Two interesting articles about city development in the West Australian property section drew my attention this morning.
The first one “Giving residents first priority” is something I have been calling for for many years, as I believe proper community consultation about new development at the earliest possible stage will take a lot of negativity out of the process, and does not force community groups to be reactive when it is often too late, and subsequently being branded as nay-sayers.
The West reports that RobertsDay‘s studio leader Duane Cole said “Developers tapping into a community’s values and culture should start with genuine collaboration to build trust.”
Duane Cole told the West “…residents needed to be first in the process, not an afterthought.” and I could not agree more with that sentiment.
I do realise that Councils and developers might be reluctant to take this on as often the NIMBY attitude makes collaboration with the community difficult and frustrating, but building resentment by ignoring the wishes of the community is definitely not the way to go.
The second article is by Dr. Anthony Duckworth-Smith of the Australian Urban Design Research Centre in Perth who writes that AUDR has been working with the City of Fremantle to explore ways of finding the right balance for infill.
Duckworth Smith writes in the West that if Fremantle wants to keep its diverse social mix it should be looking at building smaller homes in suburban areas, because in the past two decades the vast majority of new homes in Fremante were four or more bedrooms, although households have become smaller and more diverse.
He warns however that the suitability for small houses is limited and does not cater for those who want to own. a house.
Modified local planning and design guide lines that respect the character of suburban areas could be developed to achieve urban infill the community accepts.
The City of Fremantle is willing to lead to find solutions to fill the gap between single residential and high density apartment buildings, Duckworth-Smith writes.
I believe that good infill in suitable targeted areas is the way forward, not just random infill and higher density because a property becomes available for development. That requires long-term planning and a vision for the ‘burbs’.
It has become quite clear that especially in older character suburbs many residents are against substantial change, infill, high density and medium and high rise buildings. That does not make the task for local and state government any easier. Some people believe the urban sprawl is inevitable to continue the great Australian dream of owning a large house with front and back garden, even when we have limited water supplies and urban sprawl is very expensive because it requires ever expanding roads, rail, power, water and gas to suburbs many tens of kilometres away from the CBD. This of course also causes traffic nightmares during peak hours.
Like with most things in life there are no easy solutions that will please and satisfy everyone, but I believe tough decisions have to be made now because future generations will suffer from the lack of foresight and leadership of our state and local governments.
Articles in the West Australian today made me contemplate to what extend corporate responsibility should go. The argument-and hope-that private investors could finance lightrail in Perth because it would be good for their workers and hence the bottom line is an interesting one and has some merit. Staff that needs to travel less to and from work will be happier and healthier and would probably be a more productive workforce so that should be good for the employers. I read though that there is little demand for office space in the suburbs and that indicates to me that employers don’t get it or don’t care about the big picture.
Decentralisation of the workforce away from the Perth CBD and the creation of so-called satellite cities should be a priority for our State Government and large employers because traffic congestion is affecting the productivity and bottom line of businesses.
Fremantle is desperate for economic recovery and revitalisation but it has been near impossible to get commitment from the State and larger corporations to move staff to Freo. Sirona Capital is hamstrung with the Kings Square development because no one wants to commit to moving to Fremantle, and even substantial residential and hotel development alone will not be enough to make Fremantle the state’s second city again. We need more office workers in Fremantle and more medium to large retailers to make the port city vibrant again.
There are huge development plans for the Coogee coast just south of Fremantle and somehow our retailers need to be able to tap into that potential and that requires better public transport along that southern corridor, ideally in the form of lightrail. It should also encourage businesses to open offices in Freo, close to where the workforce lives, but that has not been forthcoming and I wonder why that is.
Is it more prestigious for companies to have offices in big towers in Perth than four floors in a Fremantle low to medium rise, and is the corporate image more important than looking after one’s employees and the general community?
The urban sprawl in Perth cannot be allowed to continue because long commuting to work is bad for personal health, bad for traffic and bad for the environment, and it costs money so it is bad for the bottom line. It is time for big businesses to make a move to the satellites of the metro area and for quite a few of them to make the move to Fremantle, so their workers can enjoy the unique lifestyle of our city. Procrastinating in the Perth CBD and complaining about congestion and public transport is not helpful or being part of the solution. Change is required! Make the move to Freo!!
It’s going to be quiet again in good old Freo with some 4,000 American sailors leaving today after four days of R&R here.
The USS Bonhomme Richard, USS Preble and USS Green Bay will take part in navy exercising north of here. Thank you for visiting Fremantle and boosting the retail economy. You have been very respectful visitors to our city.
I received the email below from my friends Ros and Ian de Souza, so check out the crowd funding site and support them:
For the past 18 months Ian and I have been working with a group of artists from Western Australia developing an arts in health project called DRAWNTOGETHER – the Art of Life.
Our DRAWNTOGETHER team has been invited by UNAIDS to deliver a community arts workshop program in 2015 for people living with HIV/AIDS in Bangladesh.
Please take 3 minutes to view our Pozible campaign on http://www.pozible.com/project/196613 and, if you can, please spread the word to your networks with this link to help us get to Dhaka in July. It will make a real difference where it is most needed.
Thanking you in anticipation.
Ian and Ros de Souza
The Fremantle Society has the No 1 letter in the West Australian about the planned changes to the local council planning process. Here it is:
The Fremantle Society is very concerned about State Government’s latest plans that will further erode the power of local communities to influence or decide their destiny. Sterile sameness will be the result of taking planning approval away from local Councils. The individuality and uniqueness of suburbs and the amenity of these will gradually disappear as the development industry does it business. For example, Fremantle is not Ferndale and Cottesloe is not Cullacabardee, so why mandate the removal of the tools that help create and maintain this identity.
The plans by Colin Barnett should worry all of us who believe in local government, community engagement and the essence of locality through local planning. Taking away more and more power from councils is a serious erosion of our democratic rights. We wonder what the alternative government might do about these and other so-called reforms that strip power from community.
President Fremantle Society
I just started to enjoy the second day of the 2010 Fremantle Festival over a cup of coffee at the Moore&Moore Cafe, when an article on page 3 of the West Australian shocked me back into reality.
During a protest against the proposed asylum seeker detention centre in Northam, two women were wearing T-shirts with the slogans “Bomb Their Boats” and Sink Their Boats” That is absolutely disgraceful to me. How can anyone advocate bombing and sinking boats full of men, women and children? What an inhumane, fascist, and selfish attitude is that!
One of the women, Belinda McKinnon, claims that refugees committed an illegal act when trying to enter Australia, while the fact is that under international law asylum seekers can seek refuge in any country they like.
‘Ladies’, you are inciting racial hatred. THAT is illegal in Australia. You are a disgrace to this nation.
One has to question the Fremantle Gazette calling itself a community paper. Time and time again this “community” paper ignores what is going on in Fremantle. We hardly ever get reports or photos on events that happen on the weekends. I assume this has to do with the paper’s deadline and possibly because they don’t want to pay reporters and photographers to do weekend assignments.
Isn’t it amazing that this “community” paper has not mentioned the success of the Concert for Pakistan, organised by a handful of committed Fremantle people and Oxfam, while our real and very supportive community paper the Fremantle Herald gave it a full page of photos, and free advertising to promote the event. It is not as if the Fremantle Gazette did not have access to photos of the concert. I emailed them four photos last Wednesday, well in time to meet the paper’s deadline. The concert raised over $ 15,000.00 by the way for the flood victims in Pakistan.
It annoys me that the Gazette does not think it is important to report on things that happen in Fremantle. Thousands of people flocked to the Blessing of the Fleet on the weekend. No photos in this “community” newspaper today, while even the West Australian published a photo of it yesterday.
On the other hand the Herald gives so much of free advertising to local community groups, like the Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta and Fremantle Chamber Orchestra, to name just a few.
I know which paper I rather give my support to, and have on many occasions. I am always happy to donate my photos to the Fremantle Herald, to support my local community, because that is what they do as well. The sentiment is in the word community. Maybe someone at the Gazette can look it up in a dictionary.
Two letter writers in the West Australian today disagree with me about my letter, pasted below, the West published earlier this week.
They claim women/people have to earn respect before one can give it to them, but how does that apply to people we don’t know? Does it mean I should disrespect strangers, because I know nothing about them? Should I have no respect for people who dress, or look, a certain way? That would be an awful judgmental attitude to have.
I am not saying that I don’t feel uncomfortable with drunk people, and yes, I admit, even more so when they are female, but is that reason enough to disrespect them?
Do I know why they got drunk? Did they have a bad day, a funeral, a broken heart?
There can be many reasons why people sometimes drink too much, but there can never be a reason to abuse them because they had a skin full.
“Whenever one of the football codes “heroes” is accused of having sexually assaulted a woman, another one of them thinks he needs to defend his mates by blaming the alleged victim.
My message to former AFL player Peter Everitt and all his brothers in arms is simple; a woman who dresses in a mini skirt, a deep cut top, who is drunk or on drugs, is not some kind of slut you can abuse for your own desires.
No matter what state women are in, or how they dress, they deserve respect day and night. No ifs or buts. No excuses. She did not ask for it. Got it?!”