Freo's View

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

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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CONNECTING BETTER WITH OUR COMMUNITY

Posted in city of fremantle, community, Uncategorized by freoview on December 22, 2017

 

placemaking

 

The festive season is all about getting together in WA on our beaches, in parks, along the foreshores, in gardens and backyards , so here a few thoughts on how we can connect more regularly.

There is nothing new about placemaking concepts for cities, but developers and local councils need to be reminded off their duty to help create them, while the community could also do more to connect and create their own public meeting spaces in their streets and parks.

For example a public artwork does not just have to be creative and attractive but could also be interactive and be something we can play with or sit on.

Healthy public spaces are the key to revitalising communities, experts say, and that would be a good starting point for Fremantle Council to rethink the activation desire for J Shed, Bathers Beach and Arthur Head.

The A Class reserve there is a perfect spot for small festivals, get togethers, pop-up events and simple community connection, and even a pop-up cafe.

Developers should create softer facades instead of boring cladding and use more glass and vertical gardens and rooftop public spaces.

It should become easier for communities to close off streets for a day or weekend to connect with neighbours, put a pop-up cafe on the footpath and everybody’s pot plants, a swing in a tree, put some tables out and play board games, or do a street sports festival for young and old.

Don’t over organise things as ‘quick&dirty’ simplicity is often more fun and less of a headache. Be spontaneous. It does not have to be perfect, just fun!

Green up public squares instead of making them just hard surface places and buy more beautiful and comfortable wooden street furniture.

And most of all, be aware that most people in the world are good and are happy to connect and share. It just needs one person to take the initiative. That’s YOU!

 

Roel Loopers

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CONNECTING COMMUNITIES IS ABOUT PEOPLE

Posted in city of fremantle, community, fremantle network, Uncategorized by freoview on December 12, 2017

 

The last Fremantle Network of the year event at the National Hotel last eve had two speakers talking about different forms of place making.

Maureen Maher of Street by Street talked about how to connect neighbours and recreate community.

She said the social connections we once had don’t exist any longer and that she had a yearning to meet more people in her street.

Statistics showed that there is an increase in people who feel isolated and that stronger community ties create happiness, security and support.

The average person unlocks their smartphone 110 times a day.

Street by Street organises get togethers, lunches, dinners, garden parties, bake ups, litter cleaning, etc. where neighbours get together and connect.

Dean Cracknell of the Town Team Movement started with the highly successful Beaufort Street Festival in Mount Lawley/Highgate.

He said that governments supply the hardware and the communities the software when they connect businesses and residents and organise events. The people make places and cities!

There is too much negativity in the world and we need to become more pro-active and positive, Cracknell said.

It was important for the groups to have an action plan and not to lose focus, but the main challenge was to get enough people to volunteer and actually help instead of only giving lip service support.

I don’t want to sound too sceptical about this all, but place making has been around for some twenty years. The City of Fremantle payed well-known placemaker David Engwicht to visit our city several times where he talked about picking the low hanging fruit and that the community should be leading the change and take ownership.

Rachel Pemberton, before she became a Freo Councillor had the great idea for the very successful Cappuccino Strip Street Club that happened once a month, where people from the burbs connected in the city centre, set up couches, played games, made music, had dinner. They were really fun events, but died because no one took over the leadership.

The Fremantle community does very well connecting and creating events, e.g the Vally Festival in White Gum Valley, Lilly Street lasagne bake-off, Pilbarra Street get together, the school community-lead Growers Green Farmers Market, the Long Table Dinner, etc. and we have a lot of festivals and music events.

Roel Loopers

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THE IMPACT OF FREMANTLE PLACEMAKING

Posted in city of fremantle, community, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on October 13, 2017

 

There were so many posts on Twitter yesterday about placemaking, that I contemplated overnight what the modern buzzword actually means in the context of local government and a small city like Fremantle.

Placemaking should not be about beautifying small pockets of the city, but should be about awareness of the whole and the reality that everything we do impacts on others, either positively or negatively. That really is the big challenge for local government to deal with.

An event will please many thousands of people, but can negatively impact on local residents or traders, as there will be noise, parking and traffic problems, so while it pleases some it upsets others.

At planning meetings we constantly hear people opposing development next to where they live, with claims of loss of privacy, overshadowing, etc. so whichever way council decide it will upset one of the parties.

Traffic-calming in South Fremantle might please most locals, but it could alter the flow of traffic to the CBD and have a negative impact on traders there. What is the right placemaking decision?

Placemaking is about wholeness, and making good choices for the common good, even if that upsets those with a NIMBY attitude. It requires courage of councillors to make the ‘right’ decisions, because the decisions they’ll make will never be right for everyone in the community. That’s the nature of us human beings that we never all agree on everything.

When I hear election candidates naively state that they will do what the community want, my immediate question is which part of the community do they mean, because there will be opposing views in the community. Councillors will have to vote one way or the other, displeasing those who are opposed to it.

It comes down to how much, and how negatively or how positively decisions we make in life impact on others. Loud parties, noise, dog barking, anti-social behaviour, where we park our car in the street we live, etc. it all impacts on others. So to make the right decisions we need to be considerate and constantly aware that our great personal lifestyle might not be considered so great by our neighbours.

What might be a good event that benefits local traders, could well have a negative impact on those who live nearby, and events can also be detrimental for local traders, so how do we find the right balance of placemaking in local government?

The Australian Hotel Association claimed in a survey they sent to local government election candidates that pop-ups negatively impact on their members, but surely that statement is not true for all pop-up events and for all pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars around Fremantle, because many of them benefit from events, even from markets, as they attract many more people to the area than would normally visit.

Should we embrace multi-storey development in the inner city to boost the local economy, or should we preserve the human-scale character of place, even in the run down east of the CBD that looks desolate and uninviting? What is the right placemaking and balance? You will hear very opposing views about that in the community.

Placemaking for me is about being extremely sensitive and understanding that there is no way in the world we can please everyone, and it is about not being selfish, and learning to acknowledge that the common good has priority over individual needs.

I know that it very difficult to accept when it impacts on one’s own life or business, but it is the only way good placemaking can become good governance, and hopefully council can take the majority of the community with them on the very challenging and delicate journey of progress, revitalisation and modernisation.

It is easy to understand that being a local councillor can be a very thankless task, so one has to admire all who nominated for this election.

VOTE to show you care about your community!

 

Roel Loopers

Vote Roel for City Ward!

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TRAFFIC CALMING NOT THAT SIMPLE

Posted in city of fremantle, community, TRAFFIC, Uncategorized by freoview on May 24, 2017

 

I thought at the South Fremantle Precinct meeting at The Local last night how frustrating it sometimes must be to be a City of Fremantle officer and Councillor.

Three CoF officers were invited to talk about the process on the traffic calming of South Terrace and Councillor Andrew Sullivan also attended.

Questions were again raised that had already been addressed at previous community meetings and the process is about two third underway, but I don’t blame anyone for that, as it is often the case that those who attend the first meeting(s) don’t come again, while other do. It is great to see a crowd of around 60 people at a precinct meeting because community involvement is essential for the officers and elected members to make the right decisions.

Underground power is planned but who is going to pay for it. Normally it is around one third Western Power, one third City and one third paid by property owners, but the latter are very reluctant to hand over cash.

Five speed reduction platform nodes were suggested at Douro Road, South Street, Lefroy Road and Charles and Silver streets, but one resident suggested some should be put where there is already more activity such as near Abhi’s and Manna’s.

Widening footpaths to accommodate more street furniture, dedicated bicycle paths and trees all along are also on the cards.

There were concerns from residents of Marine Terrace that traffic calming along South Terrace would increase traffic in their street but as one officer said we can’t solve all problems at once and if there is a knock-on effect we have to deal with that if it happens.

Another resident pointed out that the two streets are very different with South Terrace having more cafes, restaurants, hotels and heritage buildings and hence traffic calming there made more sense than doing it along Marine Terrace.

Illegal parking makes it very difficult and dangerous for local residents to pull out of side streets onto South Terrace and parking officers should try to be more attentive to that problem.

From my own experience driving down South Terrace many times a week is that where there are activity notes motorists will slow down at Abhi’s, the Local Hotel, Lefroy Road and near the South Beach Hotel hospitality hub.

That is also happening in Wray Avenue were traffic slows down near Frank’s and Gallati’s because cars are pulling out, car doors are opened and pedestrians cross.

One of the basic facts of life is that one cannot please everyone and every change will have an impact on different areas, unless we all stop driving cars and hop on public transport or bikes.

Roel Loopers

 

BEAUTIFUL WRAY AVENUE PARKLET

Posted in city of fremantle, community, parklet by freoview on March 14, 2017

 

The long-awaited community parklet at Wray Avenue, designed by Jean-Paul Horre is quite beautiful and will no doubt attract local people.

JPH raised $ 14,000 through crowd-funding and the City of Fremantle matched that dollar for dollar under the One Planet policy.

The big challenge is for the parklet not to become a de-facto alfresco addition for Lenny the Fox cafe, and the designer is aware of that and signs will point that out.

It looks great so well done and even has disabled access, which is very thoughtful!

Roel Loopers

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE NEW FACE OF FREMANTLE

Posted in architecture, buildings, city of fremantle, development by freoview on December 15, 2016

The development boom in Fremantle is positive but it is also a timely reminder that we need to have a discussion in Freo about what sort of development we want because it is too general to say we want to protect the unique heritage character of our city.

There should not be a blanket approach to density, hight, building design, etc. because to have a real positive impact we need to localise planning laws more so that there is more emphasis on the streetscape and specific areas.

Even in the heritage West End there are buildings that should never have been erected and disappointing streetscapes, so we need to have a community debate on how we can avoid ugliness and inappropriate architecture.

I talked to a well-known architect the other day who said he liked the new building on the corner of Pakenham and Bannister streets, while I think it is awfully mediocre. Another architect does not like the new MSC building in Cliff Street, but I love it, so how do we find compromises that are more acceptable to the wider community? Clearly personal taste won’t do.

We often talk only about the hight and human scale of buildings, but we should not generalise there because east of Queen Street a bit of extra height will do no harm in my opinion, while west of it we should not compromise above four storeys. There is no need for extra height in the West End but it is acceptable in the East End, I believe.

The planning requirement of set-back above certain heights can also be counter productive as it often has a negative impact on the design and the cohesion of a building. Set-backs often look like an after thought that does not fit in well with the rest of the building.

Fremantle’s Design Advisory Committee seems to be a bit of a lame duck when one considers some of the buildings approved by the City of Fremantle. The fact that Notre Dame University has been working with the DAC and planning staff for many months, but is still seeking approval for an inappropriate and boring five-storey building on the corner of High and Cliff streets, shows that the process is flawed because UNDA should have been told much earlier that their plans are not acceptable.

I agree that not every building can or should be iconic, but if we are serious about wanting to build heritage of the future buildings in Fremantle we need to do a whole lot better than what we have been doing in the last three years.

There is also a flaw in the percentage for the art scheme when developers can just add art to the new building facade to satisfy that requirement, as we see in Pakenham Street at the Quest Hotel. I don’t believe that was the initial idea for the art scheme, as it should be true public art and not a clever way by developers of avoiding it.

Open-minded and mature debate is needed to decide Fremantle’s future look, so let’s have some public forums in 2017 with architects, city planners and place makers, ideally from outside Freo, so that we don’t hear the same opinions we have already heard before. I would be very interested to hear State Architect Geoff Warne’s thoughts about Fremantle for example.

The community needs to be able to have input on what the new face of Fremantle should look like!

low-impact-development-uk

I put this artist impression from the UK here to show why we need to talk about development in Fremantle. This zero energy affordable residential development is considered low-impact high density there, while I believe it is very high impact. Something like this would be too over powering even on the Knutsford Street CoF depot site.

Roel Loopers

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