W.A. Planning Minister Donna Faragher’s statement that higher density is needed near train stations is not up to the high standards we expect of a Minister. Making broad sweeping statements is plain wrong and surely the state government in collaboration with local councils needs to find the best suitable areas near public transport to increase density and infill, instead of demanding higher density near all train stations.
Older unique character suburbs like Fremantle, Claremont and Subiaco, etc. would be destroyed if we just planted highrise buildings close to the train stations, while in other newer suburbs high density might actually improve the amenity.
Governments have this strange attitude that change needs to happen everywhere instead of targeting suitable suburbs for higher density living. It would also help if the state actually supported local councils which want to increase infill by improving public transport corridors and not just along the railway line where most older suburbs are.
A Fremantle photo that does not require an explanation.
Looking at all the development and planned development along the coast just south of Fremantle I wonder what plans the WA State Government has for public transport in the area, as the high number of new residents there, who will commute to work, will have a substantial impact on Fremantle roads in the near future.
Cockburn Road and Hampton Road are already congested during peak hours and new commuters using those roads will make that worse. South Fremantle is already suffering from too many vehicles using Douro Road, South Terrace and Marine Parade, so good public transport strategies need to be in place well before all the new residents move in. Rapid bus or lightrail along that corridor would be great and could connect central Fremantle to central Cockburn, so maybe it is time for the two cities to start collaborating and planning for this together.
Recent figures show that substantially fewer people use public transport and more and more the freeways and other roads to commute to and from work, so long-term efficient transport planning should be a priority for this part of the metropolitan area.
In many European cities public transport is often in place well before housing development starts, and trams and busses are running when people move in. We should follow that example and not plan public transport as an after thought.
Short-sighted piecemeal planning seems to be very much what Western Australia is all about, both at state and local levels. The planned Coogee Coast development south of Fremantle’s South Beach, that includes the heritage significant former South Fremantle Power Station, is another example of non-integrated planning.
While Cockburn Mayor Logan Howlett and Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt say that the influx of some 12,000 residents would make lightrail the perfect form of public transport, Lands Minister Tony Redman stated that a bus priority corridor along Hampton Road and through the new development would be adequate. Who is he kidding?!
We constantly hear from State Government experts that higher density living along transport corridors is the way forward for fast-growing Perth, but a bus service that would accommodate 10,000 commuters during rush hour each day is just a ridiculous and outdated proposition. It would require some 200 busses to drive from Coogee to the Fremantle train station between 6.30-8.30 am to shift that many people. 200 busses in 120 minutes along Hampton Road? YES Minister.
Why can’t the cost for lightrail be included in the massive development, so that the developers who are going to make millions from it actually pay for most of the transport infrastructure required. Imagine that same light rail also looping past Fiona Stanley Hospital, and the Murdoch and Curtin universities and we might start seeing the light on how to deal with traffic congestions and the associated air pollution.
The figures reported on-line WA Today on the decline in the use of trains shows that an integrated approach is needed to attract more people to public transport and to attack the huge traffic challenges of the Perth metropolitan region. There is little gain in small local councils like Fremantle stubbornly wanting to minimise motorvehicle traffic and for the State Government to have the Direction 2031 for higher denisty living near public transport corridors and railway stations, when the community is reluctant to use what is provided. The declining public transport figures create even less incentive for the federal and state governments to start paying for public transport infrastructure like lightrail and rapid bus routes, no matter how often the City of Fremantle bleats about it.
According to WAToday there were nearly 740,000 less trips in the five-months period from June to November last year, when compared to the previous years. That is huge!
It matters little if the reasons are overcrowding, safety, comfort, paid parking, not enough parking near stations, or more expensive tickets. Fact is that in the fasted-growing population state fewer people are now using public transport. That is not a trend we want to see continue!
Many things work in theory and on paper but when put into practise reality often forces changes. Such appears to be the case with the WA State Government’s desire to increase residential density near train stations, with the announcement that the government won’t allow residential development within 500 metres of the new Forrestfield train station because of concerns about noise and vibration. Residents near the new Butler train station have been complaining about vibration and noise since the station was opened.
The upside of paid car parking at railway stations is that more people ride their bicycles to the stations and that 15,000 cyclists have registered to use the secure bike shelters. Only 0.7 percent of train passengers ride their bikes to stations in the Perth metro area.
In Fremantle we need to learn the lessons from other cities around the world that increased bike use means we need to supply more bicycle parking facilities.
The first sitting of the all new City of Fremantle Special Projects Committee was a rather strange one that made me wonder why it was public. This was more a brain-storming session between councillors, officers and CODA consultant Kieran Wong, with the Director of Planning and Development Services Phil St John sometimes rallying the subdued group like an AFL footy coach, to stay focused and come up with big picture thinking, concepts and vision. “We want to put together a vision of your ideas”
I understand council wants to be seen to be transparent and inclusive but this committee could well be held in-camera rather than public and only three people plus me were in the gallery with not even the local newspapers bothering to turn up.
The other strange thing is that the committee was there to talk about the Activity Centre Vision Plan,but although it is mentioned in the agenda that the consultant for Visioning 2029 had documented the workshops, no report was tabled or attached and the lengthy and costly community process was not mentioned. That to me is putting the cart before the horse. Why start another visioning project when we have not even evaluated the one we did last year?
Should two-way traffic everywhere, or in the West End, be considered and what would that mean? First of all it would mean a substantial loss of parking bays to the detriment of the businesses in the area, as Councillor Simon Naber rightly pointed out.
There was also the suggestion to make future new parking only available on the periphery and discourage private vehicle traffic through the CBD because we only want people driving in the CBD who have that as their destination. That however would not work by forcing people to park on the periphery who have the CBD as their shopping/business/entertainment destination. That needs a lot of rethinking.
The reactivation of the Passenger Terminal came up, but with Fremantle Ports having recently spend millions on refurbishing it, I doubt it will become a public space any time soon.
There is hope for Arthur Head with Chair Rachel Pemberton mentioning the “anticipated boardwalk” there. Bring it on asap!
The strangely low-energy meeting talked about connectivity, sightlines, connection through the convict establishment, and having more events at Fremantle Oval to take the stress off the heavily-used Esplanade. The latter is a good idea and the oval might even be suitable as an occasional outdoor live music area for Sunset Events when they take over the Artillery Drill Hall from the Fly by Night.
Share, or naked, streets were obviously also on the agenda as that is one of the buzzwords around the western world and placemaking fraternity, and I am all for it as long as it is done sensibly and not to the detriment of local businesses.
Of course more and better bicycle links were discussed, and preferred transit corridors, as was a lightrail loop, a fast transit bus to the airport, and CAT bus connection from North to East Freo.
What did not come up and should be part of any strategic plan for Fremante is to find alternative off-street parking for Notre Dame University students, because the West End is a no go zone to try to find parking for shoppers and visitors when the students are attending campus. Dare I suggest the corner of Cliff and High for a low-rise creative UNDA carpark, without upsetting all my heritage friends.
Councillor Bill Massie asked why the City spend so much money on bike lanes when only a very small, less than five percent, of the population uses bikes. I think that went straight one ear in one ear out with some of the green pipe dreamers on council, who refuse to be realistic that cars will remain the preferred form of transport for the majority of the population for a very long time.
Lowering vehicle speed is obviously essential if the shared streets idea takes off.
While Bill Massie said we need as many vehicles in the city as possible because businesses are bleeding, Robert Fittock said that business who relied on vehicles should change strategy. I don’t believe the debate should be about vehicles or not vehicles, but how Fremantle can make it fast and easy for people to come to the inner city by all forms of transport and accommodate parking in a walking distance from the shops.
Did I get inspired last eve and did I have the wow feeling of having listened to great ideas, outstanding concepts and something new and fresh? Not at all. There was a lack of creative, out of the box thinking, trodding over old ground and rehashing old placemaking sessions. I had a real sense of deja vu, of having been there before, a council ground hog day. I think the Director would have been pretty disappointed with the lack of substance he will now have to work with.