Freo's View


Posted in city of fremantle, community, development, fremantle society by freoview on November 28, 2016

The Fremantle Society will have its AGM on December 7 where president John Dowson will be re-elected unopposed.

The Society has played a very important role in protecting Fremantle’s heritage for more than forty years, but I believe it has lost its way by being too negative and too narrow focussed, and rumblings within the membership suggest that Downson’s anti-height, anti-development and anti-change rhetoric is wearing thin not only outside the Society but also among the community group’s members.

It is a shame that the negativity is making the Society irrelevant, as many people in the community, Councillors and CoF officers no longer take Dowson’s criticism serious and stop listening to what the Fremantle Society has to say about the future of Fremantle.

The Society needs to find some balance and a strong committee that will guide its president and stop the relentless negativity in the media, as it is counter productive.

I have no doubt at all that John Dowson means very well and that he is passionate about protecting Fremantle’s heritage, and so am I, but blaming Fremantle Council, particularly Mayor Brad Pettitt, for development rejected by CoF but approved by state agencies DAP or SAT, is unfair and makes one question the integrity of the Fremantle Society.

The Society always had a very strong voice and was respected and listened to and while it did not win all the battles, it has done some remarkable work. Instead of whingeing about a down pipe in the wrong location Dowson should have been proud of the great outcome of the Warders Cottages, for which FS fought so hard, and also for the Society’s achievement finally getting the Gunners Cottages at Cantonment Hill restored.

I agree with Dowson that a lot of new development in Fremantle is ugly and inappropriate and I will stand side by side with him and FS fighting the Notre Dame University proposal for the corner of High and Cliff streets and other mediocre and inappropriate buildings, such as the one proposed by the Yolk developers for the former Spotlight site in Adelaide Street.

The Society needs to do what it does best and find the right battles to combat instead of the blanket approach of no change, no height, no development, because Fremantle is in desperate need of residential, commercial and tourist development and the Society should be supportive of positive change and progress in our city.

I sincerely hope John Dowson and the new committee will find a more balanced and respectful way of expressing their views, so they have more impact and will be taken serious again.

Roel Loopers

5 Responses

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  1. freoview said, on December 4, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Hi Liz, you have to do that yourself by clicking on the FOLLOW button on the blog.

    Hope you are well and happy!


  2. Liz Cartell said, on December 4, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    hi Roel
    hope you’re keeping well
    could you please add my email to your blog mailing list?
    many thanks

  3. bigjulie said, on November 29, 2016 at 7:26 am

    Dear Roel,

    re: John Dowson

    I have never met or even spoken to John Dowson (nor you) so my response to your comments are merely as an onlooker and they are certainly not an effort to protect a friend or a vested interest.

    You blame The Olde Soldier for being negative yet, if it were not for his withering efforts of mind, stomach lining & heart muscle, the West End would now look like Kowloon: forests of concrete, glitz and snarling traffic. That reticence to develop at any cost has preserved the arcane beauty of the old district and the historian and author John Dowson deserves our applause rather than a rude dismissal as “negative”. You too deserve similar applause and you really should have a seat on Council as your passion mirrors that of John Dowson’s desire to preserve and improve rather than that nouveau modern addiction to the wrecking ball and more concrete tilt up condom Matterhorns.

    The recent example of only 2 councillors reading the 180 submissions on the J Shed Oktoberfest-Beer -Hall -Rock-Arena every month shows the real weak democratic link: Councillor complacency and sheep herd mentality following a new Messiah. John Dowson and you give balance by perceptive observation and fearless commenting, often differently, perhaps, yet, always valuable and balancing because of a shared desire to preserve the ancient – and with an enduring wisdom often only perceived in hindsight. Perhaps the old sandstone port should only permit new walls in sandstone? Is that being negative, provocative or just pandering to the tourists by giving them what they crave? To John Dowson and Roel Loopers, 2 brave warriors for architectural truth – RESPECT

  4. Suzanne said, on November 28, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    How exhausted John Dowson must be Roel. Constantly criticised and berated over asking questions of a Council whose last unbelievable headline grab is to insult the joy of being a proud Australian. All of us.
    As you say, Dowson is passionate about Fremantle. He has given years and years of public service as a Councillor, a Deputy Mayor, on commitees, including currently as President of the Fremantle Society.
    He is one of the foremost scholars on the heritage and history of the Port City and the many facets of same, writing excellent, award winning tomes on the
    subject. He has always been for development but not when huge, boring monstrosities destroy the streetscapes they corrupt. Yet still he is
    accused and abused.
    Someone has to be brave enough to ask the questions, stand up and be counted.
    Again I say, John Dowson must be exhausted and disheartened, yet after all of this time he still defends the beauty of Fremantle and asks the hard questions of those who dont.
    You both agree on so much, Roel.
    Notre Dames villiany with the insane proposed destruction of the Round House precinct view. Shame on that institution.
    United we stand……. Divided…..
    the common enemy is gleeful.

  5. Paula Amaral said, on November 28, 2016 at 2:35 pm

    Well said Roel!

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