Although the City of Fremantle is still hopeful the Department of Housing will commit to moving to Kings Square, project partner Sirona Capital are developing alternative plans according to Freo City CEO Graeme McKenzie.
McKenzie writes in the City of Fremantle Annual Report that “The City is confident that the Kings Square Project will proceed. Sirona has been developing alternative plans for the development of this precinct and that plan is rapidly maturing to a point that should see contractual obligations met and this major catalyst development project in the heart of Fremantle proceed.”
I find it strange that the City would not keep the community and business community in the loop on this and tell us what the alternative plans for our City’s major development project are. Will Sirona go away from the plan to only develop commercial and retail in the former Myer and Queensgate buildings and now add residential or even tourist accommodation because it can’t sign up major tenants for their commercial floor space? I am sure everyone in Fremantle would like to find out what the new plans are and if they will come back to community consultation.
The announcement that former Fremantle Councillor John Dowson has nominated to become the next president of the Fremantle Society made me contemplate how effective community groups in our city have been in recent years.
When I became the president of FS I wanted to get rid off the us and them thinking, with some committee members believing Fremantle Council was the enemy of FS. I believed we could achieve more with respectful dialogue, getting into the ears of the elected members, push for changes to development applications and policies and collaborate with the City of Fremantle. President Henty Farrar who took over from me, and I as vice president, very much continued that way, but I believe it has been a failure.
But it is not only the Fremantle Society who has failed to make any impact, and the demise started well before Henty and I were in charge, but the Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association and the Fremantle Inner City Residents Association also fell onto deaf ears when approaching Council.
According to Fremantle Council there is a large silent majority in our community who exactly want what all of us who speak up and participate in community consultation oppose, so we really have Buckley’s of finding any consideration for our views. That will not change under a Dowson lead Fremantle Society, it will just become more black&white and us versus them and more negativity. I don’t believe that is good for Fremantle, but neither was the previous respectful and collaborative way of dealing with the City, because our views were disrespectfully ignored.
A lot of blame should go to those who did not bother to vote at the last local government election, and contrary to some opinions I read it is not an endorsement of the sitting members or a rejection of those who nominated, but it was a vote for apathy, so Freo gets the Council it deserves because 75 percent of voters could not bother to vote.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt has turned from a community leader into a manipulative politician whose word can no longer be trusted. He will tell you face to face that black is black but will argue at Council that black is white and gets away with it. Pettitt has a lot of influence behind the scenes and uses that power to push his own sustainability agenda. While Pettitt believes he can demand respect as Mayor of our city he and Council have long stopped treating the community with respect. They treat community consultation as a necessary nuisance, a mere box that has to be ticked under local government laws.
In my opinion it will not make one iota of a difference if John Dowson or Elvis Presley becomes the president of the Fremantle Society because we are trying to communicate with people who have earmuffs on to stop that annoying noise the community makes.
Articles in the West Australian today made me contemplate to what extend corporate responsibility should go. The argument-and hope-that private investors could finance lightrail in Perth because it would be good for their workers and hence the bottom line is an interesting one and has some merit. Staff that needs to travel less to and from work will be happier and healthier and would probably be a more productive workforce so that should be good for the employers. I read though that there is little demand for office space in the suburbs and that indicates to me that employers don’t get it or don’t care about the big picture.
Decentralisation of the workforce away from the Perth CBD and the creation of so-called satellite cities should be a priority for our State Government and large employers because traffic congestion is affecting the productivity and bottom line of businesses.
Fremantle is desperate for economic recovery and revitalisation but it has been near impossible to get commitment from the State and larger corporations to move staff to Freo. Sirona Capital is hamstrung with the Kings Square development because no one wants to commit to moving to Fremantle, and even substantial residential and hotel development alone will not be enough to make Fremantle the state’s second city again. We need more office workers in Fremantle and more medium to large retailers to make the port city vibrant again.
There are huge development plans for the Coogee coast just south of Fremantle and somehow our retailers need to be able to tap into that potential and that requires better public transport along that southern corridor, ideally in the form of lightrail. It should also encourage businesses to open offices in Freo, close to where the workforce lives, but that has not been forthcoming and I wonder why that is.
Is it more prestigious for companies to have offices in big towers in Perth than four floors in a Fremantle low to medium rise, and is the corporate image more important than looking after one’s employees and the general community?
The urban sprawl in Perth cannot be allowed to continue because long commuting to work is bad for personal health, bad for traffic and bad for the environment, and it costs money so it is bad for the bottom line. It is time for big businesses to make a move to the satellites of the metro area and for quite a few of them to make the move to Fremantle, so their workers can enjoy the unique lifestyle of our city. Procrastinating in the Perth CBD and complaining about congestion and public transport is not helpful or being part of the solution. Change is required! Make the move to Freo!!
The Planning Institute of Australia last night awarded the Fremantle White Gum Valley project the Best Planning Ideas-Small Project and Planning Minister’s Award.
The project is a collaboration between Landcorp, Freo’s CODA architects, URBIS and the City of Fremantle.
The judges said the development exemplifies a unique urban infill project through collaboration between a developer, local government and the community. It was praised for its ability to demonstrate the economic, environmental, and social benefits of sustainable development.
This poster came up on Facebook and I thought that it very much applied to Fremantle. The world is not better somewhere, anywhere else, but is pretty good here on our side of the fence. There is no doubt that Freo can be improved but it takes all of us to participate and be part of the solution.
Don’t just get involved before local government elections and don’t only express an opinion when you have something to complain about, but be part of Fremantle all the time. Tell the City of Fremantle, the Councillors and staff, tell me, tell this blog what your ideas for Fremantle are, what changes you would like to see, what easy and fast improvements you believe could be made, and what long-term plans we should have for our city.
What is it you love about Freo and what is it you loath?
The grass is not always greener on the other side and other local councils receive a lot of criticism as well, so let’s try to make Fremantle the best place it can be by all working together! That would be a good New Year’s pledge.