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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Well, well, the knives are well and truly out with unsuccessful South Ward candidate Tony Toledo claiming on the South Freo Facebook page that Mayor Brad Pettitt has had some undue influence over the Fremantle Society and the upcoming AGM on Monday.
Another Fremantle blogger also claims President Henty Farrar organised a “secret committee meeting” to influence the election outcome for the presidency.
So here some facts from someone who has been a FS committee members for I think seven years now. Mayor Brad Pettitt has never ever in that time tried to influence the FS commitee. In fact it was always at FS request when we had meetings with the Mayor where we wanted him to listen to our position about development, policies, etc. The Mayor has in that time never attended an FS committee meeting, so please stop the rubbish to claim he is pulling strings behind the scene to keep John Dowson out.
Henty Farrar canvassed committee members if we thought it would be appropriate to have special committee meeting to approve the many new membership applications FS received, so they all could have a vote at the AGM. That was not a secret, just an internal email to committee members. The meeting was not called, so no need to inform the entire membership.
Fact is that Benita Dowding was appointed membership officer of FS by committee and that she has managed to sign up new members, so she did a great job in the position she was asked to fill. Fact also is that John Dowson went onto a campaign and asked people to become or renew their FS membership and he signed up quite a few people who are not Fremantle based.
It is utter defamatory tabloid rubbish for anyone to accuse the Fremantle Society committee of acting inappropriately and that committee is somehow favouring one of the candidates over the other. If the Dowson camp fears competition that much that they need to engage in slander than I feel truly sorry for JD who is a well respected and passionate man who has done a lot to protect Fremantle’s heritage. John Dowson has got a very strong support base and is probably outright favourite at the TAB to win the FS election.
It’s time to show respect and let due process take place on Monday evening.
There are some letters in the Fremantle Herald today about the Fremantle Society’s AGM on Monday and the two candidates for the presidency. I like and respect John Dowson and Chris Lewis, so at the end it would have to be a decision on what members believe is best for Fremantle, so I expect a bit of heat and negativity on Monday at the Fremantle Tennis Club.
I hear people say that Chris Lewis is pro development, suggesting John Dowson is anti development. I leave it to you to make your own judgment on that and also if Fremantle can afford to have an anti development community group that will basically treat Council as the enemy. As far as I am aware there is nothing in the Fremantle Society constitution that says it has to be against development or change. My personal feeling is that the times of negative anti Council Townhall events are well and truly over, and they have been ineffective for the last few years.
Fremantle can’t afford to be anti change and progress because our retailers are barely surviving and we need to get more people living and working in the inner city.
Cities all over the world organically grow and Fremantle is slowly doing that, but the preservation and protection of our unique heritage and character must be a priority no matter which side of politics one supports.
What Fremantle and the Fremantle Society need is balance and a willingness to engage and find the best possible compromise, because accepting new development will always be a compromise, and development will happen no matter how loud we yell.
I see a bigger picture for the Society that would give power back to the local communities, and that is being at the front of demanding either the abandonment or significant changes to the Development Assessment Panels and the power of the State Administrative Tribunal, who basically rubber stamp 90 per cent of planning applications, and often against the recommendations of the local councils. It is not acceptable that the State bullies councils into accepting inappropriate buildings that show little or no regard to the heritage and character of place. That is not on and the Society should start yelling and screaming way up and deal with the reality that the City of Fremantle Council and Design Advisory Panel are lame ducks that have very little influence on what can be built in our beautiful city.
The Society committee needs balance as well. Active and committed people from both sides of the pro or anti development and it needs realistic people who don’t believe they can keep Fremantle the way it is. Change is inevitable because it is the way life is, and Fremantle is desperate for change, improvement and modernisation in the run down areas of the city, but that does not mean we should be willing to compromise in the historic West End that deserves to be protected unconditionally.
I want a forward looking, change-embracing, progressive and realistic Fremantle Society president and committee, because only then will the community group become relevant again to Freo. That is the challenge for Monday’s AGM.