Freo's View

WHAT FREMANTLE CAN LEARN FROM FRANCE’S MULHOUSE

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, city planning, hospitality, retail, Uncategorized by freoview on May 23, 2019

 

City of Fremantle Heritage Coordinator Alan Kelsall made me aware of a very positive article in The Guardian by Angelique Chrisofis about the revitalisation of the town of Mulhouse in the east of France, which should inspire Fremantle to continue with its efforts of recreating the high street ambience of the past.

According to Chrisofis the town “was once considered eastern France’s grimmest town” and ten years ago “was a symbol of the death of the European high street”

The town of 110,000 residents had a very high rate of youth unemployment, poverty, crime and anti-social behaviour, but that all turned around when Council took action.

Mulhouse set out to rebalance the housing mix. Generous subsidies for the renovation of building fronts expedited a facelift of more than 170 buildings. Security and community policing were stepped up. Transport was key – with a new tram system, bike schemes, shuttle buses and cheap parking.
But making the town’s public spaces attractive was just as important, with wider pavements, dozens of benches, and what officials deemed a “colossal budget” for tree planting and maintenance, gardening and green space. Local associations, community groups and residents’ committees were crucial to the efforts. A town centre manager was appointed to support independents and high-street franchises setting up.

The big change happened and 470 new shops and businesses opened over the last eight years. 75% of them are independent!

Read the full article in The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/may/20/from-bleak-to-bustling-how-one-french-town-beat-the-high-street-blues-mulhouse

In this context it is good to hear that Notre Dame University is considering a Masterplan for their Fremantle West End campus, in close collaboration with the City of Fremantle.

The uni recognises that it has grown well organically over the last 20 years but that it will be good to plan more ahead for the future with Freo City’s planners and Council, in light of the fact that NDA acquired the former Customs House buildings. Very positive!

 

Roel Loopers

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