Freo's View


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, planning, Uncategorized by freoview on March 14, 2018


There is a big conundrum about development in Fremantle and elsewhere. The difficult question about urban infill in older character places is how much, how big, how high, how good, what kind of and when to stop.

We are getting very confusing messages from people, with many moving from WA to Melbourne because it is so European, whatever that means, while I read that many people in Sydney want to move out and go to Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane because Sydney is getting too big, traffic too mad and property prices too high.

Feedback from tourists is that most of them love Fremantle but are not impressed with the bland mediocrity of many of the new buildings in Perth, while they adore Freo’s gorgeous heritage West End.

What is good and appropriate development for Fremantle and how much is needed? We can forever argue about what we like or not but for example the development of the dormant Henderson Street in connection with that of Kings Square and the future development of Fremantle Oval is a good thing I believe.

One can rightly question though if the massive planned Woolstores shopping centre development and the eight-storey Little Lane on the Spotlight site are just a bit too much for Fremantle and overkill.

Does Fremantle need more highrise apartment buildings or should is start encouraging micro lots of around 100sqm for terrace housing/townhouses, that would suit our inner city much better.

I believe it is all about balance, but developers and city and state planners are not getting the right mix in my opinion.

I left Sydney in 1985 because real estate was simply unaffordable there while house prices in Perth were very cheap then, and it looks like this is still going on, although Fremantle is relatively expensive to move to.

It is time the WA state government organised a symposium on how much and what kind of development is needed, so that it can give better guidance to developers and local councils and its own JDAP and SAT.

It is imperative to show real respect for character cities like Fremantle, Subiaco and others and develop with restraint. To keep pushing for urban infill when the targets might be unrealistic will be detrimental to the uniqueness of our heritage cities.

Roel Loopers

23 Responses

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  1. Glenn Arendts said, on March 16, 2018 at 11:38 pm

    Simone McGurk is a tremendous supporter of the hospital, and health services for Freo. I’m not sure where Kel is coming from. I don’t know what she thinks about the ugly as sin building itself though

  2. freoview said, on March 16, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Best way to make sure they reply is to simply send them an email Kel and ask what their plans are.


  3. kel said, on March 16, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    Its now time for these Elected Members and the Fremantle Council to step up and show they meant it and it was not just political jargon and tell us they will now save it and upgrade it.

    You know Roel like they did with Rowe Freeway extension?

    Expect nothing from them but selling off of another our much needed land and essential asset in Fremantle to developers or even Notre Dame is in the wings.

    Maybe Simonne, Josh or even Brad could can give us their plans on the future of Fremantle Hospital Facility.

    Surely they have one.

    Love to see their comments here on your blog Roel.

  4. freoview said, on March 16, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    The downgrading of Fremantle Hospital was done by the Barnett Government, Kel, and against string protest by Simone McGurk, the unions, City of Fremantle, etc.

    They also tried to keep the Emergency Department, so now hoping that the Labor government will revitalise the hospital.


  5. kel said, on March 16, 2018 at 8:21 am

    “Amenity and benefit to the area”

    Fremantle Hospital is top of the list in both of these areas. Asthetics should be a lower priority in mind in the scheme of things especially considering the major population growth expectations all over the media at the moment.

    The Public Hospitals in WA have long waiting lists of up to one year and the Elected Members of Fremantle Simone McGurk and Josh Wilson are allowing this facility to be down graded, maintenance neglected and who knows it may even be in the mix for sale!

    Government should keep this Hospital and maintain/refurbish it now as a top priority then add on the “Green Bits” in the process may be later.

    The overall cost to run Fremantle Hospital per patient is 50% of the cost of Fiona Stanley I am advised.

  6. freoview said, on March 15, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    You are right Murray. The fact that there are no shops and the boundaries of the hospital are set back creates a disconnect with South Terrace and also with the link between Wray Ave and the Cappuccino Strip.


  7. Murray Slavin said, on March 15, 2018 at 3:34 pm

    That’s a good point: the hospital could be taken back to it’s structural frame – ‘deconstructed’ (that horribly fashionable architectural term!) – and refitted with a much lighter, more undulating set of facades that could incorporate green walls, balconies, etc.

    The major issue with the hospital though is that it completely fails to have any connection with the either South Terrace or Alma Street. So, I think the first thing should be to bring it out to the boundaries, infill with a number of shopfront uses, and protect the whole with a continuous verandah.

  8. Murray Slavin said, on March 15, 2018 at 2:20 pm

    I agree – it’s a process that has to be a set of binary ‘commandments’ That is, you can get a dream run through the approval process if you comply, but the option remains open to request to go beyond them on the basis that they will be assessed on such measures as amenity, benefit to the area, etc. For instance, the West End has very strict development parameters, but there should be the option to install a corner tower or other iconic structure if it benefits the streetscape, defines the corner, etc.

  9. freoview said, on March 15, 2018 at 2:15 pm

    Yes a nice facelift could make all the difference Steve.


  10. freoview said, on March 15, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    Murray and I have been talking about this for over a year to set up a public forum with architects, city planners, artists, etc. to make some sense of what good and acceptable development and progress for Fremantle would be.

    I would really like this to happen but who will make a start organising it. Maybe it could start with a Fremantle Network forum and grow from there.


  11. Steve said, on March 15, 2018 at 11:03 am

    I reckon if you covered that hospital in vertical building integrated pv on the north and green walls with planter boxes out front of the windows it could take it from the eye sore it is now to a symbol of regeneration and rebirth.

  12. freoishome said, on March 15, 2018 at 9:35 am

    Roel, Let’s not make the mistake that politicians, at any level including LA, are going to lead change. They react only to pressure from us.

    Murray has offered to start such a process. Lets get it started, let’s talk.

    During the amendment 49 process, we had much the same debate. What was the Council vision? Instead we got a spreadsheet of height, numbers of residents and metres of office space. Despite repeated requests at public meetings and written feedback, the Council refused to step up, even opposing the 3d model you initiated with FS.


  13. Murray Slavin said, on March 14, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    I’m not sure of your background but I suggest that there might be a better outcome to development if there was an informative dialogue that could better inform developers. And I make no apology for the reference to miners. I’ve worked with and for them. I understand the motivation and while they will generally pay lip service to social ideals and aspirations they are through necessity, driven by the single bottom line.

    the exception is where an informed developer arrives on the scene – usually with the intent of occupying their development. A great example is the Mediterranean Shipping Company.

    I agree about the hospital. There’s no question that government behaviour is necessarily any better … essentially the bureaucracy has similar motivations – a single bottom line.

  14. freoview said, on March 14, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    Absolutely agree with you Glenn. Without developers and investors there would be very little development.
    Developers are not the enemy, it is the process that is often flawed and actually frustrates the hell out of all sides.


  15. Glenn Arendts said, on March 14, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    Fremantle Hospital B Block is the worst building in Fremantle, hands down. Was it a private developer that forced that permanent abomination on us?
    The debate would be progressed with a bit more understanding and charity on both sides of the debate towards the motivations of the other mob. Developers may be motivated by profit, but just because they create things that may upset a few aesthetes doesn’t make them sociopaths that want to destroy Fremantle

  16. freoview said, on March 14, 2018 at 10:49 am

    Very good point indeed Murray, but how can we recapture it when the state and Freo council are so keen on development, any development.


  17. Murray Slavin said, on March 14, 2018 at 10:38 am

    There’s an old saying that while the building can be privately owned, the community owns the streetscape. This is absolutely clear in most of the old cities of the world … but not here. The community really needs to recapture this lost position.

  18. freoview said, on March 14, 2018 at 10:28 am

    Yes I’d love to be part of that!


  19. freoview said, on March 14, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Totally agree Murray. Local governments become reactive and ineffective when they don’t spell out what kind of development they want and need, and the academic pomposity of Design Advisory Committees often does not get better outcomes either.


  20. freoview said, on March 14, 2018 at 10:26 am

    The Fremantle Society many years ago produced a DL leaflet which I wrote, and one point it made that developers should engage the Society from the start so that they could make changes before the plans went to local council, to avoid negativity, time and money consuming referrals, etc. but no one ever took us up on that.


  21. freoishome said, on March 14, 2018 at 9:40 am

    I mentioned in another topic, that I think that the Strategic Plans of LAs need to be ratified by JDAP and SAT at the State level. Lets get the disagreements out in the public at that early stage, so that subsequent reviews don’t constantly over ride LA strategies. Instead lets get the review bodies working with LAs at the outset of the broader Town planning stage.


  22. Murray Slavin said, on March 14, 2018 at 9:29 am

    At present this is developer-led process and that means the City is always behind in the process – always reactive. There should be a set of simple, clear ‘aspirations’ identifying what is expected of new projects. Without that Fremantle is a gold mine from which all benefit is repatriated away from the source.

  23. Murray Slavin said, on March 14, 2018 at 9:16 am

    As discussed previously, we think it’s a matter of public discussion. We’d be pleased to host these at our office in North Fremantle.

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