Freo's View



Nigel Satterley, one of Western Australia’s biggest property developers, called last night on Channel Seven’s Flashpoint for the removal of planning powers from local governments and giving those powers to state government agencies. Satterley said that local councils should be responsible for picking up rubbish and cleaning roads, but that there were too many different planning rules at councils and that created red tape, long delays and additional costs for developers.

So no local say on what we want our cities to look like, as there would be very little chance of community input at state agencies levels, who would be swamped with planning approval applications from every council in WA. How would they cope with that any more efficiently than local government planning departments and committees?

If planning powers are removed from local governments the state government agencies can just ignore the wishes of the communities about the height and density of new buildings and what our cities should look like. That would be a disaster, especially for older character councils such as Fremantle.

State agencies JDAP and SAT already overrule council decisions often and permit buildings of inappropriate height, ignoring local councils, such as the 13-storey building on the former Subiaco Market side, which locals believe is far too high for the low rise suburb.

I have no doubt that planning rules at local councils could be streamlined and the process made easier and faster for developers, and it is probably arguable that major developments should be prioritised ahead of the addition of a fence or an extensions. The glut of small development applications delay the administration of large developments, which just get a number and end up on the bottom of the heap.

The experience at JDAP has often been that the majority of three members overruled the two Councillors on the panel, who tried to support what their local community and council want. The danger of creating pro-development panels taking over planning approval from local councils would have a negative impact on our democratic rights and that is not acceptable.

Local government elections already have a very low voter participation rate. Do we really believe anyone will bother to vote when councils are no longer in charge of what our cities should look like?  Looking after rubbish and roads can be done by the administration and does not require elected members, so why not stop democracy and get rid of local councils all together?

Developers already have the option to get large development approved or rejected by JDAP, with only a recommendation for or against the proposal from local councils.

One of the major issues with large developments are that developers do not build communities, only buildings. Developers contribute very little to what needs to be done by local councils to make their development attractive. It are the councils who build the streets, roads, parks, playgrounds, etc All the things people want and need. If community building became a priority for developers and were a planning law requirement we would get better cities where developers take corporate responsibility more serious and present us with plans to build exciting communities, not just boring big boxes.

Roel Loopers




Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, lifestyle, living, Uncategorized by freoview on May 27, 2020





There is more good development news for Fremantle, with neighbours of the former Energy Museum site at Parry Street receiving information from the Match Group that the M/27 apartment building construction will start soon.

The four-storey building, facing Fremantle Park, will have forty 1,2 and 3 bedroom apartments, and only a few are still available.

This is a very welcome development in the east of the Fremantle CBD that will help the activation of the area.

In that context it is interesting to read the opinion of Peter Hobbs, WA president of the Institute of Australian Architects in the West Australian this morning.

Hobbs advocates for more three to five-storey buildings to achieve the urban infill density, instead of highrise buildings. Read the article on page 50 of the West!

Roel Loopers




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




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



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!



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



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



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



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



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



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



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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