth and contributed financially to the city for many years.
    Wake up people of Freo, get involved in council activities, meetings and events, you will soon start joining the dots.

  3. Mark said, on July 29, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    Martin will u please stop with the actual facts

    You are destroying a perfectly made story about the evil nimbys who actually have the Gaul to express them selves, while the valiant Councillors the voice of the majority of Fremantle about 18% of the population/electors are guiding us to their Nirvana.
    The concrete oasis Boxes in the sky.
    The trailer parks in our suburbs, creating the slumps of the future.
    Andrews waterless grey/ green concrete parks

    The parking space in Cockburn for you sunless car
    The Nirvana of Fremantle no trees, well except across from brads house.
    And concrete parks for kids to play in.
    Creating a lovely heat sink warmth for all to swelter in.

    With a centre for us to gather, scream, rant, swear, piss, puck, inject, snort, bash, graffiti, booze away and scare the nimby shoppers so they stay away in droves

    Can’t they see the Jannah our council is creating for us.

    All is good,

  4. Jayne said, on July 29, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Thank you Martin, spot on again. Your comments are always well thought out and rely on facts and evidence, not ideology and emotion.

    Subiaco was also a thriving retail and social hub. The infill of units, apartments and big office buildings ruined its traditional character and charm. Demand for land led to increased commercial rents pushing out small interesting shops. A higher percentage of rental properties meant more transitory residents replacing an established community. Yet the increased population did little to assist retailers but it did make parking a nightmare. In response to more vehicles the council increased parking fees which resulted in reduced visitor numbers. What can we learn from this nearby example? I wonder, are we just replicating this?

    Will a bunch of homogenous supermarkets and chain stores improve Freo? No I dont think you can compete with the convenient free parking, safety and size of Garden City and Claremont Quarter and anyway, arent we living in Freo to avoid all that? Has online shopping changed retail? Of course.

    I dont believe council should be changing the face of Freo to help developers and local retailers. The council could instead better promote Freo as a desirable destination for a range of visitors. Too often media coverage generated by council is about the mayor, his face, his philosophy rather than highlighting the city’s many great assets and boutique shopping.

    Secondly any local retailers under performing would do well to review their promotion, customer service, products and quality control. There are dozens of cafes in Freo but how many market their business continually, how many reward their regulars, how many offer excellent value, how many provide really good food and service? Just a few and they are busy. But when these aspects are lacking it is not the council’s fault nor their responsibilty to fix it.

    But thirdly, the council could check with businesses to find out what impact particular events and pop up shops have on revenue. It seems some bring business to Freo and some clear out the shops and cafes.

  5. martin said, on July 29, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    Cr Sullivan and Cr Pemberton were strongly pushing for the ridiculous Seapower redevelopment on Sth Terrace, despite local opposition. There is no parking in this area already most days, so its the last place that needs 20-30 new apartments. This development is crazy and the locals will suffer, but it was pushed by our Councillors – let’s not pretend it was all down to the state govt. Once again it is one of the usual handful of developers that has a cozy relationship with our Council.
    People are not against high density if it is done well and respectfully – it is when inappropriate developments are jammed down locals’ throats that people get upset

  6. freoview said, on July 29, 2016 at 10:36 am

    If you don’t want higher density you need to talk to the socialist Barnett government then, Mark, as they have set the infill targets for local councils.


  7. Mark said, on July 29, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Martin and Caroline summed it up nicely, rational, well known but ignored facts with a good base in common sense.

    Roel I don’t know if you have missed it but in action rarely/never do the socialist pay for their ideas they need others money for that, so for a few extra bike racks, cutting parking for the CBD (developers always happy to have the choice) a few token affordable houses, developers are happy to do for a few extra floors the council wants anyway.

    The agenda is directing how we live higher density, smaller houses, no cars, less choice, more restrictions etc.
    Sounds like the start of socialism to me.

  8. freoview said, on July 28, 2016 at 10:42 pm

    The decline of so-called High Street shopping has been a worldwide trend for a long time and the Global Financial Crisis did not help either. Fremantle is not alone when it comes to collapsing retail, just look at Subiaco.

    I do agree that we need a more thorough review and survey and also that CUSP is not the ‘authority’ to do that.

    BID unfortunately does not tackle the big issues but does little cute fillers that have little impact and we hear very little from the Chamber of Commerce as well.

    There is a lot of room for improvement and it can’t be done in house by the City of Fremanle, but previous consultants from Adelaide also made little impact on improving the retail experience in Freo. Time for a rethink and fresh approach!


  9. Caroline said, on July 28, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    Something needs to be done about people hanging about the Square and Q Vic St because It is increasingly quite hard to get from the Square area to the pool either route without having to make detours to avoid ranting drug users. it used to be booze but it is worse now. These folk have homes as they take buses. This can be in the day and dusk. People in cars are less aware of this. I would not buy a unit in Fremantle for this reason. I like to walk about. What can be done? Nothing – as it has been for years. I don’t mind drinkers having a communal laugh and conversation in the square and parks but ranting and screaming -and wired up fighting girls holding up traffic it was the other day- why would anyone buy here unless they drive in and out of units ignoring the environment. Does Freo want residents like that?

  10. Martin said, on July 28, 2016 at 8:17 pm


    I moved to Freo in 1999 and we had a functioning retail sector. It has collapsed. Why?

    We have no shopping diversity because the shops have closed down and left town. Why?

    We have become a one trick pony tourist destination. Restaurants and bars, 7/11, Subway and kebab shops, but very little shopping. It simply does not function anymore for locals, never mind being a shopping destination.

    This is not unique to Freo, but many communities worldwide have turned this around. Why don’t we learn from the success stories? BID groups have been key to these success stories elsewhere, but when you read what these groups have achieved elsewhere, and compare with what Freo’s own BID group does, their are no common threads.

    Until the CoF Councillors and officers wake up and start asking questions about the cause of the collapse of Freo’s retail, rather than this mistaken belief that it will all be solved by increasing population density, the decline will just continue.

    What is wrong with a proper independent survey about shoppers’ views of Freo. Find out why they don’t bother. Get consultants in to provide their insights. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes, but to continue to repeat then year after year is pure stupidity. [Curtin Uni Sustainability Dept is NOT qualified for this!!!]

    Our Council has watched this decline and failed miserably to stem the tide, never mind turn it around. They do not have the answers, so let’s not pretend they do! We need some new thinking… What are successful communities doing?

  11. freoishome said, on July 28, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Roel, I understand in principle about retailers being complimentary. I have long expressed the view that what is needed is identifying what the various stakeholders actually ‘DO’. Then we can decide if we want to support that, based on the cost/benefit to us.

    Stakeholders: Residents -ratepayers and non ratepayers, businesses some resident some not, some local some national/international, guests – international, interstate, WA regional and Metro, Workers, Hospitality, family demographic eg, school age kids, developers, etc etc, they all have different needs and contribution (financial and social). But what do we really know about them?

    How can we even establish a wish list of the core retailers without that knowledge. What about meeting their needs for employment, recreation, education – these also are critical to knowing the retail needs.

  12. freoview said, on July 28, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Fact is that the CBD is the shopping destination in Fremantle, as it is in Perth. Retailers like to be together because it will attract more people to the area.
    There is no doubt local people will frequent more local supermarkets. There is little need for them to drive to the CBD to go to Coles when they can go to IGA or Woolworths or smaller shops to buy food. But that does not apply to clothing, etc.
    No one knows if new office workers in Fremantle would not also move to Fremantle to be closer to work if they like the Freo lifestyle.
    The centre of Fremantle is no doubt what attracts tourists. They don’t come here to go to Samson, Hilton, White Gum Valley but they come to the old town and the beaches, so hence the CBD needs to cater for them with hospitality businesses and retailers.


  13. freoview said, on July 28, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    A big problem for Freo’s retail is the lack of diversity and big name brands and one has to ask if that will ever change as the focus on shopping centres and their expansion is huge, although I read a month or so ago that shopping centres in the USA are closing.

    Shopping centres might be sterile and lack character but they are convenient, weather proof and presumed to be safe. Fremantle gets large numbers of suburban visitors on Sundays and quite a few on Saturdays but that is still not enough, so what we are dealing with I believe Martin is the chicken and the egg dilemma. No new shops without more shoppers and no new shoppers without more new shops.
    I have no idea how councils or state government can make a difference to that, but to try for more people engaging with the city during weekdays, as is the case in Perth, where office workers are the main shoppers Mon-Fri.


  14. martin said, on July 28, 2016 at 2:20 pm


    To increase footfall for retailers you need to attract more people to visit Freo.

    Infill and increased density in central Freo will make very little impact on retail footfall. You just have to look at East Perth, Cockburn Central, Mandurah Marina, Melbourne Docklands, London Docklands, London’s Rotherhithe area, etc, etc to realize that areas that have achieved this magical high density do not drive a booming retail precinct or translate into thriving, vibrant or inclusive neighbourhoods. In fact they are boring and the streets are generally empty of people walking about.

    Excluding shopping malls, the thriving shopping precincts around Melbourne [Chapel St / Hawthorne / Brunswick / etc], Sydney [Balmain / etc] and many prominent international cities do not have the density that our community leaders insist to be mandatory for success. In fact these areas have far more in common with Freo and it immediate surrounds than the density and building types that are being promoted by the CoF.

    Retail needs to attract people from outside the area to get the critical mass, and Freo is no different. As such it is perfectly reasonable to separate out the problems facing Freo’s retail from the relentless push for high density living. Will high density have an impact – yes but small.

    Freo retail is suffering from the fact that people choose to go elsewhere to do their shopping. Why? When locals find it necessary to drive to Garden City or Claremont to get their basics then there is a problem.

    When people from elsewhere that used to shop in Freo decide they no longer want to do so, we have a problem.

    If you want to know why retail is struggling in Freo, why not ask the people why they no longer want to shop here. I do so, often, and the answers are always the same… This is the problem that needs to be addressed!

    It is not unreasonable to point out that Freo has a retail problem, while also being against poorly thought out schemes for high density proposed by the CoF.

    What is unfortunate is that the philosophies driven by the current Council are driven from the pages of text books, political mantras, ratepayer subsidized overseas “sustainability” junkets, and being pushed by a certain university. The reality surrounding what makes a city vibrant and liveable, and a retail sector thrive are far more complex than these overly simplistic doctrines. This is what really pisses people off!

    Roel, you have obviously lived in thriving communities in Europe too – you will surely understand that there is far more to achieving these communities than just high rise and infill projects.

  15. freoishome said, on July 28, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    I would like to see the case made both financially and economically for the benefits of focusing on Fremantle’s City Ward.
    I don’t want that to sound like opposition to that, but like everything else I want to see the justification.
    Most of Fremantle’s residents don’t live in City Ward, less than 1000 I understand, most are in the suburbs.
    What are the cost and benefits of the entertainment precinct operator’s and commercial businesses, etc.
    For example, is the employment for Fremantle residents, how much use do the residents make of these businesses and the Entertainment precinct? Or are the real benefits actually for Fremantle’s guests and the people wanting to make money from our city, be they developers, commercial or retail business owners.
    What type of retail do ratepayers need and want in City Ward, Good Guys, Bunnings, Harvey Norman aren’t going to support our tiny population of 30 odd thousand, so who can we realistically expect? Do we want our City to become a shopping mecca, direct but uncovered competition for the revamped Garden City? What is the retail vision?
    Why do we want a government dept, that will be staffed with career public servants, ie, not Freo residents.
    Is it just to fill more lunchtime cafe operations? Is this all this is about?
    Where is the Stakeholder analysis?

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