Fremantle is in for more Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with Sunset Events director David Chitty telling the Fremantle Herald that his company will challenge the refusal for a tavern and live outdoor music venue at J Shed on Bathers Beach by the WA Planning Commission at the State Administrative Tribunal.
Chitty admits though that it is unlikely they will win at SAT, but Sunset Events would then consider getting approval from the City of Fremantle for a scaled down version. One can assume this would be for the much lower patron numbers the City of Fremantle approved two years ago.
It looks like the Fremantle west end residents, heritage groups, Fremantle Ports and J Shed artists will have to continue their fight against this madness for a long while to come, and with the inconsistent decision-making record of Fremantle Council one cannot even start to guess the outcome. Playing Lotto is more predictable than Fremantle Council decisions.
I don’t know if the director responsible for the Fremantle Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre does not know what she is talking about or if she deliberately mislead Council and the community when she answered a question from a Councillor at the last Ordinary Council meeting about the changing opening hours of the centre at Arthur Head.
She claimed the opening times were only adjusted to reflect the seasonal program of the centre and that it would open 4-5 hours less a week, but that is not true. The centre used to be open Monday-Saturday 10 am to 2 pm, so 24 hours a week compared to just seven hours this week!
This sign on the door clearly shows the WACC is now only open for a mere 7 hours this week and less than nine hours next week, and not open at all on Fridays, Mondays or Sundays. It was not open today either.
The WACC is part of the Bathers Beach Art Precinct where artists are required to be open a minimum of 20 hours a week to help activate the area, but the WACC, that costs Fremantle ratepayer more than $ 160,000 a year, is open to the public for less than half of that time. If my maths are correct that means WACC is now only open a maximum of 416 hours a year at a cost of $ 385.00 per hour while offering no tourist service.
The WACC was closed all day today while the Roundhouse had a steady stream of visitors, including school groups, so no Aboriginal experience for those visitors today and none tomorrow either.
It is quite clear that the WACC in its present format is a failure and the COF should not put the ball in someone else’s court and hope an Aboriginal organisation will come up with a better concept. The City made the decision to put the WACC in the inappropriate small Pilot’s Cottage and now has to admit they were wrong and that the location does not work.
It is time to move on some of the highly paid administrators at COF who have no creative bone in their body, and get some new blood into the system and brilliant creative new ideas for the Bathers Beach Art Precinct. The same, same old boring s..t just does not work, and putting spin over it and telling Council and the public porkies is not on!
The ruling by the WA Planning Commission against a tavern and live outdoor music venue at J Shed should encourage the City of Fremantle and the local community to come together and find better ways of activating Arthur Head, as the changes made by the City have not been successful.
There have been very good ideas talked about for many years, so maybe it is time to listen to the resident artists at J Shed, the volunteer heritage guides at the Roundhouse and local residents.
One impressive way would be to extend the boardwalk from Kidogo Arthouse, the former kerosene store, to J Shed and create a historic walk with significant heritage signs about the whaling station, limestone quarry and Mews fishing industry, and link it with the Maritime Museum and the harbour where thousands of migrants arrived by ship. This would also make the connection from the present port to the historic long jetty ‘port’ just south of Kidogo.
Add to that a sculpture park and small children’s playground in front of J Shed and make the No 1 studio a cafe and art gallery with function availability for weddings, etc. A small alfresco deck to watch the Indian Ocean will no doubt attract locals and tourists alike.
It should also be contemplated if it is a viable move to relocate the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre, but it would need to have a tourism priority with music and dancing for cruise ship passengers and the sale of Aboriginal art and craft and maybe even bushtucker.
When we talk about activating the area we should keep in mind that already 120,000 people a year come to visit the Roundhouse, so we need to offer them something else so they’ll linger longer. A combination of history and art, plus a small hospitality outlet will no doubt help the activation.
The Roundhouse guides are also in the process of getting all new modern, interactive interpretive displays in the cells and power will be connected to the oldest public building in the state. That will create the opportunity of doing special night events and tours during the warmer months. That would help to activate the ghost town Arthur Head is at night at present and stop homeless people from invading the old Pilots Cottages.
The Pilots Cottages need another form of activation as the present occupants do very little to attract visitors to the area with their abstract paintings, so maybe it is time to let go off the art precinct idea up at Captain’s Lane and make it more of a tourist shopping destination, selling Freo T-shirts, craft, art and souvenirs, but ideally there should be 24/7 activity that discourages anti social behaviour at Arthur Head. The Glen Cowans underwater photo gallery is a highly visible and professional presence next to the Roundhouse and should be emulated to achieve high quality offerings to tourists and local Fremantle people.
I also still believe a Saturday morning art and craft market in front of J Shed would attract a lot of people, so let’s have a public debate about this, listen, learn, collaborate, create, and make Arthur Head THE go to part of Fremantle for visitors and locals. Together we can do it!
If there is one single thing at the City of Fremantle that annoys and frustrates me most it is the lack of consistency in decision making.
Yesterday I almost blew up when I was told the Roundhouse volunteer guides were informed the City has not allowed for $ 10,000 in this year’s budget to accommodate power supply to the Roundhouse, so that the $ 200,000 interpretive and interactive display project can get started and funding can be applied for from Lotterywest and elsewhere.
Last year the guides spent $ 30,000 on designers for the new displays and all would be ready to go but for the lack of electricity. ($ 20,000 came from Lotterywest, $ 5,000 from COF and $ 5,000 from the Guides).
If you want a solar parklet in Wray Avenue that lights up at night in a street no one frequents after dark because the cafes and shops are closed, the City has $ 20,000 readily available under its One Planet funding, the same if you want to grow mushrooms out of recycled coffee, or anything else that got the word sustainable, solar, wind, or green in its application..
The City is happy to put $ 200,000 a year in the Walyalup Centre at Arthur Head that has failed to attract many people and it is happy to subsidise Sunday painters in two cottages at Captain’s Lane, but one of the most highly visible and visited tourist destinations of Fremantle can’t secure a mere $ 10,000 to make a visit to the Roundhouse modern, interactive, multi-lingual and even more memorable.
We have heard for far too many years that the City of Fremantle wants to activate Arthur Head and the West End of Town, but the successful brand Roundhouse that gets over 120,000 visitors a year- we count every single one who enters!- can’t get a tiny bit of funding to put power inside. No worries though to accommodate an absolutely inappropriate tavern at J Shed, COF will grant your delivery trucks access through the historic Whalers Tunnel, or along the coastal tourist path at Bathers Beach, or even put a lift down Mrs Trivett Lane.
Fremantle City has no qualms constantly giving concessions, rent reductions, etc. to highly profitable events on the Esplanade, but a non for profit volunteer organisation that keeps the oldest public building in WA open every day of the year with mainly elderly volunteers, can get stuffed and wait a while, so that the costs will rise until the project becomes unaffordable.
So what if the heritage budget does not have the $ 10,000? It is not a heritage issue but a tourist one! Tourism is a huge industry in WA and the highest employer in the state, even above the mining industry, so give the Guides funding from the economic and marketing department budget, or whatever. Be flexible because we provide a service to visitors to Fremantle that costs the City next to nothing. The annual salary of one single director at COF would pay for the power and all the new displays, so maybe it’s time to do some pruning. It’s spring soon.
Sometimes I get so furious that I want to run into the Townhall, grab a few people, kick arse and yell GET YOUR BLOODY ACT TOGETHER AND YOUR PRIORITIES RIGHT!!!!
No criticism, just hoping the City of Fremantle will be able to repair these fences at the back of the historic Roundhouse asap as they are a public health hazard.
Hundreds of people, and a lot of the kids and school students, walk along this path every day. The rusty and sharp chicken wire has come detached from the wooden fences and sticks out and is dangerous to those who walk by.
Could we also see the return of a needle container as I yet again picked up a used drug needle just next to the public toilets at Arthur Head this morning. There used to be one of those safe needle containers on the wall of that toilet, but when I looked for it this morning it was no longer there.
Thanks you Freo City!
The neglect by the National Trust of the historic former Royal George Hotel in East Fremantle is a bloody disgrace and shows the organisation’s dismal failure of protecting the heritage buildings in it’s care.
The Royal George saga has been going on for many years, when artists were forced to move out and the building has been vacant since, making it a target for vandalism and homeless people.
Every now and then we are assured that yet again new developers are looking into the viability of renovating the building and making it habitable again, but it always turns out to be hot air and empty promises.
The Town of East Fremantle appears powerless to force the issue and demand that the site be renovated and activated.
It is an utter disgrace and something needs to be done at state and federal level to force the issue because the status quo is no longer acceptable and is endangering the beautiful heritage-listed building.
Some arty photos I took this afternoon of the J Shed art studios at Fremantle’s Bathers Beach.
I love spending time there and watch out over historic Bathers Bay and get startled by the 1 o’clock cannon fire at the Roundhouse.
Arthur Head is a very special place in Western Australia’s history, so go and visit it!
The Statutory Planning Committee of the Western Australian Planning Commission on June 28 rejected the application by Fremantle’s Kidogo Arthouse at Bathers Beach for retrospective approval for an Addition of Deck to Existing Heritage Building.
This from the minutes of the meeting:
That the Statutory Planning Committee resolves to:
1. Refuse the application for retrospective approval for development in accordance with the plans submitted thereto for the following reasons:
a. The size and scale of the timber deck visually dominates a heritage building and place and thus detracts from its heritage and cultural significance and is contrary to
State Planning Policy 3.5 – Historic Heritage Conservation.
b. The design and detail of the timber deck is inappropriate to the early colonial setting of the heritage place and is inconsistent with the Conservation Plan for this heritage place.
c. Development is contrary to the orderly and proper planning and detrimental to the amenity of the locality.
2. Give written direction to the applicant, pursuant to section 214(3) of the Planning and Development Act, 2005, to:
a. Remove the development of the timber deck extension to existing heritage building – Kidogo Arthouse; and
b. Reinstate the land as nearly as racticable to its condition immediately before the development started; or
c. Alter the development in accordance with the approval to commence development issued 30 July 2015 (Ref: 05-50134-4).
This direction is to be complied with by 31 October 2016, being not less than 60 days of the date shown on the notice of refusal.
3. Advise the applicant that, pursuant to section 214(7) of the Planning and Development Act, 2005, failure to comply with this direction within the time specified, is to commit an offence.
The motion was put and carried.
I hear that Kidogo owner Joanna Robinson now wants to take the matter to the State Administrative Tribunal.
This has been an interesting saga, as the Kidogo owner tried for years to get approval from Fremantle Council to build toilets at the southern side of the heritage building and finally received approval to build a small toilet block on the norther side. Instead of going ahead with the toilets she changed her mind and built the huge deck without the necessary approval.
If Kidogo does not get approval from SAT it will have been a very costly exercise as the deck cost $ 30,000 to build I believe and removing it won’t be cheap either.
It is very interesting to read in the Fremantle Herald this morning that Sunset Events director David Chitty has told them the company will go on and try to get approval from the WA Planning Commission for an 1,500 patron outdoor live music venue and an 850 patron tavern at J Shed on historic Arthur Head, against the vote of Fremantle Council and the wishes of the Fremantle community.
All the talk by David Chitty that he too is a Freo resident and community minded appears to be meaningless, as he wants to force his project through against the latest Fremantle Council and Planning Committee decisions. That is very disappointing for the community but the dollar signs are more powerful that community sentiment.
Sunset Events wrongly did receive approval from the City of Fremantle for a 400 patron tavern and 1,000 patron concerts, but that was not big enough for the proponents, and one can see why. Add another 500 music fans to the 12 concerts a year, and get 1,500 in at $ 100.00 a ticket plus what they eat and drink and you’ve got a substantial and very lucrative business. Add to that a doubling of patrons for the tavern seven days a week, while paying a mere peppercorn rent to the City of Fremantle and you are laughing all the way to the bank, so why bother about community sentiment and complaints.
But at the end it is not Sunset Events we should blame for being stubborn and greedy but Fremantle Council for being absolutely stupid for initially approving a totally inappropriate tavern and live music venue at one of WA’s most historic precincts. It will now come and bite them back!
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt will next week at the full council meeting declare a conflict of interest for the debate on the Sunset Events proposal for a tavern and live outdoor music venue at J Shed at Bathers Beach. The Mayor will declare the conflict because his long-term partner is an employee of CODA, the architects assigned by Sunset Events to design the tavern.
While this is the correct procedure one has to wonder why that conflict of interest did not exist last year when the temporary approval for live concerts was given, when the Mayor already was in a relationship with the CODA staffer.
Cynics might see this as a convenient way out for the Mayor who now won’t have to take part in the debate and won’t have to vote, so whatever the outcome no one can blame him.
Thinking about J Shed I feel this is a lost opportunity to create something special at historic Arthur Head. J Shed could have been a community and arts hub like the lovely Fibonacci Centre in Blinco Street that has artists and yoga studios, a small exhibition and performance space, a cute cafe and a nice deck to sit on. The Fib has small concerts, poetry readings, exhibitions, functions, a monthly flea market, etc. and is such a relaxing venue. Imagine something like that at Bathers Beach, a small deck for alfresco enjoyment of the Indian Ocean and sunset, a space suitable for weddings and wedding function, for art exhibitions and collaborations with the artists at J Shed.
Then imagine the City, with a grant from Lotterywest, uncovering the remnants of the old Whaling Station and creating another historic tourist attraction in the area. Increase the connectivity between the Fishing Boat Harbour and the Maritime Museum by extending the board walk and one has a jewel that will attract people from all over the world and many locals.
Fremantle does not need another entertainment precinct. We already got that well covered in the CBD and we know the often negative impact that has on the community. Check out the FARE (Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education) website or their DRINKTANK blog to see what impact drinking has on the community and our national health system, and it might be time for the City of Fremantle to consider their own alcohol policy.