Freo's View

FREMANTLE SOCIETY NOT TRUTHFUL

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle society, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on May 5, 2017

While Fremantle Society President John Dowson is always keen to question the integrity and transparency of Fremantle Council he does not care much about telling his members blatant lies to make Council look bad.

Dowson sent this email to FS members recently “…..the new administration building will only have HALF as much office space for staff as the current one! The 400 staff will have 800 sq metres of space, or 2 sq metres each, with the new “Hot desking” technique of not giving staff their own offices. This encourages staff to arrive early, around 5am, to secure the best positions.”

But the facts are very different according to the City of Fremantle. The present administration building has a net floor area for staff of 1,804 square metres and the new administration building will have 1,839 square metres of net floor area for staff, so  1,039 square metres more than the Fremantle Society President claims it will have.

In his desperation to make political points John Dowson does not bother to check facts it appears, so be warned who you vote for at the October election, especially when the candidates are supported by John Dowson’s hot air.

Roel Loopers

PUBLIC COUNCIL MEETINGS NOT BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

Posted in city of fremantle, democracy, fremantle society, local government by freoview on March 31, 2017

The Fremantle Society continues sending misinformation to their members, now claiming that recent decisions by Fremantle Council were made behind closed doors, as was put in capital letters screaming it out in an email.

Fact is that the one-year delay of the Sirona Capital settlement for the Spicer site development and the Kings Square playground went through the proper democratic process at Council and from public Council committees to public full Council meeting, so nothing of that process was irregular or behind closed doors.

This is part of the rambling email to the Fremantle Society members:

Democracy Dead at Fremantle Council

Major decisions affecting ratepayer assets have been made BEHIND CLOSED DOORS at Fremantle Council.

Giving council’s developer mates Sirona Capital an extra year to decide on the Spicer site, the $550,000 playgound in King’s Square, and major decisions affecting the n ew administration building we dont need, were all made behind closed doors at a sub committee of council and then simple reported at council.

Insipid Media

The media seem disinterested in major Fremantle governance issues like decisions being made behind closed doors.

It is time the Fremantle Society stopped the nonsense of making non-factual claims about Fremantle Council and started to make a positive difference instead of silly political grandstanding.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with rigorously scrutinising Council and severely criticising them when they deserve it, as I myself regularly do here on Freo’s View, but it needs to be based on facts. The issues mentioned in the FS email were not behind closed doors but at public council committees and council meetings I attended as an observer, and they were not ‘confidential items’ on the agenda either, so open to public scrutiny.

Agendas and Minutes of Council and Council Committee meetings can be read on the City of Fremantle website.

Roel Loopers

DEVELOPMENT WOULD IRREVERSIBLY DESTROY WEST END

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, fremantle society by freoview on March 24, 2017

 

I don’t often agree nowadays with Fremantle Society President John Dowson but his comment in the Fremantle Herald today that the proposed five-storey development for Pakenham and Henry streets is ‘Insanity’ is spot on!

It would be absolute madness to approve these buildings which would irreversibly destroy the West End.

The proposed building on the Centrelink site  is evil in it’s absolute ugliness, and the beautiful facade of the Customs building on the corner of Henry and Phillimore streets would be destroyed if two storeys stuck out above it.

The problem will be that even if Fremantle Council rejects these inappropriate buildings we will be dependent on the whim of the pro-developers state agencies DAP and SAT and the new State Government need to do something about that very urgently.

The Fremantle community will not allow the destruction of our beautiful heritage West End that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to WA every year!

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE INSOLVENCY CLAIM RIDICULOUS

Posted in city of fremantle, development, fremantle society, kings square, local government by freoview on January 25, 2017

Claims by the Fremantle Society that the City of Fremantle is insolvent were strongly rejected as ridiculous by Deputy Mayor Dave Coggin at the Ordinary Council meeting on Wednesday. Coggin demanded that the Society would send him the report by the certified public accountant they claim had provided the Fremantle Society with the advise that the City was technically insolvent.

Another ridiculous claim by the Fremantle Society was the lack of community consultation on the Kings Square Project.

I don’t know where these people were when Planning Scheme Amendment 49 was debated and the Fremantle Society under my presidency had a scale model in shopping centres to show the proposed heights, which we rejected and wanted lowered, but we did not succeed.

There was also extensive community consultation on the Kings Square development and even a Citizen Jury which I addressed on behalf of the Society, and I went to all the other community meetings to make suggestions. One outcome of that was that Newman Court now no longer will have vehicular access and parking.

Also ridiculous is the expectation that a private developer like Sirona Capital would make the roof tops of the two new buildings accessible to the public. Who is going to pay for security and public liability and how many privately owned buildings in the Perth CBD have public roof top access?

More ridiculousness in the claim that Fremantle Council has a conflict of interest in recommending to JDAP approval for the two Kings Square buildings. The City is not the decision-making authority, and as Councillor Doug Thompson pointed out as a body Council cannot have a conflict of interest or perception of that, but individual Councillors need to make their own decision if they believe they do have a conflict of or financial interest, which none of them declared.

Saying that Council cannot debate the development of a property they have sold would mean for example Council could not make planning approval for the Hilton Doubletree hotel development on the Point Street carpark site the City sold.

Councillor Rachel Pemberton said Sirona Capital was very serious about creating the best possible outcome and had even instigated workshops to improve the building design and enhance the character of the inner city. High calibre people from all sections of the community had attended the Sirona workshops and we will get an outcome we all will be proud of, Pemberton said.

Planning officers told Council and the public gallery that the developers had made significant changes over the last three months in collaboration with the Design Advisory Committee and the DAC now believed the design was at a stage where it was acceptable for them to recommend approval, but more changes would be required and be part of the City’s recommendation to JDAP.

Roel Loopers

MORE IMPACT WITH BALANCED FREMANTLE SOCIETY

Posted in city of fremantle, community, development, fremantle society by freoview on November 28, 2016

The Fremantle Society will have its AGM on December 7 where president John Dowson will be re-elected unopposed.

The Society has played a very important role in protecting Fremantle’s heritage for more than forty years, but I believe it has lost its way by being too negative and too narrow focussed, and rumblings within the membership suggest that Downson’s anti-height, anti-development and anti-change rhetoric is wearing thin not only outside the Society but also among the community group’s members.

It is a shame that the negativity is making the Society irrelevant, as many people in the community, Councillors and CoF officers no longer take Dowson’s criticism serious and stop listening to what the Fremantle Society has to say about the future of Fremantle.

The Society needs to find some balance and a strong committee that will guide its president and stop the relentless negativity in the media, as it is counter productive.

I have no doubt at all that John Dowson means very well and that he is passionate about protecting Fremantle’s heritage, and so am I, but blaming Fremantle Council, particularly Mayor Brad Pettitt, for development rejected by CoF but approved by state agencies DAP or SAT, is unfair and makes one question the integrity of the Fremantle Society.

The Society always had a very strong voice and was respected and listened to and while it did not win all the battles, it has done some remarkable work. Instead of whingeing about a down pipe in the wrong location Dowson should have been proud of the great outcome of the Warders Cottages, for which FS fought so hard, and also for the Society’s achievement finally getting the Gunners Cottages at Cantonment Hill restored.

I agree with Dowson that a lot of new development in Fremantle is ugly and inappropriate and I will stand side by side with him and FS fighting the Notre Dame University proposal for the corner of High and Cliff streets and other mediocre and inappropriate buildings, such as the one proposed by the Yolk developers for the former Spotlight site in Adelaide Street.

The Society needs to do what it does best and find the right battles to combat instead of the blanket approach of no change, no height, no development, because Fremantle is in desperate need of residential, commercial and tourist development and the Society should be supportive of positive change and progress in our city.

I sincerely hope John Dowson and the new committee will find a more balanced and respectful way of expressing their views, so they have more impact and will be taken serious again.

Roel Loopers

STICK TO THE FACTS WHEN FIGHTING FREO COUNCIL

Queen Victoria:Beach Street

I was a committee member, president and vice president of the Fremantle Society community group and have great respect for what they have achieved in their 44 years.

FS must be one of the oldest community groups in Fremantle and I recommend everyone to read the group’s history and achievements in the Fighting for Fremantle book. It’s a great read and shows what a committed community group can change.

But the present Fremantle Society appears to be losing the plot as it puts out false information, such as this one on the proposed development of a new building next to St Patrick’s at Queen Victoria Street and next to the Australia Hotel on Beach Street

This is what FS  told their members: “Another appalling development for Fremantle (the mayor blamed the DAP system, whereas in reality it is the scheme amendment 49 amendments which are allowing such dismal outcomes)”

Fact # 1: Fremantle Council rejected the proposal as it was deemed inappropriate for the location.

Fact # 2: The State’s Development Assessment Panel approved the proposal.

Fact # 3: This site was never part of Planning Scheme Amendment 49 Council signed off on some three years ago.

Shame on you Fremantle Society for putting out incorrect information. Your credibility is on the line FS committee and members!

Roel loopers

 

HOW THE FREO SOCIETY PUSHED FOR HERITAGE PRESERVATION

Posted in fremantle, fremantle society, heritage by freoview on April 21, 2016

 

What a difference a few years make! Four years ago on a very cool and very early Saturday morning on April 21, 2012 the Fremantle Society took action against the neglect of the Warders Cottages in Henderson Street. We had been lobbying State Government for a long time but nothing was happening, so we started our SHAME campaign that we spelled out in very large words, made out of socks, on the fences in front of the cottages.

The colourful protest got a lot of media attention and we continued with interviews on radio stations, letters to editors and submissions to the State and Fremantle Council. Now these cottages are being renovated and will be put up for sale while the former Police Station and Courthouse have been sold to Freo developers Silverleaf.

We also lobbied Defence Housing in Canberra and asked for urgent action on the vacant and derelict Married Quarters Gunners cottages at Cantonment Hill and were supported by Melissa Parke MP, now these cottages are ready again for occupation.

I have heard criticism that the Fremantle Society of the last five years has been ineffective but these examples show that was certainly not the case. We worked very hard behind the scenes to make a positive difference to Fremantle and while we lost a few battles we succeeded in others.

Roel Loopers

 

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FREMANTLE SOCIETY TO REHASH KINGS SQUARE PROJECT

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle society, kings square by freoview on April 13, 2016

The Fremantle Society is calling another public meeting, this time about the Kings Square project. While this project is very much in limbo and the business case for it questionable, I can’t see any purpose in rehashing what has been debated extensively in the local newspapers, mainstream media and on this blog and social media over the last two years or so.

The invitation to the event claims that the project would bring high-rise to Kings Square and that is incorrect, because the Myer building would be only 5 storeys and the Queensgate building in parts go up to only six storeys. That might be considered ‘high-rise’ in a country town but it is not in a modern developing city.

Fact is the project might never get off the ground unless the State Government relocates a department there. The project partners Sirona Capital and the City of Fremantle have been hoping and waiting for that for three years now.

FS also claims the project would split Kings Square in two triangles, but it has been like that for a long time, as half of the square is owned by the St John’s Church and the other triangle half by the City. Developing the City triangle won’t change that. St John’s might well want to develop their triangle or part of it in the future. The High Street road reserve splits the two triangles.

After having been a Fremantle Society committee member for many years, and president and vice president, I decided to cancel my membership with the organisation this week as I find them too narrow-focus and negative for my liking. They no longer represent my views on the future of Fremantle. Disappointing.

Roel Loopers

FREO SOCIETY LEGAL ACTION

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle society, Uncategorized by freoview on December 8, 2015

It looks like there is going to be a legal action aftermath of the Fremantle Society’s AGM. Unsuccessful presidential candidate Chris Lewis called me from the airport on his way to Sydney this morning to say they will likely take action against blogger Roger Garwood and now FS president John Dowson for the highly offensive and incorrect smear against Chris Lewis, FS membership officer Benita Dowding and past FS president Henty Farrar and the FS committee.

It is a real shame that it has to come to this as the Fremantle Society has been a very important and the most influential community group in Fremantle for 43 years. The totally inappropriate conspiracy rubbish that was published is not acceptable and unbecoming to such an important group that should get medals and awards for protecting Freo’s heritage so well. Let’s hope there is a way forward out of this mess.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE SOCIETY’S BIRTHDAY

Posted in fremantle, fremantle society, Uncategorized by freoview on December 7, 2015

It is quite appropriate that tonight’s FREMANTLE SOCIETY AGM promises to be a big and possibly heated one as it was 43 years ago today that the Society was founded by community members concerned about the preservation of our heritage buildings.

I don’t believe the discussion tonight should be pro or anti development because an anti development Fremantle Society would be irrelevant. What the Society needs to stand for is the preservation of Fremantle’s heritage and unique character and supporting appropriate medium density modern development in the run down parts of the CBD and elsewhere.

Being in principle against all multi-storey development in the Fremantle city centre is unrealistic and short-sighted. In a few months we will see the application for the Woolstores shopping centre development that will be anywhere between 8 and 11 storeys, and no matter how hard they might try no community group will stop that as it is allowed under Planning Scheme Amendment 49, so the State’s DAP or SAT will most likely approve it, even in the unlikely scenario that Fremantle Council would be against it.

A pragmatic and realistic approach to modern development in Fremantle is necessary because nothing will stop change.

I hope there will be a very strong and balanced committee elected tonight as that is essential for a powerful and influential Fremantle Society. I don’t believe it matters much who the president will be if that is the case, as committee will make the decisions and set the future directions for the important community group.

Roel Loopers

 

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