Freo's View

NO COMPROMISES FOR FREO’S WEST END

Posted in city of fremantle, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on August 12, 2017

 

The FREMANTLE HERALD was kind enough to publish my Thinking Allowed about the necessary protection of Fremantle’s permanently heritage-listed West End this weekend. In case you don’t get the Chook home delivered or pick up a copy in town, I’ll post it here as well.

The attack by developers on Fremantle’s historic West End needs to be stopped and the City of Fremantle needs more support from State Government agencies to do that.

Applications for five-storey buildings keep coming although architects and developers are well aware that there is a three storey limit in the West End precinct.

There is an option for additional discretionary height of one floor, if it creates a better heritage outcome, or if the architecture of the building is considered to be of exceptional high quality.

What we see though are applications for boring and mediocre concrete boxes which would destroy the streetscape.

Architects show little to no respect for the spatial environment and the history of place, they just want to bang a totally inappropriate modern building in the middle of heritage buildings. This was shown in the recent application for three five-storey buildings behind Customs House in Henry Street going all the way to the former Centrelink site in Pakenham Street.

There was also a five storey application for the former Workers Club site in Henry Street, but fortunately that was rejected.

But even when Fremantle Council rejects development proposals the State’s Joint Development Assessment Panel or State Planning Commission can overrule council decisions, and they often do.

The State’s Heritage Office in my opinion sometimes also fails, as was the case with the now cancelled application by Notre Dame University for a mediocre five-storey building on the corner of High and Cliff streets. The Heritage Office recommended approval of the building, but Fremantle Council rejected it.

If UNDA had decided to go to JDAP with it they might well have approved the building the community and council did not want, on the recommendation of the Heritage Office.

It is only the sense of community and corporate responsibility of UNDA’s Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond that made the university decide to withdraw the plans for the new School of Nursing and Midwifery and start the process from scratch with a whole new design.

I am not against the development of some derelict sites and renovation of buildings in the West End, but there is nothing that can convince me that more than four storeys is appropriate for the heritage precinct. We only want outstanding development in the heritage area and nothing above four storeys!

Fremantle Council approved the five-storey nothingness of the Quest Hotel in Pakenham Street, because according to the planning and heritage officers of CoF it would preserve the interior heritage integrity of the building, but it hasn’t! Walk into the foyer of the serviced apartments buildings and you have no clue whatsoever that this is a heritage building. The blue artwork on the top corner of it is not suitable either.

Developers believe they can get away with murder in Fremantle because we are desperate for economic recovery in the port city. Yes we are, but not at any cost and the destruction of the unique character of our city.

If developers need extra height to please the bottom triple line they can develop in the east of Fremantle, and not even there indiscriminately.

Fremantle deserves more consideration when one wants to develop here and we need more support from State Government to protect the unique qualities of our city!

Roel Loopers

FACTS ARE ESSENTIAL TO COUNCIL CRITICISM

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle ports, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on May 26, 2017

A letter to the editor in today’s Fremantle Herald:

Dear Brad

Why are you spending millions of dollars on Fremantle Kings Square and leaving our port in such a horrible state for our visitors who arrive. Think twice and see which is more important.

Abelle Wards. Cockburn Rd. Coogee

Dear Abelle,

Fremantle Port is a state agency and not the jurisdiction of Fremantle Council, so the City of Fremantle can do nothing, but ask, beg and plea for upgrades of the Passenger Terminal, etc.

However the City has revealed its South Quay Project plans for the development of Victoria Quay and beyond, but to realise those plans it will need collaboration from state government and Fremantle Ports.

I am making this point not to defend Fremantle Council and its Mayor but because I am getting very annoyed with the often-made ignorant and ill-informed comments about our hard-working council.

It is not very intelligent to not inform oneself and make comments that are baseless.

Yesterday someone posted that Freo Council are naysayers who have no balls, and the truck accident at Stirling Highway somehow could be blamed on them, but Mainroads is responsible for the long-overdue upgrade that was cancelled because of the Perth Freight Link plans. The upgrade at High Street is now back under the new Labor government.

Criticise Fremantle Council and Mayor Brad Pettitt as much as you like, as I regularly do, but base it on facts, not ignorance.

Roel Loopers

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DEVELOPMENT WOULD IRREVERSIBLY DESTROY WEST END

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, fremantle society by freoview on March 24, 2017

 

I don’t often agree nowadays with Fremantle Society President John Dowson but his comment in the Fremantle Herald today that the proposed five-storey development for Pakenham and Henry streets is ‘Insanity’ is spot on!

It would be absolute madness to approve these buildings which would irreversibly destroy the West End.

The proposed building on the Centrelink site  is evil in it’s absolute ugliness, and the beautiful facade of the Customs building on the corner of Henry and Phillimore streets would be destroyed if two storeys stuck out above it.

The problem will be that even if Fremantle Council rejects these inappropriate buildings we will be dependent on the whim of the pro-developers state agencies DAP and SAT and the new State Government need to do something about that very urgently.

The Fremantle community will not allow the destruction of our beautiful heritage West End that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to WA every year!

Roel Loopers

ARCHITECTS DEFEND NOTRE DAME MEDIOCRITY

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, notre dame university by freoview on March 3, 2017

unda-building-from-corner-copy

 

In a rather petulant Thinking Allowed in the Fremantle Herald today Dean Fehlberg, a partner at MCDF Architects, who designed the mediocre proposal for the new Notre Dame University School of Nursing at 3 High Street claims Fremantle Council rejected the development because it was influenced by emotion and agitation.

Does Fehlberg mean with agitation the genuine concerns raised by Fremantle residents and the Fremantle Society in submissions to Council, and does he mean with emotion that we are very passionate about heritage protection in Fremantle?

Fehlberg shows a hint of arrogance and severe lack of self-criticism when he compares the height of the proposed UNDA building with the gorgeous National Hotel, Pearse Building, Orient Hotel and Fremantle Hotel. These are all buildings of outstanding Goldrush period architecture and can in no way be compared to the unimaginative, boring and mediocre design proposal for the historic West End of Fremantle by the MCDF Architects.

The architects are no doubts also aware that the criticism about the height of the proposed building is because the planning rules for the West End Conservation Area only allow for three-storey buildings with an option of a fourth storey if the architecture is outstanding, which it isn’t!

Architect Fehlberg also criticises the Slavin Architects designed MSC building in Cliff Street because “it is all glass and flowing curved lines of steel with no masonry at all and without any precedence in the West End.”

Indeed Mr Fehlberg, and that makes the MSC building so delightfully unique, inspiring, creative and heritage of the future architecture, while your team ignores the heritage significance and beauty of the West End by proposing a very bland design. It does not add to the architectural greatness of the West End, but the MSC building does.

Dean Fehlberg writes in the Herald that he was very disappointed with the Fremantle Council level of debate….and disrespect shown for the opinion of the State Heritage Office and City’s Design Advisory Committee.

What concerns the community and Fremantle Councillors more is the disrespect shown by MCDF Architects for the unique beauty and historic significance of the West End and that the architects believe their non-creative boredom is appropriate next to the stunning Lionel Samson building and opposite the beautiful Fremantle Hotel building and in Western Australia’s most beautiful street.

Harsh self-criticism is a great way forward to becoming excellent at what one does, not acknowledging one’s own limitations means accepting mediocrity.

Roel Loopers

UNFAIR ROE 8 ATTACKS ON FREMANTLE HERALD

Posted in fremantle, fremantle herald, media, newspaper by freoview on February 15, 2017

I am disappointed to hear that the Fremantle Herald has received a lot of negative calls and emails regarding the Liberal Party wrap around they published a few weeks ago, which promoted the Perth Freight Link/Roe 8 highway project. People even told the Chook to no longer deliver the paper to them.

The Fremantle Herald is a very important institution for our city. It is so iconic that it should be heritage listed and it does not deserve the unwarranted attacks by narrow-focussed people.

It also published a wrap around by the Labor Party against the Roe 8/PFL project, so that pretty much balances it out.

Simple fact is that a small community paper like the Herald only can operate because of advertising revenue. Without substantial ads it can not pay staff and delivery people and we all would miss out on our only independent local paper.

Unlike our major daily newspaper that tries to brainwash us with right-wing opinion pieces by Andrew Bolt, Miranda Devine and Paul Murray the Chook is nowadays quite balanced, after a period of being extremely negative about the City of Fremantle.

Newspapers do not endorse the companies that advertise with them. An advertisement in the Herald for a cafe or restaurant does not mean it recommends you go there or that the food is great. If the Herald only published advertisement from companies and products they endorse, they would not survive. It’s as simple as that!

Fact is that the Herald does not get several pages of advertising each week from major department and retail stores, because we don’t have any in the Chook’s distribution area, so our local paper is struggling to survive, as many of our traders are.

I love Fremantle because of the many passionate and caring people and I am very impressed with the Beeliar Wetlands daily protest they have kept up, but to say that the Herald cannot publish ads of political parties you don’t agree with is very Hanson/Trumpish and it is a very unrealistic stand to take.

The Herald deserves a fair go and our support because without it Fremantle would be poorer for it.

Roel Loopers

FORGETTABLE ARCHITECTURE SUCKS ESSENCE OUT OF WEST END

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, heritage by freoview on February 10, 2017

North Fremantle architect Murray Slavin has written an excellent Thinking Allowed in the Fremantle Herald today about the quality of architecture in Fremantle’s heritage West End.

Slavin Architects designed the stunning heritage of the future Mediterranean Shipping Company building in Cliff Street that connects to the old Wilhelmsen building on the corner of Phillimore Street.

Slavin writes that the proposed five-storey Notre Dame University building for the corner of High and Cliff streets needs a rethink, as I have suggested a few times on Freo’s View.

He says that “A clear and present danger is that the West End will become characterised by the lowest common denominator architecture” and that the historic area should not be “dumbed down to a forgettable architecture form that sucks the essence out of its neighbourhood.” Hear, hear!!

Murray Slavin states that it is time to live up to community expectations with a clear understanding of Fremantle’s social and physical context.

“Many buildings appearing in the West End could be from any Australian city” and show little respect for the historic buildings around them, the North Freo architect writes.

Make sure to get a copy of the Freo Chook and read the entire article and many other good ones in this week’s issue.

The deadline for submissions against the in my opinion totally inappropriate building proposal by Notre Dame is February 13, so email your opposition to it to the City of Fremantle NOW. Go to the CoF website for a submission form!

Roel Loopers

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NO SECRECY IN WEST END CONSERVATION AREA LAUNCH

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle society,, heritage by freoview on December 9, 2016

To have integrity one needs to avoid all spin and bending of the truth, but disappointingly the Fremantle Society prefers to ignore facts, as a letter in today’s Fremantle Herald by FS president John Dowson shows.

Dowson claims the announcement a few weeks ago by WA Heritage Minister Albert Jacob of the West End Conservation Area listing on the State Heritage list was a “secret event”. It was so secret that all the media were there, and the Fremantle Society president was also there, and even I was invited to Kakulas Sisters for the announcement. I don’t believe it qualifies as a secret event when it was on the TV  and radio stations that night and widely reported in the print and on-line media.

Dowson does not like the boundaries of the WECA gold rush period and blames Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt for reducing the West End Conservation Area to accommodate developers, but as a former councillor Dowson well knows that council makes democratic decisions and not the Mayor on his own.

The lament by the FS president that Arthur Head is not included is irrelevant because Arthur Head in its entirety, including Kidogo Arthouse(the former kerosene store) is already on the State Heritage list, so adding it to the WECA would make no difference.

To have a semblance of credibility one should not manipulate the truth.

Roel Loopers

GREEDY FREMANTLE DOCKERS NOT GOOD SPORTS

Posted in city of cockburn, city of fremantle, community, fremantle dockers, fremantle herald by freoview on December 3, 2016

The Thinking Allowed article in the Fremantle Herald by passionate Fremantle Dockers supporter Chris Lewis makes good points about corporate greed.

Lewis points out that the Dockers want cash for a lease they don’t pay for and that was handed to them rent-free by the City of Fremantle, which wanted to support the new club in 1994 and also gave them a loan guarantee.

Chris Lewis calls it “One of the most selfish one-sided community plays ever seen in Australian elite sport.”

Lewis, who led the Keep Freo in Freo campaign, for which I started the Facebook page, is very irate that the Dockers are happy to use the outstanding brand Fremantle in their name, even when they are moving to Cockburn in 2017, so maybe the City of Fremantle should insist the Dockers drop Fremantle from their name, similar to the Fitzroy Football Club when they moved to Brisbane and became the Brisbane Lions.

There is always something very unsavoury about corporate greed and a lack of values, and sport is moving more and more away from being community-minded. It’s all about money and the triple bottom line and paying often  under performing young “stars’ and over-paid administrators big bucks at the expensive of the community and supporters.

The Fremantle Dockers’ demand for payment from the City of Fremantle  to leave Fremantle Oval is a disgrace and should become a national shame for them!

Roel Loopers

DIVERSITY ATTRACTS VISITORS TO FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, local government, retail, shopping, tourism, western australia by freoview on September 9, 2016

I had a bit of a chuckle reading the front page of today’s Fremantle Herald, where the manager of the Manning family property holdings Anthony van der Wielen claims Fremantle council “is currently overrun by far left academics and greenies…”

Van Wielen is upset about the City of Fremantle wanting to have more control over who leases in the CBD, to stop whole streets only being occupied by food outlets. The City wants more diversity to make the CBD more attractive to visitors and is considering amending its planning scheme accordingly.

I wonder if Fremantle’s property owners realise why our city has gone downhill while shopping centres flourish? The answer is diversity! Shopping centres offer a complete shopping experience, from food halls and cafes to supermarkets, fashion franchises and boutiques and Myer, Big W, etc.

Property owners surely are also aware that many naive people have opened shop in Fremantle to go broke within a few months after having invested thousands of dollars in shop layout, etc.

In Market Street we had a chicken shop for a few months, that was then turned into Freo Kebabs and that has now also closed after a few months. Not sure that that is of great economic benefit to Fremantle and property owners.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE FIREWORKS AFTER ALL!

Posted in aboriginal, australia day, city of fremantle, local government, western australia by freoview on September 2, 2016

It looks like Fremantle will have fireworks on Australia Day after all with Mayor Brad Pettitt telling the Fremantle Herald that he would not oppose fireworks organised by the Fishing Boat Harbour Traders.

This shows Fremantle Council really never properly investigated the issue before it went to Council and it again shows the often ad-hoc and inconsistent decision-making in Fremantle.

If the Mayor and Elected Members are genuinely concerned about cultural sensitivity for our Noongar people they cannot possibly now reverse the decision and say fireworks are o.k. as long as not organised by the City. That is hypocritical bullshit!

It is clear that the backlash from the business and wider community, state and federal politicians and the media has left our Elected Members shaking in their boots, and this will be a convenient and coward way out of the debacle they created.

Values and principles no longer exist in governments, be they federal, or at state or local levels, because nowadays it is only ever about getting good positive media reports.

Although I support the end of Australia Day fireworks for many reasons, I agree with the business and wider community that the issue should have gone through proper consultation first before Council made this feel-good decision that has now backfired on them. They will now have egg on their face by not opposing a privately organised fireworks

Roel Loopers

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