Freo's View

FREO DEVELOPMENT IS NOT JUST ABOUT HEIGHT

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, western australia by freoview on September 16, 2016

It is disappointing to read in the Fremantle Herald today that the Fremantle Society continues to oppose higher density and multi-storey buildings in the east of the CBD.

FS President John Dowson’s letter in the Chook is talking about human scale and against super high density housing, when he opposes the building proposed for the former Spotlight site at the Westgate Mall.

Dowson teaches us a bit of history of the area and it is nice to know that the paving leading into the Westgate Mall was taken in 1968 from the Point Street car park.

I have written about the eight-storey building before and believe it is ugly and should be rejected because of that, not because of its height.

Fact is the Point Street car park will be demolished and the Hilton Doubletree hotel built there. From memory that building will be six-storey high at Princess May Park and seven storey at Point Street, so it will step up just one storey to the proposed development a hundred metres away.

The east of the CBD has been a terrible eyesore for far too many years and has created an unsafe environment where people don’t even dare to wait for the bus, so improvement of the area is badly-needed and very welcome.

An eight-storey building is not highrise and the development of the Woolstores shopping centre site near it can go up to 11 storey under Planning Scheme Amendment 39. I was against the heights of PSA 49 as I believe the Woolstores and Gas&Coke sites should only go up to seven storey and only if exceptional architecture is offered should those sites be developed to up to nine storeys, but never higher than that! Sadly we lost that battle years ago and that can’t be reversed now.

We need to fight development battles in Fremantle on design quality and the insistence of heritage protection without compromise, not just on hight.

The Barnett Government demands higher density and infill from all metropolitan councils and it will take over if they don’t comply, so we are better off having our own Elected Members make those decisions. But those can still be overruled by the state’s Development Assessment Panels, as they did with the proposal for the ugly building next to St Patrick’s and the Fremantle Hotel. Freo Council refused the development application but the DAP approved it.

No matter how often the Fremantle Society baulks at change in Fremantle it will happen, because change is inevitable. What we need to do is insist on good change, not the mediocrity we are getting at the moment.

I believe planning changes need to be made at state level to insist on better quality and more creative buildings that suit the streetscape. If new buildings are truly outstanding medium height won’t be an issue.

Roel Loopers

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