Freo's View

THE FUTURE OF FREO’S J SHED

 

With the saga about a tavern at J Shed on Bathers Beach now finally closed it is now time for Fremantle Council to look at a long-term plan for historic Arthur’s Head because the Bathers Beach Art Precinct idea has clearly not improved activation of the area, and that is what Council supposedly was hoping for when approving the 21-year tavern lease with Sunset Events.

There are a few simple facts about the art precinct and that is that quite a few artists have tried but could not even earn enough to pay the rent, and only a few real professionals such as Greg James, Jenny Dawson and Glen Cowans have survived and contributed to the area, and to a lesser extend also the messy looking David Giles gallery where many Sunday painters gather.

We also know that hospitality operators looked at the No 1 glass wall studio at J Shed but did not believe it was financially viable to start a business because they would have had to invest in sewerage, toilets and building a commercial kitchen, and the costs were prohibitive. It was also questioned if a hospitality venue would be a good neighbour next to a semi-industrial art workshop where grinding, welding, wax and bronze melting takes place.

Activation is a buzz word in Fremantle, as was placemaking for a few years, but what does it really mean and how much of it is needed at Arthur’s Head? Already the Roundhouse attracts some 150,000 visitors a year and that is the number of people actually going through the door, while many who walk up to the limestone cliff face just wander around without entering. It is a coming and going that make the place look popular, and the Glen Cowans gallery next to it offers fantastic underwater photography that is admired by many visitors from all over the world.

If Fremantle Council is seriously interested in activating the area why does it not use the lawn next to the Roundhouse and the A Class reserve in front of J Shed more often for events, one has to wonder. Why for example is the far west end of High Street not used as a stage for the Street Arts Festival to attract people there and help the activation Freo councillors keep dreaming about? Why is there no weekend art and craft market in the area?

Where is the investment in the area when Bathers Beach still does not have public toilets and where the connectivity from The Fishing Boat Harbour to Victoria Quay is still not resolved properly? Why are the Pilot’s Cottages not lit up at night, that would also discourage homeless people from using them?

Why also do we live with scaffolding and fencing around the cliff face since May, and work has still not started on it when tourists numbers and cruise ship visits will increase during the warmer summer months? Why has it taken so long, nearly half a year!, to find a solution?

Fremantle Council needs to walk the walk and put ratepayers’ money to good use at Arthur’s Head, because the area looks run down and uncared for and that is unacceptable for this heritage and tourist precinct. Forget activation, prioritise tender loving care first!

Roel Loopers

THE FUTURE IS OURS, FREO!

Posted in city of fremantle, development, future, lifestyle, living, placemaking, Uncategorized by freoview on September 13, 2018

 

Place Partners

 

I just saw this poster or billboard of PLACE PARTNERS  on Twitter and thought that it is very relevant to Fremantle.

PLACE PARTNERS-Placemaking Consultancy Australia are in beautiful Paddington in Sydney, NSW, but no doubt they will be happy to advise WA local councils about placemaking as well. Phone 02-8065 7401.

The future is ours if we are daring enough to reach for it and embrace it, Freo!

By the way, retail will thrive in WA over the next five years according to Deloitte, so the draught might soon be over for our struggling traders.

Roel Loopers

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SOUTH FREO SOUTH TERRACE UPGRADE STARTED

Posted in city of fremantle, local government, placemaking, traffic, Uncategorized by freoview on July 19, 2018

 

 

South Terrace upgrade

 

Works to improve the streetscape along a section of South Terrace in South Fremantle have started

The upgrade, at the intersections of South Terrace, Sydney Street and Little Lefroy Lane, will create new road surfaces and footpaths painted in vibrant colours inspired by Fremantle’s street art. It will also include new bike racks and seating, street trees, rubbish bins and drainage improvements.

The placemaking includes the widening of the footpath which will create a bigger, pedestrian-friendly area and increase the amount of alfresco space, while the new paving, street furniture and trees will make it a better lingering node space for people to enjoy,

It is anticipated that reducing the width of the road will make it safer for people to cross the street and encourage drivers to slow down, which will also allow the removal of the very unpopular temporary speed humps in that section of South Terrace.

The project is being funded with the assistance of a $200,000 grant from the state government’s Local Projects, Local Jobs program.

The design was the subject of community consultation in November last year, with 73 per cent of respondents supporting the changes. Several other public meetings organised by the South Fremantle precinct, and attended by South Fremantle Councillors and City of Fremantle staff, were held at The Local last year to hear community concerns and ideas.

This is only stage one of the improvements to South Terrace in South Fremantle, so let’s hope that they work for traffic calming and making the area more pleasant and safe for all. The entire stretch from South Street to Douro Road is due for a traffic calming and an upgrade that will hopefully result in Mainroads allowing the City to lower the speed limit to 40kph.

Roel Loopers

 

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STUTTERING FREO WEST END ACTIVATION

Posted in cafe, city of fremantle, heritage, hospitality, notre dame university, Uncategorized by freoview on July 18, 2018

 

 

There is always so much talk about the activation of the Fremantle historic West End, but then projects are stalled or abandoned and that is a real shame.

The former cute Notre Dame University bookshop building on the corner of Henry Street and Marine Terrace is still vacant, and the considerations of making the boring back wall of the Santa Maria library in Henry Street into a heritage wall also have not eventuated, and neither has the planned activation node on Phillimore Street.

I hear from the hospitality industry that the former bookshop rent is far too high at $ 40,000 a year, indexed at 3-4%. An interested party told me they would have to invest around $ 200,000 for a commercial kitchen, etc. and that the figures simply don’t end up for them to open a cafe in the space that has a lovely courtyard in front of it.

The very good refurbishment of the Prindiville Hall in Mouat Street is positive, but it is a space for students rather than for the community

The Fremantle community and West End traders want more than talk and want to see action on activating the area.

Roel Loopers

 

LIGHTER NEW LOOK KINGS SQUARE

 

KS 1

KS 2

 

I know I’ll get kicked in the bum, slapped around the face and abused on social media, but I quite like the much lighter look of Kings Square with the London plane trees.

The Jean Hobson playground is now all demolished in a heap and the public toilets closed, but replaced with large portable loos that are accessible for disabled people.

Freo is on the move and a lot of good things are happening, but patience is required as it will take considerable time for the retail and hospitality economy to turn around in our little city.

Roel Loopers

 

WA PLANNING GREEN PAPER BUT NO ARCHITECTS

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, city planning, development, Uncategorized by freoview on July 6, 2018

 

The WA state government has released a green paper of changes to the planning process. It is 81 pages long, so too long to blog it all, but below the most important aspects of it.

Fremantle architect Tobias Bush already remarked on social media that the word architect has not once been used on all the 81 pages, and that is a rather remarkable oversight, and a slap in the face of those professionals who create the future of our cities.

 

  • Local governments to have up-to-date local planning strategies, including one for housing, through which the community has a say in how their neighbourhood will be developed.
  • Make strategic planning for sustainable development the purpose of planning in Western Australia.

Make the planning system easy to access and understand

  • A single concise State Planning Policy framework with common elements for State, regional and local plans and policies.
  • A comprehensive local planning scheme will be available online for each local government including a local planning strategy, the statutory scheme and local planning policies.
  • Reduce red tape by standardising commonly used zones.

Open up the planning system and increase community engagement in planning

  • A Community Engagement Charter with a focus on up-front community involvement in strategic planning.
  • Re-balance Development Assessment Panel processes including recording meetings, providing reasons for decisions, and undertaking more comprehensive investigation and consideration of complex proposals.
  • Local governments to report annually on their planning responsibilities.

Make the planning system well-organised and more efficient

Refocus the planning system to deliver quality urban infill

  • Revise the WA Planning Commission (WAPC) to include 5-7 specialist members and increase their focus on strategic planning and policy development.
  • WAPC to delegate more statutory matters to the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage and accredited local governments.
  • Rethink administrative processes that add unnecessary time and cost to approvals processes.
  • The State Government, WAPC and local government to collaborate on the planning and delivery of key centres and infill locations and forward planning of infrastructure.
  • Develop a state planning policy focused on delivering consolidated and connected smart growth.
  • Provide for coordinated land use and transport planning of key urban corridors.

 

Roel Loopers

CREATIVE PUBLIC FURNITURE IDEA FOR FREO

 

street furniture

 

How cool would this kind of street furniture be for Fremantle’s beaches or for Notre Dame University. Seating and shade all in one unit.

I’d love to see something like this on the grass in Phillimore Street where many students gather in front of the NDA buildings there, and Bathers Beach and South Beach could do with something creative as well.

Roel Loopers

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FREO FOCUS AT URBAN DESIGN DAY

 

It is URBAN DESIGN DAY today so I went to an event at the Fremantle Library this morning where CUSP professor Peter Newman, Dr Annie Matan and Fremantle Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt gave interesting presentations.

Peter Newman started with The theory of urban fabrics and Fremantle stating that there are three cities within cities; the walking city, the transit city and the car based city.

It is important to recognise the fabric of a city, respect that fabric and rejuvenate the fabric to ensure the city has what it needs.

Walking cities such as Fremantle need to be dense, mixed land zoning, narrow streets, pedestrian priority and minimal parking, with minimal setbacks at medium density development.

My question to Newman after his presentation if medium/high density did not demand setback to create public open space received the reply “parklets I assume” when all those people living in small apartments probably would like to relax in decent parks, not tiny parklets.

Fremantle has the highest concentration of heritage buildings in Australia and the tram used to drive here from 1905-1952 and according to Newman the future is ring rail with light rail and rapid bus transport and the new railless lightrail that drives along sensors built in the road.

Newman said that I was thinking like a transport planner and that it works in other cities when I asked if the reality of lightrail for Fremantle was not a chicken and the egg scenario where we simply do not have the population numbers that would convince private operators to invest in lightrail. I thought my question was more about economic reality and that so called triple bottom line. Yes, it works in other cities which have ten times more residents than Fremantle.

Lightrail in Freo will in my opinion only happen because of and when we collaborate with Cockburn, Murdoch and even Curtin where huge development is happening in Coogee, etc. and thousands of people will move to

Dr Annie Matan talked about placemaking which is all about creating opportunities and engaging with the community very early, so that they get what they want and take ownership of projects, such as the lovely Wray Avenue parklet.

Because of the way we live we no longer get the accidental interaction we used to get on the streets, but we need public spaces for our mental health and happiness and we should improve our streets as places where people meet and connect.

It is important to prioritise human experience over design Matan said. There is a lack of connection and a lot of isolation.

Reinventing community planning would also be desirable so that people are involved from the very start and work together with planning experts. We need to make our cities work for 8 year olds and 80 year olds, because they are the most vulnerable groups in our society, so we need to plan for those groups.

Injecting fun in public spaces is also very important and telling the story of our citizens.

Mayor Brad Pettitt talked about Urban Density and Design for Sustainability in Fremantle which include allowing higher density in the CBD and beyond and sustainable transport.

After nearly forty years of development stagnation Fremantle is finally seeing substantial development with plans to have 5,000 more residents within walking distance of the train station.

We need to stop the unsustainable car dependent urban sprawl and Fremantle is helping with that with the creation of 1,679 new dwellings, 38,697 square metres of new retail and hospitality space, 44,061 sqm of office floor pace and 727 new hotel rooms, while also improving the public realm at Kings Square and Princess May Park.

It was a really interesting morning and I am glad I attended!

Roel Loopers

 

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WHAT FREMANTLE CAN LEARN FROM YAGAN SQUARE

 

z

 

 

I am always committed to making Freo a better place to live, visit and work, so I hopped on the train to Perth this morning to have a look at the new Yagan Square and to see if Fremantle can learn anything from it for the Kings Square development. The answer is yes.

While Yagan Square has some really nice features the overall impression for me was disappointing. There is quite a bit of pretentious look-at-me design and the large space is ostentatious instead of good placemaking.

The Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority-MRA clearly did not learn from the Elizabeth Quay mistakes because there is far too much heat-reflecting hard surface of concrete and pavement and not enough shade. There are also the now typical BYB seats-Burn Your Bum, which will heat up from the sun.

The Market Hall inside is just another food hall but this one is dark and claustrophobic, so nothing to write home about either.

While the Yagan statue artwork is stunning I was surprised to see no story telling about the great warrior and Whadjuk Noongar history. It might be somewhere, but I failed to notice it, which means it is not significant enough.

There are a lot of struggling Balga grass trees, but I did not get a cultural experience about our indigenous history. That saddens me as it is an opportunity lost.

My overall feelings were that the square looks as if it was only partly designed and the rest just filled with concrete and seats, so please City of Fremantle learn from that and make Kings Square a much more special and enjoyable experience!

Roel Loopers

GREEN FREO NOT GREEN ENOUGH

Posted in city of fremantle, development, local government, nature, Uncategorized by freoview on January 9, 2018

 

The substantial residential development that is happening, and is planned for, the east of the Fremantle CBD requires that developers and the City of Fremantle create new green public spaces and amenity for those who are coming to live in the high-density buildings.

Heirloom and LIV residents have very little green space to enjoy with Fremantle Park basically being a sports ground for the Christian Brothers students and sporting clubs. It offers very little in form of seating, shade structures or BBQs. The same applies to the nearby Princess May Park that is a large lawns to kick the footy or play cricket, but lacks seats and shade.

Fremantle Council does have a masterplan for Princess May, but that seems to be on the back burner until/if the Hilton Hotel development next to it is completed.

Then there is the uninspiring Pioneer Park opposite the railway station that also lacks amenity, shade, a playground and good seating, and there are a couple of small pockets of green on the corner of Parry and High Street.

The most inviting green ambience for apartment dwellers at LIV and Heirloom is the courtyard at the Fremantle Arts Centre.

While there is a Green Plan for Fremantle and the policy to increase the tree canopy, there are no plans I am aware off for new green spaces in or near the CBD.

The large carpark, or a part off it, at the East Street Jetty offers the opportunity for a new green space with river connections and harbour views.  It is the only opportunity in Fremantle south of the river to connect with the mighty Swan, as Fremantle Port has stopped the connection from the city with the water front.

There are plans for the massive development of the Woolstores shopping centre site and an eight-storey residential building on the former Spotlight site next to Target, and a four-storey residential building at the former Energy Museum site. All those people will want to connect with nature and Fremantle is not offering them very much at all.

Developers should be urged to create green internal courtyard spaces for residents, and even the Westgate Mall could be turned into a green space when the Little Laneway development is happening.

Freo’s Green council needs to do a lot more to green our city!

 

Roel Loopers

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