Freo's View

PROPOSED CHANGES TO WA PLANNING PROCESS

 

The WA Government has released its plans for changes to the planning process, stating that the present process is more about process than it is about quality outcomes.

The discussion paper that is now out for public comment focusses on five areas which I have copied and pasted here for Freo’s View readers:

1. Strategically-led

2. Legible

3. Transparent

4. Efficient

5. Delivering smart growth

  • The State Government, WAPC and local government to collaborate on the planning and delivery of key centres and infill locations and forward planning of infrastructure.
  • Develop a state planning policy focused on delivering consolidated and connected smart growth.
  • Provide for coordinated land use and transport planning of key urban corridors.

Key reform proposals

Make strategic planning the cornerstone of the planning system

  • Local governments to have up-to-date local planning strategies, including one for housing, through which the community has a say in how their neighbourhood will be developed.
  • Make strategic planning for sustainable development the purpose of planning in Western Australia.

Make the planning system easy to access and understand

  • A single concise State Planning Policy framework with common elements for State, regional and local plans and policies.
  • A comprehensive local planning scheme will be available online for each local government including a local planning strategy, the statutory scheme and local planning policies.
  • Reduce red tape by standardising commonly used zones.

Open up the planning system and increase community engagement in planning

  • A Community Engagement Charter with a focus on up-front community involvement in strategic planning.
  • Re-balance Development Assessment Panel processes including recording meetings, providing reasons for decisions, and undertaking more comprehensive investigation and consideration of complex proposals.
  • Local governments to report annually on their planning responsibilities.

Make the planning system well-organised and
more efficient

Refocus the planning system to deliver quality urban infill

  • Revise the WA Planning Commission (WAPC) to include 5-7 specialist members and increase their focus on strategic planning and policy development.
  • WAPC to delegate more statutory matters to the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage and accredited local governments.
  • Rethink administrative processes that add unnecessary time and cost to approvals processes.

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FREO THINKS BIG ABOUT SMALL HOUSING

Posted in city of fremantle, housing, lifestyle, living, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on March 29, 2018

 

I am a bit lazy because of the flu and fever I have, so just some points I copied from this media release  by the City, as I could not attend last evening’s committee meeting:

The City of Fremantle has given its final approval to a ground-breaking new approach to infill housing in suburban areas, called the ‘Freo Alternative – Big Thinking about Small Housing’.

Council last night voted to change the City’s Local Planning Scheme and adopt a new planning policy to stimulate development of a wider choice of housing in Fremantle’s suburban areas while still maintaining what people value about their neighbourhoods.

State government has set density targets across the metropolitan area to cater for population growth and limit urban sprawl, but poorly planned or inappropriate infill developments are often met with a backlash from local residents, and don’t always match housing needs.

The proposed planning scheme amendment and policy will now be sent to the Minister for Planning for final determination.

The Freo Alternative is the result of more than three years of research and community engagement. Because of the widespread concern about the impact of infill development in our suburbs, Fremantle wanted to create a shared community vision of the future of housing in the city

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said “We needed to come up with a way of delivering more diverse and affordable housing while retaining the established form and feel of the streestcapes and neighbourhoods that people love about where they live.”

The Freo Alternative project began in 2014 when the Australian Urban Design Research Centre and local architects were engaged to model different small housing types and test if they could work in a Fremantle environment.

That was followed in 2016 with a widespread community engagement campaign to establish what attributes the community most valued about their suburb and the benefits and challenges of small housing types.

The key themes to emerge from the consultation included having a range of housing choices, good access to transport, retention of open spaces and trees, good quality design, sustainability, affordability and encouraging community interaction.

The proposed amendment to Fremantle’s Local Planning Scheme establishes seven special control areas throughout the suburbs with special provisions for small infill development, as an alternative to traditional single lot subdivision.

Key provisions include:

Only applies to lots larger than 600 square metres
Dwellings to have a maximum floor area of 120 square metres
Maximum of three dwellings on lots of 750 square metres or less
Minimum of 30 square metres of outdoor living area per dwelling
Developments to have higher than standard energy efficiency ratings, and include solar panels, rainwater tanks, grey water systems or meet best practice accessibility standards
A minimum of 70 per cent of the entire development to be open space
At least one large tree to be retained or planted for each dwelling
A maximum of one parking bay per dwelling
Developments to be referred to the City’s Design Advisory Committee to consider design quality.

Freo Alternative will initially be applied to specific locations within the City of Fremantle, in sections of White Gum Valley, Samson, Hilton, O’Connor, Beaconsfield and Fremantle that meet certain criteria regarding proximity to public transport, existing lot size and housing stock, and heritage streetscapes.

To be reviewed in four years, Freo Alternative may then be rolled out across further locations.

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IT’S ALL ABOUT GETTING THE DEVELOPMENT BALANCE RIGHT

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, planning, Uncategorized by freoview on March 14, 2018

 

There is a big conundrum about development in Fremantle and elsewhere. The difficult question about urban infill in older character places is how much, how big, how high, how good, what kind of and when to stop.

We are getting very confusing messages from people, with many moving from WA to Melbourne because it is so European, whatever that means, while I read that many people in Sydney want to move out and go to Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane because Sydney is getting too big, traffic too mad and property prices too high.

Feedback from tourists is that most of them love Fremantle but are not impressed with the bland mediocrity of many of the new buildings in Perth, while they adore Freo’s gorgeous heritage West End.

What is good and appropriate development for Fremantle and how much is needed? We can forever argue about what we like or not but for example the development of the dormant Henderson Street in connection with that of Kings Square and the future development of Fremantle Oval is a good thing I believe.

One can rightly question though if the massive planned Woolstores shopping centre development and the eight-storey Little Lane on the Spotlight site are just a bit too much for Fremantle and overkill.

Does Fremantle need more highrise apartment buildings or should is start encouraging micro lots of around 100sqm for terrace housing/townhouses, that would suit our inner city much better.

I believe it is all about balance, but developers and city and state planners are not getting the right mix in my opinion.

I left Sydney in 1985 because real estate was simply unaffordable there while house prices in Perth were very cheap then, and it looks like this is still going on, although Fremantle is relatively expensive to move to.

It is time the WA state government organised a symposium on how much and what kind of development is needed, so that it can give better guidance to developers and local councils and its own JDAP and SAT.

It is imperative to show real respect for character cities like Fremantle, Subiaco and others and develop with restraint. To keep pushing for urban infill when the targets might be unrealistic will be detrimental to the uniqueness of our heritage cities.

Roel Loopers

THE FREO ALTERNATIVE HOUSING VISION

Posted in city of fremantle, housing, lifestyle, living, Uncategorized by freoview on November 1, 2017

 

Stage two of the Freo Alternative housing concept is about to start and realising the vision through planning policy.

The first stage of the concept was about generating a shared community vision on the future of housing in Fremantle, and now the City wants to identify how it can change our planning rules to allow for smaller homes in suburban locations, while protecting the things we love about our neighbourhoods..

Through the community consultation process it became clear that eight themes are important to the Fremantle community: housing choice, trees and landscaping, open space, sustainability, community, built form, car movement, and location. 

Fremantle Council would like to hear your thoughts on the proposed planning rules and are holding community sessions in the suburbs.

White Gum Valley | 15 November 2017  4.30 – 6.30pm at Sullivan Hall –  2 Nannine Ave, White Gum Valley.

Fremantle | 16 November 2017  4 – 6pm at Holland Park – Holland Street, Fremantle.

Beaconsfield | 19 November 2017 & 26 November 2017 8am – 12 noon at Growers Green Market – front lawn of South Fremantle Senior High School, Lefroy Road, Beaconsfield.

Hilton | 22 November 2017  4 – 6pm near the entrance to Gilbert’s Fresh – 308 South Street, Hilton.

Samson | 23 November 2017 4.30 – 6.30pm at Samson Recreational Centre – 44 McCombe Ave, Samson.

You can read the proposed planning changes in more detail online and complete the survey by 5.00 pm 2 February 2018.

If you have any questions contact C0F: email: planning@fremantle.wa.gov.au or phone on 9432 9999.

Roel Loopers

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EMBRACING GOOD URBAN INFILL

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on October 20, 2017

 

The Perth’s Infill Housing Future report by the Bankwest Curtin Economic Centre has warned that the urban sprawl will create extreme infrastructure costs and traffic congestion.

It concluded that Perth is missing the vital medium-density housing options, and that forces people to live on the fringes, where property is more affordable.

There are many people who want to live closer to the centres but the housing options are not available to them, because the urban infill target of 47 per cent set by the WA government has not been met and is only at 35 per cent.

The report says that local councils play a key role in facilitating medium-density development and to help identify the right areas in the inner suburbs.

While Fremantle is getting substantial medium-density infill east of the CBD, there is not much happening further out, but there are very good opportunities at the Heart of Beaconsfield, Hilton centre, the Knutsford Sreet precinct, and North Fremantle’s McGabe Street.

One issue the report identifies is the NIMBY approach to higher density where locals just don’t want anything above four storeys. I believe it is not only that, but the boring and mediocre quality of architecture that we are getting in Fremantle.

More people would embrace medium to high density I believe, if we got more creative and visually appealing buildings, rather than square boxes with a bit of cladding around them.

 

Roel Loopers

Vote Roel for City Ward!

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GETTING THE OLD AND YOUNG BALANCE RIGHT

Posted in city of fremantle, community, Uncategorized by freoview on September 13, 2017

 

The City of Fremantle has a higher than average of older people living here than the other metropolitan councils, but policy making does not reflect that sufficiently, I believe.

We have a Youth Council, and that is great because we really need to get young people interested in local government, but we should also have a Senior Council, in the old tradition of a circle of elders.

Fremantle Council’s wish to reduce cars in the inner city can’t be dismissed, but it needs to be far more sensitive to the needs of seniors, disabled people, and parents with children.

Parking far away from shopping destinations will deter seniors from coming into town to shop and visit cafes. It”s a safety and a comfort issue for them.

We provide affordable and artist spaces, such as WGV and Nightingale, but we need to create communities for seniors as well. Men Sheds are good, but mainly for men, and many men, myself included, are not interested in handiwork, but would love to hang out with like-minded creative people in senior hubs, that could be inspired by the Fibonacci Centre.

There are opportunities at the Bathers Beach Arts Precinct, and the number one unit at J Shed could have been perfect for a creative community centre, but was unfortunately and inappropriately leased to Sunset Events to start a tavern and micro-brewery.

We also need to create community spaces where seniors can hang out with younger people, so that both sides can share their knowledge.

I personally love engaging with younger people in Fremantle because they often have a different perspective on life and different priorities, and it can be inspiring to listen to them.

In the Netherlands, where I was born, university students are offered free rooms in retirement centres, on the condition they spend a certain number of hours each week communicating with the older residents. A win win for all!

My next door neighbour told me that there are many single women in their 40s and 50s who feel a sense of isolation and are looking for safe housing options that suit them better, but there is not enough diversity of small dwellings available in Fremantle.

There are many people in our society who feel isolated and lonely and we need to reach out to them. Fremantle is the perfect city to do that. We care, we are creative, we are passionate and generous, so let’s work on some ideas and how we can make improvements.

What do YOU think?

Roel Loopers

VOTE ROEL FOR CITY WARD!

LIFESTYLE PROTECTION FOR FREO’S EAST END

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on September 5, 2017

 

 

Freo’s View reader David, who lives in the East End of the Fremantle CBD, commented that my letter in the West Australian last week indicated I had an anything goes attitude to that part of the city, as far as development is concerned, but nothing could be further from the truth.

I strongly believe the entire inner city demands excellent buildings that respect the unique heritage character of Fremantle, and I have expressed this many times here on the blog and in verbal and written submissions to Council.

While there is huge development potential, considerations needs to be given to the heritage buildings and streetscapes in the East End of town, where we have the beautiful Victoria Hall, Basilica, Boy’s School, Railway Station, etc.

And I believe that we need to protect the lifestyle of inner city residents, and Council needs to manage it better.

I objected to the architectural blandness of the Hilton Doubletree hotel, the proposed boring development between the Australia Hotel and St Patrick’s, and the mediocrity of the eight-story Spotlight site development.

When Defence Housing showed their initial plans at Kings Square for the six-storey LIV development at Queen Victoria Street, I suggested to one of the architects that the facade was far too long and needed to be broken up, which was met with a what would you know stare from the tall expert.

It was interesting then to read comments by the City’s Design Advisory Committee a few months later, who recommended exactly what I had done, that the facade needed to be split up. This has now been done with a large gap that creates a community piazza all the way to Quarry Street, but it should have been more with more attention to detail.

I would still have liked to see stronger vertical features on the LIV building, that would juxtaposed more with the majestic verticality of the Heirloom building opposite it.

The Fremantle Society fought under my presidency very hard against Planning Scheme Amendment 49 and the inappropriate height in some of the 13 locations. We had a scale model in the Adelaide Piazza and Woolstores to show the public what would happen, but it was to no avail and now the Woolstores shopping centre site could go up as high as eleven storeys.

The major problem I see with bureaucrats having a broad-brush approach to an area is that it stifles architectural excellence. In the right location and with great design, a cupola feature or something alike on a higher building might well look much better, even when it is a few metres higher than the planning scheme allows.

I don’t have a general objection to height in the east of the Fremantle CBD and believe it should all depend on how creative a building is and how it enhances the spatial amenity and streetscape.

For example the six-storey building on the corner of Cantonment and Parry Street, opposite the Australia Hotel, is good Freo human scale for me, because it has very attractive features, round corners and some tower like structures, instead of a boring flat roof. It does not appear to be too high because of that, but a square boring concrete box of the same height might well have been inappropriate and look too big for that corner site.

The issues with flexibility of course is that it would be very hard for planning departments to work with, developers would try to take advantage, and JDAP and SAT could allow inappropriate buildings because there is no planning scheme that disallows them. That is a big dilemma.

As it stands, the rules and regulations more often than not restrict creative design, because the attitude is that you can’t have a 2-4 metre feature sticking out above the allowed height. Somehow we need to get around that, so that we’ll get more excellent architecture in Fremantle.

Let’s have a symposium about what desirable design for Freo would be, and not just focus on height.

Roel Loopers

WA GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR FREO MAYOR

Posted in city of fremantle, housing, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on September 1, 2017

 

 

WA Housing Minister Peter Tinley strongly endorsed Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt and his council at the Housing and the Future event at the Moores building last night.

Tinley urged people to “Vote for Brad!” saying the success of Fremantle’s urban infill was a fundamental guide for the government to use as an example in W.A.

The Minister said that Fremantle Council has lead the change in the metropolitan area with their strategic planning for revitalisation.

The Housing Minister said it was essential for the government to partner with the private industry to offer a diverse range of housing options, and that Housing was a $ 14.5 billion agency that delivered social outcomes.

Tinley said there was a “structural disconnect with affordability” and that 44 per cent of four-bedroom homes have just a single occupant. He said it was important for future planning to consider what the built form contributed to the community.

REIWA President Hayden Groves surprisingly expressed that the urban sprawl was no longer sustainable and said real estate transactions had dropped from 71,000 in 2006 to only 31,000 last year.

He said REIWA was trying to create greater revenue resources for the government through property, and that the bottom of the cycle was here and the real estate market was more stable.

Affordability was a problem, Groves said, with low income earners priced out of the market. The private property sector also needed  to take responsibility for that, not just governments.

The REIWA President said that changes to negative gearing were a problem because it removed the incentives for investors.

Government support for first home buyers needed to be adapted as it supported the urban sprawl, Groves claimed, and that Labor’s Metronet was a fabulous policy.

It is important to offer affordable rent, as well as affordable housing and the Fremantle WGV and Nightingale developments were great.

Mayor Brad Pettitt, introduced as Dad by the MC, said Fremantle Council was passionate about housing, but it was hard for young people to live in the city. It was important to match up people through diversity and affordability and getting the mix right.

He said inner city residents were estimated to increase by 40 per cent by 2070. At present only 721 people live in the CBD. “Fremantle’s problem is that there are not enough people here.” But we are on the cusp of being a more vibrant city with more people living here, Pettitt told the crowd of developers, architects, politicians and real estate agents.

During the Q&A Minister Peter Tinley said that properties were only affordable once-the first time-after that they returned to the market and often become unaffordable.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said that stamp duty was a disincentive to downgrade for older people, and that the State Government should reward those councils who are doing infill, through investment in their infrastructure.

Pettitt said it could be frustrating for local governments to deal with the State, and it had taken 18 months to get a Planning Scheme Amendment approved.

Peter Tinley said that Metronet was the centrepiece of WA’s infrastructure and housing and transport were working together in steering committees. We need to know who the people are who are going to live near near train stations and public transport hubs, because it is all about the communities we create, not just about living in concrete boxes.

In reply to a question from the floor it was disappointing to feel that housing for people with a disability appears to have been put in the hard basket. Accessibility and adaptability were real challenges, the Minister said.

I was surprised to hear that one in five people in WA have a disability. That is not a minority group, so governments need to do a whole lot better to cater for them!

REIWA President Hayden Groves said he is trying to change REIWA’s thinking, as they felt threatened by urban infill up to now, but that was changing as the urban infill was not sustainable and cost too much in infrastructure. It was important for the governments to give incentives for people who wanted to down-size, or right-size as it is now called.

Housing and the Future was a good begin of a very important dialogue we need to have. I believe a more substantial forum on housing should be initiated after all the election hype is over.

 

Roel Loopers

 

 

 

HOW DESIRABLE IS URBAN INFILL?

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on August 30, 2017

 

Fremantle LIV Defence Housing apartment development seen from Quarry Street.

 

There is an interesting article about urban infill in the West Australian today by the president of the Property Council of WA Tanya Trevisan.

Trevisan reports and reflects on a recent collaborative study by the PCA, Curtin University and CODA architects.

The study found that if the state’s infill target was increased from 47 per cent to 60 per cent, WA could save $ 23 billion by 2050.

According to the report supplying infrastructure to greenfield development costs up to three times more than urban infill development.

Tanya Trevisan argues that urban infill, when done well, offers balanced and diversity of housing. She writes that infill creates stronger communities and maximises the effectiveness of existing infill.

There is no doubt for me that the Perth urban sprawl is not sustainable and the Great Australian Dream of one’s own house with front and back garden can’t be sustained in our fast-growing city.

However, due to the mining bust, thousands of people have left the state, and fewer move or migrate to W.A. so our need for extensive residential development is also diminishing for the time being.

There have been serious social issues around the world with high-density living, so not all is good.

I believe there is also the need for new public transport nodes outside the inner character cities, because inner city living is often too expensive for those on lower income, students, etc. Building medium to high density in some outer pockets, where good public transport is provided, is essential as we can’t just stuff our unique centres with large concrete boxes, and destroy their character.

Tomorrow evening at 5.30 there is a Housing Forum at the Moore&Moore cafe in Freo’s Henry Street, so check it out!

 

Roel Loopers

THE FUTURE OF HOUSING FREO FORUM

Posted in city of fremantle, housing, Uncategorized by freoview on August 29, 2017

There is an interesting forum Housing and the Future
 on at the Fremantle Moore&Moore cafe in Henry Street this Thursday August 31 at 5.30 pm.

The diversity and affordability of housing is something that needs to be revisited by state and local governments, and the way the government supplies social housing as well, so this will be a good forum to participate in.

The forum features WA Minister Peter Tinley, the Member for Willagee,  Hayden Groves, President of the Real Estate Institute of WA, and Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt.

Tickets are $ 50.00. Finger food, beer, wine and soft drink included.

Click on the link below for more info.

https://bradforfreo.tidyhq.com/public/schedule/events/15525-housing-and-the-future

 

Roel Loopers

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