I support the idea by the City of Fremantle of adding a third commercial floor to the new Civic Centre at Kings Square. I believe that is good long-term planning and caters for the future, while also adding long-term revenue for the City.
Architecturally it will also give the architects more chance of creating a more visually appealing vertical building that compliments the Townhall better.
When council amalgamations finally happen, well after my lifetime, and Fremantle is a much bigger city that requires more staff, we don’t have to make expensive additions, but already have the space to accommodate them.
The financial sustainability of Fremantle is a worry though and Council needs to ruthlessly prioritise as we don’t want to end up with a Colin Barnett-like mega debt.
Parking revenue alone has gone down by over $ 743,500 and parking infringements were also down by some $ 300,000, so that is over a million dollars of lost revenue, while the City has got big and expensive plans for Kings Square, Fremantle Oval, Cantonment Hill and others.
On the up side we should be making millions of dollars out of the sale of the Knutsford Street depot site in the very near future.
The City of Fremantle will pay the Fremantle Dockers $ 1,5 million over three years for the football club’s administration building and for them to relinquish the lease over Fremantle Oval.
This is a very good outcome for Fremantle as the Dockers initially wanted over $ 9 million and up till two weeks ago a sum of $ 4 million was still on the cards.
It means the City can now continue with its Fremantle Oval development plans and also temporarily move staff there while the new Civic Centre is built at Kings Square.
The development of the precinct south of Kings Square is a very important one, so interesting to hear that Fremantle developers Silverleaf, who bought the former Court and Police complex at Henderson Street, have also acquired all the Warders Cottages east of William Street, so expect a development there in a few years time.
Fremantle Council unanimously rejected the development proposal for a five-storey building by Notre Dame University on the corner of High and Cliff streets on Wednesday evening.
It was telling that the only person on the night who spoke in favour of the terribly mediocre and boring development proposal for 3 High Street in Fremantle’s historic West End was Olwyn Williams the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce.
Very disappointing that the Chamber does not recognise that Fremantle is so popular with overseas and interstate visitors because of Fremantle’s beautiful West End and historic significance.
Everyone else who spoke was very strongly against the absolutely inappropriate proposal for what is arguably the most beautiful street in Western Australia. I understand 45 submissions against the proposal were sent to Fremantle Council and only three in support of it.
Some comments from public speakers: The design is totally inappropriate- Architecture unworthy of the historic location- Does not respect existing heritage buildings- Rethink the location of the building and move it to the east end of Fremantle.
Councillor Jon Strachan said it was clear cut to him that he could not support the proposal, while Councillor David Hume said the street level activation carrot that was dangled was not enough to approve the building.
Councillor Rachel Pemberton said the proposed building does not integrate with the other facades at all and that the ‘urban grain’ is very important.
Councillor Simon Nabor said it was too bulky, too big and dominates the area, while Deputy Mayor Dave Coggin said that it is a terrible outcome and that High Street is an extremely important heritage street.
Councillor Andrew Sullivan who also spoke against the building warned that it might be approvable for the State’s JDAP which is the decision-making authority.
I am outraged to learn that the State Heritage Office has recommended approval for the building. The way they are going they are becoming as incompetent as the EPA. This is the same office that put the entire West End on the State Heritage List, but now supports the UNDA monstrosity that has no place in the historic West End.
I urge my friends at Notre Dame to not push this ahead against the wishes of the Fremantle community and council. UNDA needs to accept that the floor space they need for the new School of Nursing can’t be achieved at 3 High Street because it breaks development and heritage rules for the West End Conservation Area. Move the building east of the Townhall and you’ll get all the space you require! Please do it!!
The City of Fremantle is planning a nationwide competition for the design of a nature playground at Kings Square as part of the Kings Square Project development.
The area allocated would be to the east of the St John’s church, on land owned by the church, and close to the new cafe that will be part of the new Civic Centre and Library at Kings Square.
It is estimated the design and construction of the playground will cost $ 500,000.00.
A jury which would have members of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, CoF Design Advisory Committee and Fremantle City officers would decide on the winning submission for the project.
It does not appear likely that residents of North Fremantle in the Minim Cove/McCabe Street area will succeed in getting that part of Fremantle to become part of the Town of Mosman Park.
The Minister for Local Government had expressed willingness to approve the changes initiated by residents in the area if both Councils could work out a mutual agreement, but the negotiations have now concluded without the councils agreeing on a land swap.
The City of Fremantle had suggested to get the industrial area near Minim Cove in exchange for the Town of Mosman Park taking the residential Mc Cabe Street part, but Mosman Park Council do not want to do that, so it looks like there is no deal as the Minister will only sign off on one if both councils agree.
North Fremantle architect Murray Slavin has written an excellent Thinking Allowed in the Fremantle Herald today about the quality of architecture in Fremantle’s heritage West End.
Slavin Architects designed the stunning heritage of the future Mediterranean Shipping Company building in Cliff Street that connects to the old Wilhelmsen building on the corner of Phillimore Street.
Slavin writes that the proposed five-storey Notre Dame University building for the corner of High and Cliff streets needs a rethink, as I have suggested a few times on Freo’s View.
He says that “A clear and present danger is that the West End will become characterised by the lowest common denominator architecture” and that the historic area should not be “dumbed down to a forgettable architecture form that sucks the essence out of its neighbourhood.” Hear, hear!!
Murray Slavin states that it is time to live up to community expectations with a clear understanding of Fremantle’s social and physical context.
“Many buildings appearing in the West End could be from any Australian city” and show little respect for the historic buildings around them, the North Freo architect writes.
Make sure to get a copy of the Freo Chook and read the entire article and many other good ones in this week’s issue.
The deadline for submissions against the in my opinion totally inappropriate building proposal by Notre Dame is February 13, so email your opposition to it to the City of Fremantle NOW. Go to the CoF website for a submission form!
The decision to continue with the Fremantle BID-Business Improvement District was deferred on Wednesday evening by the City of Fremantle’s Finance, Policy and Legislation Committee because members were not convinced that BID has found its niche yet, in what Chair Andrew Sullivan called the Holy Trinity of BID, the Chamber of Commerce and the CoF. It had five years to find that focus.
New BID CEO Tim Milsom told the Councillors about plans for new events, markets, getting external funding etc. but the elected members questioned if it should be BID’s role to organise events or rather to connect traders better with events the city and outside organisations already put up.
How do businesses, especially retailers, get to benefit from events and what are the programs, outcomes and benefits councillors asked.
Olwyn Williams, the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce spoke against extending the BID contract for another three years.
It was questioned how effective and successful BID could be when relying on a handful of volunteers and staff.
BID has been successful with running treasure hunts during school holidays which attract large numbers of children with parents who stay in Fremantle long, discover new businesses and often come back a second day to do the whole list.
For example the Sculpture@Bathers show could have a fringe events where artists who are not invited to the main show on Bathers Beach exhibit their sculptures in the windows of shops all over Fremantle and walking tours to view them could be organised by BID. Retailers could offer specials to people who come to events and tap into social media more and better.
For BID to want to organise new markets they should realise that there are already too many markets around Perth according to unhappy stall holders. The Friday night market at Princess May Market failed to attract new people and the Fremantle and E Shed markets, and the very successful South Beach food market and Growers Green farmers market cater for weekend visitors already.
The challenge for BID, the Chamber of Commerce and the City of Fremantle is to attract visitors to Fremantle at the start of the week. Freo is doing okay on Fridays and quite well on Saturdays and Sundays, but needs to get busier the first four days of the week. What can be organised to turn Freo from a weekend destination into an all week one?
I think the City will extend BID but it would require that the organisation deeply contemplates its role and find its focus because it has not been able to do that in BID’s first disappointing five years.
If my information is right I understand BID bought the artwork in front of Bathers Beach House and that is definitely not their role.
It should not be up to the CoF to come up with new ideas for BID because the concept is that this independent organisation would cut through red tape and connect with traders. If BID has a lack of concept, focus and ideas than the City’s marketing and economic development department might as well do it in house an use the $ 350,000.00 a year BID has been getting the last five years.
Word at the Fremantle Woolstores shopping centre is that development of the site will start in six months, so I am keen to see plans for the development.
There has not been public consultation yet about the plans but I hear the developers are quite frustrated getting knocked back at the Design Advisory Committee of the City of Fremantle.
It is going to be a huge and very high development so it is essential for the CoF to stay firm and for developers Silverleaf to be patient because it is essential that we are getting outstanding architecture in the inner city.
Just over the road at the Point Street carpark site there are still no signs the Hilton Doubletree hotel development will get under way any time soon, although they need to get started in the first quarter of this year. Hurry up please because the vacant site is an eyesore.
That makes me question why developers are allowed to demolish buildings when they do not have a commencement date for development. The shops were used as pop-ups and at least created some activity in the area and looked a whole lot better than the Adelaide desert we now have to look at.
I have a lot of respect for the opinion of architect and urban planner Dr Linley Lutton, who used to be on the City of Fremantle’s Design Advisory Committee until he resigned from it, so I was very interested to read Lutton’s article about infill and density in the POST community newspapers.
Dr Lutton argues that the WA government push for higher density and infill is not working and is outdated and that apartments are the least preferred living options in Perth. He also writes that apartments can’t be adapted and are not family friendly, but that the biggest housing demand by 2031 will be for families and not singles and couples.
The random erection of ugly and big buildings in town centres also worries the city planner and he writes that it is not true that Perth is more low density than other capital cities. In fact we are at similar levels of density as Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane and not far from that in Melbourne.
While high density is often pushed in older character suburbs it is hard to understand why the WA State Government does not insist on higher density in new suburbs where people are still mainly building one and two storey houses and no apartment blocks or town houses.
The urban myth that people are abandoning their cars is also not supported by facts with tens of thousands abandoning public transport even when they live near public transport, according to government figures.
Linley Lutton says that higher density apartment living can work well, but planners need to take into account that ‘culturally rich street life’ and work opportunities are essential for successful highrise living.
As I and others have often argued the success of city planning and new development is dependent on understanding what the community wants and needs. There is a need for better and more intense collaboration between planning experts and the community, starting as early as possible in the process, so that community opinion is not being dismissed as negative, reactive, NIMBY and anti-development.
I am personally very happy that so much new development is happening in Fremantle and much more planned, but we need to actively discourage ugly, boring, mediocre new buildings ‘designed’ by lazy architects who have no respect for Fremantle’s unique character.
While the urban sprawl is not sustainable the indiscriminate infill targets for older character suburbs also lack reality and need to be reconsidered.
It no longer comes as a surprise to me that City of Fremantle officers recommend approval for a 185 sqm restaurant and 285 sqm climbing wall for the Naval Store at Cantonment Hill as part of the long-term lease to the ENKEL collective.
More and more we see the non-approvable being recommended for approval by CoF officers and that is disappointing. It is a worry because Councillors take serious notice of the expert advise of the officers, even when common sense appears to be lacking in some recommendations to the elected members.
The ENKEL item is on the agenda of this Wednesday’s Planning Committee but will be decided by the Western Australian Planning Committee.
City officers believe it is an acceptable proposal although there is not sufficient parking nearby and even drop off and pick up points near the Naval Store would be very challenging.
Officers say the lack of parking is made up for by the car park at the East Street jetty on Beach Street, but that would require people to walk up the hill and cross four lanes of the very busy Canning Highway at a dangerous intersection at a bend in the road. How many parents will risk this with their children to get to the climbing wall, and how many elderly people would dare to take the risk to get to the restaurant?
Parking and access is going to be one of the main issues with the Cantonment Hill development because activation will mean traffic concerns for local people and safety concerns for visitors because of the awkward location of the site.
It might have been better to create a car park with trees on the site proposed for a children’s playground just east of the hill, because it is unrealistic to assume that most people will visit the site by bike or on foot. Most will come by car and that has has not been catered for.
Bad call, officers!