After my previous post about the Atwell Arcade development and previous posts about my objections to the Notre Dame University proposal for the West End, and my reservations about the height of the Quest Hotel, and the general lack of creativity of new buildings in Fremantle’s CBD, it is interesting to read in the West Australian today the opinion of heritage architect Philip Griffiths, who spoke at a Future Bayswater forum.
Griffiths told the audience that respecting heritage and promoting local development are not mutually exclusive, and mentioned the City of Fremantle as a local government that got a lot smarter about preserving heritage while encouraging well-designed density. I believe the well-design part of that sentence is controversial as Freo is mainly getting mediocrity in design.
Heritage is a reason to be careful about how we develop because we don’t want to create a sterile town, but it is not a reason not to do anything, the architect said. That should be a very important consideration for the City of Fremantle because so far we are getting boring new buildings!
According to the Property Council of WA there is strong support for medium and higher-density apartments near public transport hubs and in the inner city.
I personally have no issue with higher-density in appropriate locations around Fremantle and in the east CBD but somehow we need to give more power to the Design Advisory Panel, and planning rules need to address the visual impact of new buildings better, so that we can get very good and outstanding buildings, not the bland and boring ones that are being built and proposed now.
Creating a new modern part in inner city Fremantle is in my opinion desirable as it means many more people will live in the CBD and that will encourage new traders, bars, etc to open up shop and make Freo more vibrant, but we need to get great architecture!
There is quite a bit going on within the City of Fremantle administration with new jobs advertised weekly and new people taking up important positions, with new CEO Phil StJohn taking up his role officially in July this years
At Council meeting last night I noticed for the first time Graham Tattersall, the new Director of Infrastructure and Project Delivery, while Marisa Spaziani who was the Director of Community Development is now heading the new People and Culture Department. Her old job has been advertised, so someone new will take over there soon.
I have no idea what that new department will be doing as Pete Stone only recently became the new director of the Department of Culture&The Arts, so it looks as if there is a duplication of services there as we have two departments responsible for culture. And keep in mind that directors at the City of Fremantle receive a payment around $ 240,000 per annum, so adding new directors is costing a lot of ratepayers’ money!
The Festivals Coordinator position, long held by Alex Marshall, also has been advertised. I don’t know if Marshall has been promoted or left Freo City, with all the changes occurring in his field and the Fremantle Festival moving to a fully curated festival.
At Council the committees now have new and more elaborate names but the Special Projects Committee does no longer have their meetings in public and that is a shame. One would think that special projects of new innovative ideas and long-term city planning are especially of interest to the community and the COF should embrace community participation and ideas.
It would also be nice if the City put out media releases about personnel changes at top-level as the public should know who get’s these extremely well-paid jobs and what they did before they came to Freo.
It would also be good to be informed who has been appointed as the external project manager for the Fremantle Oval project.
Two interesting articles about city development in the West Australian property section drew my attention this morning.
The first one “Giving residents first priority” is something I have been calling for for many years, as I believe proper community consultation about new development at the earliest possible stage will take a lot of negativity out of the process, and does not force community groups to be reactive when it is often too late, and subsequently being branded as nay-sayers.
The West reports that RobertsDay‘s studio leader Duane Cole said “Developers tapping into a community’s values and culture should start with genuine collaboration to build trust.”
Duane Cole told the West “…residents needed to be first in the process, not an afterthought.” and I could not agree more with that sentiment.
I do realise that Councils and developers might be reluctant to take this on as often the NIMBY attitude makes collaboration with the community difficult and frustrating, but building resentment by ignoring the wishes of the community is definitely not the way to go.
The second article is by Dr. Anthony Duckworth-Smith of the Australian Urban Design Research Centre in Perth who writes that AUDR has been working with the City of Fremantle to explore ways of finding the right balance for infill.
Duckworth Smith writes in the West that if Fremantle wants to keep its diverse social mix it should be looking at building smaller homes in suburban areas, because in the past two decades the vast majority of new homes in Fremante were four or more bedrooms, although households have become smaller and more diverse.
He warns however that the suitability for small houses is limited and does not cater for those who want to own. a house.
Modified local planning and design guide lines that respect the character of suburban areas could be developed to achieve urban infill the community accepts.
The City of Fremantle is willing to lead to find solutions to fill the gap between single residential and high density apartment buildings, Duckworth-Smith writes.
I believe that good infill in suitable targeted areas is the way forward, not just random infill and higher density because a property becomes available for development. That requires long-term planning and a vision for the ‘burbs’.
It has become quite clear that especially in older character suburbs many residents are against substantial change, infill, high density and medium and high rise buildings. That does not make the task for local and state government any easier. Some people believe the urban sprawl is inevitable to continue the great Australian dream of owning a large house with front and back garden, even when we have limited water supplies and urban sprawl is very expensive because it requires ever expanding roads, rail, power, water and gas to suburbs many tens of kilometres away from the CBD. This of course also causes traffic nightmares during peak hours.
Like with most things in life there are no easy solutions that will please and satisfy everyone, but I believe tough decisions have to be made now because future generations will suffer from the lack of foresight and leadership of our state and local governments.
WA Today reports that councils in WA have problems getting a quorum at Council and committee meetings because of the new gift disclosure rules by the State Government.
I believe this is very important for Fremantle as Councillors will be asked to consider events applications, sponsorships, reduction of fees, etc. and their attendance of previous events might jeopardise their ability to perform the duty and vote on these matters.
As I wrote in a previous post I believe Fremantle Council should stop accepting all complimentary tickets and pay for them instead, so that a conflict of interest no longer applies.
If the Mayor or other members open or speak at an event that should not be considered free entry and no disclosure should have to be made.
The updated gift register of the City of Fremantle shows the tickets accepted by Councillors were not expensive gifts, so why can’t COF budget for a few thousand dollars a year to accommodate members fulfilling their duty and going to events to monitor what is going on.
It is not good local government to end up with committees and ordinary council not having a quorum, so the City needs to be proactive to prevent this from happening.
The West Australian today compares, in an ‘exclusive’, council rates in the Perth metro area, and the good news is that Fremantle is only at number 13 of the 29 councils.
The average residential rates in 2015-2016 in Fremantle were $ 1,647.78 and in East Fremantle, that is number 10 on the list $ 1,810.65.
Melville is 17th with $ 1,599.16 and Cockburn comes in as 25th with just $ 1,460.07.
As West reporter Kate Emery rightly points out rates are affected by house prices and it is difficult to compare council rates because councils use different ways of calculating rates.
The WA State Government has a new My Council website where we can compare and see how our councils are doing. Nice to see the City of Fremantle page has one of my photos of Bathers Beach on it.
So I now know that the Fremantle area is 19 square kilometres small, that we have a population of 30,883 and 19,777 electors.
Fremantle’s revenue is $ 71,426,672 and its operating expenditure $ 71,070,614.
The total value of assets of the City of Fremantle is $ 486,608,885.
Rates are always a discussion point so I compared rates in the area and the recent rate increases were:
Fremantle 6%, Cockburn 11%, Mosman Park 5%, Cottesloe 5%, East Fremantle 6%, Melville 40%(is that a typo?), Mandurah 7%, Rockingham 10%.
The website is: mycouncil.wa.gov.au
I am surprised and dismayed that the City of Fremantle and Town of East Fremantle still have not officially joined many other councils who have called for the abolition of the State’s Development Assessment Panels-DAP- system, that has received a lot of criticism from communities and councils because it is pro-developers and overrules local council decisions by rubber stamping development applications.
Mosman Park, Vincent, Stirling, Subiaco, South Perth, Nedlands, Cambridge have all joined forces against the DAP but the Fremantle and East Fremantle councils remain silent on this very important issue. Why?
Why is this not on this Wednesday’s agenda for Full Council in Fremantle? Why has this not been debated on council committees and why is Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt, who loves mainstream media attention, not all over this?
The DAPs have been eroding local democracy and the State is giving more and more power to unelected bureaucrats. That is not acceptable and we need to strongly protest against it here in Fremantle, as they do in other councils.
If the DAP or SAT would make a ruling that would severely and negatively affect Fremantle’s heritage character it might be too late to protest. They allowed a 16 storey building on the former Subiaco Markets site against the ruling of Subi Council who only wanted to approve a maximum of eight storeys there. That is not on!
There is also not a word from the State opposition and Labor leader Mark McGowan on this and Freo MLA Simone McGurk also has not told us yet that they would abandon the DAP for a better and more democratic system. Where are you Simone?!
If you are worried about the negative impact DAPs have contact your Fremantle and East Fremantle Councillors and tell them to pull their fingers out and step up and join other councils against the DAP! Do it now before it is too late!!! Or email: email@example.com to get an email to all Councillors.
Communities, councils and planning experts are getting more and more vocal against inappropriate infill, higher density, and the role the State’s Development Assessment Panels and State Administrative Tribunal play in it.
Already four local councils, including the big City of Vincent, have expressed their dismay about DAPs and want the state government to scrap the process or make it more democratic, because it has a pro-developers bias. The two Councillors on the panels are outnumbered by three public servants, and while developers have the right to challenge the DAP decisions, local councils have not. That is undemocratic.
The Mayor Brad Pettitt Facebook page has a discussion going on about infill, and highly-respected city planner and architect Dr Linley Lutton will argue on Wednesday at UWA that inappropriate infill is destroying communities.
It is disappointing that the WA Labor party has remained silent on this subject, although I believe it would win them a substantial number of votes if they abandoned the Direction 2031 Liberal party infill targets for more density and the disliked DAPs.
In my personal opinion there is nothing wrong with higher density and higher buildings in the right locations, but the push to have it all happening close to railway stations and public transport corridors is a threat to the lifestyle and unique character of older suburbs such as Fremantle, Subiaco, etc.
It is outrageous that the State agencies overruled Subiaco Council and approved a 16-storey-building on the former market site at Rokeby Road, when council only wants buildings up to eight storeys. Imagine the DAP would have allowed the Atwell Arcade building in Freo to be twice as high and eight storeys instead of four!
The problem of setting indiscriminate infill targets for all local councils is that high density building are popping up in the wrong locations, where they do a lot of damage to the amenity and streetscape and severely and negatively impact on the community. That needs to change!
It is wrong for older suburbs that infill needs to be within walking distance from a train station, when on the outskirts of the CBD there is ample opportunity for higher apartment buildings, and bus routes could be adapted to accommodate more residents in those areas.
I welcome the very substantial development along Fremantle’s Queen Victoria and Beach street and other important new buildings in the CBD, but there is a whole lot more to come with the development of the Woolstores shopping centre site to a possible ten-storey-high mixed use, rumours about the Marilyn New-owned woolstores site at Clancys also talk about substantial height, and the corner of Henry and High street is also on the cards to be developed in the near future, together with the former Workers Club site opposite it.
There is no doubt for me that Fremantle needed development and to modernise and attract more residents to the CBD. It is also essential we build more tourist accommodation in town and I hope that will stop the mad rush of people signing up their homes with Air B&B because that is negatively impacting on neighbours.
It is very good that there is a serious social and mainstream media debate going on about all this, and that some councils are now putting their foot down and say enough is enough, because DAP and SAT are undermining local council democracy, like dictators do with human rights, and that needs to end!
It is really good to see how popular the Fremantle ESPLANADE YOUTH PLAZA is. The place was packed today with kids and families, doing all sorts of activities, and a couple of police officers also keeping an eye on it. But it is a very peaceful and respectful environment at the EYP and that is one of the best things of it all.
At the Spare Parts Theatre the FARM play is on but also the School of Puppetry doing workshops for kids, and outside in Pioneer Park there are big colourful figures made by the people of the wheatbelt town of Merredin.
It is interesting to note that the 3D images for the McCabe Street planning scheme amendment were done by architects CODA and not by the City of Fremantle.
Some years ago the City reportedly bought software for $ 50,000 to do 3 D imagery with, but it is not used.
I have been told that the software is very difficult to use and time consuming and cumbersome and that makes it expensive because of the amount of time needed to do it properly, hence it is not used and the City pays consultants to do it.
One has to wonder who was responsible for investing $ 50,000 in this software and why it wasn’t it tested to see if it was suitable for the needs of a local government before it was purchased.
I believe it is essential that 3D images and even scale models are produced for every proposed major building in Fremantle, so the public can actually understand what is proposed. Not everyone can read 2D plans and imagine the scale and proportions of buildings, so maybe it’s time to pay someone to train staff on how to use the expensive software that is dormant at COF.