Freo's View


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


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, real estate, Uncategorized by freoview on March 6, 2018




I spoke with an always thoughtful Fremantle resident at the South Ward candidate forum last week, who was very concerned that the glut of new development in the CBD is threatening the Freo lifestyle we all love.

The man, who has lived in Fremantle for a very long time, is not against development or higher density but feels that it is all happening too fast and I kind of agree with him.

There is a massing of apartment development that is rationally and emotionally hard to accept for many in the community, because it needs a longer and slower period to getting used to the new modern Fremantle. People are concerned that it seems to be happening too fast and over night, and that worries those who love the laid back lifestyle in Fremantle.

The tsunami of residential apartments is like a huge wave that threatens to drown that special and unique Freo lifestyle.

You won’t get an argument from me that we need more people living and working in Fremantle and more visitors to stay overnight in hotels to boost our local economy, but it needs to be done more deliberately because we seem to be getting more of the same and not the required variety of development to encourage diversity.

I agree with restrained and targeted urban infill because the urban sprawl clearly can’t go on indefinitely, but the pace of it in Fremantle needs to be slowed down. Urban infill needs to be better spread around the councils. Mosman Park and other western suburbs do very little to fill the government set infill targets while Fremantle is in a mad rush to change the special character of the old city irreversibly in the hope that it will rejuvenate and activate our city.

There is a lack of diversity in the new planned development that will not attract many families. Why don’t developers also offer 2-3 storey townhouses in the residential mix in our CBD? Imagine, instead of a four storey carpark, the Woolstores development had a row of 3-4 storey townhouses along Cantonmment Street between the two bookend highrise buildings

Life is all about balance and while Fremantle Council has done very well to attract development, we are just not getting the right mix and the desired outstanding architectural quality.

We are now on the road to modernisation so let’s stop behaving like beggars and accept just about anything developers propose. Fremantle needs quality and diverse development in the inner city, not just a wave of small apartments in ugly high buildings!

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on November 3, 2017



The Fremantle LIV apartments built by Defence Housing along Queen Victoria and Quarry streets have reached the highest point of the building.

The development should be completed in just over 12 months and will provide a lot of new residential apartments in the inner city.

It is an utter shame that the architecture could and should have been so much better, and that the massive building could have been a inspiring entry statement to our port city.

Boring buildings are not very Freo at all!

It is time the City of Fremantle organised a forum with architects, city planners, the community, etc. to see how we can put better planning rules in place that will ensure better architecture in our city.


Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle, housing, lifestyle, living, Uncategorized by freoview on November 1, 2017


Stage two of the Freo Alternative housing concept is about to start and realising the vision through planning policy.

The first stage of the concept was about generating a shared community vision on the future of housing in Fremantle, and now the City wants to identify how it can change our planning rules to allow for smaller homes in suburban locations, while protecting the things we love about our neighbourhoods..

Through the community consultation process it became clear that eight themes are important to the Fremantle community: housing choice, trees and landscaping, open space, sustainability, community, built form, car movement, and location. 

Fremantle Council would like to hear your thoughts on the proposed planning rules and are holding community sessions in the suburbs.

White Gum Valley | 15 November 2017  4.30 – 6.30pm at Sullivan Hall –  2 Nannine Ave, White Gum Valley.

Fremantle | 16 November 2017  4 – 6pm at Holland Park – Holland Street, Fremantle.

Beaconsfield | 19 November 2017 & 26 November 2017 8am – 12 noon at Growers Green Market – front lawn of South Fremantle Senior High School, Lefroy Road, Beaconsfield.

Hilton | 22 November 2017  4 – 6pm near the entrance to Gilbert’s Fresh – 308 South Street, Hilton.

Samson | 23 November 2017 4.30 – 6.30pm at Samson Recreational Centre – 44 McCombe Ave, Samson.

You can read the proposed planning changes in more detail online and complete the survey by 5.00 pm 2 February 2018.

If you have any questions contact C0F: email: or phone on 9432 9999.

Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, city planning, Uncategorized by freoview on August 16, 2017


In a distinct acknowledgement of their high standards and credibility Fremantle’s CODA architects and city planners have merged with nationally acclaimed COX Architects.

Cox Howlett&Bailey, Woodland are highly respected in Western Australia and beyond, so this is a significant move for the Freo CODA group.

They have now moved from Elder Place to 360 Murray Street in Perth, but CODA director Kieran Wong and his family will continue to live in South Fremantle.

I have great respect for CODA and its directors and wish them all the best!


Roel Loopers



Posted in city of fremantle, community, local government, Uncategorized, western autralia by freoview on July 7, 2017


It appears that Fremantle has a new ABB, no, it’s not a typo. It stands for Anyone But Brad. Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt and the sitting members who are due for election in October might as well not bother to nominate if the relentless-and often uninformed-social media attacks on Council are any indication.

Some people only want to be negative and ignore all facts of progress and a positive Fremantle future. On social media one of those residents, who has not had a good word to say about Freo Council for many years, claimed that Fremantle is rudderless.

This is an amazing statement when one considers that the present Council has done more to encourage substantial development in the inner city than councils over the last 40 years. Facts do not seem to matter when one only wants to be negative.

Leadership is not about making populist decisions but about long-term planning and strategies that will see Fremantle grow and prosper, and in my opinion the present Council has done that well.

Governments never please everyone, that is simply human nature. We all have our political preferences and different views on where Freo should be heading. But it does not mean there is no leadership just because one doesn’t agree with the decisions the democratically Elected Members make.

Yes, there is no denying they have also made mistakes and made decisions I don’t agree with, but my score card is more positive than negative. Because of that I have recently been accused of Council bias. I, and no doubt many at CoF who hate my guts, find that very funny. All I try to do is create a fair balance on social media against anti-Council bias, and point out facts rather than engaging in one-eyed polemic.

Let’s talk about the P-Word again! Parking in Fremantle is not outrageously expensive, as some claim, but only $ 2.80 per hour. After 5pm the maximum amount one has to pay is $ 5.50 for unlimited time. For Fremantle residents parking before 11am and after 3pm is free on weekdays. That is 20 hours daily of free parking, five days a week. On weekends parking is free for residents with a permit at the Beach Street carpark. Street parking in Perth is $ 4.00 per hour by the way.

Notre Dame University students complain that parking cost them thousands of dollars a year, basically because they are too lazy to walk ten minutes from the Point Street carpark where they could park all day for just $ 9.00, instead of paying well over $ 20.00 a day by parking in West End streets. Silly really!

I don’t believe at all that Fremantle Council is rudderless and lacks leadership. Fremantle Council has respectfully and protectively kept one eye on our heritage past while having a strong focus on the future.

The Kings Square Project, Cantonment Hill Project, Fremantle Oval/Stan Reilly Project, State Heritage listing of the West End, the futuristic South Quay Project, Princess May Park masterplan, Esplanade masterplan, lobbying State Government to relocate government departments to Fremantle, and zoning changes to encourage residential infill and small housing, and planning changes, that now see unprecedented commercial and residential development in the inner city, show that the present council has strong strategic thinking.

In my books that is good future-focussed leadership that should be consolidated in the next challenging years. The many projects on the way and in the pipeline require thorough knowledge and people with local government experience.

They are well thought-out long-term and strategic plans by Fremantle Council to help our city grow faster, to get more people living and working in the CBD, to get more visitors to stay overnight and to boost the retail and hospitality economy. Cutting red tape so that more small bars and businesses can be established in the West End is also good leadership.

It is unlikely that Mayor Brad Pettitt and I will ever be friends and that is fine, but that does not mean I don’t respect him. I really don’t care much what the Mayor or anyone else at the City of Fremantle think off me.

I am at this beautiful end stage of life where I don’t have to prove anything anymore to anyone, or even myself. I am involved in Council and community business because I want the very best for Fremantle, not because of my ego and wanting to be right.

Anyone with good new and positive ideas for Freo will have my support. Anyone with solutions will have my unbiased ear, but those who are hell-bent on talking our city down will receive little sympathy from me.

Fremantle is an outstanding place to live. Fremantle has a really good and exciting future ahead and will be one of the great vibrant destinations in the metro area in just a few years from now.

We will have many more people walking the streets day and night, who will be supporting our local traders, and we will have a modern new East End of town that will well juxtapose the beautiful historic West End of Fremantle.

What we need to be most aware of is that developers are trying to push five-storey buildings into the heritage West End and we can’t let that happen. It is disappointing that this is actively supported by the Chamber of Commerce. Approving high and massive buildings in the historic area is unacceptable because it would negatively change Fremantle’s unique character forever. We can’t let that happen ever!!

Fremantle is on the right track, but it is a marathon. Right now we need to be patient and supportive, not negative!

Roel Loopers



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



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



Posted in architecture, buildings, city of fremantle, development by freoview on December 15, 2016

The development boom in Fremantle is positive but it is also a timely reminder that we need to have a discussion in Freo about what sort of development we want because it is too general to say we want to protect the unique heritage character of our city.

There should not be a blanket approach to density, hight, building design, etc. because to have a real positive impact we need to localise planning laws more so that there is more emphasis on the streetscape and specific areas.

Even in the heritage West End there are buildings that should never have been erected and disappointing streetscapes, so we need to have a community debate on how we can avoid ugliness and inappropriate architecture.

I talked to a well-known architect the other day who said he liked the new building on the corner of Pakenham and Bannister streets, while I think it is awfully mediocre. Another architect does not like the new MSC building in Cliff Street, but I love it, so how do we find compromises that are more acceptable to the wider community? Clearly personal taste won’t do.

We often talk only about the hight and human scale of buildings, but we should not generalise there because east of Queen Street a bit of extra height will do no harm in my opinion, while west of it we should not compromise above four storeys. There is no need for extra height in the West End but it is acceptable in the East End, I believe.

The planning requirement of set-back above certain heights can also be counter productive as it often has a negative impact on the design and the cohesion of a building. Set-backs often look like an after thought that does not fit in well with the rest of the building.

Fremantle’s Design Advisory Committee seems to be a bit of a lame duck when one considers some of the buildings approved by the City of Fremantle. The fact that Notre Dame University has been working with the DAC and planning staff for many months, but is still seeking approval for an inappropriate and boring five-storey building on the corner of High and Cliff streets, shows that the process is flawed because UNDA should have been told much earlier that their plans are not acceptable.

I agree that not every building can or should be iconic, but if we are serious about wanting to build heritage of the future buildings in Fremantle we need to do a whole lot better than what we have been doing in the last three years.

There is also a flaw in the percentage for the art scheme when developers can just add art to the new building facade to satisfy that requirement, as we see in Pakenham Street at the Quest Hotel. I don’t believe that was the initial idea for the art scheme, as it should be true public art and not a clever way by developers of avoiding it.

Open-minded and mature debate is needed to decide Fremantle’s future look, so let’s have some public forums in 2017 with architects, city planners and place makers, ideally from outside Freo, so that we don’t hear the same opinions we have already heard before. I would be very interested to hear State Architect Geoff Warne’s thoughts about Fremantle for example.

The community needs to be able to have input on what the new face of Fremantle should look like!


I put this artist impression from the UK here to show why we need to talk about development in Fremantle. This zero energy affordable residential development is considered low-impact high density there, while I believe it is very high impact. Something like this would be too over powering even on the Knutsford Street CoF depot site.

Roel Loopers


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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