Freo's View



The City of Fremantle has some explaining to do about the procrastination it is engaging in on two planning items.

The City of Fremantle closed the PAW-Pedestrian Access Way-between Kellow Place and Swanbourne Street over a year ago and did not re-open the PAW when the closure was rejected by the WA Planning Committee, so the PAW has now been illegally closed for nearly a year and that is unacceptable behaviour by the City.

Planning officers were directed by Council to engage with the Chair of the WAPC to see if they would change their mind, but absolutely nothing has happened to the chagrin of residents who believe there is nepotism in play because one of the property owners next to the PAW is befriended with Elected Members and City officers. It’s not a good look!

The other flabbergasting planning subject is the four-storey Atwell Arcade building where the exterior paneling has not been completed to planning approval specifications.

On a motion by Councillor Rachel Pemberton officers were directed last year by Council to engage in negotiations with Silverleaf Investments to see if a compromise could be reached that would satisfy both parties but nothing has been forthcoming here either.

When it comes to a small residential fence being too high or a new residential building being 15 centimetres higher than the approved plans the City takes action, but for some very obscure reasons when it affects mates and big property developers they sit on their hands and hope it will just go away and we stop mentioning and complaining about it.

Negotiations should not take longer than a few weeks to sort out these things.

Roel Loopers

Disclosure: One of the resident of Kellow Place who is against the closure of the PAW is a long-term friend of mine.






It is a concern that after a year of negotiations the City of Fremantle and Silverleaf Investments still have not reached agreement about the completion of the Atwell Arcade new four-storey building.

The item was on a Planning Committee agenda over a year ago where Councillors were asked to demand that the building had to be finished to planning approval  specifications, but a motion by Councillor Rachel Pemberton was carried that officers would try to negotiate a compromise with the developers.

That this still has not happened is a worry, because Silverleaf is doing three other major developments in the Fremantle CBD; Woolstores, Manning building, Henderson Street Police&Justice complex. Will they be completed to planning approval specifications?

Silverleaf are a major player in inner city Fremantle development and that is important and good for our city. At least they don’t sit for years on properties they buy and land bank, but they rapidly start developing them and that should be acknowledged and appreciated. I certainly do!

But not completing buildings to the specifications of the planning approval given by the City of Fremantle should be a no no, because changes to developments are made often, and details which visually enhance buildings are suddenly left out without Council approval and that should not be allowed.

One of the major complaints from the community about new buildings is the lack of great architecture, so if Council accepts that design features are unauthorised omitted once construction has started we get buildings that are even less attractive than what was approved. That is not acceptable.

Why it has taken so long for Council to put their foot down and demand Silverleaf completes the building to approved specifications is beyond me, especially since there clearly was willingness by Council to find a compromise.

Last time I published a blog article about this issue Silverleaf owner Gerard O’Brien told me it made his wife cry, so let me assure the family business that I do appreciate they are major developers in Fremantle, but that does not mean they should get away with everything they want to do, or suddenly no longer want to do.

Roel Loopers


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Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on May 25, 2017

Fremantle Council deferred a decision last night on the application by developers Silverleaf to not go ahead with adding more fritted glass screens to the building, as was agreed on in the planning approval.

The planning officers and Design Advisory Committee wanted Council to  reject the application but an amendment by Councillor Rachel Pemberton is trying to find a compromise.

Pemberton said she was concerned and tried to understand the practical reality of not adding the glass screens, but it is the the original approved plans so why wasn’t it done? But there is no harm done to see if a good compromise can be found.

The DAC said it is very disappointed with the amended proposal as it spent considerable time with the proponent, and a number of design outcomes were negotiated and considered necessary components that lead to the DAC’s conditional approval of the building.

The DAC believes the fritted glass screens address the scale and massing by making the detail behind the glass less legible.

Silverleaf owner Gerard O’Brien said the developer had spent more money into details such as tuck pointing the facades in High and Cantonment streets and that he had been advised by the builders that retrospect adding of the fritted glass screens would be difficult.

I don’t mind the building as it kind of floats over the old facades and the fritted glass screens definitely help to give it that appearance of softness, so I would like to see the developer stick to the plans Fremantle Council approved. They made it more difficult for themselves, and probably more costly now, by not adhering to the plans and making unapproved changes as they went along.

I do understand the triple bottom line and Silverleaf at present developing eight major sites in different councils, but at the end of the day if developers move the goal posts during construction that is a decision they have to live with and pay for. The community should not be told that it is too expensive and troublesome now to do what they agreed on in the first place when they applied for planning approval from council.

Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on May 2, 2017


Fremantle Atwell Arcade developers Silverleaf are seeking alterations to the initial approval of the building from the City of Fremantle, but the changes are not supported by the City’s planning department and Design Advisory Committee.

Silverleaf wants to remove two levels of fritted glass panels on the north east and south east of the building and also some on the south of the building.

The wording of the Design Advisory Committee advise appears to be one of annoyance with the developers trying to get changes approved when the building is already occupied:

  •   DAC is very disappointed with this amended proposal. As part of the process of design evaluation, DAC spent considerable time working on key aspects of the design with the proponent. A number of design outcomes were negotiated and were considered as necessary components leading to the DAC conditional support of the proposal and its massing and form.
  •   The fritted glazing was incorporated into the original design to help address the issue of scale and massing of the additions by making the detail behind the glass less legible and therefore allowing the visible building bulk to be read as more ‘ephemeral’.
  •   The built outcome is the negation of what was negotiated and agreed, the opposite of what the DAC had been led to believe would be provided.
  •   The provision of the balustrading to the street parapet was recognised as an important component of the promised heritage contribution.
  •   DAC is unwilling to accept that these design components, agreed by the proponent and necessary for DAC’s initial support, should be deleted because of cost.
  •   In summary, DAC does not support any of the proposed changes to the fritted glazing and screening, nor the deletion of the balustrade, all critical parts of the negotiated outcome that led to DAC supporting the project. DAC believes the project should be completed in the form that it supported and on which the DA was approved.

It is interesting to note that design changes are quite often proposed by developers after the City has given building approval and often cost are given as the reason for the changes.

Silverleaf is a huge property owner in Fremantle and they are going to develop the Woolstores Shopping Centre site, the Henderson Street Police and Courthouse precinct and the Manning Arcade, so it is very important that the developers realise they can’t get away with late changes after the horse has bolted. They need to budget better so cost don’t become an issue well into the development process.

I like it that Silverleaf does not land bank and that they quickly develop the properties they buy, but they also need to be aware of their corporate responsibilities to the community. It is not helpful that they express frustration with Fremantle Council and the DAC when Council and the expert panel insist on better design, because developers trying to cut corners and getting away with average buildings is not acceptable to the Fremantle community.

Developers often behave as if we owe them gratitude for developing in Fremantle, and I for one am delighted about so many new buildings in the CBD, but trying to get approval for un-approvable buildings is becoming a bit of a norm, with five storeys proposed for the West End when only three are permitted, and with design quality that should see architects publicly flogged for daring to suggest boring mediocrity that is disrespectful to Fremantle’s unique heritage character.

Silverleaf is good for Fremantle but only if they create stunning new inner city buildings instead of blandness. The fritted glass panelling on the Atwell Arcade makes the multi-storey building appear a lot softer and it blends better into the sky. Those plans were approved by Council and the developers now need to fulfil their part of the ‘contract’ with the City of Fremantle and not expect late changes.

The item is on the CoF Planning Committee agenda for this Wednesday at 6 pm.

Roel Loopers



Posted in art, city of fremantle, Uncategorized by freoview on April 19, 2017


The foundations for a new artwork are being put in the Fremantle High Street Mall near the corner of William Street as part of the Atwell Arcade development.

I have not heard who the artist is so stay tuned. I’ll put a photo up as soon as it is there!

Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, fremantle by freoview on March 21, 2017

Here another scenic shot taken from the Fremantle Townhall last Friday with the new Atwell Arcade building prominently in the foreground.

Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, atwell arcade, city of fremantle, economy, hospitality, retail, shopping by freoview on November 23, 2016

I had a look inside the renovated Atwell Arcade building and was very impressed with some of the stunning office spaces they have created on the first floor above Cotton On and the other shops in the High Street Mall.

There is no doubt in my mind that this development is good for the Fremantle retail and hospitality industries and our city overall.

Cotton On will open this Friday and looks very impressive and the modern arcade looks inviting.

Maybe some of the heritage character has been lost but I believe the development is a real gain for Freo and a milestone for the revival of Fremantle.

As I have said before the exterior of the new building is not outstanding but for me an acceptable compromise in this location because it angles away as a huge set back and it appears very soft against the blue sky.


Roel Loopers



Posted in christmas, city of fremantle, retail, shopping by freoview on November 22, 2016



It is still cotton off for the mannequins at the new Fremantle COTTON ON in the High Street mall Atwell Arcade, but it is only days away until the national franchise will open their large new shop there.

The arcade is nearly finished and should also open soon, and it is good to see that the mall no longer is the derelict area with many vacant shops.

While there are no City of Fremantle Christmas lights in the streets yet over 40 retailers have participated in a BID project to light up their windows at night, so have a look for them. Support our local Freo businesses and buy your Christmas presents in town this year!

There are many cute shops along High and Market streets and elsewhere that offer a lot more than bland mass-produced products, so check them out!

Roel Loopers




Posted in city of fremantle, clothes, fashion, retail by freoview on November 19, 2016



It looks like Cotton On might move into the Atwell Arcade in the Fremantle High Street mall before Christmas, and what a positive difference that would make to the drab shopping street.

While there will always be room for improvement and the redevelopment does have it critics I believe it has been a good compromise. The initial proposal was for a five-storey building which I vehemently opposed on behalf of the Fremantle Society.

The four-storey building is not overpowering in that location and it angles away from High Street, and the panels create welcome softness to the concrete. I personally quite like the way it looks from Cantonment Street.

Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, building, city of fremantle, development by freoview on October 26, 2016



I had another look at the five-storey proposal for 18-22 Adelaide Street at Fremantle’s Kings Square at yesterday’s information session and walked out appalled at the laziness of the architects who have not even tried to show respect for the surrounding heritage.

They propose set-back square boxes above the old two-storey facade, when a tiny design change could have created more suitable vertical lines and make it into a building that shows at least a little bit of sympathy and reference to Fremantle’s character and heritage.

Five storeys is of course far too high as the building should not be higher than the facade of the beautiful heritage building to the west of it.


I also had a walk around the almost completed controversial Atwell Arcade development and believe it blends in sufficiently as it has a softness about it and angles away from the High Street mall.

Fremantle is in a challenging time where a lot of development is happening and more applications for very substantial and high buildings are in the pipeline, so we need to find a compromise on what is acceptable for our city and viable for developers, but ugly, boring and mediocre is not on, and neither is inappropriate height in certain locations. If developers need more height they will have to move to the east of the CBD, not in the centre, and definitely not in the West End either.


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