Freo's View

FREMANTLE TAKES BROADER VIEWS ON DEVELOPMENT

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on February 22, 2018

 

The new City of Fremantle Strategic Planning and Transport Committee met for the first time last evening at the Townhall with only two items on the agenda; the Kings Square public realm concept plan and Local Planning Policy 2.21-R60.

I reported on the Kings Square plans earlier this week so just some details of the new development plans draft that was considered and adopted last night. The entire draft can be viewed on-line on the CoF website. Click on agendas and minutes and view the agenda there.

Here some considerations that stood out for me:

Under clause 4.2.5 of the City’s Local Planning Scheme No. 4 (LPS4), the residential density of sites in the Local Centre, Neighbourhood Centre and Mixed Use zones may be increased up to R60 where the development application:

  1. Proposes ‘mixed use development’ as defined in the City’s Scheme.
  2. Would not be detrimental to the amenity of an area.

A policy has been prepared to provide guidance on the criteria against which impact on amenity will be assessed under Clause 4.2.5 of LPS4 in order to provide greater certainty and consistency of decision-making, and promote better built form and community outcomes. The draft policy has the following key elements:

Recognise that mixed use zones and local/neighbourhood centres have potential to accommodate higher density and intensity, but within which new development should acknowledge and be respectful of existing / traditional development as part of a responsible evolution.

Stipulate that the deemed-to-comply standards (excluding site area) of the base density are acceptable as a starting point for R60 development.

Where the base code deemed-to-comply standards are not met, consider variations up to the R60 coding only where assessed to not be detrimental to the surrounding area based on a series of considerations as set out in the policy relating to the impact on amenity; including impact on streetscape, heritage character, neighbour amenity, traffic and safety, impact on trees and quality of the built environment.

Stipulate some specific requirements / expectations in regards to commonly contested aspects including that plot ratio in excess of the deemed-to-comply standard for R60 will not be supported.

Require a site context assessment to accompany any proposal seeking an increase in density beyond the base coding.

It should be noted that the clause seeks to avoid detrimental amenity to the area rather than to specific individual lots, which requires Council to take a broader view of impact than solely that of the neighbour/s. Similarly, the definition of amenity in the Planning Regulations defines this in relation to the character of an area. This does not, of course, preclude neighbour impacts from forming a key consideration in assessing amenity impacts. The reference to ‘future amenity’ allows for application of the definition in new development areas or areas subject to revitalisation schemes and the like.

Site analysis and design response: requiring the preparation of these to inform any proposal

Orientation: requiring proposals to “respond to the streetscape and site while optimising solar access within the development” and building form and orientation which “minimises overshadowing on neighbouring properties”

Existing tree retention: requiring mature trees on site (or are clearly identifiable on site through aerial images from the last 5 years) for retention or replacement or offset Deep soil areas (12% of site where no trees retained): to support healthy plant and tree growth, and provision of trees proportionate to the size of the site

Communal and public open space: where more than 10 dwellings are proposed

Visual privacy: including a ‘cone of vision’ similar to that specified under the R-Codes (albeit lesser) and a minimum of 25% of the perimeter of balconies unscreened, and a requirement to site and design development to “increase privacy without compromising access to light and air and balance outlook and views from habitable rooms and private open space”

Public domain interface: considering CEPTED principles and promoting a functional and pleasing interface with the street which makes provision for services, landscaping of terraces and excludes parking

Pedestrian access and entries: which requires safe and ‘legible’ entries to buildings

Vehicle access points: requiring these to be designed and located to minimise streetscape impacts whilst avoiding conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles

Car and bicycle parking: to be provided at specified rates and designed to be functional but minimise visual impact

 

Roel Loopers

 

 

FREO’S SOCIALIST BUILDING BOOM

Everyone who regularly reads this Freo’s View blog knows that I have been vigorously scrutinising what is happening at Fremantle Council for many years and that I have been outraged at times with my criticism when things are not done properly or not done at all, but I sometimes shake my head when I read the ridiculous negativity on social media about our Council and Elected Members.

According to some comments Freo Council is following a Greens doctrine and according to those critics the Greens are socialists. However, Fremantle Council is strongly supportive of the capitalist idea of investment and development in our city, so that is not very socialist. How can that specific criticism of Council make sense to anyone?

Those same critics also say Fremantle should be more supportive of its retailers. It is doing that by encouraging residential, office and tourist development, but those who say Council is not doing enough to support our retailers are also against higher density and infill. To be financially successful and sustainable retail needs high footfall and that means many more people living and working in the CBD and visiting it.

No new retailers, especially major ones, will open shop in Fremantle unless they know that the numbers will add up and that means many more people walking the streets of the CBD seven days a week and not just on weekends.

People complain about Freo City not doing enough and demand better and more services and want to get more free parking and reduced parking fees, without supporting a substantial increase in residents and offices. They also do not want to pay higher rates or for the city to sell off assets, so how is the City going to pay for services that are more expensive every year when it does not create more income?

I believe the community should be part of the solutions and work closer with council, and I do realise it takes two to tango. We need more respectful communication from both sides and Elected Members not ignoring community input. We need better transparency and accountability, but we also need a community that stops the often silly conspiracy attacks on Council. It is all about respect and to stop the political point scoring that too often happens. Fremantle is a very good city that can become a whole lot better when we work together on improving it.

Development is essential to make Freo grow and prosper but it needs to be very good development that reflects on the character of our city. It can be done, as I have been shown at the Elders building in Cliff Street where the Mediterranean Shipping Company will move into later this year.

North Fremantle architect Murray Slavin took me around this morning and it is a stunning new building full of natural light, while the former Elders building has been restored to its old glory. It is a tranquil environment to work in and looks great from street level as well.

It will also bring 160 new office workers to the West End and that will no doubt be good for local cafes and retailers.

For Fremantle to move forward it will need to grow. The status quo is not sustainable and that’s why I believe the ‘socialist’ building boom will be good for Freo in the long run.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE DEVELOPING FAST

Posted in city of fremantle, development, fremantle, western australia by freoview on June 1, 2016

 

The crane at Fremantle Atwell Arcade came down very early this morning, so the building should be opening soon and become home to office workers and new shops.

Development is happening all over Freo with the verandas being reinstalled at the Henderson Street Warders Cottages, the first tenants have moved in at the Gunners Cottages at Cantonment Hill, and the Heirloom by Match development at Queen Victoria Street has finished its first apartments, which are now open for inspection, and the MSC building in Cliff Street is also at the final stages.

The announcement if and where the Department of Housing will be moving in Fremantle is also due in a few months, so Freo is on track for its economic recovery.

Roel Loopers

 

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WHAT IF KINGS SQUARE DOES NOT PROCEED?

Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square by freoview on April 22, 2016

I want to make a few points about the call by community groups to abolish the Kings Square Project. I don’t want to go through the same old arguments of the controversial and badly explained business plan, but about what could happen if the project does not go ahead.

The project was at length debated by the community some three years ago and was seen as essential to restart the retail economy and activate Kings Square and the CBD, before Council signed off on it.

I now hear calls to demolish the administration building and create a big grass area there, but it comes from the same people who constantly complain about anti-social behaviour at Kings Square. A grassed area would not attract families for a picnic, but would bring more troublemakers, and it would not bring more badly needed shoppers and office workers to the inner city.

A lawn is not going to do anything at all for the retailers in town, but those who accuse the City of Fremantle for being responsible for the demise of retail, conveniently forgetting the Global Financial Crisis, now want to scrap a major project that significantly would help revive the retail economy in Fremantle.

The people who laud the convenience of modern (but very boring) shopping centres don’t want Fremantle to be modernised and become more attractive to traders, but will probably keep blaming the City for not doing enough for our retailers.

I keep hearing arguments that in the past consultants and Council wanted to go in a different direction, but that changed in 2012 when the Kings Square Project was approved by full council, so why can’t some people accept that changes are being made by new councils, not only in Fremantle but everywhere in the world. There are new ways of doing things, new perspectives, new policies, new State Government directives, etc. Times change.

It it negative, unhelpful and not factual that the City of Fremantle did not try hard enough to keep Myer in town. The big department stores have issues and do things differently. They need a lot of footfall and passing trade that Fremantle could no longer offer.

I drove through Subiaco this morning where most of the expensive fashion labels have abandoned the Colonade Shopping Centre in Hay Street, and a significant downturn in retail has happened in very many cities around Australia and the world, not just in Fremantle.

It is too simplistic to blame Fremantle Council, and it is not fair. We finally have a building boom in town after twenty years of development hibernation, but none of the Council bashers want to acknowledge that because there are a few big-headed people with bruised egos and a personal agenda who arrogantly believe that they know everything better than the rest of us, and who are quite happy to ignore that proper community consultation was done on the Kings Square Project. There is a 50 per cent change the Housing Department will move to Kings Square, so why not allow time for that State decision to be made before abandoning or altering the project and lose that opportunity.

If the KS project was scrapped it would seriously and negatively impact on the confidence developers have been showing the City of Fremantle and many might pull out and not bother in the future. The same would apply to new retailers who are contemplating to move into Fremantle.

Not going ahead with Kings Square would also mean a loss in connectivity and wayfinding to the developed Fremantle Oval precinct and the Henderson Street Warders Cottages.

No is never a good word to start with when one is considering change, development and a new direction. Fremantle can’t and won’t remain the same, no matter how hard some individuals keep trying to stop progress. Fremantle will change because it needs to grow and modernise, and it needs to happen fast, but with adequate restraint and a genuine attempt at getting better quality buildings.

You can’t say you want more retailers in town when you want to stop most development, because without more people living, working and visiting Freo new retail is not viable here and no one will take the risk opening up shop.

The Kings Square Project will cost the community money, it is arguable and still unclear how much that is, but should we not invest in the future and the retail resurrection, should we not entice more developers to start building, should we not want more hotels so visitors can stay overnight, and do we really expect that this will all come at no cost to the ratepayers?

Some on blogs and social media defend the extremely expensive and not very impressive Elizabeth Quay development in Perth but are attacking the Kings Square Project, and no doubt will attack the Cantonment Hill project and oppose any new building development that is over two storeys in height.

The community elected a Council to make decisions, many of which we might not agree with, but it is their job. The community had the chance to vote out six Councillors at the last election, but changed only one. I think it is imperative to keep that in mind when shouting at public meetings.

Now have a very special ANZAC Day long weekend everyone!

Roel Loopers

KINGS SQUARE NEEDS DAY AND NIGHT ACTIVATION

Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square by freoview on April 18, 2016
Kings Square as it was in 1957. Two triangles.

Kings Square as it was in 1957. Two triangles.

 

With Fremantle Council having to decide in the next weeks if it will extend the Kings Square project contract with Sirona Capital, I believe it would be a good idea to revisit the actual ideas and question if they will be the best outcome for our civic square.

When community consultation was under way there was always talk about having a hotel on the square to ensure 24/7 activation, but somehow that came undone and the project as it stands will only deliver retail and office accommodation.

I do not believe that Kings Square will ever become truly activated unless there is a residential component in either or both the Queensgate and former Myer buildings.

Possible future development within the large block between Queen Adelaide, High Street, Queen Street, facing Kings Square, should also only be approved if it contains residential apartments that would help with the passive surveillance of the square and day and night activation.

Without residential and/or tourist accommodation at Kings Square it will remain a dark and uninviting place at night in the centre of the city, a few street level bars or cafes within the KS poject won’t be enough. That is even more of a worry when the planned hotels at Cantonment Street and Point Street are built, as hundreds of visitors would walk through the deserted and hence unsafe area to the cafes and restaurants west of the square.

Roel Loopers

RESURRECTION OF HIGH STREET DEVELOPMENT PLANS

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, fremantle, heritage by freoview on March 19, 2016

H 1 H 2

 

Just in time for Easter old development plans for the Rialto building on the corner of High and Henry street have been resurrected by owner and former Fremantle Councillor Steve Gorman.

The plans I viewed are not very detailed but my first impression is that the three storey building would fit very well in the West End heritage area.

The building will be mixed commercial, residential and hospitality use with a restaurant and pizza oven, a function centre and dance floor at ground level and apartments on the two upper levels.

The building will also get verandahs in Henry Street and High Street. The images of the plans are copyright and can’t be published yet, but that will no doubt change once the public consultation process starts, so stay tuned.

Roel Loopers

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HUGE URBAN DEVELOPMENT POTENTIAL FOR FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, development, fremantle by freoview on February 20, 2016

 

I had a walk through the new Landcorp development at the corner of Amherst and Blinco Street yesterday because I believe the area has huge potential to become one of the major urban infill projects in Fremantle and WA and is in need of a collaborative masterplan between the City of Fremantle and WA state government. It needs Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority style planning and management because the potential area is huge from Blinco to nearly Stevens Street and from Wood to Montreal Street and the golf course.

The area could become a showcase for urban development and higher density living that is just a ten-minute bicycle ride from Kings Square.

At present there are the 2-3 storey boxes designed by architect Michael Patroni, but a State Government that demands that local governments increase density the next step to the south surely must go up with higher buildings between 4-8 storeys.

Once the City of Fremantle has built its new works depot in O’Connor the Knutsford Street site on the corner of Montreal Street will also become available for development, so the whole area needs serious long-term planning and not just ad hoc development.

The potential to make this the new suburb for all income earners is huge. You could have 16 storey landmark spikes with penthouses with sweeping 360 degree views, but also student, low-income and Homeswest accommodation.

Busses come through Amherst Street and many more through Leach Highway/High Street so the new residential suburb would be close enough to public transport corridors to make it a desirable location for young and old, the well-off and the less-affluent. And it would only take twenty minutes to walk to the CBD.

With such high numbers of residents there would have to be retail outlets for cafes and delis, good public open and green spaces would have to be planned for, and part of the enormous development area could also have small office accommodation.

What it needs to create an outstanding new suburb is intensive long-term urban planning and consistent governance. The State should not demand higher density living from councils when it does not build it itself. Simply releasing land to developers to build single houses is short-sighted financial gain only. I am surprised the new buildings that are already occupied are only 2-3 storeys high, because there is not a lot of community amenity and lifestyle in danger in what was basically a semi-industrial area, so the area is well-suited for higher and more substantial buildings.

Roel Loopers

NEW HOLIDAY APARTMENTS FOR EAST FREMANTLE

Posted in accommodation, fremantle, tourism by freoview on November 24, 2015

Richmond Quarter

 

The Seashells Hospitality Group will open a new 4.5 star holiday apartments hotel at the new Richmond Quarter on Canning Highway in East Fremantle.

They will occupy the 4th and 5th floor of the building that will have cafes and shops and a tapas rooftop bar. It will have 24 apartments near the East Fremantle Townhall and just a ten-minute drive into Fremantle.

Roel Loopers

NEW PLANS FOR KINGS SQUARE

Posted in city of fremantle, kings square, local government by freoview on November 16, 2015

Although the City of Fremantle is still hopeful the Department of Housing will commit to moving to Kings Square, project partner Sirona Capital are developing alternative plans according to Freo City CEO Graeme McKenzie.

McKenzie writes in the City of Fremantle Annual Report that “The City is confident that the Kings Square Project will proceed. Sirona has been developing alternative plans for the development of this precinct and that plan is rapidly maturing to a point that should see contractual obligations met and this major catalyst development project in the heart of Fremantle proceed.”

I find it strange that the City would not keep the community and business community in the loop on this and tell us what the alternative plans for our City’s major development project are. Will Sirona go away from the plan to only develop commercial and retail in the former Myer and Queensgate buildings and now add residential or even tourist accommodation because it can’t sign up major tenants for their commercial floor space? I am sure everyone in Fremantle would like to find out what the new plans are and if they will come back to community consultation.

Roel Loopers

ATWELL ARCADE GOING UP FAST

Posted in development, fremantle by freoview on October 28, 2015

Atwell Arcade

The Atwell Arcade development in inner city Fremantle is going up very fast and is now sticking out above the buildings at Market Street. The estimated time of completion is around April so only six more months to go till we’ll see people moving into the offices and hopefully a good new retailer at ground level.

Roel Loopers

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