Freo's View

GOOD EDITORIAL IN THE WEST ABOUT PERTH FREIGHT LINK

Posted in city of fremantle, perth freight link, state government, western australia by freoview on April 18, 2016

There is a good editorial in the West Australian newspapers today about the Perth Freight Link by Economic Editior Shane Wright. It is nice to read something that is not bias or has political motivation, as it clears the head a bit from the hubris one often gets from political parties and NIMBYS.

Editor Shane Wright rightly questions the process of the project and writes that before the announcement in May 2014 the Perth Freight Link did not exist and all the WA government wanted was to build the Roe 8 highway extension and upgrade the High Street, Stirling Highway intersection to accommodate trucks. I have to note here that both these projects were also controversial and locals protested against them.

Shane Wright says that one of the largest pieces of public road ever to be built in WA was “Thrown together far too quickly.” And that “Such a large project was always going to face problems, from legal to construction.”

As many opponents have stated, the PFL might solve some of the issues getting freight to Fremantle Port and associated traffic problems, but Shane Wright points out that there is a “glaring problem” as the PFL fails to cross the Swan River and reach the port. “A truck carpark is going to be created where the new built road pops up near the Canning Highway.” he writes.

He continues with mentioning the Supreme Court ruling on the Environmental Protection Authority failed process and that this all could have been avoided if proper process had taken place.

I believe what all governments and all political parties too often do to gain political mileage is damaging, as costly delays happen, consultants get paid huge sums for ill-conceived projects that never get off the ground, unnecessary anxiety is created in the community, and they waste enormous amounts of taxpayers’ money by grandstanding to get some political gain. That really is the story of the Perth Freight Link shambles.

Roel Loopers

STATE DEVELOPMENT PANELS ERODE LOCAL DEMOCRACY

Posted in city of fremantle, development, western australia by freoview on April 14, 2016

The controversial State Development Assessment Panels-DAP are here to stay by the sound of it. The West Australian reports today that Gail McGowan, the Director General of the Planning Department, has dismissed the angst around DAPs as not being helpful.

McGowan told the West that Councils and DAPs are bound by the same planning schemes, but adding that the discretionary options DAPs have are interesting. Yep, like building a 17 storey building in the centre of Subiaco when Council’s planning scheme only allowed for eight storeys!

There has been a lot of protest by local councils against the DAP system with Vincent, South Perth, Stirling, Subiaco, Cottesloe, Mosman Park, Bayswater and others asking for it to be abandoned or significantly changed.

All development over $ 10 million is assessed by a DAP and developers of over $ 2 million projects can opt-in and bypass councils.

There is no doubt that the urban sprawl can’t go on indefinitely as WA does not have the funds for all the extra infrastructure, so urban infill makes a lot of sense. It should however only be done with quality architecture and in very targeted locations that don’t destroy the local character of especially the older suburbs.

The population of metro Perth is predicted to rise by 70 per cent by 2030 to 3.5 million, so all those new people need to be catered for.

Demographer Bernard Salt told a Property Council conference that Perth needs to address the challenge of densification and that is is inevitable as it has happened in all major cities in Australia.

City planning experts URBIS predict that within ten years 30 per cent of dwellings in Perth will be apartments.

Premier Colin Barnett warned Councils a few weeks ago that unless they get closer to their urban residential infill targets the State would take over and enforce them. That would severely erode local government democracy and is not acceptable.

I am worried about the discretionary allowances in planning schemes as they are far too often used to bypass and overrule the schemes. As I understand it the Fremantle Hougoumont Hotel in Bannister Street will be allowed to build a fifth storey loft in the West End Conservation Precinct although the planning scheme only allows four storey. The invasion of additional height in the West End under the guise that it is only a loft and set back is not acceptable and Fremantle Council and the DAPs are too lenient in that regard.

I hear the arguments that Bannister Street is not a great street and has little heritage value and already some pretty average buildings, and that to just add a little loft does not have much impact on the streetscape and surroundings, but that does not cut it for me.  It should be a matter of principle to not award discretionary height in the West End unless a very, very good case can be made that is would be the very best heritage outcome for the building, the streetscape and the West End. There would not be very many projects that would apply to.

Yes to modern development for inner city Fremantle, but only with extreme restraint and exceptional architecture.

Roel Loopers

USELESS BICYCLE PATH WASTE OF MONEY

Posted in bicycles, city of fremantle by freoview on April 7, 2016

holdsworth bike waste

 

I am all for the City of Fremantle installing good bicycle infrastructure in the right locations and where it makes a difference, but I believe this 30 metre short stretch in Holdsworth Street is a waste of money.

This contra-flow bike path starts on the corner of Henderson Street, runs for about 30 metres and then stops where the car parking bays start and the road becomes two-way. It would take cyclists mere seconds to ride through it and then they end up on the road.

Why was this useless path put there? It is a ridiculous waste of money. It is a path in a street that does not have high volume vehicular traffic and where most people only come to park and go to the courthouse.

Roel Loopers

BECOME A DIRECTOR AT CITY OF FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, local government by freoview on March 4, 2016

The City of Fremantle is looking for a new Director of Infrastructure and Project Delivery:

Remuneration package up to $240,000 per annum

The City of Fremantle is undergoing a period of internal change. The appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer, commencement of a new community strategic plan, and initiation of a culture program, all commencing in 2016, has created an environment of action orientation and positive expectations.

It is in this environment that a suitable candidate for this vacancy will thrive and navigate with skill whilst providing leadership and management to the infrastructure and project delivery directorate.

The primary objective of this high-profile position is to ensure community expectations are met in the provision of maintenance and refurbishment of the community public buildings, infrastructure and environment and waste services.

Roel Loopers

FEDERAL LABOR WANTS PERTH FREIGHT LINK INQUIRY

Posted in environment, fremantle, perth freight link by freoview on January 7, 2016

Federal shadow minister for infrastructure Anthony Albanese has demanded that the Federal Auditor-General investigates Canberra’s involvement with the WA PERTH FREIGHT LINK.  Albanese claims there has been “systemic failure” in the government’s infrastructure program that was announced in 2014.

Federal Government pledged to support the $ 1.6 billion PFL project with $ 925 million, but Supreme Court Chief Justice Wayne Martin ruled in December that the approval by the state’s EPA-Environmental Protection Agency and the Minister for the Environment for the Roe 8 highway was invalid. Premier Colin Barnett has since been quoted that the state will go through the environmental approval process again but that it does not have to accept the outcome of the process. This means the state government could go ahead with Roe 8 even if a new EPA report recommends against approving it.

Anthony Albanese wrote in his letter to the Federal Auditor-General that it is a concern Canberra is involved in the Perth Freight Link, the now collapsed EastWest Link project in Melbourne and the $ 6.8 million cost overrun of the WestConnex motorway in Sydney.

Roel Loopers

LEIGHTON BEACH KIOSK COSTLY OVERRUN

Posted in city of fremantle, local government by freoview on October 10, 2015

Assuming the detailed information I received is correct something is not going well with the building of the new Fremantle Leighton Beach kiosk. Reportedly there is a cost overrun from the original figure of $ 1,3 million to now $ 2,5 million and that is nearly double, so what has gone wrong and who is responsible and accountable for the costly overrun?

The kiosk and change rooms, etc. were designed by architect Bernard Seeber and will replace the ugly run down one next to Bib&Tucker.

I hear the future tenants of the kiosk are not all all impressed that they get bills for work that has not been tendered for. It is rumoured they were sent an invoice for $ 55,000 for the installation of two doors, but when they complained the bill was reduced to $ 25,000.

That sounds all a bit strange to me, so maybe the City of Fremantle and its contract architects could kindly explain to the Fremantle ratepayers why they have to pay so much more for the project than the budgeted $ 1,3 million.

Roel Loopers

ROEL FOR FREO! Beaconsfield Ward. Truly Independent.

Written and authorised by Roel Loopers of 5 Maxwell Street, Beaconsfield 6162.

PROPERTY COUNCIL OF AUSTRALIA WANTS KWINANA PORT

Posted in fremantle, western australia by freoview on August 14, 2015

A report by the Property Council of Australia calls for the Western Australian government to build the outer harbour in Cockburn Sound and other infrastructure projects to keep the economy going while the mining industry is facing difficulties.

The report written by URBIS also suggests the building of the MAX lightrail, expansion of the industrial areas at the Henderson marine complex, Kwinana and Rockingham.

The reports states that at a cost of $ 4,5 billon the proposed projects could create $ 27 billion of economic benefit and some 32,500 jobs. It is suggested this could be financed through the sale of assets such as Western Power.

The Property Council said there is a lack of long-term planning and the state needs to consider what is next after Elizabeth Quay, the Burswood stadium and Perth Freight Link.

Roel Loopers

PUBLIC TRANSPORT DECLINE DEMANDS INTEGRATED SOLUTIONS

Posted in city of fremantle, public transport, western australia by freoview on January 21, 2015

The figures reported on-line WA Today on the decline in the use of trains shows that an integrated approach is needed to attract more people to public transport and to attack the huge traffic challenges of the Perth metropolitan region. There is little gain in small local councils like Fremantle stubbornly wanting to minimise motorvehicle traffic and for the State Government to have the Direction 2031 for higher denisty living near public transport corridors and railway stations, when the community is reluctant to use what is provided. The declining public transport figures create even less incentive for the federal and state governments to start paying for public transport infrastructure like lightrail and rapid bus routes, no matter how often the City of Fremantle bleats about it.

According to WAToday there were nearly 740,000 less trips in the five-months period from June to November last year, when compared to the previous years. That is huge!

It matters little if the reasons are overcrowding, safety, comfort, paid parking, not enough parking near stations, or more expensive tickets. Fact is that in the fasted-growing population state fewer people are now using public transport. That is not a trend we want to see continue!

Roel Loopers

NO REAL LABOR VISION FOR OUR CITIES

Posted in anthony albanese, federal governmet, fremantle, local government by freoview on January 6, 2015

The West Australian today published an opinion piece by Anthony Albanese, the federal shadow minister for cities, infrastructure and transport on the future of our cities, but it leaves more questions than it provides answers.

I can’t believe Albanese got sucked in by the sustainability propaganda crap that was reported last year that US academic John Renne refused a job in Perth because he and his family could not afford to live near a transport hub on a $ 170,000-a-year salary. That is just rich boy crying poor stuff.

Urban growth and traffic congestions are a serious concern for the Perth metro area and Albanese is correct that the Federal and State governments should be spending less on roads and more on public transport. Lightrail connecting the north of Perth, and Fremantle, Rockingham, with the universities and hospitals would be a great investment and a much better one than building a truck toll road to get containers to Fremantle port.

Decentralisation is all the go in my humble opinion. Decentralise workplaces so people do not have to commute for hours each day and, as Albanese suggests, decentralise CBDs and create second and third ones in our capital city. No doubt Fremantle should be the second Perth CBD but it gets no support from the Barnett government. To be fair though, previous Labor governments have not exactly been more generous to Freo and invested little in the port city either, but for new infrastructure at Fremantle Ports.

High-density living near busy roads and rail lines create their own problems with noise and air pollution, and mental health and social issues, so one needs to be careful where and how one creates high-density residential apartments.

I am getting pretty cynical about what constitutes so-called affordable housing, when one has to pay nearly $ 200 a week in Fremantle to just get a room in a share house. Is ‘affordable’ for a small apartment $ 400+ a week and how many low-income earners would be able to pay for that?

What Australia needs are real visionaries who are not trying to promote their own agenda. There are as many narrow-minded anti-change people as there are one-eyed sustainability ‘experts’ and we should be careful not to get sucked in by those whose only ‘vision’ is highrise near train stations.

Albanese’s article is disappointing because it lacks substance and vision and it does not state what the Labor party would do for Western Australia should they win the next federal and state elections.

Roel Loopers

HIGH DENSITY LIFESTYLE QUESTIONED

Posted in fremantle, high-density, living by freoview on December 8, 2014

It was very interesting to read two articles in two newspapers on the weekend about high-density living. In the West Australian Kate Emery wrote that Western Australians don’t have the mentality for high-density housing and that the W.A. Planning Commission(WAPC) is proposing to State Government to change the R30 and R35 buildings codes because there has been a huge community backlash against inappropriate and out of character high buildings being detrimental to the overall community amenity. The WAPC also wants to increase the minimum parking requirements for new dwellings.

In the Subiaco Post renowned urban planner and architect Dr Linley Lutton writes under the headline “Frantic Density Push Is Alarming” that …”experts warnings from those outside the industry are rarely heeded.” And that the warning for a huge population growth in Perth is an unrealistic and alarmist over-estimation of future growth.

We have already witnessed that planning schemes by Local Governments are completely overridden by State Government agencies and are a real worry to especially older suburbs like Fremantle Subiaco, Cottesloe, etc.

Lutton writes “High-density European and Middle Eastern cities work because they provide a diversity in stimulation, convenience and interaction opportunities. The piazzas, squares, courtyards, parks, shops and streets of these cities are where people live and grow. Most high-density development in Perth offers none of these things.”

 The article continues that Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that only 5-7% of people living near suburban train stations actually use the train to go to work. A 2010 study in Australia, Canada and the USA showed that the main users of public transport were those living in the low-density outer suburbs, not those who live in high-density areas with railway access.

Dr.Linley Lutton also warns for health impact of high-density living along main streets near traffic noise, especially on the older population, because poor air-quality and noise trigger mental and physical health problems.

Lutton suggests that self-sufficient suburbs with a variety of housing densities and with ample employment opportunities, and less need to commute far and wide to work, would be a better way to plan for the future, and I could not agree more. In an ideal world no one living in Rockingham should have to commute to Joondalup for work.

Fremantle Council also needs to heed these warning and realise one cannot change a decades-old entrenched culture and lifestyle overnight. Change happens slowly and only when the community embraces it and takes ownership of it. Collaboration and integration is what is needed, not a narrow focus anti-car mentality.

New developments like Kim Beazley and Stevens Reserve offer very little in lifestyle enhancement, with no green lingering nodes between buildings and only a strip of green on the periphery. As Lutton points out, the piazzas, parks, town squares, etc. are needed to create a lifestyle people embrace. Much better and more creative and innovative city planning is required in Fremantle and the ambiance of the CBD needs to be improved with modern seats, shade structures, green areas, more trees, play nodes for children and better and creative lighting.

Higher density living will only be embraced by the community if it supports and enhances the Freo lifestyle and when it allows for diversity.

Roel Loopers

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