As was expected Fremantle Council last night approved a long-term lease of the Naval Stores building at Cantonment Hill to the ENKEL Collective, yet another incubator-style and relatively new business. The attempt to get ENKEL share the huge space with CIRCUSWA was not successful and that is disappointing.
Councillor Rachel Pemberton told Council that recent talks with the Chair of ARTSOURCE had been very positive and that the State arts agency were looking to accommodate CIRCUSWA in another part of the building at Phillimore Street when they moved in downstairs with a gallery and cafe. That would probably be the best outcome for CIRCUSWA.
It will now have to be seen if ENKEL will be able to activate Cantonment Hill and also embrace and organise outdoor activities. The collective has not much of a record and only recently set up a website, so they have to prove that they can produce what they promise and attract a large number of people to the historic east end hill. Time will tell.
I am really delighted to see that the work on HEIRLOOM by MATCH development of the historic Dalgety Woolstores has finally started. In a few years from now we will have an exciting new residential apartment building that will the home of hundreds of new residents in the Fremantle inner city.
The new development will not only enhance Queen Victoria Street but even more so will open up the facade of Beach Street and it will drastically revitalise the east of the Freo CBD.
The seven-storey mixed-use development of the Woolstores shopping centre should also not be too long away and the Hilton Hotel building at Queen Adelaide Street is due to start soon as well.
The modernisation of these areas of Fremantle are in my opinion positive for our city as long as Council and the State’s Development Assessment Panel only give the green light for architecturally stunning buildings of human scale.
The big in size Economic Development Strategy draft plan 2015-2020 was a late item presented to the Strategic and General Services Committee of the City of Fremantle last night and I will need to spend more time reading it, but picked up a few things I’ll address now.
Retailers will be delighted that COF intends to spend $ 15,000 on an “Anti-begging strategy” and I hope whatever it is will be done with respect and humanity and a duty of care for those who really need community support.
We will be forking out $ 120,000 on “place activation” I thought place making had left the building many years ago when Freo regularly used to fly in self-proclaimed experts who told us all about lingering nodes and low hanging fruit, and community responsibility where we could make public art out of the hundreds of old bicycle frames we all have in our sheds.
Nothing much happened as far as COF action was concerned and Kings Square was never activated and it took years to get two seats for tourists near the Roundhouse. It was the Glen Cowans Photography Gallery which took the initiative and first put up colourful seats and tables on Arthur Head, and visitors to the historic hill have been keen to use them since.
Also on the agenda, and dare I say finally and very long-overdue, is $ 200,000 on way-finding and signage. The signs in Fremantle are an embarrassment and often confusing. In some areas there are too many signs in other spots, e.g. the Round House, J Shed, Bathers Beach, Maritime Museum there are none or hidden ones. There is also not numbered or coloured way-finding that leads visitors to all the ikonic sites in Fremantle, like tourist routes one sees in the country.
A masterplan for Princess May Park is a very good idea with all the development going on and soon to start in the east of the inner city, where the former Boys School is a jewel in the crown next to the very popular Clancy’s. The park has been under utilised for years and needs a decent facelift with seats and shade structures, and a public artwork or water feature.
To the “West End activation with UNDA” I can only say good luck, because Notre Dame University has shown it is not at all interested in the street level activation they keep signing off on every two years in the useless and not enforceable Memorandum Of Understanding with the City of Fremantle. Very little changes have been made to ‘blinds city’ where we have far too many wooden blinded large windows at street level, instead of active spaces used by the general public. As a big fan of UNDA I am disappointed that the organisations cares so little about their corporate responsibility to help activate the far west end of our city, that resembles a ghost town at night and during the long periods students are not on campus.
Buzz words like place making and lingering and increasing the visitors’ experience have been going around for a long time, but we have had very little action that has made a real impact in that regard, so the community and traders want to see real action and improvement, but we also need to be careful not to over regulate and make public initiative more difficult.
The COF should be very careful with the “Develop public market framework/guidelines be developed’ Markets like the Bathers Beach and Growers Green ones, have been great attractors for Fremantle and should be left alone, because the unfortunate reality has been that when administrators start stuffing around with these kind of initiatives they suck the energy out of it and make things so hard that the fun disappears and those involved just walk away from it and go to other cities that embrace their activities more.
Like all of these long term plans the proof will be in eating the pudding, so let’s wait and see how much will actually be implemented.
Fremantle’s Strategic and General Services Committee will on Wednesday address the need for over two million dollars to conduct essential and long-overdue external conservation works at the Townhall.
It has been nearly 30 years since major capital works were done on the historic inner city ikon at our civic centre and sadly the poor old building has not been able to breath properly because of wrong paints being used in the past.
I have been impressed to see heritage conservation works at the former Boys School at Princess May Park and the Dome/Kulcha building on the Cappuccino Strip, so let’s get the repairs of the Townhall on the road before it deteriorates more and will need even more work and money in the future.
It is disappointing that so many of our heritage buildings have been maintained wrongly in the past and one wonders where the City’s heritage experts were when that was allowed to happen.
Against the wishes of community consultation and the public members of the Cantonment Hill Working Group Fremantle full Council last night approved a 10+10 year lease for two floors of the Signal Station to the Fremantle Volunteer Sea Rescue group. Councillor Rachel Pemberton’s very sensible motion to make it into a 5+5 year lease so the City of Fremantle would be able to consider other options in ten years did not get the support from the only eight member council.
It was pointed out by members of the public who addressed Council that the Masterplan was all about the interest of the broader community and that community access to the tower was a prime criterium, and that remarks by Councillors that the lease fulfils all the aspirations for the site could not be further from the truth, but to no avail.
I believe it is naive to think the Sea Rescue occupation will create the required activation of Cantonment Hill. I doubt that the shifts will need more than four people to monitor communication, and those who man the rescue boats will no doubt be on those boats or close to them and not on Cantonment Hill from where it could take up to a twenty-minute drive on festival and event weekends to the Fishing Boat Harbour to hop on the boats.
No doubt the FVSR is an essential service that safes lives and that they deserve support from the Fremantle community, but there are other options and it is quite ridiculous to believe they need to be able to see the river and the ocean to do their job properly.
I do agree with Councillors that the building is far from ideal for an interpretive centre the community wanted there. The whole of Cantonment Hill could become an interpretation centre with modern technology allowing for interactive touch screens, phone Apps, motion triggered sound, etc all over the historic signal hill.
What is most disappointing about Council decision is that yet again the community will feel that they were ignored, as was the case with the Youth Plaza, the tavern at J Shed, etc. Council often gets criticised for being inconsistent in its decision-making but it has shown to be quite consistent in ignoring community input. Community cynicism will only grow because of that.
No matter how bad our WA State’s finances are and the coffers near empty, there always is money to be wasted to promote the work government is doing, even when it is only the half-hearted and totally insufficient work at the Fremantle Warders Cottages. The State is spending just one million dollars on a project that requires more than $ 7 million to renovate and upgrade all the cottages, but it has not stopped them from putting a long sign on the fence telling us about the great heritage work they are performing. Yes Minister!
The FREMANTLE HERITAGE FESTIVAL is on from May 8-17 and the weather is going to be a treat all week, so go an find out about Freo’s history.
Fremantle bicycle maker Arthur Grady was in 1924 the first person to ride around Australia, so that was celebrated at Kings Square today with vintage bikes, motorbikes, cars, prams, busses and steam engines and morse codes.
Arthur Grady Day day is always a great day for fans of cars and motorbikes, but I am just not that kind of blokey bloke so I always struggle to get inspired and take good photos. These ones will just have to do. ; > (
Scaffolding is up around the lovely KULCHA/DOME building on the Fremantle Cappuccino Strip, so it looks like the grande old lady is getting a facelift, or new make-up, and will get painted. Always good to see work on heritage buildings.
Also good that Fremantle Council tomorrow evening will set a management team in place for the old Boys School at Princess May Park, so it can be decided what to do with it after the renovations are done, in case the FTI does not want to move back in, and it is highly unlikely they will want to as their funding has been cut drastically.
The City of Fremantle CANTONMENT HILL information session last evening was a strange one as the officer did not know if there would be an official period for public to comment on the masterplan for the historic significant area and gateway to Fremantle.
The masterplan is set up in five stages and according to the consultants could be implement over a period of up to 25 years, so that is a long way away for those who just want to go and have a walk, sit on a bench in the shade and enjoy the views over the Swan river, port, Indian Ocean and the city.
Call them concepts or visions, and I am sure within the realm of transformational moves it needs to be all big picture stuff and grandiose, but it might well be better and faster to make the bush park area a community project, like Booyeembara, and let the local people get on with it.
ENKEL will no doubt bring a lot of creativity and new energy to the old Naval Stores and they should get a relatively free hand at designing the space they want to create and the immediate surroundings of the building, so it works best for their use and needs.
I was stunned to see a cafe proposed to the East and above the Naval Stores in the area closest to the street and traffic noise and even more amazed architect Sasha Ivanovich suggests there could even be an outdoor theatre/performance space there, when something like that could have the natural noise protection of the huge Naval Stores and also take advantage of the parkland behind it as a natural setting.
The locals don’t seem to like it, but I think a cafe/restaurant high up on the hill with great views would be good, but the cost for it will probably be prohibitive for a small city like Freo.
Parking is going to be a major problem and the experts’ predictions are rather unrealistic and optimistic in my view. They almost talked down the expected number of visitors to the area as if it would not become a great attractor for Fremantle, so no need to worry too much about the lack of parking. The ludicrous inclusion of Beach Street as a parking destination for those who want to enjoy Cantonment Hill left me shaking my head.
I believe scaling down the project significantly and starting with a really great playground- and even a flying fox- good furniture and shade structures, a few winding paths and Aboriginal heritage interpretation would be a good and achievable start.
While there is a 95 percent chance the Fremantle Volunteer Sea Rescue will get a long-term lease for the Signal Station, the architect was still showing off plans for a new building behind it that would accommodate a lift and the Australian standard steps required to make it open to the public.
I liked Councillor Robert Fittock’s passion for universal access and him saying that he and Council would not approve anything that does not have disability access. Good on him!
The officers and consultants need to take their coloured glasses off and have a very realistic look at the parking issues before they nail down where new paths will be installed. The one planned from the bus stop to the top looks expensive and might only cater for a handful of people, while the Army Museum car park is locked up because of terrorism issues, so not available to the general public. Maybe the bullet has to be bitten and a small parcel of land needs to be reclaimed for a parking area near the proposed playground on the eastern side of the hill.
I am delighted to see scaffolding up and work underway at two of Fremantle’s major heritage sites. At the Married Quarters cottages at Cantonment Hill one can already see some progress, while not much can be seen yet at the Warders Cottages in Henderson Street.
I don’t know what the truth is on the repair status of the Henderson Street cottages with workers telling people they are doing the whole lot, but people in the community saying it is just about repairing the walls and maybe roofs. The scaffolding looks pretty serious so let’s hope the government has found some more money to make substantial renovations there.