Freo's View

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

 

liv-apartments---artist-rendor_870x340

 

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.

———————————-

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

WOOLSTORES PLANS NOT DISTINCTIVE OR EXCEPTIONAL

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, Uncategorized by freoview on November 27, 2017

 

Woolstores

 

Retired North Fremantle architect Ken Adams has submitted his opinion about the Fremantle Woolstores development by Silverleaf for the Fremantle Society, that deserves to be shared with the wider community

It is quite detailed and hence long, so I have edited it a bit, but it is still long for a blog post.

Below are his excellent expert thoughts and opinion about the massive development:

Total Redevelopment of the Site is Welcome and offers a Great Opportunity.
It should be clear that a total redevelopment of the site is not merely welcome; it is well overdue. The replacement of the original woolstores building by the existing banal shopping centre, car parking and open servicing areas was, in urban design and other terms, a complete and unrelieved disaster.

The decision to redevelop the entire site offers a wonderful opportunity to undo that mistake and create a very positive development that will serve and greatly enhance the city centre. The opportunity must not be missed, nor should it in any way be compromised by confusing what may be permitted with what is best for Fremantle

The issues dealt with here are:

  • whether the general character, including proposed use , scale and form, is appropriate;

  • whether the building heights proposed are appropriate and whether the development meets the criteria for design excellence; and

  • whether the more detailed architectural design aspects are appropriate.

 
Context is Everything
The site occupies a pivotal position in the city’s townscape and activities, mediating between the major woolstore buildings (now converting, appropriately, to residential use) and the central business (essentially retail, entertainment and office) district.

Both the uses and character of development proposed for the subject site must recognise this pivotal position.

There are two buildings that set the benchmark for the height and scale of what should occur on the site. These are firstly and most critically, the superb Goldsborough Mort and Company Woolstores building immediately north of the site. The second is the relatively recent and modern building on the SE corner of Queen and Goldsborough Streets. Whatever happens on the site must recognise both the scale and character of these two buildings.

General Character and Form of the Development
It seems to me that a mixed use development of the site is most appropriate, because the site does mediate between the essentially business and essentially residential precincts of the city. For that reason, I support, in general terms, the mix proposed, including the replacement of the major supermarket, market hall, offices, significant active-frontage retail and other uses and housing for both active young adults and predominantly retired people.

Provision of active uses at the street frontages of Cantonment and Queen Streets is especially important, and supported. Goldsborough Street, currently a pedestrian desert, also offers the opportunity to become an active and very attractive street in future, especially with a future re-use of the Goldsborough Mort Woolstore building.

In general terms the most appropriate precedents for the overall scale and form of the redevelopment of this pivotal site lie with the adjacent Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building and in the memory of the site, itself a former wool store building of similar scale and mass to the Goldsborough Mort building and the other woolstores along Elder Place and Beach Street – the so-called “March of the Giants”.

These suggest a strong, perhaps even monolithic, well-defined mass. The proposed development largely achieves this, were it not for the superimposition of the two tower elements, one at either end, and the excessive size of gaps in the facades, compromising the continuity of the facades.

The unusually large size of the site also strongly suggests the provision of at least one public pedestrian access way through the site, in line with either the Westgate Mall entry, as proposed, or Point Street, or both.

This access way, however, should be completely permeable at ground level, ie it should provide a clear view through between Cantonment Street and Elder Place.

Building Height and Design Excellence
In my opinion the most beneficial height for development over the site would be set 
precisely at the level of the Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building, creating a  beautifully proportioned streetscape in Goldsborough Street. This level would appear to be close to the level that would generally result from the 21m height limit.

From an urban design perspective the most desirable streetscape outcome is unquestionably to maintain a consistent building height/level based on the level of the Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building. The 21m height level appears to be a good approximation of this. No extension of height above this visible from the adjacent streets would improve the appearance of the building.

The two proposed blocks of additional height, one at each end of the development, almost doubling the height of the development at those places, create an awkwardly balanced and poorly proportioned architectural composition.

Far from being a beneficial element, as claimed by the applicant’s report, they are significantly detrimental to the urban design outcome. That’s from a purely urban design perspective.

In order to gain approval for the additional height it is necessary for the applicant to demonstrate that the outcome would represent “Distinctive Architectural Design and Exceptional Design Quality”. The architectural design of the complex as a whole, and of the additional floors, is competent, but no more so than must be expected of any architect.

Distinctive” and “Exceptional Design Quality”, by definition, are terms that cannot be applied to any but a relative handful of buildings.

To gain some idea of what is required to reach these heights, one needs to look at examples of highly regarded contemporary buildings, notably those that have achieved awards of excellence. In the City of Perth Council House and the new City Library come to mind, as do 40 William Street and the Central Park development.

In Fremantle perhaps the proposed Kings Square redevelopment might meet the test. Could anyone seriously argue that the proposed Woolstores redevelopment would stand proudly alongside these?
Competent and attractive as the proposed development may be claimed to be it is neither “distinctive” nor of “exceptional design quality”, and hence does not pass the bar for the additional height concession.

It is neither “distinctive” nor of “exceptional design quality” and hence does not pass the bar for additional height concession.

I believe that Ken Adams sums it up pretty well and it is also my opinion of the development proposal.

Development of the ugly site is very welcome, but it needs to be of very good architectural design quality, and sadly the proposal is mediocre and uninspiring. Silverleaf need to come up with something much better and more balanced, because the two towers on either side create a severe imbalance that would look awful.

I agree with Ken Adams that there is nothing exceptional about the architecture and hence discretionary additional height should not be granted by Fremantle Council or the DAP.

Ken Adams received the prestigious Architects Board Award. He headed the Urban Design Section of the Town Planning Department. He was a founding member of CityVision in 1987 and has been Chairman since 2001. He was the consultant responsible for the most comprehensive study of Fremantle, carried out in 1979-80 for the purposes of establishing a comprehensive strategy for the City.

Roel Loopers

 

COUNCIL CANDIDATE LEGAL ACTION AGAINST FREMANTLE SOCIETY

Posted in city of fremantle, election, fremantle society,, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on October 26, 2017

 

Fremantle City Ward candidate Julie Morgan has taken legal action against the Fremantle Society for an email its president John Dowson sent to the members, writing that Morgan should be run out of town because of the, in Dowson’s opinion, inappropriate veranda she and her husband built in High Street.

Fremantle lawyers Ralph Legal sent the following letter to the Electoral Commission.

Please accept the attached letter as formal complaints under section 4.96(2) of the Local Government Act 1995 (LGA) by Mrs Morgan in relation to certain publications by the Fremantle Society in relation to the following:

That a statement by Mr John Dowson on behalf of the Fremantle Society published on 3 October 2017, as detailed in the attached letter, amounted to a threat or suggestion of detriment under section 4.85(2)(a) of the LGA.

That material published by the Fremantle Society as detailed on the attached letter is deceptive and contrary to section 4.88 of the LGA.

That material published by the Fremantle Society detailed in the attached constituted electoral material within the meaning defined in section 4.87(3) of the LGA not having been authorised constitutes an offence under section 4.87 (1) of the LGA.

I am instructed to request the Electoral Commissioner and the Returning Officer for the 2017 Local Government Elections to the Fremantle City Council that the Commissioner formally investigates the actions of the Fremantle Society and of the person who caused the material to be published in the name of the Society.

This comes after Local Government Minister David Templeman called for a stop to on-line bullying of local council candidates and supporters and to show more respect.

Templeman said that trolling and negativity does not help in attracting quality and diverse candidates for local government elections.

I experienced courtesy and respect while door knocking, but sadly there are a few people on social media who delight in name-calling, innuendo and conspiracy, and that is very disappointing.

 

Roel Loopers

 

FREO ELECTION CAMPAIGN HUBRIS

Posted in city of fremantle, election, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on October 17, 2017

 

flyers

 

It looks like a last rush of votes could mean that Fremantle will have one of the highest voter participations in history and that is good news.

The Freo election campaign has been an interesting one, with dubious claims that certain candidates are independent, while others are accused of being in the Brad Pettitt camp.

Yesterday on a social media site a journalist claimed that Claudia Green is the only independent in City Ward, because candidate Julie Morgan is a Facebook friend of Enkel. The journo’s logic is that because Enkel has expressed support for Fremantle’s Mayor, Morgan is also in his camp.

If those in the Ra Stewart camp believe that innovation incubator Enkel is a political force, why then don’t they also concede the strong political influence of the pro Ra FICRA and Fremantle Society?

The hypocrisy is that the so-called independent candidates have strong support from FICRA and the Fremantle Society and that Green’s posters are plastered on buildings next to Stewart’s posters. That presumable does not matter, and neither does it that many FICRA members attended the $ 140 a head fundraiser for Ra Stewart at the Bathers Beach House.

Green and her supporters are clearly in the Ra camp, but that is not questioned, and that’s why their claims of being independent are laughable.

There is nothing wrong with having a political conviction and opinion, but don’t pretend to be an independent candidate when you are clearly not, especially when you make it feel as if it is an indecent act to be a supporter of the present Mayor.

Over the last eight years on this blog I have on occasions harshly criticised Fremantle Council and its Mayor for making decisions I did not agree with, but in fairness I have also given them credit and kudos whenever I believed they deserved that for making good decisions I agreed with.

I am a true individual independent who is not a member off or aligned to any political party or politically active community group, and I have had no support from any groups or political parties during my campaign.

I am my own person and call it as I see it, without fear or favour. I am not interested in playing politics. All I want is the best for Fremantle!

I am confident and optimistic about Freo’s future, and confident that a progressive council over the next four years will become a major asset for our city. We are on the right track. Let’s not get side-tracked and lose focus!

Voted yet?

Today is the last day to send in your postal vote, or it might arrive too late, so stick the ballot paper in a mail box immediately!

 

Roel Loopers

Vote Roel for City Ward!

AWFUL CIVIC CENTRE ARCHITECTURE CLAIM

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, fremantle society,, Uncategorized by freoview on August 26, 2017

 

kings-square-7

 

The always negative emails from Fremantle Society president John Dowson to its members this time attacks the professionalism of internationally renowned Kerry Hill Architects, who designed the new City of Fremantle Civic Centre at Kings Square.

JD quotes Fremantle architect Ron Campbell who wrote to the Society that “whoever is pushing the design is making it more expensive and less of a civic building.” 

Campbell also claims the architecture is awful. JD wrote:

“Rob Campbell is concerned with the sharp angular nature of the building, especially when viewed from the corner of High and Newman Streets (near the crosswalk next to Myer). He said the sharp angular turn of the building at such an acute angle is “architecturally awful and not in the Fremantle tradition. It is a terrible mistake which undermines the architectural presentation.”  He said it was council playing developer and not creating a civic space, because that awkward corner retail space would be difficult to rent and would compete with the adjacent Sirona development.” 

The sharp angle of the building is very simply explained. It keeps the sightlines of Newman Court and the High Street reserve clear and legible, and that makes a lot of sense. Newman Court is now clearly defined, as is the High Street reserve that separates the St John’s triangle from the City triangle.

I wished the Society had a more positive platform than just blasting anything Fremantle Council does.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE CITY WARD CANDIDATE WITHDRAWS

Posted in city of fremantle, election, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on August 15, 2017

 

According to Fremantle Society president John Dowson City Ward candidate Michael Finn has withdrawn from the race, which will leave only Claudia Green and Linda Wayman as hopefuls to replace retiring member Simon Naber.

In his usual ranting negativity the FS president  tells his members that FS does not support Claudia Green, and that the Mayor has encouraged Wayman to stand. He supposedly heard the latter from Councillor Andrew Sullivan.

Mister president also accuses Fremantle Council of having caused damage to Freo’s heritage.

Dowson also accuses social media and “keyboard warriors” for Finn’s withdrawal, but I have seen very little negativity about Finn, but for the fact that he lives in Cottesloe.

 

Roel Loopers

JDAP REFUSES FIVE STOREY WEST END BUILDINGS

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on August 9, 2017

 

 

 

In a 2.15 hour meeting today the W.A. Joined Development Assessment Panel unanimously refused the application for three five-storey buildings in Fremantle’s heritage-listed West End.

The buildings were proposed for the Customs House on the corner of Henry and Phillimore street, going all the way back to the former Centrelink site in Pakenham Street.

Representatives from FICRA, Lance Holt School and the Fremantle Society spoke against the proposal.

FICRA spokeswoman Mary Rose Baker said it was frustrating that the Fremantle community had to keep defending the West End agains in-defensable buildings.

A Lance Holt spokeswoman said there were a whole raft of issues with the proposal that were not compliant with several planning schemes and policies.

Agnieshka Kiera for FS said the height is excessive in comparison to adjacent buildings, and would change forever the roofscape and urban aspect of the West End. Over-development would negatively impact on the heritage identity of the area.

Speakers for the applicants spoke about the unique opportunity to revitalise and activate the West End by having significantly more residents living there, and that the buildings would complement the West End heritage character through best design outcomes.

They said that they were on the right track, through modifications made after the plans had been submitted, to get support from the State Heritage Office.

Height is the major concern that can be modified, but height is not detrimental to the area. The buildings would have a positive impact on the streetscape.

JDAP panel member Fremantle Councillor Andrew Sullivan asked why the architects had decided on such a robust approach and with solid, even heavy, materials.

The building heights across the site were a major concern and the applicants had not reviewed that aspect significantly enough to warrant a deferral. The fundamental issue remains height, Sullivan said, and that the justification for extra, discretionary, height was rejected by the City of Fremantle.

Sullivan also said the proposal was not a complete dud and had the potential to significantly contribute to the city and save the West End, but it needed major amendments. It failed the fundamental test of built form and does not pay respect to the heritage facades and locality in general. “The failure in architecture in un-approvable.”

Councillor Jon Strachan said that deferring the application was not an option for him because the plans needed significant changes, but that he was quietly confident a good outcome could be reached after major changes had been made.

Strachan said it was not an honest application as the developers just tried to test what they would be able to get away with, and then made little changes here and little changes there. “Come back with an excellent design!” he suggested.

JDAP Chair put a motion for a 90-day deferral forward that was not passed 2-3 votes, and then the entire panel voted to refuse the application, which may now end up at the State Administrative Tribunal, if the applicants are stubborn and unwilling to compromise and submit new plans to the City of Fremantle that are more sympathetic to the West End heritage precinct.

Last but not least I have to compliment the City of Fremantle planning officer Julia Kingsbury for her very good, detailed, and to the point representation, that concluded that the plans were not approvable.

It was very interesting to see JDAP at work, but some of the comments made by panel members have not given me the confidence that Fremantle’s West End will be well protected from inappropriate development in the future.

One last word from me to the architects and developers: You have a great opportunity here to excel and put up outstanding four-storey buildings. While I appreciate you want a good return for your investment and maximise sellable and lettable floorspace, you would be well advised to take the example of Notre Dame University and reflect, sit back, forget egos, and redesign your proposal substantially. All the community is asking for is respectful architecture that enhances the heritage precinct. Come on, You can do it!

 

Roel Loopers

A FREMANTLE TALE OF TWO TRIANGLES AND A SQUARE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, kings square, Uncategorized by freoview on July 22, 2017

 

There is a bit of ambiguity in this little snippet of the invitation to a Kings Square information session by the FRRAemantle Society.

“The Fremantle Society has from day one expressed concern at the King’s Square Business Plan. That and the flawed King’s Square Urban Design Study by CODA architects have set the parameters for large buildings insensitive to the scale of the historic human scale of Fremantle, the nearby World Heritage listed Fremantle Prison, turning King’s Square into King’s Triangle.” 

It was not the CODA Kings Square Urban Design Study that set the parameters for medium-rise buildings at Kings Square, but Planning Scheme Amendment 49, approved by the Minister in 2012.

PSA 49 identified 13 sites in the Fremantle CBD for high density infill. One site will become the Hilton Doubletree development, the Woolstores shopping centre site is another one, and Kings Square is also one of the PSA 49 sites.

Some of the historic woolstores in Fremantle are well above the “human scale” we constantly hear the Fremantle Society talking about, and the Townhall probably would not have been approved because of its height if FS had had anything to say about it.

The medium-rise Kings Square development will have no impact whatsoever on Fremantle Prison.

The lament about Kings Square being changed into two triangles is tedious, as in 1881 High Street was extended through the square, so two triangles were created then. One triangle belongs to St John’s church, the other triangle is City of Fremantle.

Only in 1960 was High Street closed and the square returned to a square, but the High Street road reserve still exists and St John’s church still own half of the square, realistically making it into two triangles.

Even now some traders in the West End want to reopen High Street through Kings Square to help their struggling businesses, but I hope that will never happen.

High density infill is a State Government requirement, and the near derelict condition of the city east of Kings Square will only benefit from substantial development, that will greatly help improve the retail and hospitality economy in our city.

Nothing is constant in life. The world changes, Fremantle progresses and modernises, and that is a good thing. We don’t live in a museum, but in a living, breathing space full of energy, innovation, change, creativity, and after 40 years of stagnation and hibernation, finally development!

What we need to be far more concerned about than the Kings Square Project and development in the East End is the relentless push by developers to get extra height in the historic West End of the city. That is not acceptable and needs to be stopped!

Roel Loopers

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