Freo's View



Kings Square and Maritime Museum



I managed to get my hands on the 2006 Urban Design Centre report about Kings Square development. I wanted to read it myself because it is often mentioned by the Fremantle Society in their opposition to the new Civic Centre.

I did find it interesting that the preferred option of the UDC report is the creation of a new public open space, but it includes substantial increase in height and density around the square. The UDC also saw potential in building a new administration building in the triangular space where the new civic centre will actually be built this year.

The UDC report starts by saying that Kings Square lost its significance as the civic heart of the city and its sense of place in the Fremantle community.

I have copied and pasted parts of the UDC report below. The bold lettering is mine to highlight some of the considerations and recommendations I believe do stand out:

“Nevertheless, the triangular development block adjacent to the original Town Hall offers interesting possibilities for a “green” replacement of the existing City Administration Building.”

“Despite the interesting architectural opportunities of the triangle concept, the charrette team kept returning to the idea of a true urban square – of appropriate size and dignity to anchor the heart of Fremantle.”

“To succeed as an urban square, however, the space needs stronger definition and a greater concentration of activity in the immediate vicinity. The team therefore recommends the City promote comprehensive redevelopment of the four surrounding sides of the square, at maximum achievable density, with a frontage of at least three stories and higher buildings set back from the street edge where possible. To increase the level of day and night activity in the area, active retail and entertainment uses should be required at ground level around the square, with as much housing as possible introduced in upper levels, on infill and redevelopment sites on Paddy Troy Mall, and on Henderson and Queen Streets, with the old Courts complex converted to an enclave of interesting loft apartments or townhouses.”

“The team, however, recognizes the financial consequences of surrendering the commercial potential of the Queensgate site to non-revenue producing public offices. Should it prove infeasible, a possible fall-back position is maximizing the potential of the Queensgate block with comprehensive redevelopment, together with replacement of the City Administration Building on its current site, in the triangular configuration discussed above.”

The UDC reports also recommends to light the entire square, which is a great idea, an allee of trees along Newman Court, which is also a good idea, a projection wall and an interactive water feature.

I do find it interesting that while the Fremantle Society, in its criticism of the Kings Square Redevelopment project and the new civic centre, constantly refers to the preferred option of a public open space in the UDC report, it fails to mention that the public open space option would come with a significant increase in density and heights all around Kings Square at William Street, Queen Street, Adelaide Street and Newman Court, and I doubt that is a preferred option for the group.

I like it when people are passionate about Fremantle issues, but I do not like the scare-mongering, conspiracy and misleading information that is put out to the community on social media and letters in the newspapers, etc.

Fremantle Society president John Dowson claims Sirona Capital sold our Spicer site, when the fact is that Sirona on-sold their property after settlement and payment to the City of Fremantle. If it had been the City’s property they sold-on Sirona would have engaged in fraudulent conduct. Sirona applied for and received Fremantle Council approval to on-sell the property to Andrew-Twiggy- Forrest.

Dowson also asks in an email to FS members, titled Mystery of the Missing Millions, how much money Sirona made out of the sale of the property to Forrest Family Investment, but Sirona only received a “modest fee” for the sale, according to Sirona Capital.

Then the Society president claims that Sirona has ‘flicked over’ the management of the new civic centre to another company and gets money for doing nothing, but Glen Dougall, Director of City Business at Freo City is adamant that the civic centre “is absolutely project managed by Sirona.”

On Tuesday February 12 the Audit and Risk Management Committee of Fremantle Council comes together, but disappointingly item ARMC1902-5-Emerging Risks Report-Kings Square Project Financial Summary is a confidential item the public can’t observe. I don’t like that! When something is as controversial in the community as the Kings Square Redevelopment is, transparency is the only way forward to gain lost trust. To hide behind commercial confidentiality for not debating the agenda item publicly will only result in more conspiracy nonsense and that is damaging the reputation of Fremantle and its Council.

Roel Loopers

this is the link to the Kings Square business plan:

9 Responses

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  1. freoview said, on February 12, 2019 at 2:17 pm

    I am not sure why we need a square as the triangle has got more square metres that Forrest Place in Perth, so plenty to play around with.

    But we all got our preferences and likes and dislikes, so that’s fine by me. It’s a done deal now, so no use crying over spilled milk.



  2. ANDREW said, on February 12, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    All that aside we need a SQUARE and not a SMALL TRIANGLE.


  3. John Dowson said, on February 11, 2019 at 1:33 pm

    Mr Loopers, the past should be used to inform the present and the future. What was the point of having a business plan which aimed to retain Myer (failed) and revitalise the town centre (years late) with special deals to Sirona instead of putting properties out for tender, when Sirona is allowed to buy properties for less than valuation, and with the Spicer site, do nothing for years, and then sell it with no guarantee anything will happen on that site?

    The Spicer site was valued in 2016 at $7 million and Sirona only paid $6.65. One major developer told the Fremantle Society he knew of 5 other developers who would have bought Spicer Site on the open market, and the chances of something happening on that site, and the price received, would thus have been higher. The fact that property experts are having so much trouble finding out how much profit Sirona made is interesting, but not the main point.

    And, why should councillors have given Sirona two extensions to pay for the ratepayer asset if they knew Sirona were going to simply flick the property?


  4. freoview said, on February 11, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    Thanks Brad!



  5. freoview said, on February 11, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    You continue to live in the past, John Dowson. What I did or did not do many years ago when I was the president of the Fremantle Society is well outside your knowledge so keep making claims you can’t substantiate.

    So the Director of City business is lying when he says that Sirona is absolutely project managing the civic centre development?

    I do not fail to understand that Sirona’s settlement for the Spicer site was delayed and that was approved by Fremantle Council. unlike you I was actually at those Council meetings, and you claim now also that Sirona is lying and sold the site for a profit, although you admit it is hard to determine, so it is only non-factual point you are making, just building on your conspiracy story.


  6. Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog said, on February 11, 2019 at 12:45 pm


    Here is the all 57 pages of the business plan if you are interested



  7. John Dowson said, on February 11, 2019 at 11:53 am

    Mr Loopers, you failed to analyse the controversial CODA King’s Square Urban Design study when you were Fremantle Society president and the society voted for that to happen, and now you admit you have only just read the $50,000 UrbanDesign Centre report on King’s Square.

    In your haste to accuse the Fremantle Society of ‘conspiracy nonsense’ you have made a serious of false statements.

    The preferred option of the experts who authorised the report, and that of the experts consulted by the Fremantle Society including Dr Linley Lutton, is for a true open town square without the admin building. The fact that the report argues “To succeed as an urban square, however, the space needs stronger definition and a greater concentration of activity in the immediate vicinity” is logical, as a good square depends on what goes on around it as well as what happens in it. Thus the report talks about ‘maximum achieveable density’ available with the current regulations. It doesn’t talk about high rise. It mentions three storeys, and along Queen Street there has existed a four storey building for a long time. And, the proposed school in Queen Street with a large number of young people is an ideal way to achieve increased density.

    The 2006 report also refers to the fact that the square needs ‘as much housing as possible introduced in upper levels’ for obvious reasons such as increasing the level of activity at night as well as day. That basic planning idea is totally missing from the current plans which include a $45 million administration building we can’t afford, with a speculative 200 sqm food outlet in it with another 300 sqm adjacent outside. Just what we need in the centre of town – a giant food hall selling noodles and coffee.

    You fail to understand the shocking fact that Sirona were given several extensions to pay for the Spicer site, and then within hours of finally paying for it, unsold it for a profit. The size of that profit, which is proving hard to determine as property experts cannot find it yet, is not the point. The Spicer site, a ratepayer asset, was a key part of the Business Plan:

    “The City was seeking an agreement that could guarantee that the total
    development would occur before it relinquished complete control of its
    property. In order to achieve that outcome the project needed to be a fully
    integrated development. Making each component interdependent was agreed
    as the best way to achieve the integrated development outcome.”

    Finally, you dispute our assertion that Sirona has flicked the management of the building of the administration centre to a superintendent company. They have.

    Whether you like true town squares or overbuilt ones, the $44 million administration building doesn’t stack up financially and is based on a false NPV, and the Fremantle Society will continue to argue for high quality urban design that can be afforded.



  8. Peter Scott said, on February 11, 2019 at 9:49 am

    …yes that is, and how about their argument …

    “that a $47.7 million office building will be WORTH $97 million in 20 years, without the land being taken into account.”

    ….maybe that will be the COST ($97m), not its worth,  if that same building was to be BUILT in 20 years hence…?


  9. Sean H said, on February 11, 2019 at 9:29 am

    Thanks for the article Roel. You make some strong comments about confidentiality in your last sentence. A key plank of the argument used against the civic rebuild seems to be around the apparent lack of transparency. From memory, I think the original financial analysis to support the civic project was outsourced to an Adelaide company versus a local firm? And I think the financials remain confidential?


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