Freo's View


Posted in fremantle, photography by freoview on August 11, 2015

I had a wander around the cute North Fremantle community hub where old and new blend so well together and did a photo essay of what I discovered.

North Freo and the port are special places for me and it concerns me greatly that the proposed Perth Freight Link and possible duplication of the Stirling Bridge would have a huge impact on the suburb and that parts of it might have to be demolished to make way for wider roads to Fremantle port.

While driving there I heard a debate on ABC radio about Perth Freight Link protest signs being stolen, with one man saying he took them away because he considers them litter. In a free country people have the right to express themselves and no one should censor that freedom by taking away signs they don’t agree with. Just put others up that support your view Mr Thief!

Roel Loopers


Posted in development, fremantle, perth freight link, state government by freoview on May 19, 2015

Dean Nalder, the Minister for Traffic Chaos, told ABC radio late yesterday afternoon that he is not convinced that the present proposed route for the Perth Freight Link to Fremantle Port is the ideal and best one, so there is some hope for home owners in Palmyra that they won’t be forced to sell their houses to Main Roads to make way for the terribly ill-conceived tollroad that will create traffic chaos, pollution, noise and splitting up communities.

This road is going to be a fast truck road to nowhere as they will all get stuck in the bottleneck at North Fremantle and the Minister has not indicated that substantial changes would be made there. Widening roads, overpasses, etc. would be extremely detrimental to the lifestyle of North Freo residents and could destroy that community. I fear it is too late to hope that sanity will prevail at State Government and the idea for the Freight Link will be scrapped.

It is very strange and comes across as piecemeal governance that the Minister is still thinking about the right route for the road when already a consortium of builders have been shortlisted to start building it in probably less than a year from now. It looks as if Minister Nalder does not communicate well with his department.

Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle by freoview on November 6, 2014

I have been going to as many Fremantle Council and committee meetings as I can for some years now because I enjoy watching the democratic process of local government. It is very hands on and personal with people making presentations about developments that affect and might change their life, and it is good to see that all Councillors and officers take their duties very serious and are equally and sincerely respectful to proponents and opponents.

Last night’s Planning Services Committee had to deal with a particular dilemma of approving or not of a modern building located between two buildings of significant heritage value in Tuckfield Street. At the end of a long discussion, and after the owners and neighbours had their say, it was decided to defer the matter to get more advise from the heritage coordinator of the City.

Respect for heritage and the overall streetscape should always be a major component of any planning approval in a character city like Fremantle, but we should not have the attitude that a modern building should not be built in a heritage landscape. If we did we would end up with kitch, unattractive mock-heritage buildings.

However Councillors should not make decisions on a what if basis either. The what if we don’t approve this and get something worse argument by the Mayor was rightly dismissed by the Deputy Mayor, but I can understand the dilemma Brad Pettitt recognised.

Everyone agreed that the proposed building is of great modern design, but that it might not be right for the location because of its overpowering impact on the streetscape and the neighbouring heritage buildings. It dominates the streetscape rather than supporting it said Councillor Ingrid Waltham.

So how does one decide as a Councillor? Personal taste should not apply and Councillors Josh Wilson and Jon Strachan rightly said they had to take the advise of the experts, the City’s planning and heritage officers, who recommended the application to be rejected. Maybe Councillor Andrew Sullivan’s suggestion to lower the building by a bit over half a meter could be looked into as a compromise.

Old and new and juxtaposition of heritage and modern will always be an issue in certain locations. I believe it was sensitively dealt with in the new office building under construction at Cliff Street and designed by Murray Slavin Architects, but I am sure it will still be controversial because some people might not like it or feel it is inappropriate between two heritage buildings.

Council should respect the advise of their officers as they are the planning and architectural experts and most Councillors are not. As a community we also need to be very careful though that we don’t reject great modern design in an old street. The world has always been an evolving place where architecture and design tastes change and where we were so happy to get rid of some of the atrocious sixties designs and replace them with more considerate and beautiful architecture.

It is a huge challenge to get it right for Fremantle, so somehow I hope a compromise can be found that will allow a modified version of the proposed building to go ahead. Rejecting it only because it would be a modern building sandwiched between heritage buildings would be wrong in my opinion, but its impact on the streetscape needs to be less severe.

Whatever Council decide some people will not be happy.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on October 27, 2014

property gurus

Size does matter in real estate and while the Great Australian Dream of a big house and garden is still alive and well, and can be blamed for the unsustainable urban-sprawl, some Fremantle real estate agents like to drive around in tiny cars.

Bill Massie of the Property Gurus, and Freo Councillor, sent me this photo of his new vehicle and suggests to come and ask him for a pen and notepad when you see this L’ill one. Ideally he’d like you to buy one of his listed properties of course, so check out what he’s got.

Freo Citizen of the year 2013 and former Councillor, John Alberti of the Professionals real estate group also drives a tiny company car around town and takes good advantage near the Town Hall of his free parking allowance as a former Councillor.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 1, 2014

An article in today’s West Australian shows that it is very difficult to change people’s habits and lifestyle, and that will be one of the major challenges for our governments when it comes to climate change and getting people to live more environmentally aware.

The newspaper reports that in the last six months 12,000 blocks of residential land were sold in the outer suburbs but only 1,200 of blocks were sold in the inner city suburbs. According to the West that was mainly because of affordability. A couple said they bought a 462 sqm block at Banksia Grove for only $ 242,000 and will be building a 4 bedroom house on it. Compare that with having to pay nearly $ 500,000 dollars for a one bedroom apartment in the Fremantle CBD and one can see why high density living is still hard to sell in Western Australia. Of course the urban sprawl is unsustainable in the long run, and that means the great Australian dream of owning one’s own house on a big block of land needs to change.

In Fremantle, where the balmy climate allows us to live outside nearly nine months a year, less than 3 percent of the population uses a bicycle, but in a cold and wet country like the Netherlands 27 percent of trips are done on a bike. In Holland kids go to school on their bike instead of being dropped off in the car by their parents, and large bicycle parking stations are available to commuters and travelers at most train stations.

It needs a considerable mind-set change for Australians to let go off past and present habits of over using cars and of wanting to live in houses instead of apartments.

Higher density living does not have to mean ugly highrise concrete boxes. Developers, councils and State Government need to be more creative and clever and adapt a new style of medium high attractive apartment buildings to our climate, with large-size balconies, roof terraces and courtyards to accommodate the outdoor lifestyle we embrace.

Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle by freoview on June 25, 2014

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It is hard to stay inside when it is such a perfect day. Stunning blue sky, the sun blazing and 20 degrees, so what better way to spend part of the morning than wandering along the shore of the Swan River at North Fremantle. I am planning to go back there soon and shoot more streetscapes and take photos of some of the lovely buildings they got up that way.

I sincerely hope that North Freo will remain with the City of Fremantle when the new council boundaries are announced by State Government in late July. Fingers crossed!

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on June 21, 2014

I just watched an amazing video of a talk by Ken Larson at TEDxBoston in the USA. Larson is part of the MIT Media Lab and his talk is about how to design modern cities for the future. There are some stunning ideas, from folding cars that can turn around on the spot, so no need to reverse, and will fit in small parking bays, to hyper compact homes and quick-changing apartments with movable “robotic walls”, so space and rooms can be changed to accommodate need and use, e.g. two bedrooms become the dining room, and where lights will be switched on and off by movement sensors to save energy.

Ken Larson believes cities should become like the small villages of the past, where most things we need are within a twenty-minute walk from where we live. He cites the arrondissements of Paris as a good example of it.

Larson also talks about “democratising bike lanes” so that elderly and disable people can use electric bikes, but also that skaters and push scooters are allowed to use those lanes.

It is very inspiring and I will do an internet search for more of Ken Larson’s ideas to create better cities. He mentions the Melbourne laneways as a good example, and we know Perth has been working on that as well. It’s time for Fremantle to grow up and modernise the way we think about planning and development. It would be fantastic to invite such a big creative thinker like Ken Larson to our City. I believe it will be better value than the placemaking talks I have attended.

Here is the link to Larson’s talk:

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on May 10, 2014

It is good that the City of Fremantle encourages residents to beautify their verges with the offer of subsidised native plants, to help save water and increase biodiversity, but it is disappointing that Fremantle residents can’t go and buy these plants on Sunday and Saturday afternoon. That’s going to make it hard for families where children have to attend sport on Saturday morning and parents work on week days.

The plants are just $ 1.50 per tube at the APACE Nursery during the month of May. Maximum of 20 tubes per person and for Freo residents only. Bring ID!

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on March 5, 2012

Residents in Fremantle‘s sleepy Solomon Street, between Knutsford and Fothergill, are not very happy and up in arms with the development of Dalkeith style mega mansions in their street, and above it in Swanbourne Street. The imposing dwellings overshadow, almost intimidate, the small character houses Solomon Street is well known and liked for. It is unbelievable that the City of Fremantle has allowed for these super mansions to be built in a cosy suburban street, where they are totally out of place and character.

Roel Loopers

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Posted in fremantle by freoview on October 11, 2011

My young mate and IT genius Sam and I have been feeling a bit in the doldrums lately. You know the kind of narcissistic bloke thing we sometimes get. One having a wee broken heart while the other does not get any love at all.

Real Australian blokes would have gone on the p… and drown their sorrows, but Sam and I are more the sensitive new age kind of guys, so we decided we do a bit of soul searching by going on an urban exploration around the old Watsonia meat factory in Spearwood after work.

I hope it worked for Sam, because I am too old for love anyway. Here some photos I took while we were cleansing, rebirthing and doing all those holistic things only Fremantle men do.

Roel Loopers

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