Freo's View


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, western australia by freoview on September 21, 2016



52 Adelaide Street


Subiaco Councillor Julie Matheson, who has announced she will be standing as an independent for the seat of Fremantle at the March 2017 State election, wants Fremantle Council to introduce a cash for height scheme similar to that at North Sydney Council.

Additional discretionary heights would only be approved if the developers make a contribution to a community asset, such as the restoration of old buildings or improving the tree canopy, etc.

Matheson complained in an email to me that the extra height granted by the DAP for the proposed building on the former Spotlight site at 52 Adelaide street does not benefit the community.

I believe this is a good idea as long as the contribution is so significant that I might help deter developers from applying for additional height.

The eight storey building proposed for the location is mediocre and will not greatly enhance the area and that is what concerns me personally more than the height of the building. We are getting too many ugly big new buildings in Fremantle instead of the heritage of the future we would be more willing to accept.

Roel Loopers


Quite an interesting FPOL Committee meeting of the City of Fremantle this evening with several Noongar speakers and Chamber of Commerce CEO Olwyn Williams addressing committee about the proposed cancellation of the Australia Day fireworks.

The Chamber CEO said the business community did not support the cancellation of the fireworks, or for them to be moved to Cockburn. It was one of the most loved events in Fremantle. It brings together families and the community and Fremantle needs to shine as the second city, Williams told Councillors.

The Noongar speakers were of a very different opinion, arguing that Fremantle is different from Perth and that Australia Day ignores the fact that it is invasion day for the indigenous people of Australia and it reminds them of the atrocities and massacres committed by the English settlers.

Fremantle is a young progressive city that attracts people from all over the world because of our culture and we should be celebrating more of our Noongar culture on the day. Australia Day is a good opportunity for reconciliation and to close the gap.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said that Australia Day is a challenging issue and that there are more appropriate ways of celebrating it than with fireworks and that City staff should collaborate with the Noongar people about that.

Councillor Jon Strachan said Australia Day has become the day for flags on utes and that made him very uncomfortable. We want to see a move toward reconciliation, he proclaimed.

It is interesting to note that there is a suggestion to offer $ 25,000 to the City of Cockburn for them to organise the fireworks but that did not have much support from Councillors.

It would be hypocritical for Fremantle to abandon the fireworks out of consideration for the Noongar people, the environment and the high cost, but then encourage a neighbouring council to do it anyway and pay money toward it. Fireworks down the coast at Cockburn would definitely pull people away from celebrating the day in Fremantle to the disadvantage of Freo traders.

The State’s Development Assessment Panels(DAP) were debated a little and will  also go to full council, but the sentiment is to ask for a comprehensive review of the DAP process with special exemptions for Councils such as Fremantle who are capable of meeting housing and employment targets.

I agree with Councillor Sam Wainwright though that DAPs have nothing to do with infill targets and density and only judge applications on planning issues, so these are two different issues the City might like to talk about with the State Government.

It’s always good to see democracy at work and I recommend that more people attend and actually see and hear how our Council goes about their business and how serious they take it.

Roel Loopers



Posted in city of fremantle, development, state government, western australia by freoview on August 5, 2016

New WA Planning Minister Donna Faragher has indicated to Mosman Park council that the state government is willing to make changes to the controversial Development Assessment Panels(DAP) process.

The Minister told Mosman Park Mayor Ron Norris that the State would not abolish the DAP but were willing to consider making changes to the process.

The WA Government has also reassessed the increase of WA’s population and now believes the 3.5 million metropolitan  population will be achieved by 2050 and not as previously estimated by 2031.

This could also mean the drastic infill targets set for councils can be reduced as the population increase will be delayed by 19 years.

I already reblogged Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt’s views on the DAP, but read his Thinking Allowed in this weekend’s Fremantle Herald!

Roel Loopers



Posted in election, fremantle, politics, state government, western australia by freoview on July 29, 2016

It is interesting to read in the Fremantle Herald this morning that Subiaco Councillor Julie Matheson has told them she will stand as an independent in Fremantle for next year’s state election.

Matheson stood for the senate in the recent federal election and she founded the Scrap the DAP movement that is calling for the abolition of the highly controversial WA Development Assessment Panels.

I am disappointed though to read the platform Matheson will try to get into parliament on as it is quite naive.

Matheson told the Herald that all that is needed is to put a new passenger terminal at Fremantle Port to boost tourism and there will be no need for container and sheep transport at Fremantle as that all can be moved to Kwinana.

According to state government, Fremantle Ports, and experts though a new Kwinana Port would be an overflow port only and Fremantle Port would be needed for container freight for at least another 25 years.

While I agree  a new passenger terminal closer to the railway station would be good, it also has to be acknowledged that the vast majority of passengers hop on buses to the Pinnacles and Swan Valley and don’t spend a lot of time and money in Fremantle.

After extensive community consultation plans have been drawn up by Fremantle Ports for the development of Victoria Quay and they don’t involve moving the terminal, so that too is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future.

While the DAP is controversial in the Perth metro area the Labor and Liberal parties support it, so whatever the outcome of the state election it is unlikely the DAP system will be scrapped.

I admire Julie Matheson for being very active in the Subiaco community and beyond, but hope she will make more informed statements about Fremantle Port if she stands as an independent for Fremantle in March next year. Just shifting Freo port to Kwinana is not going to happen in my life time, but as I have expressed many times before a Kwinana port needs to be a priority for the WA government as it will take a very long time for it to become a reality.

Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle, community, council, development, high-density, western australia by freoview on July 26, 2016

Fremantle needs to have a robust community debate about infill, high(er) density and the role the WA Development Assessment Panels-DAP play in it. I believe the contribution below that I copied of the blog of Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt is a very good start as the Mayor makes very valid points about the complexity and need of infill.

I encourage everyone to have a say but please stick to the issues and don’t engage in personal attacks. If it goes out of hand I will start editing comments.

DAPs – are there better ways of enabling development and density?

DAPs are a contentious issue in Perth right now. You might have read about a growing campaign against them led by predominantly inner-ring and western suburbs councils (ABC story here). While they are getting lots of press and “Scrap the DAPs” is a punchy slogan, I am not convinced that the current anti-DAPs movement offers the best way forward if we are interested in creating a more liveable Perth.
Former WA planning minister John Day recently dismissed the DAP opposition as ‘cause célèbre‘ and I am not sure this dismissal is quite right either. There are some real and concerning issues with the current DAP system that need to be reviewed and rethought. DAPs have been shown to be slower, more expensive and less representative than the approvals process was before – and that is when they are not approving developments that are pushing the bounds of local planning schemes and good design.
In fact, a WALGA report in collaboration with the Local Government Planners Association conducted a comprehensive analysis of all DAP agendas and minutes from meetings held between July 1, 2011 and June 30, 2014. Analysis of the 520 development applications dealt with by Development Assessment Panels during this period revealed that:
there has been an increase in applicant fees by 19%;
it takes longer than 100 days to process applications (on average);
the process results in a high number of SAT appeals at great expense to the Department of Planning; and
DAPs expended vast resources in determining a significant number of relatively straightforward and clear cut applications that could have easily been processed under delegated authority by Local Government officers.
While DAPs might not be performing as well as promised it is important to remember that they were brought in, in part, because Perth was failing to realise its urban infill targets and address suburban sprawl in a coherent and strategic manner, in part due to an overly localised, NIMBY attitude to new development and density in some areas.
While in a post-DAP world we are now seeing higher rates of urban infill and higher density development slowly emerge (we have gone from 27% to 31% infill in recent years) I am not convinced that this approach is working as well as hoped. For a start Perth’s urban infill rate of 31% is still way off the 47% target signed up to (See recent report in The West)
I am even more concerned that the urban density that we are currently getting is not the high quality, strategic kind of smart density Perth really needs. By that I mean density located in around train stations and good transit, in activity centres and close to jobs and schools and shops. Instead we seem to be getting haphazard often dumb density away from good transit and centres and often approved by DAPs. This dumb-density is angering local communities who can clearly see what this density is costing them in terms of their suburb’s amenity and character but cannot clearly see what benefits smart density could achieve in terms of a less congested, more diverse, sustainable and liveable city.
In other words DAPs have failed to adequately solve the problem they we largely created to address and are instead in danger of fuelling a new density hangover that will once again set back community support for density for decades.
I am increasingly of the view that we need to rethink DAPs and more fundamentally how we best achieve greater density in Perth. To do this we should consider turning the DAP idea on its head by returning power to local communities how and where they put density. But to avoid the NIMBYism that has plagued development in Perth so far local Councils should be required to sign up to agreed density targets and the onus should be on them approve developments that achieve these.
If these targets are met then those local governments should be rewarded with greater infrastructure spend by the State Government This localises power and responsibility and with the right incentives to communities it should result in better informed and strategic decision making. This is covered in part of the DAP item that came to Fremantle Council last week which (along with other possible improvements) called for:
“Consideration of incentive based replacement for DAPs which rewards local government for setting appropriate density targets for their area (through community led design) and making strong progress towards meeting these targets. This should include a particular focus on development and density located in areas adjacent to transport and near designated activity centres. Local governments who are delivering on agreed density targets will be rewarded with infrastructure and other funding that will not be available to Local Government not meeting their targets.”
The DAP debate in Fremantle has a fair way to go but I am pleased that the Fremantle Council’s approach so far has been about more than a catchy slogan that says “no”. Both the Labor and Liberal parties in WA support DAPs so this approach is not likely to lead to much change. That is why we are looking towards a more sophisticated approach that is willing to work through the complex issues so we can then advocate improved and workable solutions to our challenges of development and density.

Brad Pettitt-Mayor of the City of Fremantle


The City of Fremantle is one of only a few metropolitan councils who have not yet joined the call for the abolishment or drastic reform of the W.A. Joint Development Assessment Panels(DAP).

Only a few days ago the Town of East Fremantle joined the 21 of 30 metro councils who called for the State Government to have a serious look at what is wrong with the DAP.

Councils and communities claim the DAP erodes local government democracy and removes the opportunity for them to be part of the decision making process, which results in buildings of inappropriate height being approved by DAP, threatening the local character and amenity of place, especially in the older suburbs. The building next to St Patrick’s and the Australia Hotel, rejected by Fremantle Council but approved by DAP is an example of it.

Fremantle Councilllor Rachel Pemberton put a Notice of Motion to Wednesday’s FPOL Committee and appeared to have support demanding changes to the DAP system, but committee wanted the wording tweaked and the CEO and Pemberton will now work on that. The item will then go back to FPOL at the September meeting.

It was interesting to hear FPOL Chair Councillor Andrew Sullivan stating he believed less robust councils than Fremantle were more affected by DAP decisions, but that Fremantle Council should become even more robust in its planning policies. I fear Councillor Sullivan means that Fremantle Council should introduce substantially more height in future scheme amendments.

Councillor Pemberton claims that there is bipartisan support for the DAP at state level, but I hope that is not true. With so much outrage in so many communities reform of the DAP system could become an election winner for the Labor Party if they promise to overhaul the process or scrap the DAP.

Roel Loopers



Good to hear the City of Fremantle is finally taking steps to join other councils to get rid off the controversial state development assessment panels. I have been asking Fremantle Council for months to join the protest of councils such as Vincent, Stirling, Subiaco, Mosman Park, South Perth and many others against the DAP.

DAP decisions against the wishes of local councils and communities have done serious damage to the character and lifestyle of many older suburbs when DAP allowed inappropriate new buildings.

Here in Fremantle a DAP recently allowed the development of a very ugly building next to St Patrick’s on Queen Victoria Street and next to the heritage listed Australia Hotel on Beach Street, although Fremantle Council had rejected the application.

Local communities and local councils should be able to decide what is best for their cities, not state bureaucrats who have little or no understanding of the local character.

Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle, councils, local government by freoview on March 21, 2016

I am surprised and dismayed that the City of Fremantle and Town of East Fremantle still have not officially joined many other councils who have called for the abolition of the State’s Development Assessment Panels-DAP- system, that has received a lot of criticism from communities and councils because it is pro-developers and overrules local council decisions by rubber stamping development applications.

Mosman Park, Vincent, Stirling, Subiaco, South Perth, Nedlands, Cambridge have all joined forces against the DAP but the Fremantle and East Fremantle councils remain silent on this very important issue. Why?

Why is this not on this Wednesday’s agenda for Full Council in Fremantle? Why has this not been debated on council committees and why is Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt, who loves mainstream media attention, not all over this?

The DAPs have been eroding local democracy and the State is giving more and more power to unelected bureaucrats. That is not acceptable and we need to strongly protest against it here in Fremantle, as they do in other councils.

If the DAP or SAT would make a ruling that would severely and negatively affect Fremantle’s heritage character it might be too late to protest. They allowed a 16 storey building on the former Subiaco Markets site against the ruling of Subi Council who only wanted to approve a maximum of eight storeys there. That is not on!

There is also not a word from the State opposition and Labor leader Mark McGowan on this and Freo MLA Simone McGurk also has not told us yet that they would abandon the DAP for a better and more democratic system. Where are you Simone?!

If you are worried about the negative impact DAPs have contact your Fremantle and East Fremantle Councillors and tell them to pull their fingers out and step up and join other councils against the DAP! Do it now before it is too late!!! Or email: to get an email to all Councillors.

Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle, councils, development by freoview on March 11, 2016

Communities, councils and planning experts are getting more and more vocal against inappropriate infill, higher density, and the role the State’s Development Assessment Panels and State Administrative Tribunal play in it.

Already four local councils, including the big City of Vincent, have expressed their dismay about DAPs and want the state government to scrap the process or make it more democratic, because it has a pro-developers bias. The two Councillors on the panels are outnumbered by three public servants, and while developers have the right to challenge the DAP decisions, local councils have not. That is undemocratic.

The Mayor Brad Pettitt Facebook page has a discussion going on about infill, and highly-respected city planner and architect Dr Linley Lutton will argue on Wednesday at UWA that inappropriate infill is destroying communities.

It is disappointing that the  WA Labor party has remained silent on this subject, although I believe it would win them a substantial number of votes if they abandoned the Direction 2031 Liberal party infill targets for more density and the disliked DAPs.

In my personal opinion there is nothing wrong with higher density and higher buildings in the right locations, but the push to have it all happening close to railway stations and public transport corridors is a threat to the lifestyle and unique character of older suburbs such as Fremantle, Subiaco, etc.

It is outrageous that the State agencies overruled Subiaco Council and approved a 16-storey-building on the former market site at Rokeby Road, when council only wants buildings up to eight storeys. Imagine the DAP would have allowed the Atwell Arcade building in Freo to be twice as high and eight storeys instead of four!

The problem of setting indiscriminate infill targets for all local councils is that high density building are popping up in the wrong locations, where they do a lot of damage to the amenity and streetscape and severely and negatively impact on the community. That needs to change!

It is wrong for older suburbs that infill needs to be within walking distance from a train station, when on the outskirts of the CBD there is ample opportunity for higher apartment buildings, and bus routes could be adapted to accommodate more residents in those areas.

I welcome the very substantial development along Fremantle’s Queen Victoria and Beach street and other important new buildings in the CBD, but there is a whole lot more to come with the development of the Woolstores shopping centre site to a possible ten-storey-high mixed use, rumours about the Marilyn New-owned woolstores site at Clancys also talk about substantial height, and the corner of Henry and High street is also on the cards to be developed in the near future, together with the former Workers Club site opposite it.

There is no doubt for me that Fremantle needed development and to modernise and attract more residents to the CBD. It is also essential we build more tourist accommodation in town and I hope that will stop the mad rush of people signing up their homes with Air B&B because that is negatively impacting on neighbours.

It is very good that there is a serious social and mainstream media debate going on about all this, and that some councils are now putting their foot down and say enough is enough, because DAP and SAT are undermining local council democracy, like dictators do with human rights, and that needs to end!

Roel Loopers



Posted in city of fremantle, environment, trees by freoview on March 8, 2016

The City of Stirling, one of Perth’s largest councils, is in the process of implementing an Urban Forest Strategy to ensure the tree canopy in Stirling will significantly increase over the next years, as the benefits to the community are considered to be high.

I believe there are some very good suggestions that the City of Fremantle should also consider. One of them is that developers would have to replace the trees they remove from sites by planting new ones on public land and verges adjacent to the development sites.

Other suggestions are that developers would have to plant one tree per 500 square metres on development sites, and that Council should give incentives to retain existing trees and also start an education program.

A disturbing fact is that two third of trees removed are removed from residential land.

I don’t believe the word tree alone is good enough and that trees planted by developers have to be mature trees of a minimum age, not just tiny saplings.

On a different note, the City of Stirling has joined the City of Vincent, City of Bayswater and the Town of Mosman Park to lobby State Government to abolish the undemocratic DAPs, or significantly change the process that ignores the wishes of the community. Why has the City of Fremantle not spoken out against the Development Assessment Panels? Might it be because it is convenient to blame the DAPs for inappropriate buildings in Fremantle and Council can wash its hands off it that way?

Roel Loopers

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