Freo's View

GIVE FREO COUNCIL CREDIT WHERE IT IS DUE

Posted in politics, local government, city of fremantle, democracy by freoview on February 26, 2017

I have once again had an exchange on Freo’s View with one of the readers about the accusation that most Fremantle Councillors just vote with Mayor Brad Pettitt. It is an urban myth that insults and defames our Elected Members and it is not based on facts.

Anyone who has been reading this blog for the last seven years knows that I am not an apologist for Fremantle Council or its Mayor and that I strongly criticise them whenever I believe it is warranted, but it is wrong that those who never or very rarely attend council meetings make these accusations against the very hard and diligent working Freo Councillors.

To claim that Fremantle Councillors most of the time vote en-bloc with the Mayor is absolute bullshit. I specifically use this strong word because this crap has been going on for far too long!

Those who make these accusations should get off their lazy bums and attend Council and committee meetings so that they can actually witness how our Councillors perform and how well they are informed. Listen to the statements they make, the questions they ask and the amendments they put forward.

Having an opinion based on utter ignorance is nothing else than malicious political point-scoring. It’s the kind of stuff Pauline Hanson does and Donald Trump calls ‘Alternative Facts’.

There is no doubt that Freo Councillors not always get it right and that some residents believe they are not listened to. It is a worry to me sometimes that there seems to be a priority on One Planet issues when money could be spent better elsewhere, but after decades of stagnation we finally see significant development happening in the CBD that will make a huge positive long-term economic difference to our city and help our traders.

I too get frustrated and annoyed when Council is inconsistent and when the administration is slack, but the one thing I know absolutely for sure is that all the thirteen Elected Members make up their own mind on how they are going to vote and that the vast majority of them are very well-informed and do their home work. They deserve credit for that, instead of the nasty innuendo that they are mere puppets of the Mayor.

Roel Loopers

FREO AIMS HIGH FOR NEW CIVIC CENTRE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, kings square by freoview on February 24, 2017

I support the idea by the City of Fremantle of adding a third commercial floor to the new Civic Centre at Kings Square. I believe that is good long-term planning and caters for the future, while also adding long-term revenue for the City.

Architecturally it will also give the architects more chance of creating a more visually appealing vertical building that compliments the Townhall better.

When council amalgamations finally happen, well after my lifetime, and Fremantle is a much bigger city that requires more staff, we don’t have to make expensive additions, but already have the space to accommodate them.

The financial sustainability of Fremantle is a worry though and Council needs to ruthlessly prioritise as we don’t want to end up with a Colin Barnett-like mega debt.

Parking revenue alone has gone down by over $ 743,500 and parking infringements were also down by some $ 300,000, so that is over a million dollars of lost revenue, while the City has got big and expensive plans for Kings Square, Fremantle Oval, Cantonment Hill and others.

On the up side we should be making millions of dollars out of the sale of the Knutsford Street depot site in the very near future.

Roel Loopers

FREO CITY PAYS DOCKERS $ 1.5 MILLION FOR OVAL

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

The City of Fremantle will pay the Fremantle Dockers $ 1,5 million over three years for the football club’s administration building and for them to relinquish the lease over Fremantle Oval.

This is a very good outcome for Fremantle as the Dockers initially wanted over $ 9 million and up till two weeks ago a sum of $ 4 million was still on the cards.

It means the City can now continue with its Fremantle Oval development plans and also temporarily move staff there while the new Civic Centre is built at Kings Square.

The development of the precinct south of Kings Square is a very important one, so interesting to hear that Fremantle developers Silverleaf, who bought the former  Court and Police complex at Henderson Street, have also acquired all the Warders Cottages east of William Street, so expect a development there in a few years time.

Roel Loopers

FREO’S BATHERS BEACH ART PRECINCT SHAMBLES

Posted in art, arthur head, bathers beach art precinct, city of fremantle by freoview on February 24, 2017

It is often difficult to write critical articles on my blog because Fremantle is a small community and more like a family to me and a place where I have a lot of friends.

While I don’t mind to stir the pot a bit now and then I don’t enjoy negativity, but sometimes there is no other way and what is happening at the Bathers Beach Art Precinct is such a case.

The thought bubble of making one of our state’s most significant historic precincts into an arts precinct to activate it was flawed from the start and the officers somehow have to implement what is not practical and never  was a good idea in the first place.

Small art businesses have failed at Captain’s Lane while the very professional Glen Cowans photography gallery bravely soldiers on offering outstanding photo art. The Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre has also failed and the art that has been on offer in the other cottages was mediocre, to say it kindly.

Now the next thought bubble has arrived and the No 10 cottage at Captain’s Lane will be included in the City’s Studios Program as low-cost non-commercial work spaces.

The artists will not be required to open their doors to the public and only need to have an open door event every six months.

This will do absolutely nothing to help activate the area and is worse than it was when the Fremantle Pilots, Fremantle Society and Crookes family occupied the three cottages.

The Society held community events on the lawn and inside the cottage, the pilots were there 24/7 and so were the lovely family where the kids brought friends from Lance Holt School, and engaged with visitors to Arthur’s Head.

What the City of Fremantle has created is a night-time ghost town that has attracted homeless people who defecate in the backyards, and during the day and weekends it is often only the Glen Cowans Gallery that is open to the public.

In the meantime the Roundhouse that receives 130,000 visitors a year is struggling to get support from the City and we have now been waiting for well over a year to get power into the Roundhouse so we can start applying for funds for stunning new interactive displays. We are activating the historic area, but no one at Fremantle Council gives a rat’s arse about that, because it is more important to continue with the flawed art precinct concept.

Down at J Shed the artists have been denied access to the No 1 studio to use it as exhibition space during the Sculpture@Bathers show , but I hear the City will announce today who is moving in till July, when Sunset Events is supposed to start some kind of business there.

And let me make this very clear! I do not blame the officers who really try very hard, but it is the ineptness and piecemeal governance of the area by Fremantle Council that really pisses me off!

Roel Loopers

CAN WALYALUP CENTRE MOVE BE SUCCESSFUL?

Posted in aboriginal, city of fremantle, culture, indigenous, local government by freoview on February 23, 2017

The lease of the DADAA premises at Beach Street opposite the East Street jetty was on the Fremantle Council agenda on Wednesday.

DADAA is moving into the former Boys School at Princess May Park and the officers wanted an Expressions of Interest period to find out which community groups are interested in leasing the building.

Speakers from arts, disability and the RSL expressed an interest in moving into the building, but a motion by Councillor Pemberton that there should be a three-months period to see if the building would be better suited for the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre than the present one at Arthur’s Head did get support from her fellow Councillors.

I do agree with Pemberton’s sentiment that Noongar people who are still suffering from multi-generational trauma deserve and need support to lift them to a same level playing field as other community groups. However that support was already there and the City invested $ 200,000 a year for two years in the Walyalup centre at Mrs Trivett Lane that got very little support from the Noongar community and basically failed to make any impact at all.

It was clear from the beginning that it would be very hard to make it successful because of family feuding in the Noongar community. The manager of the centre told me he had even considered a roster so certain families could use the centre on some days, and some on other days, because they would not be willing to share the space on the same days.

We know that there is constant disagreement who is allowed to speak or not for certain parts of the Perth metro region with some families claiming to be the only descendants of Yagan while other families claim they are also direct descendants of the great Noongar warrior.

This will affect the success of the Walyalup centre no matter if it is at Arthur’ Head or near Cantonment Hill. An EOI period to find an Aboriginal group to manage the existing Walyalup centre has failed so far and it is unlikely that the City will be able to find a Noongar group willing to pay the $ 16,000.00 rent per annum for leasing the Beach Street building.

My concern is that we will have a period where other community groups will be excluded from bidding for the DADAA building at Beach Street while the City is engaging with Noongar elders about the prospect of them running an autonomous cultural community centre.

We know from past experience that this will be a long drawn-out process that no doubt will require money to pay consultants and those attending meetings with no guarantee whatsoever that there will be a positive outcome and good community use for the Beach Street building.

In the meantime the Arthur Head Aboriginal cultural centre will remain a flop and closed most days and won’t be put back for Expressions of Interest, although Arts on the Move, who expressed interest in the DADAA building, appears to be a perfect tenant for the Bathers Beach Art Precinct building.

It is imperative that the City of Fremantle does not allow the Noongar consultation to go further than three months as it would hold back the opportunity for other groups to move in, in case Noongar elders can’t come to an agreement on who and how to run the Walyalup centre in the new location.

While I deeply respect Aboriginal culture the City needs to be realistic about the fact that the DADAA building can’t be allowed to be vacant for too long as that will attract anti social behaviour and homeless people to the building, and the same applies to the Walyalup Centre at Arthur’s Head.

What also should be considered is if a city centre location is really the best for a Noongar community centre as not many Aboriginal people live in the CBD. Maybe a building in the Hilton/White Gum Valley area would be more appropriate if the centre is not meant to be a cultural centre for overseas and Wadjela visitors.

The Noongar community will need to make a few good decisions fast if they are genuinely interested in managing a community centre. Kaya!

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE COUNCIL REJECTS NOTRE DAME DEVELOPMENT

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, notre dame university by freoview on February 22, 2017

unda-building-from-corner-copy

 

Fremantle Council unanimously rejected the development proposal for a five-storey building by Notre Dame University on the corner of High and Cliff streets on Wednesday evening.

It was telling that the only person on the night who spoke in favour of the terribly mediocre and boring development proposal for 3 High Street in Fremantle’s historic West End was Olwyn Williams the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.

Very disappointing that the Chamber does not recognise that Fremantle is so popular with overseas and interstate visitors because of Fremantle’s beautiful West End and historic significance.

Everyone else who spoke was very strongly against the absolutely inappropriate proposal for what is arguably the most beautiful street in Western Australia. I understand 45 submissions against the proposal were sent to Fremantle Council and only three in support of it.

Some comments from public speakers: The design is totally inappropriate- Architecture unworthy of the historic location-  Does not respect existing heritage buildings- Rethink the location of the building and move it to the east end of Fremantle.

Councillor Jon Strachan said it was clear cut to him that he could not support the proposal, while Councillor David Hume said the street level activation carrot that was dangled was not enough to approve the building.

Councillor Rachel Pemberton said the proposed building does not integrate with the other facades at all and that the ‘urban grain’ is very important.

Councillor Simon Nabor said it was too bulky, too big and dominates the area, while Deputy Mayor Dave Coggin said that it is a terrible outcome and that High Street is an extremely important heritage street.

Councillor Andrew Sullivan who also spoke against the building warned that it might be approvable for the State’s JDAP which is the decision-making authority.

I am outraged to learn that the State Heritage Office has recommended approval for the building. The way they are going they are becoming as incompetent as the EPA. This is the same office that put the entire West End on the State Heritage List, but now supports the UNDA monstrosity that has no place in the historic West End.

I urge my friends at Notre Dame to not push this ahead against the wishes of the Fremantle community and council. UNDA needs to accept that the floor space they need for the new School of Nursing can’t be achieved at 3 High Street because it breaks development and heritage rules for the West End Conservation Area. Move the building east of the Townhall and you’ll get all the space you require! Please do it!!

Roel Loopers

 

ALTERNATIVE KINGS SQUARE FIGURES FACTS

Posted in city of fremantle, kings square, western australia by freoview on February 21, 2017

It appears that Premier Colin Barnett and the City of Fremantle engaged in a bit of ‘alternative facts’ spin when they announced late last year that 1,500 state government staff would relocate to Fremantle to the Kings Square project.

A reliable source informs me that nearly one-third of them will relocate from Marine House opposite the Esplanade Hotel in Essex Street, so they are already in Fremantle and will only move one kilometre further east.

I hear marine-related officers are not too happy about it as it will take them further away from their boats in the Fishing Boat Harbour.

Roel Loopers

COUNCIL TO REJECT NEW NOTRE DAME BUILDING

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, notre dame university by freoview on February 18, 2017

unda-building-from-corner-copy

 

As expected the ‘Officers Recommendation’ to Fremantle Council for the proposed 5-storey building in High Street by Notre Dame University is for Council to reject it. The item will go to Council this Wednesday at 6 pm.

The decision-making authority is the state’s Joint Development Assessment Panel, but that will take Fremantle Council’s recommendation into consideration.

I was initially very irate about the UNDA proposal because I was very disappointed that the two community sessions had not changed anything, so as someone very passionate about Freo’s heritage I wrote a few things about the university I now regret, but my strong opposition to this inappropriate building has not disappeared.

I am a fan and strong supporter of Notre Dame University and believe they are good for the West End where many cafes would not survive without the patronage of 8000+ UNDA students and staff, but UNDA needs to be realistic and pragmatic about the development proposal for 3 High Street.

After reading the opinions of CoF planning and heritage staff and the Design Advisory Commission it becomes clear that the UNDA architects tried hard to accommodate the DAC wishes, while also trying to retain as much floor space as possible and that is the problem.

Fact is that the floor space UNDA needs for its School of Nursing can’t be achieved on that site without disregarding planning and heritage considerations, so it is not a realistic proposition to build something of that volume at the proposed site.

What UNDA now needs to do, after JDAP will also reject the development proposal, is to find an alternative location for a five-storey building, one where they might not even want to include a theatre space, thus giving them more floor space to use for education only and not a public community space.

The corner of Cliff and High streets is ideally suited for an iconic three-storey building, but unfortunately for Notre Dame it is unsuitable for a five-storey building and for the boring design that shows very little respect for the significant historic West End and the great heritage architecture in the area.

I intend to address Council on Wednesday to voice my opposition to the proposal, although I am a big fan of UNDA and its outstanding Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond, senior staff and the many lecturers I know. UNDA is good for Freo but the proposed building is bad for the West End and that’s why it needs to be rejected.

Roel Loopers

IS THERE LOGIC IN FREO MADNESS?

Posted in city of fremantle, fire, local government by freoview on February 17, 2017

Bureaucracy-like car salesmen, lawyers, politicians, Dutchmen, journalists, and Roel Loopers, to name just a few-has a bad reputation.

I know one should never generalise so let me declare that I have often dealt with excellent public servants at the City of Fremantle and all levels of government.

Why am I writing this? Because I thought there must be some reason and order within City of Fremantle madness I do not understand. It’s probably not the fault of an officer but of the system and lack of rules.

Yesterday the two new fire extinguishers in the Roundhouse were tested and the contractor told me the only other devise he needed to test at Arthur Head for CoF was the one in the Gunners Cottage, which is the office of the Roundhouse volunteers.

This means that none of the artist’s studios at Captain’s and Mrs Trivett lanes have fire extinguishers installed although some of them have highly flammable goods in them. I don’t know a painter who would not have turpentine in their studio.

It seems illogical to me that the Roundhouse, that is highly unlikely to ever catch fire, needs to have two fire extinguishers, but highly flammable artist’s studios in tiny residential cottages that are also open to the public don’t have any.

If a fire broke out in one of the cottages it could very easily and rapidly spread to the others along the lane and all that heritage would be gone.

Roel Loopers

STOP NOTRE DAME UNI MONSTROSITY !

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, notre dame university by freoview on February 15, 2017

unda-high-street

 

The awfully mediocre development proposal for a five-storey building on the corner of High and Cliff streets by Notre Dame University will go to Fremantle Council on February 22, so please do turn up in big numbers and voice your opposition to this disrespectful rubbish that totally ignores the extremely historic significance of the heritage-listed West End!

Here the info from the City of Fremantle:

Address: 3 High Street, FREMANTLE WA 6160
Application: Five (5) storey Educational Establishment, Shop and Small Bar

Please be advised that an item relating to the above application will be considered at the Council meeting to be held on Wednesday 22 February 2017 commencing at 6.00 pm.

An opportunity to address the Council on the proposal is given during ‘Public Question Time’ only and is limited to a maximum of three minutes. You must register to speak at the venue, before 5.50pm on the day of the meeting.

The council chambers are located on the first floor of the council offices at 8 William Street, Fremantle. Access to the council chambers is via the stairs located next to the children’s playground on the eastern side of the building.

After the proposal is considered by Council, the application will be determined by the Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP). The date of the JDAP meeting is not known at this time however is usually 1-2 weeks after the Council meeting.

Please check the JDAP website for the date, time and venue (the venue may not be the in the City of Fremantle). Should you wish to speak at the JDAP meeting, please complete a “Presentation Request Form” which must be submitted no less than 72 hours before the meeting.

Copies of the agenda, including the report and any attachments for the abovementioned item, are available for viewing from the Friday afternoon prior to the meeting. The agenda may be downloaded from the website at http://www.fremantle.wa.gov.au or can be viewed at the City Library located on the ground floor of the council offices during normal library hours. Library hours are available on the website. In the instance that you can’t access the information on the City’s website hard copies of the plans can be requested by emailing planning@fremantle.wa.gov.au with your request.

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