Freo's View

WE DEMAND OUR SAY IN CITY PLANNING!

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, city planning, development, Uncategorized by freoview on November 17, 2018

 

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This letter to the editors of the West Australian by Ian Kerr of Mt Lawley makes so many valid points about the failures of our planning process that it deserves to be spread around, so that more people can read it and comment on it.

The rights of local communities to have a proper say on city planning have been eroded over the years by giving more power to the Joint Development Assessment Panels(JDAP), SAT and the WA Planning Commission, which often overrule local council decisions and approve inappropriate high and bulky buildings in character suburbs.

Main Roads is all about moving vehicles, with often scant regard for pedestrians and other road users, and JDAP is all about building bigger buildings and higher density, and not about amenity and aesthetics. That needs to change.

Great letter, Ian Kerr! Keep up the good fight!

Roel Loopers

 

EMBRACING GOOD URBAN INFILL

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on October 20, 2017

 

The Perth’s Infill Housing Future report by the Bankwest Curtin Economic Centre has warned that the urban sprawl will create extreme infrastructure costs and traffic congestion.

It concluded that Perth is missing the vital medium-density housing options, and that forces people to live on the fringes, where property is more affordable.

There are many people who want to live closer to the centres but the housing options are not available to them, because the urban infill target of 47 per cent set by the WA government has not been met and is only at 35 per cent.

The report says that local councils play a key role in facilitating medium-density development and to help identify the right areas in the inner suburbs.

While Fremantle is getting substantial medium-density infill east of the CBD, there is not much happening further out, but there are very good opportunities at the Heart of Beaconsfield, Hilton centre, the Knutsford Sreet precinct, and North Fremantle’s McGabe Street.

One issue the report identifies is the NIMBY approach to higher density where locals just don’t want anything above four storeys. I believe it is not only that, but the boring and mediocre quality of architecture that we are getting in Fremantle.

More people would embrace medium to high density I believe, if we got more creative and visually appealing buildings, rather than square boxes with a bit of cladding around them.

 

Roel Loopers

Vote Roel for City Ward!

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HERITAGE AND DENSITY NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, councils, development, heritage by freoview on November 23, 2016

After my previous post about the Atwell Arcade development and previous posts about my objections to the Notre Dame University proposal for the West End, and my reservations about the height of the Quest Hotel, and the general lack of creativity of new buildings in Fremantle’s CBD, it is interesting to read in the West Australian today the opinion of heritage architect Philip Griffiths, who spoke at a Future Bayswater forum.

Griffiths told the audience that respecting heritage and promoting local development are not mutually exclusive, and mentioned the City of Fremantle as a local government that got a lot smarter about preserving heritage while encouraging well-designed density. I believe the well-design part of that sentence is controversial as Freo is mainly getting mediocrity in design.

Heritage is a reason to be careful about how we develop because we don’t want to create a sterile town, but it is not a reason not to do anything, the architect said. That should be a very important consideration for the City of Fremantle because so far we are getting boring new buildings!

According to the Property Council of WA there is strong support for medium and higher-density apartments near public transport hubs and in the inner city.

I personally have no issue with higher-density in appropriate locations around Fremantle and in the east CBD but somehow we need to give more power to the Design Advisory Panel, and planning rules need to address the visual impact of new buildings better, so that we can get very good and outstanding buildings, not the bland and boring ones that are being built and proposed now.

Creating a new modern part in inner city Fremantle is in my opinion desirable as it means many more people will live in the CBD and that will encourage new traders, bars, etc to open up shop and make Freo more vibrant, but we need to get great architecture!

Roel Loopers

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SPACE AGENCY AWARDED FOR KNUTSFORD INFILL

Posted in architecture, development, fremantle by freoview on November 5, 2016

Fremantle Space Agency Architects won the Frederick Romberg award for Residential Architecture(multiple dwellings) in the Australian Institute of Architects  national awards this week for the infill project at Knutsford street.

The new dwellings are interesting looking white boxes with small courtyards and balconies. At present new larger multi-storey medium density buildings are added to the development that will become the neighbour of any development on the present Fremantle City workshops site that will be vacated as soon as CoF has built new workshops in O’Connor.

Congratulations to Michael Patroni and his team at Space Agency in High Street.

Roel Loopers

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BLUEPRINT FOR INFILL NEEDED IN FREMANTLE

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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FREO DEVELOPMENT IS NOT JUST ABOUT HEIGHT

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, western australia by freoview on September 16, 2016

It is disappointing to read in the Fremantle Herald today that the Fremantle Society continues to oppose higher density and multi-storey buildings in the east of the CBD.

FS President John Dowson’s letter in the Chook is talking about human scale and against super high density housing, when he opposes the building proposed for the former Spotlight site at the Westgate Mall.

Dowson teaches us a bit of history of the area and it is nice to know that the paving leading into the Westgate Mall was taken in 1968 from the Point Street car park.

I have written about the eight-storey building before and believe it is ugly and should be rejected because of that, not because of its height.

Fact is the Point Street car park will be demolished and the Hilton Doubletree hotel built there. From memory that building will be six-storey high at Princess May Park and seven storey at Point Street, so it will step up just one storey to the proposed development a hundred metres away.

The east of the CBD has been a terrible eyesore for far too many years and has created an unsafe environment where people don’t even dare to wait for the bus, so improvement of the area is badly-needed and very welcome.

An eight-storey building is not highrise and the development of the Woolstores shopping centre site near it can go up to 11 storey under Planning Scheme Amendment 39. I was against the heights of PSA 49 as I believe the Woolstores and Gas&Coke sites should only go up to seven storey and only if exceptional architecture is offered should those sites be developed to up to nine storeys, but never higher than that! Sadly we lost that battle years ago and that can’t be reversed now.

We need to fight development battles in Fremantle on design quality and the insistence of heritage protection without compromise, not just on hight.

The Barnett Government demands higher density and infill from all metropolitan councils and it will take over if they don’t comply, so we are better off having our own Elected Members make those decisions. But those can still be overruled by the state’s Development Assessment Panels, as they did with the proposal for the ugly building next to St Patrick’s and the Fremantle Hotel. Freo Council refused the development application but the DAP approved it.

No matter how often the Fremantle Society baulks at change in Fremantle it will happen, because change is inevitable. What we need to do is insist on good change, not the mediocrity we are getting at the moment.

I believe planning changes need to be made at state level to insist on better quality and more creative buildings that suit the streetscape. If new buildings are truly outstanding medium height won’t be an issue.

Roel Loopers

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INFILL IS NOT GOOD EVERYWHERE

Posted in development, fremantle, housing, lifestyle, living, public transport, western australia by freoview on September 14, 2016

W.A. Planning Minister Donna Faragher’s statement that higher density is needed near train stations is not up to the high standards we expect of a Minister. Making broad sweeping statements is plain wrong and surely the state government in collaboration with local councils needs to find the best suitable areas near public transport to increase density and infill, instead of demanding higher density near all train stations.

Older unique character suburbs like Fremantle, Claremont and Subiaco, etc. would be destroyed if we just planted highrise buildings close to the train stations, while in other newer suburbs high density might actually improve the amenity.

Governments have this strange attitude that change needs to happen everywhere instead of targeting suitable suburbs for higher density living. It would also help if the state actually supported local councils which want to increase infill by improving public transport corridors and not just along the railway line where most older suburbs are.

Roel Loopers

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NORTH FREMANTLE COMMUNITY GARDEN

Posted in community, fremantle, gardening, western australia by freoview on September 12, 2016

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I love the new urban community garden at the North Fremantle Bowling Club and wished we had more of them all over Fremantle.

It’s good to break up the monotony of housing with green spaces and we need to be careful to retain them as there is a push to reduce public green spaces to allow for more density in subsurbs. That is a NoNo!

Roel Loopers

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DENSITY MUST HAVE PUBLIC BENEFITS

Posted in city of fremantle, community, development, western australia by freoview on September 5, 2016

I received the information below from the Committee for Perth today and since infill and higher density is very relevant to Fremantle I copy it below:

Lunch Learnings: Densifying the Suburbs

At the latest Committee for Perth’s Perth in Focus luncheon, Densifying the Suburbs, Planning Minister the Hon. Donna Faragher opened the event by talking about the soon-to-be released Design WA report.

The Minister said the report would ensure that good design was also cost effective, functional, liveable, vibrant and sustainable and that design review panels would be standardised and prioritised to support DAPs.

Emma Booth, Team Leader Design at North Sydney Council, explained how the council had an on-again, off-again love affair with density since the 1950’s. The council is now focused on creating 12,000-14,000 new residences and 10,000 new jobs by 2031. To achieve this, they spent three years preparing and implementing a design strategy.

The key findings from the strategy are:
Start by mapping urban renewal opportunities.
Do density once and do it well.
Measure the financial uplift of density and capture part of the value to deliver amenity that benefits the community.
Good design is achieved through a design process not a static plan.
Densifying the suburbs also means densifying the land use mix.
There is no point increasing density around train stations without decreasing car use.
Density must be supported by commensurate public benefits.
Value capture is possible with an endorsed strategy.

Keynote speaker, Associate Professor Julian Bolleter, from the Australian Urban Design Research Centre at The University of Western Australia spoke about the findings in his book ‘Scavenging the Suburbs: Auditing Perth for 1 Million Infill Dwellings’.

The book examined how many infill homes could be created by better utilising land around Perth.

Associate Professor Bolleter’s provocative views are that Perth could infill more and contain sprawl if:
Each person in Perth only had 75m2 of garden space instead of the current 132m2 it would create 115,000 infill dwellings.
50% of publicly owned carparks had homes built above them and carparks below it would create 203,000 dwellings.
Freeway reserves were reduced, 50,000 new homes could be created.
10% of light industrial areas were developed for housing it would create 95,434 affordable homes.
The amount of public park space was reduced from 40m2 to 28m2 per person 144,000 homes.
Golf courses were reduced to 9 holes it would yield 86,000 homes.
10% of the foreshore was used for development it would create 62,000 dwellings.

While admitting it was controversial, Assistant Professor Bolleter said that if all of the recommendations were followed it would create 913,879 dwellings, obviate the need for 97 masterplanned communities the size of Ellenbrook and no greenfield homes would need to be built in Perth until 2036.

FREO NEEDS FORUMS ON URBAN INFILL

I like the idea of the Future Bayswater organisers to hold a Speakers Series about urban infill and density and it is something the City of Fremantle and/or Fremantle Network should consider doing without bias and with a wide variety of opinions, not just the green one.

There is little use in playing the blame game and dividing communities when talking about inevitable urban infill and higher density and it will always get some form of NIMBY opposition.

Most reasonable people accept that the urban sprawl of Perth is not sustainable, but local and state governments need to be very careful to not destroy the unique character of older cities. Good sensitive infill and medium density in carefully selected pockets of Fremantle will be very good and might also help create badly needed affordable student accommodation just a 15-minute bike ride from the CBD.

At a recent forum of Future Bayswater Committee for Perth chair Marion Fulker expressed that heritage was often used as an excuse against infill, but I don’t agree with her. Heritage protection here is Fremantle and elsewhere has to be paramount and an absolute priority! That is not difficult to accommodate as there are many under developed areas just on the outskirts of the inner city where substantial residential development will help increase the amenity instead of damaging it.

That is the conversation we need to have in Freo so let’s get organise some forums. Good leadership is taking the community with you when implementing change!

Roel Loopers

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