Freo's View

WOOLSTORES FRUSTRATION ALL AROUND

 

Woolstores

Fremantle Council Planning Committee recommended to JDAP to reject the plans by Silverleaf Investments for the Woolstores shopping centre site, with an amendment to state that council very much would like to see this proposal go ahead as long as the proponent makes the changes recommended by Fremantle’s Design Advisory Committee-DAC.

There was clear frustration in the air from both sides with Councillor Ingrid Waltham expressing that everyone on council and in the community wanted good development happening in that area. She said Councillors were lay people and not architect and hence they had to take the advise of the DAC. “This has the potential of becoming an iconic landmark.”

The clearly frustrated architect for the developers flicked page by page stating the DAC recommended this and we did it, they recommended that and we changed it,….. He was quite irate, and rightly so, that the DAC at their last meeting with them had been complimentary about the changes but now had come out of the blue with a new recommendation of a substantial set back for the massive hotel component.

Public speakers said that many architects around Perth did not believe the design warranted exceptional quality design status. One of them was certain that the plans would not be approved by any other council, but that is hypothetical bollocks.

From my personal experience with architects, and I worked for very many as a commercial photographer, is that they rarely like another architect’s work. Many creatives unfortunately are like that.

I also wonder if it would have been better to conditionally approve the development plans with the condition that the recommendations from the DAC need to be implemented. It would send a message to the developers that Fremantle Council is serious about wanting approval for the hotel development but insists on getting outstanding architecture on the site.

The main problem is that Exceptional Design has not been defined in the planning rules, so it comes back to personal taste and preference by the public and architects. Councillor Jon Strachan said that the concept of exceptional design is nebulous.

A fact that should not be overlooked is that if Silverleaf Investments, in frustration about the constant delays, moves its money to another development Fremantle could end up with the ugly shopping centre building for many more years and that definitely is not the desired outcome.

The WA Joint Development Assessment Panel-JDAP will rule on the planning proposal in due course, so stay tuned.

Roel Loopers

 

MORE FROM THE FREMANTLE PLANNING COMMITTEE

 

More from the Fremantle Council Planning Committee:

  • A small bar and deli for 29 Leighton Beach Boulevard in North Fremantle was approved by the City of Fremantle Planning Committee last night after many people spoke for and against it.

One of the main concerns was noise from the alfresco area rising up to the balconies of residents because of the hard surface below.

It is a fair concern that could be addressed if council insisted on noise control, such as carpeting the alfresco area and putting a soft noise reducing top over it and plants around it, but a small amendment only addressed the area of alfresco activity and that it could not expand.

  • The development proposal for a cafe/restaurant next to Frank’s the butcher in Wray Avenue came back to the Planning Committee, after the proponent had taken the plans to the State Administrative Tribunal after they were rejected by council. The committee last night was adamant. that not enough changes had been made and that parking in the very popular hub was already and issue that could not cope with another cafe, so the proposal was rejected again.
  • The Solar Farm on the former tip site in South Fremantle was approved. Concerns about contaminated dust were deemed unnecessary as the site will be monitored while it is largely without control now.

It is a bit of a surprise that people now are concerned about contaminated dust when a solar farm will be built over the surface and no doubt acts as dust reduction and the site will be professionally managed. A very good outcome I believe.

  • Bad acoustics in the North Fremantle Hall is still an issue and the large public gallery which included twenty Curtin University students had to move chairs to the sides to get closer to be able to hear the Councillors and staff. Unacceptable.
  • A rather farcical situation at the start of the meeting when chair Jon Strachan ruled that all public submissions would be heard before the committee deliberated, but he was overruled by his colleagues who wanted the procedure to remain as it is and that the public speaks before each item which is then debated by committee. It means that people who are not interested in other items on the agenda don’t have to sit through the entire meeting, so it is a basic courtesy to the community.

Roel Loopers

 

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IT’S ALL ABOUT GETTING THE DEVELOPMENT BALANCE RIGHT

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, planning, Uncategorized by freoview on March 14, 2018

 

There is a big conundrum about development in Fremantle and elsewhere. The difficult question about urban infill in older character places is how much, how big, how high, how good, what kind of and when to stop.

We are getting very confusing messages from people, with many moving from WA to Melbourne because it is so European, whatever that means, while I read that many people in Sydney want to move out and go to Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane because Sydney is getting too big, traffic too mad and property prices too high.

Feedback from tourists is that most of them love Fremantle but are not impressed with the bland mediocrity of many of the new buildings in Perth, while they adore Freo’s gorgeous heritage West End.

What is good and appropriate development for Fremantle and how much is needed? We can forever argue about what we like or not but for example the development of the dormant Henderson Street in connection with that of Kings Square and the future development of Fremantle Oval is a good thing I believe.

One can rightly question though if the massive planned Woolstores shopping centre development and the eight-storey Little Lane on the Spotlight site are just a bit too much for Fremantle and overkill.

Does Fremantle need more highrise apartment buildings or should is start encouraging micro lots of around 100sqm for terrace housing/townhouses, that would suit our inner city much better.

I believe it is all about balance, but developers and city and state planners are not getting the right mix in my opinion.

I left Sydney in 1985 because real estate was simply unaffordable there while house prices in Perth were very cheap then, and it looks like this is still going on, although Fremantle is relatively expensive to move to.

It is time the WA state government organised a symposium on how much and what kind of development is needed, so that it can give better guidance to developers and local councils and its own JDAP and SAT.

It is imperative to show real respect for character cities like Fremantle, Subiaco and others and develop with restraint. To keep pushing for urban infill when the targets might be unrealistic will be detrimental to the uniqueness of our heritage cities.

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

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO FREO’S CODA ARCHITECTS

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, planning, Uncategorized by freoview on July 7, 2017

 

I just noted on Twitter that Fremantle architects and city planners CODA are celebrating their fifth anniversary, so happy birthday from me!

The Tweet reads: CODA 3.0 : frantic + fun 5 years in which we celebrated the delivery of public work, an expanded design team and our move into central Freo!

I am a fan of CODA and have been impressed with the work they have been doing and the very good community consultation projects they have been involved with in Fremantle.

The one project that stands out for me were the many sessions for Fremantle Ports about the Victoria Quay development. CODA director Kieran Wong was excellent and showed that leaving ones ego as home results in better outcomes.

Roel Loopers

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HIGH DENSITY NOT THE SOLUTION

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, planning by freoview on February 5, 2017

I have a lot of respect for the opinion of architect and urban planner Dr Linley Lutton, who used to be on the City of Fremantle’s Design Advisory Committee until he resigned from it, so I was very interested to read Lutton’s article about infill and density in the POST community newspapers.

Dr Lutton argues that the WA government push for higher density and infill is not working and is outdated and that apartments are the least preferred living options in Perth. He also writes that apartments can’t be adapted and are not family friendly, but that the biggest housing demand by 2031 will be for families and not singles and couples.

The random erection of ugly and big buildings in town centres also worries the city planner and he writes that it is not true that Perth is more low density than other capital cities. In fact we are at similar levels of density as Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane and not far from that in Melbourne.

While high density is often pushed in older character suburbs it is hard to understand why the WA State Government does not insist on higher density in new suburbs where people are still mainly building one and two storey houses and no apartment blocks or town houses.

The urban myth that people are abandoning their cars is also not supported by facts with tens of thousands abandoning public transport even when they live near public transport, according to government figures.

Linley Lutton says that higher density apartment living can work well, but planners need to take into account that ‘culturally rich street life’ and work opportunities are essential for successful highrise living.

As I and others have often argued the success of city planning and new development is dependent on understanding what the community wants and needs. There is a need for better and more intense collaboration between planning experts and the community, starting as early as possible in the process, so that community opinion is not being dismissed as negative, reactive, NIMBY and anti-development.

I am personally very happy that so much new development is happening in Fremantle and much more planned, but we need to actively discourage ugly, boring, mediocre new buildings ‘designed’ by lazy architects who have no respect for Fremantle’s unique character.

While the urban sprawl is not sustainable the indiscriminate infill targets for older character suburbs also lack reality and need to be reconsidered.

Roel Loopers

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FREMANTLE KINGS SQUARE PROJECT DESIGN

Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square, planning by freoview on January 25, 2017

Ordinary Council of the City of Fremantle will this evening debate the design of the Kings Square project buildings and if it should recommend approval to the State’s Joint Development Assessment Panel, which is the decision-making authority for the development.

Most important for me here are the comments by the City’s Design Advisory Committee, and they have several issues with some details of the proposal.

While the DAC says they are overall in support of the proposal and opportunities this brings to the retail core of the city centre, they believe that improvements can and should be made, so I suggest Council defers the matter until the architects have made the changes the DAC has suggested.

The DAC clearly states that the design is at a stage where the committee cannot recommend support or not for the proposal and they need to get more refined and detailed plans before making a recommendation.

I support the Kings Square project but it is such a huge and significant development for Fremantle that we need to get this right and every detail is fine-tuned before Council should recommend approval.

The height is within Planning Scheme Amendment 49, so not much use arguing about that now, but for the developers to show a night shot with lots of people on the roof is bad and unnecessary spin, since this is an office building that will not be occupied after office hours, but for maybe a couple of office parties each year.

Let’s stick with the facts, and that for me this is the most essential development project for Fremantle in its aim for economic recovery. Let’s do it well and make it a new attractive feature for our city!

Roel Loopers

 

FREO’S PLANNING PROCESS NEEDS IMPROVEMENT

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, planning by freoview on January 13, 2017

18-22-adelaide-street-development-plans

 

At the Planning Commission on Wednesday evening the Chair of the City of Fremantle’s Design Advisory Committee Professor Geoffrey London expressed concerns about the proposed building for 18-22 Adelaide Street and how it would impact on the public realm, etc.

It made me wonder if the planning process needs to be adjusted to give more power to the DAC and make developers and their architects aware that unless the DAC suggested changes to the design are made the building application will not progress and be put in front of the Elected Members.

It is a waste of time to bring a planning approval to the Councillors when the expert architect panel is not happy with the design plans, hence the deferrals and delays we are getting and applicants are upset about.

It seems very strange that the DAC still has concerns but the planning and heritage officers recommended approval for the in my opinion totally unsuitable building for historic Kings Square.

It is likely there are inflated egos involved in the process and architects not wanting to take advise from other architects who are on the DAC, but tough titties to those who design shit and want us to believe we are looking at red roses.

I cannot at all understand that planning officers recommend approval when DAC architects have serious concerns, and the idea that this can be sorted after planning approval has been given is ridiculous because the developers will believe they got away with it.

In this case the developer is expecting discretionary additional height for an boring, ugly box and wants even more reward for building rubbish by asking to be exempt from paying the percentage for art/heritage sum.

Kings Square is a very precious and historically significant area of Fremantle and nothing but the best is good enough. As Councillor Hannah Fitzhardinge said, we want beautiful buildings!

Roel Loopers

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BLUEPRINT FOR INFILL NEEDED IN FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, development, local government, planning, western australia by freoview on October 31, 2016

The building boom in Fremantle is good for our city I believe but it also requires long-term strategic planning and a blueprint for where in Fremantle infill should be considered in the next 25 years.

Just doing small planning scheme amendments for a few streets and masterplans for other areas is not good city planning, so the City of Fremantle should do a comprehensive study on where the appropriate locations for medium and high density in Fremantle are.

Developers, investors and home owners should be able to access City of Fremantle information that will show them that a certain street or suburb is earmarked for higher density so they don’t get a nasty shock surprise just after they have purchased property that a six-storey building or even higher could be built next to their two- storey home(s).

It would also assist the Public Transport Authority and other State Government agencies to plan ahead instead of the slow reactive planning that is happening too often.

While it is good to have masterplans for specific areas I believe it is essential to have an infill masterplan blueprint for the entire city, as only that is well-considered and detailed long-term planning.

Fremantle has many good potential development areas just outside the CBD that need to be considered for residential development, because inner city living has become unaffordable for many people. A tiny new one-bedroom apartment in the city centre starts at half a million dollars, so hopefully locations a fifteen-minute bike ride away from the CBD will be cheaper and more affordable to people on lower incomes.

Accommodation for students, artists, pensioners, low-wage earners, etc. need to be part of the residential mix in Fremantle or we might develop into a yuppy city for the well-off only. That would not be very Freo at all!

Roel Loopers

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WHITE GUM VALLEY WINS NATIONAL PLANNING AWARD

Posted in development, fremantle, planning, western australia by freoview on May 13, 2016

The sustainable Fremantle White Gum Valley project by LandCorp, CODA and Urbis was awarded the ‘Best Planning Ideas Small Project’ at the 2016 National Awards for Planning Excellence in Queensland.

There were 15 awards giving in 13 categories and the judges said about the WGV project:
“WGV @ White Gum Valley exemplifies a unique urban infill project that was achieved through the collaboration between a developer, the local government and the community. The project is an excellent example of extending beyond current subdivisional and development practices, creating a best practice blueprint for other infill sites.
The project is exceptional for its ability to demonstrate the economic, environmental and social benefits of sustainable development. It provides a range of affordable and inclusive living options, incorporates elements of the natural environment and retains a connection with the sense of place for the existing local community. All this was achieved whilst transitioning to a contemporary urban form.
This project showcases a highly innovative and environmentally responsible approach to improving diversity of housing opportunities in urban areas, with an exciting outcome from engaging different partnerships to get the best out of sustainability at an affordable price.”

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