Freo's View

SILLY CLAIM THAT BARNETT WOULD PUT FREMANTLE IN ADMINISTRATION

 

Fremantle Society president John Dowson likes to make outrageous claims, as long as they are negative about Fremantle Council, so this alleged statement by former WA Premier Colin Barnett surely must be taken with a grain of salt.

In his latest email message to FS members JD claims that: “Recent controversial decisions of Fremantle Council, particularly relating to Australia Day, and being told that the council still refuses to fly the Australian flag from the Town Hall long after spending $3 million to fix it up, led the former Premier to tell the Fremantle Society this week that : “If I was still Premier, I would put Fremantle Council into Administration.”

So are we really to believe that a state government would put a local government, which has been pro-active in encouraging extensive development and urban infill, into administration just because they don’t fly the Australian flag and don’t celebrate Australia Day on January 26? I doubt that very much!

Dowson also suggested in a recent email to FS members that Fremantle’s new destination marketing should be about telling stories, such as that Prince Phillip was in Fremantle Port for one day during WW II. Yep, that would get thousands of Chinese, Indonesian and Malaysian tourists rushing to Fremantle for sure. OMG!

And have the FS members noticed that their president talks about himself like the Queen? The Fremantle Society met the former premier, the Fremantle Society met David Attenborough, etc. when it was only JD meeting these people?

The AGM of the society was held last night and I fear we’ll be getting another year of unbalanced narrow-minded negativity and anti-change, anti-development and anti-progress messages from its president.

Roel Loopers

 

THE SOCIETY ALWAYS KNOWS BETTER

 

In his latest communication with its members Fremantle Society president John Dowson laments the vitriolic and nasty comments on social media platform Fremantle Massive and blames Fremantle’s leadership for the divided Fremantle community.

JD, who has returned to Fremantle after spending most of the year in the UK, then continues with his customary attack on our Council, claiming that the vision for the town centre is all wrong, presumably because Freo Council encourages medium-rise buildings.

JD writes that a symbol of Freo Council getting it all wrong is that they did not fly the Australian flag on Queen’s birthday. I am more inclined to believe that the many building developments around Fremantle are a symbol of Freo’s prosperous future, but hey, why be positive about progress when you can have a whinge about a flag not being flown.

Of course the issue of the removal of the old Moreton Bay fig trees from Kings Square also deserves another attack on Mayor Brad Pettitt, who according to JD single-handedly relocated the Christmas tree from the Esplanade to Kings Square. A very silly accusation to make for someone who was a Councillor for four years and who knows how the council process works.

No matter what the issues are JD’s experts are always better than the ones the City of Fremantle engages, be that architecture, city planning, or trees, so the president received the opinion that the fig trees could have lived many years longer at Kings Square, contrary to the advise CoF received from expert eastern states arborists, who flew over, injected the soil, monitored the trees for a long period, and who decided the trees would become a public hazard if left there. The City even had a community consultation process period about the removal, so it was all pretty transparent.

The only positive in JD’s email to the FS members is that the Guildford Society has offered nine-year-old Moreton Bay fig trees to the City of Fremantle, according to the president.

We know that CoF officers are sourcing to replace the so-called Christmas tree, next to the new playground, with another mature Moreton Bay fig tree. One issue is how to get a mature tree through the streets, and the officer in charge told me on Wednesday that they are already looking at the possibility of having to use a helicopter to do that.

The sun is shining, summer is on the way, John Dowson, and the glass is half full. Fremantle has a great future ahead, and new development won’t destroy our beautiful city, just change and modernise parts of it. Inspire your Fremantle Society members with creative new and positive ideas for our city, not just the same old vitriolic rants and attacks on the Mayor, which are becoming tedious and irrelevant.

Roel Loopers

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BLOGGER ALL ABOUT SUPPORTING FREO, NOT POPULARITY

Posted in city of fremantle, community, fremantle society, Uncategorized by freoview on May 23, 2018

 

Fremantle Society president John Dowson has sent yet another rant to the poor members of FS, accusing me of only wanting to be popular, because the narrow-minded no change advocate does not agree with what I publish on Freo’s View.

Mr President writes: The Heritage Council is a developer’s club, the National Trust is useless as an advocate, the Fremantle Herald cannot lead campaigns on its own, and the very few public commentators like the blogger Roel Loopers are only concerned with being popular.

I started this blog eight and a half years ago as a community forum, that does not create income for me. I spend many hours a week going to council, community and precinct meetings, talk to residents, do research, etc. and I do it because I love Fremantle and I love living here. I want to help make Freo an even better place than it already is for future generations.

Unlike Mr President I don’t try to be in the Fremantle Herald every week with negativity about Fremantle Council, developers, etc.

Unlike Mr President I don’t give negative lectures about Fremantle on cruise ships where I blast Fremantle development and Council.

Unlike Mr President I have written 33 positive reviews about Fremantle businesses and attractions for TripAdvisor, that were read by nearly 16,000 people last month. All because I believe that we all can make a small difference and support our local traders.

Unlike Mr President I don’t drive around in latest model Porsches while wanting the rest of Fremantle to still go by horse&cart, and unlike Mr President I’ll do everything I can to support good change, good development and good progress, because I don’t believe that living in the past and retaining the status quo is fair for future generations.

As for my perceived popularity; some people appreciate what I do for our community and others don’t, and so be it. I gain nothing personally or financially from my community involvement.

I am a volunteer tourist guide at the Roundhouse, unlike Mr President doing paid  lectures on cruise ships where he tries to sell his books.

It’s not about popularity John Dowson. It’s about integrity! You should try it.

Roel Loopers

 

GOOD ENOUGH NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR FREMANTLE

Posted in architecture, buildings, city of fremantle, city planning, development, Uncategorized by freoview on April 28, 2018

 

It is rather strange that the Fremantle Herald front page this week features a letter to the editor about JDAP rejecting the Woolstores shopping centre site development plans, instead of publishing an editorial about it.

There is little reason for the Fremantle Society president to gloat about the JDAP decision because it would not be in the interest of Fremantle if the development plans are abandoned. However Silverleaf Investments also need to be aware that second best and it’s good enough will not be accepted in Fremantle.

To realise Fremantle’s rejuvenation, that will hopefully kick start the economic recovery, we need development investors like the Match Group, Sirona Capital, Silverleaf, and others, but they know Fremantle Council is so desperate for new development that developers think that just about anything will be accepted.

The Fremantle Society during my presidency fought tooth and nail to stop PSA 49 but pressure from the then owners suddenly saw Council approve 11 storeys on the Woolstores site, when Mayor Brad Pettitt had only days before expressed he would not vote for double digit development, so nine storeys would be the maximum.

But PSA 49 was very clearly about only granting additional discretionary height if development was of excellent design quality, and the Woolstores plans, rejected by Fremantle Council and the WA Joint Development Assessment Panel-JDAP, clearly were not.

It appears that developers and architects still have not got the message that the Fremantle community demands creative and innovative design, and sadly Fremantle Council, JDAP and the State Administrative Tribunal also still have not got that point, as they have too often allowed mediocre development that is hurting Fremantle’s unique character. Council is so desperate to achieve rejuvenation of the inner city and economic recovery that it overlooked design flaws, out of fear of upsetting developers.

The new Sirona Capital buildings at Kings Square are not outstanding and neither is the planned and approved Hilton Doubletree hotel development on the Point Street carpark site. The LIV development along Queen Victoria Street is repetitive boredom and the Quarry Street side of it is architecturally so unresolved that it hurts my eyes and soul.

In the development pipeline are also the already approved very boring eight storey development next to the Australia Hotel and the equally uninspiring Little Lane development on the former Spotlight site next to Target.

I do get it that developers want to make as much money as they can and I don’t have a problem with that, but the JDAP rejection of the Woolstores proposal should send a clear message that if you want more money making floorspace and height you will need to offer Fremantle something special and unique.

Not only did Fremantle’s Design Advisory Committee expert panel express that the Woolstores design was not excellent, so did the three architects who spoke for the Fremantle Society, and other architects JDAP panel member Councillor Rachel Pemberton consulted had the same opinion.

I also talked to three well-known local architects in Fremantle who told me the composition and balance of the plans were all wrong and that piecemeal changes to the design would not lift it to the highest architectural standards required to receive the bonus height.

Fremantle wants and needs development. I love modern architecture and am not off the opinion that no new development in Fremantle should be above six storeys, but like most people in the community I want to see the wow factor when it comes to new buildings here.

It is very disappointing, and I agree here with the Fremantle Society president, that the Chamber of Commerce keeps supporting any development plans, no matter how inappropriate and uninspiring. For the Chamber the motto seems to be Any shit will do as long as it is new. I expect higher standards from our business leaders.

The rubbish that is often proposed might not do great harm in Cockburn or Joondalup but it would make Fremantle a lot less attractive to visitors from all over the world. The community will not accept that and developers, architects, Fremantle Council, JDAP and SAT should listen to us!

Roel Loopers

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PRECINCTS THE VOICE OF THE FREO COMMUNITY

Posted in city of fremantle, community, local government, politics, Uncategorized by freoview on April 8, 2018

 

The FPOL Committee of Fremantle Council will this Wednesday deliberate if Council should implement a new Precinct Policy, to clarify working requirements and expectations.

The new Precinct Policy would allow for an Arts Centre, Inner City, Hilton, O’Connor, South City, White Gum Valley, Beaconsfield, Gibson Park, North Fremantle, Samson, and South Fremantle Precinct but would no longer consider FICRA and the Fremantle Society precinct groups.

It is clear under the Election Rules of the Precinct Policy, posted below, that the two groups no longer qualify. FICRA had their own candidate at the last October election and also were strong supporters of one of the Mayoral candidates, while the Fremantle Society endorsed election candidates in the election material of the candidates.

The Society also is not qualified to be a precinct because its members come from all over Fremantle and Perth and one of their committee members actually lives in Sydney, so they can hardly claim to be a precinct.

There needs to be a process in place though where members of the precinct community can vote out a convenor who is politically motivated and not objective, as happened during the last election in the South Fremantle Precinct.

Precinct can have a really important role in informing their community, liaising with city officers and councillors and help improve the area, as long as it is done without political bias, and that is a real challenge for all precincts.

Precincts must provide open, cost and commitment free membership where any interested community member is welcome to participate.

Administration 1. Each Precinct is to update the contact details for their precinct contact details and name of their convener with the community engagement team once a year. 2. All published material, including meeting notes and minutes, produced by a precinct, are to be made publically available within 14 working days of distribution or from when a meeting is held. 3. Each precinct group can decide: How to appoint their convener. The length of term and how many terms a convener can be appointed for Who will be the precinct contact person and action correspondence received. What the meeting schedule will be. If and how meetings will be recorded, for example, meeting notes or minutes. How best to share information with precinct members, for example, by email, social media, or through ‘Freospace’ (see definitions).

Elections 1. The Local Government Act 1995 does not allow the use of council resources to assist any individual candidate in their election activities. The City is also responsible for being objective, non-political and Agenda – Finance, Policy, Operations and Legislation Committee 11 April 2018 Page 73 unbiased therefore the City does not support local, state or federal electioneering and City funds must not be used for electioneering in local government elections. 2. The City acknowledges the role of the precincts in encouraging community interest in council elections, such as organising events to allow community members to meet candidates and hear what they have to say. However, Precincts must not use City funds to support any individual candidate or group of candidates in an election. 3. Precincts who wish to promote council elections must: include all candidates in any publications distributed containing information about the election. invite all candidates to participate in events or functions organised by the precinct, in relation to the election, in order to ensure each candidate is given an equal opportunity to participate.

Roel Loopers

LET’S STICK TO THE WOOLSTORES FACTS

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on April 2, 2018

 

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While I agree with the Fremantle Society that the plans by Silverleaf Investments for the Fremantle Woolstores shopping centre site are not of exceptional architectural design quality to grant additional discretionary height, it would be good if FS president John Dowson stayed with the facts.

Dowson emailed FS members that Silverleaf Investments director Gerard O’Brien had rushed the plans to council because it is Easter. Supposedly JD wants to imply that Silverleaf is avoiding public scrutiny. Truth is that the plans and amended plans have been at council for many months and through the legally required community consultation process.

JD also writes that Silverleaf is rushing plans for three developments in Fremantle because it wants to get ahead of its major competitors Sirona Capital and Fremantle Council, but the City of Fremantle’s new Civiv Centre is no competition for any of Silverleaf’s developments. It is also very doubtful that any of the Silverleaf developments would be finished before the Kings Square project by the end of 2019, as Silverleaf has not even started on them.

If my memory is correct, Planning Scheme Amendment 49 allows for eight storeys plus discretionary additional height on the Woolstores site, and not six storeys as JD claims

Dowson is also wrong that the plans are coming before the Planning Committee this Wednesday because it is a full Ordinary Council meeting.

The decision making authority for this $ 80 million development is the Western Australian Joint Development Assessment Panel-JDAP and not Fremantle Council.

By the way City of Fremantle, why is there no SEARCH button on your website? I wanted to double check my facts about PSA 49 but could not do that.

Roel Loopers

 

 

PROTECT FREO’S UNIQUE CHARACTER!

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on February 24, 2018

 

The Fremantle Herald this week is full with opinions about how to protect Freo’s unique character when it comes to approving new development.

My old North Fremantle mate and former chair of the City’s planning committee Gerry MacGill says that Fremantle’s Councillors are struggling with the concept of exceptional architecture that grants developers discretionary additional height.

MacGill believes Council should not just rely on the opinion of the Design Advisory Panel but that the elected members are eminently qualified to make judgements on how the Woolstores development integrates with the surrounding streetscape and nearby buildings in regard to scale, massing and height.

I too found that at the special planning meeting Councillors and the Chair of the DAP were more concerned about small picture things and semantics like adding more bricks, than about the big picture; if the proposed building actually fits in well with the unique Fremantle character.

Also in the Chook is an opinion piece by architect Carl Payne, who often comments on Freo’s View.

Payne writes that the Manning Building approval shows that we only pay lip-service to heritage and that heritage protection is often not imposed if it affects the building’s owner.

The architect writes that the actions of Fremantle Councillors are not consistent with the Burra Charter heritage ideals and that compromises are made too easily to appease developers.

I am aware that a team from North Fremantle Slavin Architects also had a meeting with Mayor Brad Pettitt talking about their concerns about the often inappropriate architecture Council is approving in the CBD.

But there is more in the Herald with a full page advertisement by the Fremantle Society, which shows photos of buildings they believe ‘work’ and building which do not work. It comes as no surprise that there is not a single high building FS likes.

There is no doubt in my mind that Fremantle Council is bending over backward to accommodate development in Fremantle, and while I absolutely support the rejuvenation of the ugly east CBD Council needs to do a lot more to protect our city’s beauty. The architecture of the planned Woolstores development is not anywhere near good enough to consider it to be of exceptional quality, because it insufficiently addresses and respects Fremantle’s unique character. It’s not the height that worries me most, but the aesthetic incompetence.

Roel Loopers

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PERCENTAGE FOR HERITAGE IMPORTANT FOR FREMANTLE

Posted in architecture, art, city of fremantle, development, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on January 10, 2018

 

An interesting flaw in the City of Fremantle’s Percentage for the Arts or Heritage policy came to light during the Planning Committee on Wednesday evening.

Fremantle Society president John Dowson made the very sensible suggestion that the percentage should be used to reinstate the wrought-iron verandahs on the Manning Buildings when they are developed, but was told it is not possible to use the percentage for the arts/heritage on a private building.

I had just written down that the Quest Hotel and another Pakenham Street development both have percentage for the art works attached to their buildings, when Silverleaf director Gerard O’Brien made exactly the same point to the Councillors.

The percentage for the arts and heritage policy was introduced to enhance and beautify the public realm, and Councillor Rachel Pemberton made the realistic observation that verandahs are very much in the public realm.

It is absolutely non-sensical that building owners and developers cannot spend percentage for heritage and arts money on beautifying the public realm with heritage features, but are forced to spend it on often pretty mediocre and uninspiring art that can be attached to their buildings.

Developers tell me that a lot of the money from percentage for the arts is spend on administration and art consultants, and not on the actual art work, so let gets some reality in a policy that is clearly flawed and needs to be amended, so that we can encourage developers to reinstate verandahs, which look much better than modern awnings.

It would be a win win for all!

And to make it clear! I love great public art and believe the percentage for the arts and heritage is good, but it needs to be realistic and flexible.

There are many silly rules and regulations in our planning laws and some of them are detrimental to achieving the best outcome. All the community wants is the very best building outcomes, not silly bureaucratic nonsense.

Roel Loopers

FREO DEVELOPMENT NOTHING LIKE EAST BERLIN

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on January 8, 2018

 

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Fremantle Society president John Dowson has the uncanny ability to discredit himself by making ridiculous statements, as the rant below, which he sent to FS members about the LIV apartment development at Queen Victoria Street shows.

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Communist East Berlin Apartment Block Arrives

The raft of damaging oversized buildings is underway in Fremantle with the arrival of the East Berlin Communist inspired “Liv” apartment block in Queen Victoria Street opposite the “Giant of Fremantle”, the former Fort Knox wool store, the largest wool store left in Fremantle.

To allow the “Giant of Fremantle” to be overshadowed by an apartment block next to it is appalling planning and decision making, a failure of councillors to grasp very basic fundamentals of urban planning. 

The development suits the ideology of Fremantle Council, because the extensive number of low cost dwellings will largely be Labor voters.


 

The deciding authority for the $ 61 million development was the WA Joint Development Assessment Panel, if my memory serves me correct, and not Fremantle Council, because all development over $ 10 million automatically is moved on to JDAP.

Dowson must not have visited the former East Berlin and East Germany often when he claims the building is of the former communist country standards.  The LIV is built to One Planet green sustainability standards, and while I am not impressed either with the architecture it looks a whole lot better than the ugly dark concrete boxes they used to put up in East Berlin.

The six-storey LIV is a little higher than, but does not overshadow the very imposing HEIRLOOM woolstores over the road, but the length of the building is the issue and the facade should have been broken up a few times instead of just the one walk-through piazza to Quarry Street.

Only a wealthy person would claim that the building is for low cost occupation by Labor voters, when a small one-bedroom sells for over $ 400,000, a two-bedroom starts at $ 545,000 and a three bedroom for over one million dollars.  The building is developed by Defence Housing Australia and defence personnel will be occupying the apartments, as well as private owners.

The juxtaposition of old Heirloom and modern LIV on either side of Queen Victoria Street will make for an interesting entry statement to Fremantle when LIV is completed in August this year. It will show visitors that Fremantle is on the way to long-overdue modernisation of the run down east of the CBD.

But in general I would like to see much better, more innovative and creative architecture in Fremantle than what we are getting. The issues are not with Fremantle Council but with soft State planning laws that do not give deciding authorities the option of rejecting building approval on aesthetic grounds. I wished that would be changed to guarantee great modern design instead of mediocrity.

 

Roel Loopers

 

 

BETTER COMMUNICATION ESSENTIAL FOR GOOD FREO DEVELOPMENT

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle society,, Uncategorized by freoview on December 7, 2017

 

Warders 2

 

The Planning Committee of Fremantle Council last night recommended for approval by JDAP the development of a boutique hotel, tavern and restaurant at the Henderson Street  historic Warders Cottages next to the Fremantle Markets.

The development is valued at $ 3.5 million and the application will be decided by the WA Joint Development Assessment Panel on December 16.

Fremantle Society President John Dowson said hotel accommodation was a good outcome for the cottages, but questioned the size of the tavern and heritage issues such as a two storey walkway at the back of the cottages, which is contrary to heritage policy.

Dowson was justifiably outraged when he spoke again later in the evening that none of the Councillors had mentioned heritage considerations when they deliberated the proposal.

It was good to see Councillor Hannah Fitzhardinge reaching out to the Fremantle Society president, as all Councillors and planning and heritage staff should be doing, because the Society has been very influential for over forty years in protecting Fremantle’s heritage.

Without the interference and protests of FS Fremantle would not have become the tourist attraction it now is, as many of our heritage buildings in the West End would have been demolished, and so would have Victoria Hall.

About eight years ago the Society published an nine-page flyer, which I wrote, in which it was recommended that developers and Council engage the Fremantle Society as early as possible when proposing new development, to avoid frustrating delays and negativity. No one ever took up that offer and it is time for Fremantle Council to revisit that and collaborate more and better with FS and other relevant community groups.

The chair of the new Westport task force was adamant a few weeks ago that only when all stakeholders are engaged and consulted a new outer harbour and all relevant infrastructure will get the best outcomes and community acceptance, and Fremantle City needs to move that way as well and reach out to community groups like FS, instead of dismissing them as NIMBY or negative old farts who are against change.

During the recent election Mayor Brad Pettitt and other elected members acknowledged that community consultation in Fremantle needed to be improved, and the administration is also working toward it, so Councillors need to meet regularly with the Fremantle Society and other groups, so we can work all together for a better and modern Fremantle.

Roel Loopers

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