Freo's View

CODA GETS ACCLAIM FOR VICTORIA QUAY PLANS

Posted in fremantle, fremantle ports by freoview on October 1, 2015

Australia’s peak body for the planning industry has announced the winners of the 2015 Australia Award for Urban Design, with the Fremantle Ports Victoria Quay development  taking one of five main awards.

Victoria Quay Enabling Precinct Plan designed by Fremantle-based CODA Architects takes the award for small-scale policies, programs and concepts, aiming to unlock the potential of the quay, station and park precincts of Fremantle Port to transform them into commercial destinations.

Although the plans are still controversial in the Fremantle community with criticism about height and the idea to build on Pioneer Park, it is good to see a local Freo company acknowledged for the work they are doing, so congratulations to the CODA team!

Roel Loopers

ROEL FOR FREO! Beaconsfield Ward. Truly Independent.

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

MORE GREEN PLANS FOR FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, local government by freoview on July 13, 2015

This Wednesday’s Special Projects Committee meeting of the City of Fremantle is well worth attending with items such as the Cantonment Hill masterplan, the Green Plan and a Princess May Park masterplan on the agenda.

The Green Plan has in my opinion rightly identified the importance of incorporating Nature Play green spaces for children and families to enjoy, away from the standarised, and a bit boring and too safe, normal playgrounds.

The creation of Urban Forest is something many councils around Australia are implementing and Fremantle wants to be part of the trend of creating green lungs and combatting heat zones in the city.

The Green Plan also identifies that there needs to be a focus on the provision of green space within high-density areas to compensate for reduced private open space. Mayor Brad Pettitt reported recently on his blog that in some European cities 30% of new development has to be public open space.

All that is good but it is also essential to retain existing green spaces and tree canopy and not take away those and then replace them with new trees and spaces. A building at Pioneer Park for example would be contrary to what we should be doing in the Freo CBD, instead the space should be beautified with modern seating, shade structures and a children’s playground.

The Princess May Park Masterplan follows on quite well from the Green Plan with emphasis on providing good public amenity, playground, seating and light and the integration of the soon to be built Hilton Hotel bar and restaurant with terraces down to the park, and the possible use of the former Boys School and FTI building as a cafe. That would create a great community hub in the east end of the CBD where residential and commercial development is already thriving.

I recommend to attend Fremantle Council meetings as the community can have a real input and impact, and it is the closest we’ll ever get to democracy. In that context it was intriguing to get feed back from the Notre Dame University student council that “The consensus is that students are not interested in local government and never will be.” Politics and governance affects each and every one of us, so we should participate to make sure the community has a voice, even if we believe we often get ignored.

Roel Loopers

WE NEED TO KEEP AN EYE ON VICTORIA QUAY

Posted in development, fremantle, victoria quay by freoview on July 11, 2015

Victoria-Quay-plans

I had not seen this artist impression of the planned Fremantle Ports Victoria Quay development that Oneperth published on-line, so wanted to share it with you. The publication reports State Planning Commission has recommended the approval of the plans.

What is missing in the picture is the railway line crossing at Pakenham Street that was going to connect with the extended Peter Hughes Drive, that was proposed, but we do see a substantial building taking up most of Pioneer Park.

The independent Oneperth also suggests there would be a four-storey bus exchange, probably to the east of the railway station. From memory it was suggested a pedestrian bridge would connect with the to be developed Woolstores shopping centre.

It will be interesting to see if State Government will release final plans for the project ahead of the planned sale of the port as that might well increase the price and put more money in the empty mismanaged coffers of our state.

According to Oneperth there had been no submissions received during a 21 day period, which seems extremely strange, but then again, I am not aware a submission period had been advertised, so most people in Fremantle probably would not have known about it.

I believe the ten-storey tower just to the east behind the railway station needs to be lowered to no more than six storeys as it overpowers the heritage station, and the huge building at Pioneer Park is unacceptable. Mayor Brad Pettitt has just written about increasing public open spaces and Fremantle can’t afford to lose Pioneer Park as a lingering and recreation point to offset the proposed commercial ugliness at Victoria Quay.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE CITY SUPPORTS VICTORIA QUAY PLANS

Posted in city of fremantle by freoview on December 1, 2014

The City of Fremantle’s Planning Services Committee will on Wednesday consider if to support the ‘officer’s recommendation’ of conditional support for the Victoria Quay development plans by Fremantle Ports.

It is generally considered that the draft plans satisfy the City’s key imperatives, and a survey held during two public open days where the plans were on display showed significant community support for the proposed plans.

The Officer recommends only conditional support and that COF is not seeking WAPC endorsement of the Pioneer Park Precinct Plan as that needs more deliberation and community consultation. “COF does not support the building proposal for Pioneer Park at this stage.” the agenda states. It does however  support facilities that attract greater use of the park, reduction of negative impact of the blank walls of Spare Parts theatre, and the promotion of the park’s archeology.

Consideration would also be given to making Pakenham street into two-way traffic, the creation of a Station Square, and the support of a Queens street busport entry.

I am a little bit confused here. COF in its economic strategy and PSA 49 plans to make Queen street the major pedestrian access from the train station to Kings Square, but it now supports a Station Square that would encourage major pedestrian flow along Market street, with calls from Councillor Sullivan to make the area along Pioneer Park more weather proof.

Nothing will happen over night at Victoria Quay but there is light at the end of the tunnel for Fremantle.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE BUSINESSES INSIDE OUT

Posted in business, fremantle by freoview on November 26, 2014

fSpace_InsideOUT_flyer

There is always something new, innovative and creative happening in good old Fremantle and this Friday November 28 is the start of the first InsideOut event at Pioneer Park organised by fSpace.

This is a kind of a topsy-turvy day where the community can meet, become aware off and celebrate a wide diversity of Fremantle businesses.

fSpace promises there will be a lot of stuff to see and hear, so why not wander over and network, meet new people, find opportunities to collaborate and do business.

It’s happening between 11 am and 4 pm, so go and say hello and support our Freo business community! Historic Pioneer Park is just opposite the Freo railway station.

Roel Loopers

PROMISING VICTORIA QUAY DEVELOPMENT PLANS

Posted in aboriginal, fremantle, fremantle ports, victoria quay by freoview on October 9, 2014

The City of Fremantle Special Projects Committee had a first discussion about the just released plans for Victoria Quay by Fremantle Ports. My first impression is that the Ports have listened and taken all the community workshops input into account and the plans are so much better than the two ugly ING boxes proposed years ago that were abandoned due to public pressure.

What we now see is a series of low 4-5 storey buildings with just one higher 10-12 storey building east of Queens Street.

This is an integrated plan and a lot about connectivity between the CBD and the waterfront, with a shift of the busport to the east and a new entry from Queens Street.

There would also be a new railway crossing at Pakenham Street, and Peter Huges Drive in the Port, north of the railway line, would be extended all the way to Cliff Street, which would be an alternative east-west connection to Phillimore Street.

I think these are sensible and acceptable plans that  still require detailed fine-tuning and consideration, but as an overall concept they are positive for Fremantle and to activate Victoria Quay, so well done to Fremantle Ports and consultants CODA for listening so well to the community and all the stakeholders.

On behalf of the Fremantle Society I spoke yesterday against the proposal for a substantial building on Pioneer Park along Short and Pakenham streets and warned that we can not afford to lose more green open space in the inner city, even more so because new development will see many more people using the CBD and they will need green lingering nodes and places for people to relax and children to play.

I pointed out that the City’s desire to activate the reserve was partly to blame on them because they have done little to make the park attractive. For example why is there not a playground near the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre that attracts a lot of kids?

But thinking about it this morning I thought I could envisage a row of 2-3 storey residential townhouses along Short Street being quite attractive and taking up only a small percentage of the green space.

I believe that the City of Fremantle in general needs to better plan public and green spaces, as they do at Subi Centro in Subiaco where the Carter Lane precinct is being promoted as “Green Spaces Galore” and being a “distinctive feature of the precinct.”

There is a bit of ambiguity in the statement that Victoria Quay would have retail that does not undermine retail in the CBD. How is that going to work? The area is designed as a commercial/retail/tourism precinct so that would have cafes, bars and restaurants which would no doubt compete with those along the Cappuccino Strip and elsewhere in the inner city. It’s a silly notion really to believe a new waterfront destination will not attract people away from the CBD. Of course it will, but that is just the way the world works and CBD traders will have to counter act that.

Concerns were raised that there is the opportunity for building heights to go up if they have excellence in design, but that no limit has been set on the additional discretionary height. That is not acceptable and needs to be addressed, and there needs to be a Design Advisory Committee appointed for that and not been left to the discretion of Fremantle Ports.

The idea raised by some Councillors that there could be a “development authority’ for implementing the VQ development is not a bad one as it would bring cohesion to it and deal easier with stakeholders like the Public Transport Authority. This would also take care about a possibility that only the commercially most viable buildings would be built but the public realm neglected.

I am not sure why there would be the need for weather proof access to the train station from the Post Office in Market Street, as Councillor Sullivan keeps talking about. It sounds a bit too much to me as those ugly passage ways they build between school buildings and I can’t see any need for that in a city environment. All over the world one crosses station forecourt squares without being protected from the rain or sun, so why Fremantle needs to have something like it, that will be a visual barrier at Market Street, and needs to be high enough to accommodate buses and trucks, is not something I support. It is a walk that takes two minutes so why we would need protection from the rain and sun I do not understand.

The timeframe and implementation of the plans are crucial I believe. Ideally we would not want VQ commercial office space to compete with that being built at Kings Square, so hopefully Sirona Capital will get a head start and pre-lease the Myer and Queensgate buildings soon and can get started on the development there that is most essential for the re-activation of the inner city.

I am worried about Freo’s short-term future but excited about the long-term one. The modernisation and revitalisation of our city is essential to retain the State’s second city status and it is crucial for our local economy and traders. The entire development of Fremantle though needs to be handled sensitively and the authorities need to insist on high quality and well designed new buildings. Boring bland concret boxes will not do and have to be rejected vehemently.

Roel Loopers

PARKS ARE FOR PEOPLE NOT BUILDINGS

Posted in fremantle by freoview on December 26, 2013

I know the Victoria Quay development plans are still in their early days and that many changes will be made, but one of the proposals worries me, and that is building on Pioneer Park. There is heritage significance with the remnants of a cottage built there by the early settlers, and Fremantle really cannot afford to lose more green open space. The high number of inner city residential, retail and office buildings planned for the CBD means we need more public open spaces for people to relax in.

We often hear arguments that buildings help wayfinding, and with the proposal of a railway crossing to VQ at Pakenham Street, the argument was put forward that the corner of Pakenham and Phillimore Street needs to be defined better by building on Pioneer Park there. Maybe I am naive, and I am definitely not a city planner, but could that corner not be made more prominent, for wayfinding purposes, by planting a whole row of beautiful trees, landscape Pioneer Park so it becomes a real inner city feature and lingering node, where people want to spend time, meet people arriving by train, and where children can play. A small playground there would be nice and maybe the City could erect a shade structure that tells the story of the historic cottage that was once in that location.

The argument that Pioneer Park is not popular is a cop-out. The park is not attracting many people because it is an unattractive area that needs good landscaping, so people will enjoy being there. It’s that chicken and the egg thing. People will come and use Pioneer Park more frequently once the area has been made attractive.

Wayfinding often appears to be just an excuse to build significant buildings, when better and more creative solutions should be considered first by using that other buzzword placemaking.

Roel Loopers

PIONEER PARK HOTEL PLANS PREMATURE

Posted in fremantle by freoview on May 24, 2013

A report in today’s Fremantle Herald that Sirona Capital (the developers of Kings Square) are planning to build a hotel on the corner of Pakenham and Short streets is quite surprising and appears premature. I am aware that the integrated Victoria Quay development plan includes Pioneer Park and there is a suggestion by CODA architects that some development on that corner could happen, but that is still a long way away with Fremantle Ports not having published the final draft for Victoria Quay and the promised further community consultations are also still to eventuate.

Pioneer Park would have to be rezoned and since it has got heritage significance I wonder if that will happen, but should it be the case the property would have to be put out to tender to attract the highest price and the City of Fremantle could not just sell it so Sirona.

I keep reading that hotels are only viable when they are huge with many rooms, so what kind of  low-rise hotel development in the inner city would be attractive to an investment company?

Roel Loopers

 

TREES WELCOME TO FREO

Posted in fremantle by freoview on August 29, 2011

Beautification of Pioneer Park opposite the Fremantle Railway Station started with the addition of flower beds and new trees planted on the corner of Market and Phillimore Street. It is starting to look like a real cute park now and a few more seats in the grassed area would be a good idea as well.

Roel Loopers

FREO I.S.A.F. UPGRADES ONLY $1.60 PER ESTIMATED VISITOR

Posted in fremantle by freoview on April 5, 2011

Although I welcome projects that will improve Fremantle, it bothers me that councils seem to need external reasons to implement change. We are used to things not being done or done badly, but suddenly big improvements are planned when a sporting event is on our doorstep.

Fremantle council announced it is spending $ 800.000 on beautifying the city for the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing Championships. If we believe ISAF’s John Longley’s claim of 500.000 visitors for the event, we are only spending $ 1.60 on each visitor. A bargain for our city hey!

The Little High Street end of High Street will be cobble stoned and an art work installed, Bathers and South Beach improved, Cliff Street lit, and Pioneer Park in front of the Railway Station will be upgraded.

$ 250.000 will be spend on a boardwalk and landscaping at Arthur Head. The Round House precinct is where ISAF will be concentrated, so that is a necessary move that will benefit tourism in the long run. Let’s hope the city will also repair the Round House and the stairs leading to it, install seating near one of our top tourist attractions, have drinking fountains for dehydrated visitors, plant  trees, and install much needed security cameras in the West End of town.

Most importantly Captain’s Lane needs to be made safe for pedestrians, and easier to ride wheelchairs and gophers on, as the lane is the only wheelchair access to the area. Many tourists walk down there and so do people who are attending one of the many weddings held on the lawn next to the Round House. A ramp up to the grassed area would be very useful.

Roel Loopers

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