Part of the scaffolding on the Heirloom by Match development of the former Dalgety Woolstore has been removed at Beach Street and I think it looks very impressive so far.
The development will see over 150 new residential apartments in the east CBD of Fremantle and together with other planned new buildings will see a substantial increase of inner city residents in the next few years, which will be a much-needed boost for the retail and hospitality economy.
Apartments at heirloom sell from $ 495,000 and there are still some for sale, so if you want inner city living in a heritage environment with sweeping views over Fremantle Port, go and check it out.
The development is a joined venture by the Match group and Sirona Capital.
Talking about higher density is a bit of a no-no in Fremantle, where many in the community believe that high-density automatically means highrise, but we know from European countries that that does not have to be the case and 5-8 storey buildings will do the job and look a whole lot better than massive 20+ storey residential towers that create social issues as well as visual pollution.
Strangely when we talk higher density in Perth we talk about young people and families moving into inner city apartments, but rarely do we hear there is a need for seniors to move there as well and that needs to be addressed by developers and local and state governments.
Research in the USA has found that once seniors who live in the suburbs loose their license and right to drive a car, the public transport systems fail them and older people often become hermits without a social life, because they have to depend on friends and family to drive them around, so there is a need for them to relocate closer to the inner city.
The problem though is that inner city rents are quite a bit higher than those in the burbs, so how can seniors afford to live there? Whilst I absolutely understand the need for privacy I believe we need to find a new and cheaper way of accommodating seniors and other on low incomes, be that with one bedroom flats or bedsitters and shared use of kitchen(s), laundry and communal dining rooms, and maybe even gophers.
With a fast ageing population in Australia we need to find creative ways in dealing with what could become a serious issue in the near future. That might well mean that we need to accept that we don’t all need to have our own washing machine and stuff we only use once every ten days or so, and that sharing is cheaper and reduces the need for individual laundries, dining areas and kitchens in each and every apartment. I know I would be a huge compromise and change in lifestyle and thinking, and I am not even sure I would like it for myself, but it could be a way of finding solutions to deal better with an ageing population.
Canadian urban planning expert professor David Gordon has expressed what many people in Perth’s older established suburbs like Fremantle have been saying for years, that is it not necessary to disturb stable communities with high-density residential development, but that there is a lot of scope to develop along freeways and railways instead, and low-rise shopping centres and industrial areas should also be targets for higher residential development.
Professor Gordon told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia that Perth has the lowest density of a major city he has seen.
Gordon is an urban planning professor from Canada’s Queen’s University and said the WA Government faces a major challenge meeting its infill housing targets (it set in its 2031 future development papers)
LandCorp chief executive Frank Marra is quoted in the West Australian newspaper saying that developers often only got one chance to get high density living right and one bad design could alienate a community. I believe that is a very good comment, as established communities such as Fremantle want much better design than the bland colourless big boxes that developers can put up relatively cheaply, compared to outstanding and innovative design and building quality. We want development that embraces, enhances and improves neighbourhoods, not the boring mediocre sameness that destroys the ambience of older suburbs by taking their sense of amenity, comfort and unique lifestyle away.
Frank Marra told the West Australian that “The community really latches on with poor outcomes that might have occurred in the past.”
The W.A. government’s latest draft Perth and Peel@3.5 million report sets a target of building 800,000 new homes by 2050. Of that 380,000 are expected to be built through infill.
Here is Fremantle the Knutsford Street area and City of Fremantle Works Depot would be great areas for higher density student living to accommodate Notre Dame uni students, but also those who study at Murdoch and Curtin and who can jump on a bus to get there. It is not even a ten-minute bike ride from there to the CBD and UNDA, and busses come through Amherst and High Street frequently, so it appears to be a pretty perfect location for high-density living, that is also very close to the Fremantle golf course and Booyeembara Park for public open space and relaxation.
My information is that around 70 percent of UNDA students don’t live in Fremantle and I believe that is a real shame because they would bring vitality to our community and support our retailers and the hospitality industry, so Freo should make an effort to keep them in town. It is also something the State’s Landcorp agency should be supporting. Would it for example be possible to sell or lease Notre Dame a chunk of land at a peppercorn price if they were willing to build student accommodation, so that the students don’t have to commute and leave town? It might even be good for the City of Fremantle to consider doing a deal with UNDA on a small part of the Works Depot site as that would be a good investment into Freo’s future and an opportunity to keep a large percentage of the more than 5,500 students in town.