Freo's View


Posted in arthur head, city of fremantle, fremantle, j shed, local government, western australia by freoview on September 24, 2016

After the Western Australian Planning Commission refusal for approval I can’t get out of my head what an outrage the 21-year lease is Sunset Events got from the City of Fremantle for the J Shed tavern, as it shows incompetence by COF officers and lawyers involved. Did anyone at the City check any of the planning rules the WAPC refers to in its decision to reject the tavern and outdoor music venue? Shouldn’t the lawyers have picked it up also?

And what about the Minister for Lands and the Minister for Local Government who both said it was o.k?

Here a reminder of the WAPC ruling:

1. The proposed application does not comply with the requirements of the Clause 30 of the Metropolitan Region Scheme as it is inconsistent with the purpose for which the land is reserved under the scheme, inconsistent with the orderly and proper planning of the locality and does not allow the preservation of amenities in the locality.

2. The proposal does not provide sufficient on- site car parking;

3. The proposed application does not comply with the requirements of Development Control Policy 5.3 – Use of Land Reserved for Parks and Recreation and Regional Open Space as it is not of a nature and scale of the proposal is compatible with the use and zoning of the surrounding land, the nature and purpose of the reserved land and the environmental character of the location;

4. The proposed application does not comply with the requirements of Development Control Policy 5.3 – Use of Land Reserved for Parks and Recreation and Regional Open Space as it is not identified there being a community need for the proposed facility in the proposed location and the proposal is not consistent with existing or proposed land use and management plans;

5. The proposal is inconsistent with clause 4.1.2 (b) of the City of Fremantle’s Local Planning Policy DGF14 – Fremantle West End Conservation Area Policy as the proposal does not demonstrate a low key use and is not compatible with the ethos of the area;

6. The proposal is inconsistent with clause 3.4 of the City of Fremantle’s Local Planning Policy DGF26 – Planning Policy for the West End of Victoria Quay as the proposed land uses are not compatible with the primary or ancillary land uses desired for the locality;

7. The proposal is inconsistent with objectives 3.1 and 3.2 of the City of Fremantle’s Local Planning Policy DGF5 – Arthur Head Reserve Strategy Plan as the proposal is not a low profile commercial uses of J-Shed reflective of and is not compatible with the history and maritime themes of Arthur Head and the foreshore;

8. The proposal is inconsistent with Clause 2 of the City of Fremantle’s Local Planning Policy DGF6 – Arthur Head – (West End of High Street, Fremantle) as the proposal is overloading the vicinity with proposed developments

None of that was picked up by the COF officers and lawyers or the officers at the Lands Department and Local Government Department. How can that be?  That is not acceptable!

And then we read the statement in the Herald by the acting Director of the City  saying the City is expecting Sunset Events to start the 21-year lease early next year. The lease was given for a tavern and live music venue the WAPC has ruled out in that location, so what is the City talking about!

Surely someone is responsible for this debacle and I would like to know what Fremantle’s new CEO Phil StJohn is going to do about it, because just shrugging the shoulders and say shit happens is really not anywhere near good enough.

The J Shed disaster makes me fear the worst for the Kings Square Project the City signed off on with Sirona Capital. Did the COF officers and lawyers really cross all the Ts and dot the Is? REALLY? Or will financial experts Martin Lee and Craig Ross be proven right that the deal is a financial disaster for the ratepayers of Fremantle, because someone at the City of Fremantle did not check all the details carefully?

Heads should roll, the media should start asking the hard questions, and the Minister for Local Government needs to do his job and investigate the City of Fremantle for its incompetent handling of the J Shed issue.

We can only hope and pray the officers and lawyers did a more thorough job on checking the details of the Kings Square contract than they did on the J Shed lease.

So what are you going to do about it CEO Phil StJohn?! 

Roel Loopers

5 Responses

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  1. freoview said, on September 26, 2016 at 7:22 am

    Yes I believe some form of investigation should happen, not necessary to lay blame but to make sure that it does not happen again and that the Councillors are presented with all the facts, laws and rules, so they know what they are voting on.
    Somewhere along the line all these details the WAPC picked up were overlooked, so was that deliberately done to accommodate the applicant or was it slack work by officers and/or lawyers?


  2. bigjulie said, on September 26, 2016 at 6:50 am

    Any organisation that makes a mistake should have a period of self-reflection, whether it is an Army losing a battle or a Council making a dumb decision. HOW it happened needs to be known so to prevent a repetition of the error. For example, the failure of Gallipoli resulted in a Royal Commission examining the validity of the initial concept, its selection of untrained and inexperienced troops, the time delays and then the behaviours of the Staff Officers.

    For Council to be so wrong on so many important factors, logic demands that an independent expert examination of the wonky process should reveal the errors perpetrated: domination, resignation and deflection, disassociation and disinterest? Unless these matters are forensically and honestly examined, bad decisions will continue to be made by Freo Council. For me, the enduring memory that haunts is that ONLY TWO of the Councillors examined the 190 submissions. The People expect better?

  3. Suzanne said, on September 25, 2016 at 4:32 pm

    Oops pre-emptive text.
    The second time I mentioned the good member for Fremantle in a previous post, it took over as

    Ooh ahh
    Glen McGrath

    Instead of
    Dont shirk
    Simone McGurk…..

  4. Suzanne said, on September 25, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Yes Craig. Agreed

    If the Council and their lawyers (paid for by the ratepayers) had done due diligence, or just used a skerrick of common sense, the community would not have been put through this fiasco.
    21 years was ridiculous even if all the I’s had been dotted and the T’s crossed, something this Council and Staff rarely seem to manage and certainly didn’t in this case.
    The two Liberal Party Ministers concerned, both frequently contacted by a number of worried Fremantle groups, need to ‘fess up to their lack of checking, when people and reputable organizations, further afield than Fremantle sought assistance.
    More amazing is the deafening silence from the members for Fremantle. Why our Fremantle (Labor) Parliamentary reps Simone McGurk and Josh Wilson are not going for the throats and questioning those Ministers, as to how this occurred is appalling.
    Awkward for Josh Wilson of course, as a member of The Council which permitted this travesty, but come on Simone McGrath, your golden opportunity to have a go. 21 years is a long time. How about making a start.

  5. Craig said, on September 24, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Going forward how do you prevent such appalling common sense decisions on so many levels being made by CoF concerning J Shed given that Sunset now has a 21 year lease?

    But it shouldn’t just be the CEO being held accountable, how about the behaviour also demonstrated by the Mayor and councillors who clearly did Sunset’s spruiking. Right up to the WAPC meetings the Mayor was pushing to get around the access issues (move roundabouts, scissor lifts, through Whalers Tunnel!), and conflicts of interest with councillors continuing to accept free concert tickets from Sunset. In the early days at council meetings, there were inane discussion by councillors on tavern/concert numbers rather than the compliance with policy or addressing squarely community concerns, and City Ward councillors missing in action to support local residents.

    So yes based on the J Shed experience how many ‘policy’ violations, asset sales & borrowing top-ups, building variations, downplaying of unfavourable news and compromises will CoF and the councillors make to push the Kings Square project across the line.

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