Freo's View

COMMUNITY NEEDS TO SUPPORT LOCAL TRADERS

Posted in city of fremantle, hospitality, local government, parking, retail, shopping, Uncategorized by freoview on June 7, 2019

 

retail

 

There is a bit of a discussion going on on Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt‘s Facebook page about the decline of retail when he posted the good article by Nathan Hondros on WATODAY about it. Hondros’ article “Striponomics’ The reasons Perth’s main streets are struggling is no big secret is worth a read.

The usual quick fixes are suggested by some readers; free parking and councils forcing property owners to reduce rents, but neither is a solution in a world where retail has been declining for at least five years and where major shopping centres have replaced traditional high street shopping.

I don’t know all the reasons for the decline in Perth, Mouth Lawley, Subiaco and elsewhere but I do know that the City of Fremantle has been trying hard to keep and get a diversity of retail in the city, instead of more and more cafes and taverns.

Fact is that councils can’t force property owners to lower rents and that many retailers are struggling because of rising outgoings such as power, water and gas. More competition might lower coffee prices for patrons but at the end that is not sustainable either for the operators.

Pop-up shops are the flavour of most councils but they are not a long-term solution because most of those who start a pop-up realise they can’t earn enough if they have to pay full commercial rates plus outgoings, so pop-ups do what their name suggest; they pop up and die after three or six months.

The always suggested free parking is not at all a solution because free parking will be taken up all day by commuters from Fremantle to Perth, backpackers, and Notre Dame students, so that would not leave too many bays for shoppers.

There is plenty of parking in Fremantle on weekdays and residents get free street parking before 11am and after 3pm.

Fremantle Council has a small ratepayers base so parking fees and fines are essential income for our city. Free parking would mean higher rates and I doubt property owners would agree that they had to pay for free parking of others. If it happened they would pass on the council rate increase to their tenants.

On very busy Sundays Fremantle might have the occasional parking issue, but surely no one expects Council to cater for weekend parking by creating more parking bays that would be vacant the rest of the week. It is like suggesting we should have 16-lane freeways to cater for rush hour traffic when for the rest of the day six lanes are sufficient.

I love the feeling of a good old high street, where there is a diversity of shops and were shop operators live above or behind their shops, as was the case in my home town of Hague in the Netherlands, where our family of seven lived behind the corner shop my parents ran, the pharmacist family on the other corner lived above their shop, the grocery shop people and the bookbinder next door lived behind the shop, as did the butcher on the other side of the street.

But times have changed and 25% of Australians engaged in on-line shopping last year, and money is tight with too many unemployed people.

There are never easy solutions, but we can all help by shopping local, even when it costs a few dollars more. Councils can not enforce shopping diversity or lowering of rents and we can only keep asking for property owners to keep the rents as low as possible so that our traders can survive and new traders are more willing to take the risk of starting in Freo.

Roel Loopers

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COMPARING SHOP VACANCIES

Posted in city of fremantle, retail, shopping, Uncategorized by freoview on March 23, 2019

 

Retail vacancies

I pinched this graph from Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt’s blog who responded to some of the negativity on social media on his blog. Read his blog post here: https://cofremantle.wordpress.com/

This one is about comparing the retail vacancies in the major shopping streets in the Perth metro area. It is always good to have the facts at hand and it shows that there are a lot of empty shops in a lot of streets.

Roel Loopers

BEAUFORT STREET FESTIVAL SHOWS UP FREO FESTIVAL

Posted in beaufort street festival, city of fremantle by freoview on November 16, 2014

beaufort street

There is a big Facebook discussion going on about how good yesterday’s Beaufort Street Festival in Mount Lawley was in comparison to the Fremantle Festival.

While it did not help that the trains were not running on the weekends of the Freo Festival the last Festival Parade day was a lost opportunity because not much happened before the 4 pm start of the parade.

Why was the Cappuccino Strip not a full-day festival event on Festival Parade Sunday with buskers, entertainers, the Circus School, music, waiters’ race, etc.etc? Why has the festival become same-same as the years before? Why is there not more creativity and new ideas?

Red Tents owner Kylie Wheatley, who organised the Pioneer Park Rio de Janeiro markets, said she tried to run it on the Strip, in High Street and Collie Street but the City of Fremantle did not want it there.

In cities like Perth, Melbourne and Sydney festival directors change often to get new vitality and ideas but in the city of arts the same people have been organising the same events for years and quite clearly have ran out of ideas and are not flexible enough to accommodate change.

Fremantle pays big bucks to all sort of consultants so why not engage a consultant to come up with a new vibrant Fremantle Festival. Let’s show Mount Lawley that we can do it even better here in Freo!

Roel Loopers

COHESION REQUIRED FOR BETTER CITY PLANNING

Posted in city of fremantle by freoview on November 8, 2014

It’s interesting to read that Mount Lawley has taken a far more creative and artistic approach to slowing down traffic than boring old Fremantle Council. While we here have to live with ugly huge signs of bicycles painted on the roads, Mt Lawley has sprayed large colourful triangles on their streets to make motorists aware that they need to learn to share better and slow down.

Freo Mayor Brad Pettitt did hang out with former Vancouver chief city planner Brent Toderian earlier this week, and the West Australian reports the Canadian city expert spent a week in Perth and talked about how to plan and create better “multimodal” cities.

What Toderian says is nothing new and basically common sense that requires commitment from all levels of government and that seems to be the crux in Western Australia. There is little to gain with local governments wanting to make their cities more pedestrian and cyclist-friendly when State Government keeps building roads and does not grow and improve public transport services.

The West reports today that Toderian believes we need to put more money toward walking, cycling and public transport and less for freeways. We need to make our cities more pedestrian- friendly through designing more attractive buildings that make walking a treat. He also promotes mix-use buildings and more compact/higher-density communities.

I am quite amazed that the City of Fremantle is still less inclined to encourage mixed-use in the central city with concerns raised at Wednesday’s Planning Services Committee that buildings along Queens Street might not become office accommodation but residential. With the planned massive office space for the Myer and Queensgate buildings and a new and bigger Civic Centre at Kings Square I would have assumed that a mix-use of retail, office and residential for Queens Street would have been ideal. A vibrant day-time inner city that closes at 6 pm and becomes a ghost town at night is not what we should be planning for the CBD. Only residents living in the inner city will guarantee a 24/7 revitalisation of the City and we should aim for that instead of only wanting offices and shops around the Town Hall. This is even more important with the competition the Victoria Quay development will become for the CBD, but the positive is that VQ can’t have residential accommodation due to the port buffer zone, while city central could and should make up for that.

Real long-term vision should not be blinded by short-term economic recovery. Planning Fremantle’s future requires creativity and demanding excellence in building design.

Roel Loopers

ART MARKET OPPORTUNITY LOST

Posted in fremantle by freoview on August 31, 2014

It is disappointing to read that Mount Lawley will be having the Beaufort Street Art Market the first Sunday of each month. I suggested an art market at Arthur Head about four years ago but received little support from the City of Fremantle.

A weekly art market would put the struggling Bathers Beach Art Precinct on the map, but I think that would only happen if there was private initiative for it.

By the way, COF, on the new Visit Fremantle website the BBAP is suddenly referred to as the Arthur Head Art Precinct. The last thing the artists up there need is confusing branding, so can we please stick with the right name Bathers Beach Art Precint.

Roel Loopers

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PERTH TRADERS BUY OWN PUBLIC ARTWORK

Posted in fremantle by freoview on June 12, 2013

The Beaufort Street traders in Mount Lawley are putting their money where their mouth is and are collecting money to buy a public art work. Instead of waiting for their council they have taken the initiative and that is well worth considering for Fremantle traders. I would love to see an stunning interactive artwork in the city centre because it attracts people. Look at Forrest Place in Perth where this water artwork attracts a lot of attention.

Roel Loopers

water play

 

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FREMANTLE NEEDS HERITAGE BY NEGLECT LEGISLATION

Posted in fremantle by freoview on February 5, 2013

Mount Lawley is planning to introduce a Demolition By Neglect legislation in its Local Planning Scheme no 3 Amendment 27. “The purpose of these provisions is to prevent heritage buildings falling into disrepair and subsequently necessitating demolition”

This is a lead the City of Fremantle and other local governments and the state government should follow, to prevent what has been happening all over Western Australia. The neglected Woolstores building in Fremantle and the Guildford Hotel in Guildford are two examples of how owners let heritage buildings rot and fall into disrepair.

I urge Fremantle councillors to introduce a similar legislation!

Roel Loopers

RETHINKING FREMANTLE’S FUTURE

Posted in fremantle by freoview on October 8, 2012

A report in today’s West Australian puts things in perspective as far as retail in Western Australia is concerned. The report states that more than half a dozen retailers have closed in Beaufort Street in Mount Lawley in the last 18 months because of high rents and less passing trade through declining foot traffic in the area.

Here in Fremantle we keep hearing that all we need to do to boost retail sales is increase the number of inner city residents, and for that to become reality we apparently need a lot of very high buildings built in the centre of Freo. I believe the Mount Lawley example makes a mockery of those claims since Mount Lawley is packed full with residential dwellings, has had many new higher apartment building built over the last years and is only a five minute car drive away from Northbridge where many residential apartment buildings also have been built.

Fremantle’s Planning Scheme Amendment 49 needs to be revisited in the light of retail reality and also because Fremantle Ports is on the verge of seeking expressions of interest for development on Victoria Quay, plus a massive piece of land at Knutsford/Amherst streets has been released for residential development by Landcorp. If Fremantle needs high density high rise, that area should be where it should happen.

First and foremost I would like to see no inner city buildings over eight storeys in height. I also would like to see any development along Queen Street between Adelaide Street and High Street being street level retail and residential only above that to help the revitalisation of Kings Square. The Victoria Quay development can only have commercial buildings as residential is forbidden there because of the Ports buffer zones, so there will be lots of office space for rent there one must assume, which creates the opportunity for a better mix of more 4-5 storey residential buildings and less office space on the city side of the railway line.

Sadly neither the City of Fremantle nor the Western Australian government can dictate what rents landlords charge, but like Mount Lawley high rents for commercial and residential properties have skyrocketed in Fremantle and are too high for many small businesses and low income earners. An example of that are the three empty commercial spaces at Bathers Beach where the land lord seems to be living in dream world or simply does not care that his properties are an eyesore.

More community minded landlords should be willing to lower rents to accommodate small businesses, while we probably can’t stop Freo from becoming Yuppie Ville because only well-off people can afford to rent or buy in our city to the detriment of students, artists and those who don’t earn a hundred thousand dollars a year in the mining industry.

It is a disgrace that the Barnett government has closed many affordable housing units in our city with no apparent plans to built new ones or renovate old ones. The Henderson Street Warders Cottages have now been empty for a year and I can’t see any urgency by the National Trust who were going to take care of them. My take on that is that the National Trust takes on more than it can chew as the Royal George Hotel fiasco in East Fremantle shows. There is still not much happening there, so the cottages in Henderson Street could also be vacant and neglected for many years to come.

Roel Loopers

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