Freo's View

PROTECT FREO’S UNIQUE CHARACTER!

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on February 24, 2018

 

The Fremantle Herald this week is full with opinions about how to protect Freo’s unique character when it comes to approving new development.

My old North Fremantle mate and former chair of the City’s planning committee Gerry MacGill says that Fremantle’s Councillors are struggling with the concept of exceptional architecture that grants developers discretionary additional height.

MacGill believes Council should not just rely on the opinion of the Design Advisory Panel but that the elected members are eminently qualified to make judgements on how the Woolstores development integrates with the surrounding streetscape and nearby buildings in regard to scale, massing and height.

I too found that at the special planning meeting Councillors and the Chair of the DAP were more concerned about small picture things and semantics like adding more bricks, than about the big picture; if the proposed building actually fits in well with the unique Fremantle character.

Also in the Chook is an opinion piece by architect Carl Payne, who often comments on Freo’s View.

Payne writes that the Manning Building approval shows that we only pay lip-service to heritage and that heritage protection is often not imposed if it affects the building’s owner.

The architect writes that the actions of Fremantle Councillors are not consistent with the Burra Charter heritage ideals and that compromises are made too easily to appease developers.

I am aware that a team from North Fremantle Slavin Architects also had a meeting with Mayor Brad Pettitt talking about their concerns about the often inappropriate architecture Council is approving in the CBD.

But there is more in the Herald with a full page advertisement by the Fremantle Society, which shows photos of buildings they believe ‘work’ and building which do not work. It comes as no surprise that there is not a single high building FS likes.

There is no doubt in my mind that Fremantle Council is bending over backward to accommodate development in Fremantle, and while I absolutely support the rejuvenation of the ugly east CBD Council needs to do a lot more to protect our city’s beauty. The architecture of the planned Woolstores development is not anywhere near good enough to consider it to be of exceptional quality, because it insufficiently addresses and respects Fremantle’s unique character. It’s not the height that worries me most, but the aesthetic incompetence.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE TAKES BROADER VIEWS ON DEVELOPMENT

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on February 22, 2018

 

The new City of Fremantle Strategic Planning and Transport Committee met for the first time last evening at the Townhall with only two items on the agenda; the Kings Square public realm concept plan and Local Planning Policy 2.21-R60.

I reported on the Kings Square plans earlier this week so just some details of the new development plans draft that was considered and adopted last night. The entire draft can be viewed on-line on the CoF website. Click on agendas and minutes and view the agenda there.

Here some considerations that stood out for me:

Under clause 4.2.5 of the City’s Local Planning Scheme No. 4 (LPS4), the residential density of sites in the Local Centre, Neighbourhood Centre and Mixed Use zones may be increased up to R60 where the development application:

  1. Proposes ‘mixed use development’ as defined in the City’s Scheme.
  2. Would not be detrimental to the amenity of an area.

A policy has been prepared to provide guidance on the criteria against which impact on amenity will be assessed under Clause 4.2.5 of LPS4 in order to provide greater certainty and consistency of decision-making, and promote better built form and community outcomes. The draft policy has the following key elements:

Recognise that mixed use zones and local/neighbourhood centres have potential to accommodate higher density and intensity, but within which new development should acknowledge and be respectful of existing / traditional development as part of a responsible evolution.

Stipulate that the deemed-to-comply standards (excluding site area) of the base density are acceptable as a starting point for R60 development.

Where the base code deemed-to-comply standards are not met, consider variations up to the R60 coding only where assessed to not be detrimental to the surrounding area based on a series of considerations as set out in the policy relating to the impact on amenity; including impact on streetscape, heritage character, neighbour amenity, traffic and safety, impact on trees and quality of the built environment.

Stipulate some specific requirements / expectations in regards to commonly contested aspects including that plot ratio in excess of the deemed-to-comply standard for R60 will not be supported.

Require a site context assessment to accompany any proposal seeking an increase in density beyond the base coding.

It should be noted that the clause seeks to avoid detrimental amenity to the area rather than to specific individual lots, which requires Council to take a broader view of impact than solely that of the neighbour/s. Similarly, the definition of amenity in the Planning Regulations defines this in relation to the character of an area. This does not, of course, preclude neighbour impacts from forming a key consideration in assessing amenity impacts. The reference to ‘future amenity’ allows for application of the definition in new development areas or areas subject to revitalisation schemes and the like.

Site analysis and design response: requiring the preparation of these to inform any proposal

Orientation: requiring proposals to “respond to the streetscape and site while optimising solar access within the development” and building form and orientation which “minimises overshadowing on neighbouring properties”

Existing tree retention: requiring mature trees on site (or are clearly identifiable on site through aerial images from the last 5 years) for retention or replacement or offset Deep soil areas (12% of site where no trees retained): to support healthy plant and tree growth, and provision of trees proportionate to the size of the site

Communal and public open space: where more than 10 dwellings are proposed

Visual privacy: including a ‘cone of vision’ similar to that specified under the R-Codes (albeit lesser) and a minimum of 25% of the perimeter of balconies unscreened, and a requirement to site and design development to “increase privacy without compromising access to light and air and balance outlook and views from habitable rooms and private open space”

Public domain interface: considering CEPTED principles and promoting a functional and pleasing interface with the street which makes provision for services, landscaping of terraces and excludes parking

Pedestrian access and entries: which requires safe and ‘legible’ entries to buildings

Vehicle access points: requiring these to be designed and located to minimise streetscape impacts whilst avoiding conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles

Car and bicycle parking: to be provided at specified rates and designed to be functional but minimise visual impact

 

Roel Loopers

 

 

COURT OF APPEAL RULES AGAINST JDAP

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on February 21, 2018

 

DEFENDING PUBLIC SPACES WA has just posted the outcome of a court case on Facebook that is significant to other communities, such as Fremantle, where significant urban infill is happening. Here the essential part of the media release:

Once again two individual rate payers have won their bid in the WA Court of Appeal to correct errors made by a Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) in Western Australia. Karyl Nairn and Ric Hawley succeeded today in overturning another erroneous decision by a JDAP to approve a non-compliant planning application for the site at 74 Mill Point Road in South Perth’s Peninsula.

The WA Court of Appeal today (20/02/2018) issued its judgment in respect of planning approval granted last year at 74 Mill Point Road for a 34 storey tower block. The development application by Edge Developments was strongly opposed by local residents, including on the two grounds which the Court of Appeal has upheld and which a majority of members of the JDAP ignored.

The Court found that the JDAP misapprehended or disregarded the limits of its function under the scheme and took into account an irrelevant consideration. Importantly, the Court also held that the JDAP was wrong to rely on its own previous unlawful approvals of other very high towers in South Perth as a justification for approving new high rise developments.

Consequently, the JDAP exceeded its jurisdiction and the Court quashed its approval.

NEW SOUTH FREMANTLE APARTMENT DEVELOPMENT

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, property, real estate, Uncategorized by freoview on February 18, 2018

 

 

Preparations are now under way for the three storey residential and commercial M/28 development on the corner of South Terrace and Charles Street.

The new building developed by the MATCH group will be opposite the The Local hotel in South Fremantle and will add to the vibrancy of South Freo.

 

Roel Loopers

COME ON SILVERLEAF. PUT A GARDEN ON THE WOOLSTORES DEVELOPMENT!

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on February 14, 2018

 

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What a coincidence to just see an article on Facebook about a rooftop garden on a Melbourne shopping centre, when I only yesterday talked with North Fremantle architect Murray Slavin about the opportunity lost to do something similar with the proposed Woolstores shopping centre development in Fremantle.

Besides the poor design qualities of the proposed development, Murray and I both lamented that a rooftop garden for residents and hotel guests on top of the four-storey carpark had not been included in the development, as that would lift it to another level.

I also sugested that to indicate the bulk of a woolstores the two towers of the development could be linked at the top with massive steel beams, so that there is an impression of bulk, but it does not fill up the space above the carpark.

Unfortunately we are getting very conservative and rather boring new development in Fremantle and that is partly to blame on a council that is so keen on economic recovery that it is willing to compromise far too easily on the beauty and aesthetics of new buildings.

Fremantle is unique and that unique character needs to be acknowledged with creative and outstanding design!

Roel Loopers

LIV APARTMENTS REVEALED

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, living, property, Uncategorized by freoview on February 12, 2018

 

LIV 1

 

Scaffolding is coming down on the LIV apartment building in Queen Victoria and Quarry streets, allowing glimpses of what is to come.

Some of the windows in Quarry Street appear to be very large, so let’s wait and see till August when the building is supposed to open.

Roel Loopers

ADIN LANG SUPPORTS GOOD DESIGN

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, Uncategorized by freoview on February 1, 2018

 

New Fremantle Councillor Adin Lang believes I have somewhat misrepresented his position in my report of last night’s special planning committee meeting, so here is what he emailed me:

“I support developments in our city that offer large-scale premium office space that will ultimately attract large corporate workforces to our City – people who will help us create the 7 day economy. However, I will not support design that potentially detracts from the overall architecture of our city for the sake of building density. I will support density and design done right.

I was cautious during my speech not to say that I support this particular development as I don’t want the developer and architect to rest on their laurels – they still need to win my vote, and they can only get that vote through exceptional design. Last night I was only in support of the modifications brought forward by our Officers.”

I always try to be fair and balanced, so I hope this clarifies the elected member’s stands.

Roel Loopers

WOOLSTORES DESIGN CHALLENGES EXCELLENCE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on January 31, 2018

 

Woolstores

Woolstores 2

 

Chairman Jon Strachan pointed out on Wednesday evening that this was not a formal meeting but a special meeting of the Fremantle Council Planning Committee, to deal with the aspects of applying or not architectural excellence to the development proposal for the Woolstores shopping centre site.

The Planning officers stated in the agenda that they believe design excellence could apply if specific modifications are undertaken by the developers, and the architects for Silverleaf Investments said they were quite happy with the recommendations.

Contrary to the initial plan of two bookend towers the north east tower is no longer part of the application, which makes it quite awkward to apply design excellence, but planning applications can only deal with the application and not with possible future plans or additions to a development.

The proposal has been going through 27 months of Silverleaf dealing with CoF planning staff and the Design Advisory Committee. That is commendable as they could have gone straight to the state’s JDAP for approval of their project and could have bypassed Fremantle Council.

Silverleaf director Gerard O’Brien pointed out there is only a narrow window for development as investors and future tenants demand certainty.

He said that Fremantle is losing people and businesses every day and that he never would have thought that Mountain Design is closing many shops all over Australia, including Fremantle.

I am only a custodian of the buildings we develop, O’Brien said.

Architect Ken Adams said that the over riding importance of the development is scale, bulk and form and that design excellence should have a chance of receiving awards from the Australian Institute of Architects. City of Fremantle Design Advisory Committee chair Geoffrey London said he could not disagree with that.

Adams also said, and I do agree with that, is that to not include the second tower in the development application was incredible. But Adams added that the two vertical elements are demonstratively awkward anyway.

DAC chair Geoffrey London said the last 27 months had been an upward process and that the application was certainly on the way to design excellence, but was not there yet. It is about scale and the urban setting.

Deputy Mayor Ingrid Waltham said she believed the site was the place for a landmark buildings and that it would take Fremantle into the 21st century.

CoF Director of Strategic Planning and Projects Paul Garbett said that internationally acknowledged design excellence was not just about the aesthetics, but also about character, continuity, public realm, legibility of the building, ease of movement, adaptability and diversity mix of use, and that is was a multi-dimensional approach to planning.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said he welcomed the boldness of the design and that they were making good progress in a very long process. This is a clear direction of where we want to be, Pettitt said.

Councillor Waltham asked if they could have some 3D design of the proposed buildings, while Councillor Jon Strachan put an amendment forward that sightlines from Cantonment Hill and other strategic points would be considered.

Councillor Adin Lang mentioned twice that he was elected on an economic recovery platform at the October election and hence would support the development proposal because it would bring more people and shoppers to Fremantle. That really is not a good enough reason for planning approval, so the young Councillor will have to learn what the Planning Committee is all about.

Now let me just be the Devil’s Advocate for a moment. Silverleaf gets design excellence from Fremantle Council and building approval from JDAP, but then decides it is economically better for them to not go ahead with the aged care tower. They could also only do stage 1 and leave the public carpark, which would mean Fremantle ends up with only a ten-storey tower at the south west corner at Queen Street of the site, that has a hotel and office accommodation and some retail below.

I personally would prefer that over the awkwardness of the two bookend towers connected by a long low-rise red brick building.

Roel Loopers

 

 

DISAPPOINTING DESIGN FOR FREMANTLE WOOLSTORES PROPOSAL

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, planning, Uncategorized by freoview on January 26, 2018

 

Woolstores

A City if Fremantle Special Planning Committee will be held on January 31 to consider the design and planning principles for the proposed development of the Woolstores shopping centre site.

Silverleaf Investments is proposing a 4-10 storey mixed use development that will be a public carpark, shops, hotel, offices, student accommodation and aged and dependant persons accommodation.

The agenda states that the planning officers and Design Advisory Committee believe the plans have merit to develop into a scheme capable of satisfying the scheme provisions to exceptional design quality, which I find hard to believe

While I quite like the modern and light five-storey container shape with porthole windows idea for the hotel there is a severe disconnect to the red brick four-storey podium it is resting on.

The rest of the very large building is boring, plain, sombre, unimaginative standard red brick nothingness that does not qualify at all to get design excellence standards, and surprisingly the officers recommend to increase the use of red bricks, which will just enhance the darkness of the building and increase its blandness.

Woolstores 2

Here some snippets from the agenda:

The design and planning principles this report will consider are as follows:

  •   The proposed brick podium component of the development and its empathetic response to the scale and architectural character of the adjacent Elders Woolstores
  •   The Hotel building located at the Queen Street end of the site and the Aged Care (Retirement Living) building located at the Goldsbrough Street end of the site particularly the external appearance of the upper floors of these buildings.
  •   The location, design and activation of the proposed mid-block pedestrian link.
  •   The presentation of the proposed development to the corner of Queen Street and

    Elder Street, specifically the interaction of the Hotel lobby with Queen Street.

Brick Podium

The proposal includes the construction of a brick podium base to the development of approximately 4-5 storeys in height, extending across the whole site. The DAC has been consistent in its encouragement to the applicant to respond more emphatically to the scale and ‘weight’ of the remaining former Woolstores building on Elder Place.

The applicant has been encouraged to use brick as a utilitarian and structural element of the proposal to produce a meaningful representation of the scale and ‘weight’ (in an architectural sense) of the adjacent Elders Woolstores. The current concept uses brick as the primary material for the podium, however its use has evolved more into a decorative screen rather than an essential structural element of the podium. The proposed use of brick as a primary material is still supported, however the applicant is encouraged to develop the design of the podium as discussed below.

In my opinion the overall visual appeal of the building is very disappointing, with only the hotel component as a stand out of modern architecture, while the rest is 1970s design that is unbecoming to modernising the boring east of the Fremantle CBD.

Roel Loopers

MANNING DEVELOPMENT GETS JDAP APPROVAL

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on January 23, 2018

 

ma 4

 

The application for the $ 10 million development of the Fremantle Manning Buildings was unanimously approved by all five members of the WA Joint Development Assessment Panel-JDAP this morning with some minor amendments. The most significant one was to allow the percentage for the art contribution to go to reinstating the former balcony and verandah along William Street.

The Manning property runs from William to Market Street and all along the southern side of the High Street Mall, and is owned by Fremantle-based developers Silverleaf.

The development includes a micro brewery with tavern and restaurant, as well as commercial and retail accommodation.

The future of the Wrightson’s barber shop was a concern and consideration during the deliberations with questions asked why we do not have planning policies that protect social heritage as well as buildings.

We were assured that the Wrightson’s shop front will be retained and that the barbers have been offered relocation to Market Street, but Chair Ian Birch expressed the sentiment of all panel members that he hoped the developers/owners would be able to accommodate the barbers in the same location.

Councillor Jon Strachan was concerned about the staged development aspects of the proposal but was assured by the architect that it was simply not practical to do it all in one stage.

Strachan also said that the initial drawings had raised concern at council, but that the developers had positively worked with City of Fremantle planning and heritage staff to improve the application and respect the heritage of the building.

He said that the quality of the heritage report gave him confidence that an outcome the city can be proud off will be achieved.

Councillor Rachel Pemberton said it was nice to see heritage buildings getting a new lease of life. She also said we should keep in perspective that in the 1990s there were 21 licensed pubs in Fremantle and now only 11.

Chair Ian Birch said that the active use and refurbishment was the best way of protecting heritage buildings.

Two other amendments were part of the approval. One that heritage values override other development considerations and the other that an archeological dig will be conducted before the commencement of the development.

Roel Loopers

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