Freo's View

PLANNING APPROVAL POWER TAKEN FROM LOCAL COUNCILS

Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on November 24, 2020

WA State Government changes to the planning approval process are a bit of a worry. The Covid-19 plan will make significant changes to the process and all but wipe out the power of local governments to decide on significant development applications and go straight to new WA Planning Committee panels.

Developers can not only by-pass local councils but also the WA JDAP panels. While local councils can still make submissions to the deciding authority they will no longer be represented at the WAPC panel, unlike JDAP where two Councillors are on a panel of five people.

I am all for streamlining the planning approval process, because it has frustrated many developers that it can take years to get through it, e.g. the Fremantle Woolstores shopping centre site development by Silverleaf Investments, but at the same time I believe the local community and council should be able to determine what gets built in our heritage city, so this will be a bit of a worry.

  • A person making an application for development approval for a significant development may choose to make the application to the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC) for determination rather than making the application through the local government/Development Assessment Panel process.
  • Even if a development proposal does not meet the definition of a significant development, if the applicant notifies the Minister for Planning that they wish it to be determined by the WAPC and the Minister considers the application raises issues of major State or regional importance, the Premier on the Minister’s recommendation may refer the application to the WAPC for determination.
  • In assessing and determining applications of the above types, the WAPC must have due regard to:
    • –  the purpose and intent of the planning scheme applying in the locality of the proposed development;
    • –  the need to ensure orderly and proper planning and the preservation of amenity;
    • –  the need to facilitate development in response to the economic effects of COVID-19;
    • –  any relevant WAPC policies.
  • Notwithstanding the above ‘due regard’ matters, the WAPC is not bound by any legal instrument that would ordinarily apply to consideration of a development application (e.g. the local planning scheme) and is not limited to planning considerations in determining the application – it may have regard to other matters affecting the public interest.
  • The WAPC must give the local government to whose district a significant development application relates an opportunity to make submissions and have due regard to any submissions made.
  • The WAPC must advertise the application and invite submissions from members of the public in a manner it considers appropriate and have due regard to any submissions made.
  • Development approved by the WAPC under these provisions must substantially commence within 24 months of the date of approval. The period for commencing the development cannot be extended by the WAPC.
  • The above provisions only apply during the COVID-19 recovery period – defined as 18 months from 8 July 2020.

Roel Loopers

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NOT THE FREMANTLE BIENNALE?

Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on November 19, 2020

Reports that next year’s Fremantle Biennale is going to grow and include East Fremantle, Melville and Cockburn is a bit of a worry to me, because the loss of identity and brand could kill the outstanding arts festival.

When the very popular Foto Freo expanded all over the place from Midland to Perth, etc. it became a real issue to find enough volunteers to run all the shows and out of the blue the organisers decided to not continue with the international photo festival. The Fremantle Biennale also relies heavily on volunteers, so I am concerned about this kind of growth.

It will probably also need a name change because it will no longer be a true Fremantle event and that is disappointing.

The first two Fremantle Biennales have been outstanding, not only because the art shows and events were site-specific, and attracted a lot of visitors, to have to travel to Melville, and Cockburn might deter many visitors.

Roel Loopers

COVID IS STILL A THREAT TO PUBLIC HEALTH

Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on November 10, 2020

I am surprised to hear that the Fremantle Beer Festival is still being held this coming weekend after the City of Fremantle announced the postponement of the Wardarnji Festival and other local councils today announced the cancellation of Carols by Candlelight events.

The WA State Government has also indicated it wants to ban mass events of more than four hours duration once the WA border re-open, to prevent the spread of Covid-19 that might be imported by visitors to the state. That will include music festivals and might even include markets, although people don’t hang out at markets for half a day or more.

With the announcement today that a coronavirus vaccine trial has been very successful we might relax just a little too early, so don’t let your guard down, adhere to social distance of 2sqm and wash your hands!

Roel Loopers

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PLANS TO IMPROVE FREMANTLE-MURDOCH CONNECTION

Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on November 6, 2020

The City of Fremantle and other local governments south of Perth have united to develop a plan to better connect Fremantle and Murdoch to create vibrant communities in between and to encourage greater use of public transport.

The South West Group, a collection of six councils from Fremantle and Melville down to Rockingham, is asking that detailed planning for this important east-west link to begin now.

This concept includes a public transport service that provides a much needed east-west connection within the Perth transport network.

“Two transport modes are ideal for this service: trackless trams and light rail. Other transport modes could be suitable as long as they provide the same transport and economic development and social benefits,” said South West Group Director Tom Griffiths.

The work includes detailed transport engineering analysis from global consultancy company Arup that looked at a variety of route options. As well as improving access to the places along the route, the link will drastically improve accessibility to the hospitals and universities at both ends of the route.

New developments that would benefit from the public transport link include Bull Creek district shopping centre, Murdoch University, Heart of Beaconsfield and the Knutsford project.

“The corridor could comfortably accommodate 6500 dwellings in the short-term, and another 5500 dwellings in later stages. When long-term opportunities like future development of Victoria Quay in Fremantle are also added, that figure could be far greater,” said Mr Griffiths.

“The key is to unlock the underutilised land between Fremantle and Murdoch, creating opportunities for people to live closer to where they work, study and play. But investment in public transport infrastructure is needed to accelerate that positive change,” Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said.

The concept has support from many stakeholders including Murdoch University, Hesperia Property, Stockland, Committee for Perth, the Melville Cockburn Chamber of Commerce and the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce, etc. These organisations support the local governments in asking for this route to be included in future stages of Metronet.

“While we’ve undertaken detailed technical analysis for this specific corridor and developed the promotional material for it. We’d also like Metronet to include other important links such as the Rockingham foreshore to Train Station link, and a link from Cockburn Central to Fremantle via Cockburn Coast,” said Mr Griffiths.

Roel Loopers

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REGISTER FOR LOCAL SPENDING BY LOCAL COUNCILS

Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on October 26, 2020

Town of East Fremantle staff with purchasing authority will be undertaking VendorPanel Marketplace training this week and it would be fantastic to have a long list of East Fremantle businesses to look at whilst they are learning how to prioritise local spending!

Developed by the WA Local Government Association (WALGA), VendorPanel Marketplace is a local economic development tool that helps local governments find businesses in their area / region when seeking quotes.

If you’re an #eastfreo business register now! For more information on how visit https://vimeo.com/389641497

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PREFERENTIAL VOTING AT COUNCIL ELECTIONS PREFERRED

Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on October 18, 2020

How much longer is it going to take for the WA Government to introduce preferential voting at local government elections? The next one is in October next years, so 12 months should be enough time for Minister David Templeman to get his act together and make that small but very significant change to council elections.

We have seen many times here in Fremantle that a candidate gets elected with just a few hundred votes, while the majority of votes became useless because they were spread out over different candidates. That is not good democracy in my books.

TV celebrity Basil Zemiplas’ win last night to become the new Lord Mayor of Perth shows again that first past the post voting is not necessarily the best outcome and wish of the voters.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE CITIZEN OF THE YEAR NOMINATIONS

Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on October 14, 2020

There are still 17 days left to nominate someone for the Fremantle Citizen of the Year award that will be presented to the recipients on Australia Day next year.

Is there an individual or group you believe have significantly contributed to the Freo community? Nominate them and get all their hard work acknowledged.

These awards are a great way to shine a light on the work being done throughout the year in local communities and gives a well deserved ‘pat on the back’ to those who give so much to making Western Australia the great place to live that it is.

We’re hoping that you’ll consider nominating someone for the 2021 awards and encourage you to do so before the closing date of 31 October 2020 then your local council will present the awards on Australia Day.

Roel Loopers

You can nominate directly online.

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FRUSTRATIONS ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT PLANNING PROCESS

Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on September 6, 2020

 

 

WA Premier Mark McGowan said at the breaking of soil ceremony at a massive Subiaco development that he wished the Western Suburbs would embrace highrise the way his hometown Rockingham has. I don’t assume that Fremantle is classy enough to be called one of the Western Suburbs, but have little doubt we were included in the Premier’s sentiment and that made for a sleepless night, where I contemplated the State Government’s demand for urban infill and high density living, especially in older suburbs along transport corridors. That was apparently not applicable for Midland where the Midland Redevelopment Authority could have created a highrise satellite city just 35 minutes away by train from Perth, without doing much damage to the public realm.

Dare I mention that the Premier, like many supporters of urban infill, does not live in an apartment but in a nice house with garden, but that is just a small reward for living in a place where other-strange-people live, where the ugly mullet is a lifestyle statement, where bogans roam and where there are more street fights on a Friday night than in notorious Northbridge during a year.

Why is there expectation that unique character suburbs, such as Fremantle, Subiaco, etc. embrace high density urban infill, but not for the new suburbs to the far north, east and south?

And that guided my tired brain to the whole tedious and frustrating planning process that makes developers and architects angry, because it creates lengthy delays. An architect I bumped into on Friday told me a project they are working on has already been five times before a Design Advisory Panel of a local council, but the DAP only meets once a month, so the project is already delayed by five months. Once the DAP ticks it off it still will need to go to the planning committee and full council, where elected members will also want to have their two bob’s worth, with possible deferrals, changes, etc. So with a bit of luck the project gets planning approval within a year. That is unacceptably long!

That brings me to the Design Advisory Panels peer reviews, which are professional ego clashes, where DAP architects patronise equally, often better, qualified architects and tell them how to improve their planned buildings. That is also done by council’s planning staff, elected members, Joint Development Assessment Panels, and it means that the micro-managed projects have often a worse outcome instead of a best outcome.

For cynics planning approval must look to be self-serving, because it keeps planning staff in the job and creates a nice bit of extra income for the highly-paid DAP members, so any suggested or demanded change is good, because the plans need to be modified and again debated during long talk fests.

In the creative professions hardly anyone ever agrees with another professional. Give ten architects the same brief and they will all come up with totally different designs, and each one of them will believe their design is the best and most suitable. The same applies to photographers, graphic designers, copywriters, musicians and artists, hence the Fremantle Society will always find some architects who will slam a new planning proposal as inadequate or inappropriate. That is also why discretionary additional height, based on design excellence, does not work, because it is a subjective process about taste. How do we quantify and define what excellent design and good architecture is? Whose taste is better than others?

The State Government, as part of their Covid-19 Recovery Plan, wants to fast forward the planning process and take some of the powers away from local governments. That does not guarantee best outcomes either, because JDAPs are often pro developers and a lot less about creating great communities and public realms.

There need to be better and faster ways to create better-BEST-outcomes, especially for older unique cities like Fremantle! Any realistic and pragmatic suggestions?

Roel Loopers

PS. I like Rockingham. More precisely, I like the few hundred metres of foreshore boardwalk with the lovely cafes, restaurants and bars near the jetty. And I like it because Mister 91%, Mark-Rocky-McGowan, our Covid warrior lives there. ;>))

 

 

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LOCAL COUNCIL GRASSROOTS DEMOCRACY NOT NEGOTIABLE

Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on September 2, 2020

 

 

Paul Murray‘s column in the West Australian today is a must read for those who believe that local government is the closest we have to grassroots democracy.

Murray writes that there are “titanic battles going on within WA’s local government sector” It is all about the planned local government reforms by Minister David Templeman and the fact that there have been no public meetings or public comments sought by the State Government panel that was established to advise the minister.

Councils would have less to say about town planning and development, and that is especially dangerous for older cities such as Fremantle, where heritage protection and public realm are very important.

Paul Murray also warns that CEO’s of local councils would get even more power, with the potential risk of giving elected members limited powers “making them little more than sophisticated rubber stamps.”

Many people forget that it is the administration of local councils that is responsible for the day to day running and the elected Councillors make policies, but cannot direct the CEO or other staff. This makes the CEO the most powerful person at local councils and not, as is often assumed, the Mayor, who is the figurehead and spokesperson for council.

There are often grumblings about CEOs, as has been reported about of other councils, such as Perth, Cockburn, etc. where CEO’s were sacked, had disagreements with mayors and councillors.

Any local government reform needs to protect the grassroots aspects of local government and allow for real input by the local community. We need to be able to control the destiny of our cities and have a say about city planning and the protection of the uniqueness of Fremantle. To hand over those powers to public servants is not on and railroads democracy.

Roel Loopers

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HOW TO CREATE MORE LIVABLE CITIES

 

There are two interesting opinion pieces in the West Australian today that are well worth reading. They are about the City of Perth, but very relevant to the City of Fremantle as well.

Ben Harvey writes about the challenges of dealing with homeless people and rightly points out that homelessness is not a crime. He also mentions that no matter how many cops one puts on the streets it is impossible to prevent crime and antisocial behaviour from happening.

Move-on notices are useless because people without a home have nowhere to go, so they ‘move-on’ somewhere else in the city. As Ben Harvey write ‘It’s complicated.’

What we need in Fremantle, Perth and elsewhere is many more outreach workers, a larger support system for those in need and that includes ongoing support when homes can be found for them.

Marion Fulker, the CEO of Committee for Perth writes about how we can make our cities more attractive, so that people return to them for their shopping and leisure and points out that it is essential to have more people living in our inner cities, instead of on the outskirts-she calls shoulders-of them. Something Fremantle Council has been very keen on and partly achieved with more apartment buildings constructed in the CBD over the last few years.

Fulker mentions that the retail environment has changed a lot, with on-line shopping and larger suburban shopping centres, which changed the attraction of the traditional high street inner city shopping for many. That is neither unique to Perth or Fremantle, but an international reality.

How do we achieve the critical mass needed to make cities successful and how much of that should be left to private developers? The reality is that most developers are not creating public realm. They want to build big apartment blocks without providing new public spaces, and I believe that mindset has to change.

Many more people on our streets 24/7 will provide a more secure environment, so CBDs have to cater for more than just office workers. The mix of residential and tourist accommodation is essential to have a vibrant city where one feels comfortable to walk through any time of the day and night.

Too many people express they no longer come into Fremantle and Perth because they no longer feel safe, and the many vacant shops don’t make for a great ambience either.

These are serious challenges that local governments alone won’t be able to find solutions for. It is therefor essential that the state and local governments collaborate much more and better to create cities people want to live in, visit and work in. To get that mix right will make a significant difference.

Roel Loopers

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