Freo's View


Posted in city of fremantle, development, heritage by freoview on March 24, 2017

Architect Carl Payne sent a comment to this blog about the article in the Fremantle Herald about yet another terrible development proposal for Fremantle’s West End. See the post below this one for it!

I believe Carls thoughts are very important so I am posting them here as well for those people who do not read the comments:

We really need to start thinking about what the West End of Fremantle is, in an Australian context.

It is a remarkably complete 19th Century urbanscape, which retains the essence of what this means. It’s a living museum; and this is important, because it is a functioning and workable collection of buildings that is rare in 21st century Australia.

Many overseas towns and cities can boast similar precincts; but few in Australia can. This is the first important point.

The second thing is that this is crucial because it has both economic and cultural advantages. The economic growth that Perth saw in the 60s; 70s; and 80s would have destroyed Fremantle’s West End if it had occurred here as it did in the State’s capital. We now have a chance to positively build on the magnificent streetscape we have inherited and – mostly – conserved. This can create significant economic advantages, because there is no doubt that Fremantle is now poised to grow its already significant Tourism marketplace.

But this is only part of the importance of the West End. It is also a cultural reminder for all of us who live here. It is a symbol of our past achievements. Cultures that demolish their past, weaken their future; they lose contact with their heritage, in both a physical and an emotional way. And adding a couple of floors to an old West End building destroys its integrity; it alters the streetscape; and it alters the skyline.

Look over Fremantle from the monument; or from the Town Hall; or from the Roundhouse. The roof-tops; and the old wall-parapet tops, are part of the heritage streetscape. They are what conservation is all about. We are talking about very fragile things here; connections; relationships; urban-scapes that are very easily lost.

11 Responses

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  1. freoview said, on March 29, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    It will all be revealed at a public info session in April and the Planning Committee Carl, but it looks pretty awful in the artist impression.


  2. Carl Payne said, on March 29, 2017 at 10:54 am

    The Pakenham Street upper-level additions appear to be a case of “creeping coverage”. The present modern additions seem to be around about a 4 metre setback – of that order. The proposed additions seem to halve this; at least, maybe even closer. It would be good to get some specifics on this from the developer, because simple geometry demonstrates that pedestrian-level streetscapes are radically changed when new top-level additions move ever-closer to the current building line. Having said this, there are some buildings in the West End – many buildings, whose roof-scape is so important to the overall city composition, that they should be excluded from having any upper-level additions at all.

  3. David. said, on March 25, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Spot on Carl for expressing what many in Fremantle feel. It should be people like Carl are the ones assessing development proposals. There are people, departments etc who ultimately make decisions but if they do not understand or if they are out iof their depth when dealing with our history, they simply should not be in that position of authority. The damage that can be done is irreversable and this is a crime against our past.
    Fremantle is very unique in an Australian context……bottom line.

  4. freoview said, on March 25, 2017 at 9:07 am

    That would be great Murray. Happy to have a chat about it with you.


  5. Murray Slavin said, on March 25, 2017 at 8:17 am

    We would be very pleased to host a forum regarding development in Fremantle at our North Fremantle offices.

  6. Suzanne said, on March 25, 2017 at 7:44 am

    Perfect piece Carl.
    I hope you send your comment to The Herald. It should be front page, bold print.

  7. Rob Fittock said, on March 25, 2017 at 7:35 am

    A lot of words being spoken here but for me I have heard the same opinions for a number of years but any real action has been lacking and maybe Gerry’s call to arms for architects is appropriate

    The CoF Design Advisory Committee consists of talented and experienced people who give guidance and advice to applicants to achieve the best outcome and Councillors are well guided by them

    If you think you can do better then gather the troops and get to work

  8. freoview said, on March 25, 2017 at 6:06 am

    I agree Murray that it should be community driven, but with a positive attitude that supports good development.
    I would love to be part of a public forum with architects and planners to set some ground rules and wishes for what the Freo CBD should look like in the next 10-20 years.


  9. Murray Slavin said, on March 25, 2017 at 5:46 am

    Thanks Roel – very good comment by Carl.

    Problem is there’s no set of binary conditions by which development proposals can be measured. That is, a set of 10, 20, whatever, points that explain in very simple terms what the community expectations are. In our experience, the complexity of the assessment process leads to erratic argument. We experienced this with the MSC building where there was, we believe, unprecedented support for the proposal by the community and documented unanimous support of the elected members – but extraordinarily subjective opposition by both the Planning Dept, and Design Advisory Committee. If we had these simple set of easily-digestible guidelines, silly proposals, such as that we’re now seeing for Customs House, would not even be submitted. As a community we are at fault. It is up to us to determine what is appropriate for our city. There is more informed knowledge about areas such as the West End embedded in the community than there is in the City Hall administration. However, the only time that becomes apparent is through the shrill calls of one or two professional development opponents – and by that stage it’s often too late.

    The Fremantle Society, rather than being a strong voice against inadequate development, could be more proactive by initiating a process to determine a set of simple, easily understood by all, inarguable but binary, set of rules by which we should measure development proposals. I know of a number of architects who would be pleased to participate in this process.

  10. freoview said, on March 25, 2017 at 4:59 am

    I believe we should have a symposium or so about what is acceptable and desirable architecture for Fremantle, record that and send it on to State Government, so we don’t get crap approved.

    Fremantle is dangerously sliding toward becoming a centre for mediocre architecture and that needs to be stopped because it will kill our reputation as a special character place and tourists will stay away to the detriment of our traders and economy.


  11. Gerry MacGill said, on March 25, 2017 at 1:23 am

    Could be time for architects of Fremantle to unite

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