This coming Wednesday is deck decision day for Kidogo Arthouse when the State Administrative Tribunal will decide if the unauthorised large timber deck at the heritage-listed building on Fremantle’s Bathers Beach will have to be dismantled or if it overrules the Western Australian Planning Commission’s decision and allow it to remain.
It is a real shame Kidogo owner Joanna Robinson did not follow proper planning procedure and decided to build the deck without planning approval as she had received approval to build a small toilet block in that location.
Joanna has a great positive can-do attitude and creativity and her occasional Kelp Bar has been a big success with locals and tourists, but it appears that this time she broke the rules.
I hope some sort of compromise can be reached as it cost over $ 30,000 to build the deck, and it will cost a lot of money to dismantle it, but one cannot ignore planning rules, especially at such a significant historic location, and Joanna Robinson should have known better than just go ahead without approval from the State Heritage Office and City of Fremantle. Maybe a smaller deck is acceptable to the heritage people?
It was interesting to hear at the Roundhouse today that there are still many people in Fremantle, and some in the tourism industry, who don’t know that the volunteer guides fire the cannon every day at 1 pm.
Cannon firing can be booked as a surprise birthday gift and for anyone. Today a school student from Geraldton fired it in front of her 30 classmates, teachers and another 50 people, as the photo I took shows.
Everyone who fires the cannon receives a certificate. You can book it on the Roundhouse website, where the guides also take bookings for school visits, weddings on the lawn next to the Roundhouse, functions, etc.
The Roundhouse is open every day of the year but for Good Friday and Christmas Day from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm.
I have thought long and hard for the last five days about the development proposal by Fremantle Notre Dame University for the vacant site on the corner of Cliff and High streets in the historic West End and have come to the conclusion that it is not acceptable.
Even with all my good will for Notre Dame and being a supporter of the uni I can’t approve of the bland building proposed that is unacceptably high in the West End Conservation Area, no matter how much I like the UNDA people.
WECA has a four storey limit and just because an incompetent council in the 80s approved the abomination and monstrosity at number 1 High Street-the former Tram building- does not mean we should now allow another five storey building next to it to cover up the ugliness.
If UNDA needs the extra height it needs to move to the east of the CBD, but what they propose can’t be tolerated in our beautiful West End. The design is unsympathetic to the streetscape and entire historic area and the five storey height would squeeze in the surrounding buildings and Roundhouse.
The sweet carrot dangled in front of the community by offering ground level activity with a theatre, function/exhibition space and a bar/cafe is not good enough to compromise and allow a fifth floor on this building, as that is well above the West End Conservation Area planning rules and should never be compromised, not even for my good friends at UNDA!
The only compromise I can see is for a redesigned facade with a set back fourth storey that is pulled back well from the corner of Cliff and High in a 45 degree angle to create a third level roof terrace. That would also create the opportunity of a vertical garden along the fourth floor and an outdoor function and recreation area on the third floor roof.
Notre Dame University have genuinely tried to be a good corporate citizen and be part of the Fremantle community, but they need and can do much better with this building. This is a fantastic opportunity to build a heritage of the future building in this prime location, and they should not let their architects get away with proposing something so average and boring. UNDA must insist on beauty and creativity.
It is a shame I can’t show you the artist drawing of the proposal but they are not yet available to the public.
An information session will be held on October 25 from 5.30-6pm at the City of Fremantle. Enter at the back up the stairs in front of Many 6100.
There is a big weekend of entertainment, fun and history coming up for Fremantle this weekend, so get ready for it!
On Saturday the first FREMANTLE FOLK FESTIVAL organised by Clancy’s Fish Pub will be held all day at Princess May Park with a great line up, so check out the Facebook page and buy your tickets soon!
On Sunday the Dirk Hartog Festival on Victoria Quay at Fremantle Port will celebrate that the Dutchman set foot on WA land 400 years ago at Shark Bay on October 25.
There will be entertainment, Dutch food, historic displays and talks, etc. so come along and say Goeden middag.
And if there is time left from 2-4 at the Fremantle Arts Centre Wildwood and Elli Schoen will be playing in the courtyard.
Notre Dame University today invited the community to have a look at the plans for the development of the vacant site on the corner of High and Cliff streets in the historic West End of Fremantle and unfortunately it looks as if it is going to be controversial.
Fremantle Society president John Dowson said it was outrageous to propose five storeys in the West End Conservation Area as it was not allowed under the City of Fremantle planning rules for the precinct, and I tend to agree with him, but with some reservations.
My biggest worry is setting precedents in the West End for higher buildings as other developers are waiting in the wings for more height in Henry Street and High streets, etc.
But I also acknowledge the reality of the very ugly five storey, plus huge towers at No 1 High Street and the new UNDA building would cover up the back of this monstrosity.
UNDA also wants ground level activation by putting a 220 seat theatre in the building and a bar/cafe, function centre/exhibition space, which would help that end of town a lot as it is a ghost town at night and on weekends.
But should the community compromise on height in the historic old town to cover up another ugly building and to achieve activation? We have a choice to make here that is very important and it’s a difficult one!
The height of the old Tram Building facade is equivalent to four storeys of the ugly No 1 building, as my photo above shows.
I also question the sharp angle of the building as it would have been softer and give more reference to heritage buildings in the vicinity to make the corner of the building at Cliff and High streets round.
The new building would house the nursing school that is getting inundated with applications to the extend that UNDA had to reject some people.
Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond told us the university is doing a complete external audit of its buildings and uses to see if they can be better used and help activation in the West End.
Celia Hammond said the university now has 6,000 students and 1,700 staff and had 24,000 visitors for events. It is estimated that UNDA students spend $ 2.5 million a year on coffee, etc and no doubt the substantial university staff will also support the Fremantle economy.
As I said at the meeting I am getting annoyed with beautiful artist impressions that do not clearly show the reality and impact of planned new buildings and it is time the City of Fremantle insisted on 3D plans for these kind of significant building, so that the community can get a clear and factual impression of what is proposed.
The UNDA building will cost between $ 14-17 million, so it surely is not a big deal to spend a few thousand dollars on 3D imagery.
The present vacant block and the back of the awful No 1 High Street building are an eyesore, so a new building will help improve the area, and a theatre, bar, exhibition space will no doubt make a huge difference as well and connect with the J Shed art precinct, but all parties need to be willing to compromise a little and that is going to be a big ask I fear.
The City of Fremantle will need approximately $ 187,000 to make the limestone cliff face behind the former Naval Stores at Cantonment Hill safe, which means the ENKEL group occupation of the stores will be delayed.
Geotechnical consultants have found that the natural area behind the stores is unstable with a high risk of failure, so immediate action needs to be taken to secure the rock face and prevent rockfall on or near the Naval Stores.
The preferred method is the batter protection one, using an anchor system, mesh and fibrous shortcrete to stabilise the area and allow for regrowth.
The city of Fremantle needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with new ideas for the failed Bathers Beach Art Precinct concept at historic Arthur Head. It was never a brilliant idea to try to make the historic Pilot’s Cottages into art studios/galleries as it was unlikely it would attract serious professional artists. The Glen Cowans photography gallery is the exception as the only professional outfit at Captain’s Lane, and the Walyalup Centre is basically closed because it has failed.
It is no good to now call for external operators to take over the Aboriginal centre because the COF lacks creativity and innovative new ideas. The tavern idea at J Shed was “applicant driven” by Sunset Events the COF told us, and in the Fremantle Herald today we read the City is fully expecting Sunset Events to take on the lease from July next year although Fremantle Council and the WAPC rejected the tavern and live outdoor music venue. Will we get another “applicant driven” loony out of scale proposal for the heritage precinct that residents, artists and heritage groups will have to fight, just because the City has run out of ideas? That is not good enough!
It is now time for the City to sit down with all the stakeholders before another unacceptable plan is proposed by Sunset Events, so we don’t have to continue the protests and negativity.
It is also time to properly acknowledge the extreme heritage significance and support the Roundhouse volunteers financially for new displays, as they attract over 120,000 visitors a year to the area, and it is time to show more respect for the long-established artists at J Shed who have been taken for granted by the City. They deserve a whole lot better than the my way or the highway attitude by the City of Fremantle!
What Arthur Head needs is improving the heritage features, proper landscaping of the J Shed A Class reserve, a sculpture park and playground, events organised by the COF and artists, a function centre for weddings and events, and a small cafe/bar with alfresco deck to enjoy historic Bathers Bay and the stunning sunsets over the Indian Ocean.
I am happy to be part of a small group to explore new options for Arthur Head. I have intimate knowledge of the area that I have visited daily for 20 years, I lived in one of the old Pilot Cottages for two and a half years, have exhibited there, curated shows, organised events and markets, taught photography, etc. and I have been a volunteer guide at the Roundhouse for eight years and I know every stone and every cave, and I know many of the local residents and small businesses, so talk to me!
Arthur Head is far too significant for Fremantle and Western Australia to just leave it to external organisations who want to make big bucks. We, the community and our elected members should be in charge of the future of one of our state’s most important historic precincts, and not wait for some applicant driven nonsense, so let’s sit down and talk because another backlash and more negativity will be even more divisive for our community!
I went to take some more photos of the demolition of the historic luffing crane on Victoria Quay this morning.
It’s a disappointing sight that is even more concerning when the excuse is that there is an identical crane next to the Maritime Museum, because a source at the museum tells me that the crane is a so-called State asset but the State does not supply the museum with funding to maintain it. This means we could hear the same story in a few years that for safety reasons the cranes at the Maritime Museum also have to be demolished.
I also hear the Maritime Museum suggested to Fremantle Ports to relocate the E Shed crane to a location near A Shed and the museum but that was rejected by Fremantle Ports.
I am sure this is all due to Fremantle Ports’ plans for the development of Victoria Quay and a hotel on the Challenger TAFE site near the South Mole.
When money talks heritage protection has no voice!
Maybe I am just a sentimental old fool but it makes me really sad to watch the demolition of the old luffing crane near the E Shed Markets on Victoria Quay in Fremantle.
It is outrageous that the crane was not offered for sale years ago when Fremantle Ports decided it was going to let it rot and not maintain it. The excuse that it now has to be demolished for safety reasons is rubbish. It could have been put in front of the Shipwreck Museum or at J Shed for example to add another attraction for tourists.
I am all for progress and have nothing against good change, but the disgraceful demolition by neglect in WA needs to stop, or we’ll soon see the old George Hotel in East Fremantle go down for “safety” reasons as well.
If we don’t respect our past we have no hope in hell creating a better future!
Work on the demolition of the old luffing crane next to the E Shed Markets in Fremantle Port will start this week and that is a real shame.
The Babcock and Wilcox crane is now beyond repair according to Fremantle Ports, and that is no surprise as they have neglected it and did not maintain it for years. Demolition by neglect is nothing new when it comes to the heritage of our state.
I could imagine this crane painted in great colours and the silhouette lit up at night with lots of small lights all along it making a great feature at the proposed new Victoria Quay development. A stunning artwork that would have stood out at night and during the day.
No one seems to have long-term vision for anything. On the hop and give it the chop is how this state is run. Very disappointing!