At the Planning Commission on Wednesday evening the Chair of the City of Fremantle’s Design Advisory Committee Professor Geoffrey London expressed concerns about the proposed building for 18-22 Adelaide Street and how it would impact on the public realm, etc.
It made me wonder if the planning process needs to be adjusted to give more power to the DAC and make developers and their architects aware that unless the DAC suggested changes to the design are made the building application will not progress and be put in front of the Elected Members.
It is a waste of time to bring a planning approval to the Councillors when the expert architect panel is not happy with the design plans, hence the deferrals and delays we are getting and applicants are upset about.
It seems very strange that the DAC still has concerns but the planning and heritage officers recommended approval for the in my opinion totally unsuitable building for historic Kings Square.
It is likely there are inflated egos involved in the process and architects not wanting to take advise from other architects who are on the DAC, but tough titties to those who design shit and want us to believe we are looking at red roses.
I cannot at all understand that planning officers recommend approval when DAC architects have serious concerns, and the idea that this can be sorted after planning approval has been given is ridiculous because the developers will believe they got away with it.
In this case the developer is expecting discretionary additional height for an boring, ugly box and wants even more reward for building rubbish by asking to be exempt from paying the percentage for art/heritage sum.
Kings Square is a very precious and historically significant area of Fremantle and nothing but the best is good enough. As Councillor Hannah Fitzhardinge said, we want beautiful buildings!
The building proposal for a five-storey tourist accommodation at 18-22 Adelaide Street at Fremantle’s Kings Square was unanimously deferred by the City of Fremantle Planning Commission tonight.
Public speakers objected to the proposal because of inappropriate height, heritage concerns and deemed it detrimental to adjoining properties and the public amenity.
It was pointed out also hat approving this inappropriate building would set a precedent for other property owners in the area.
Occupants of units at the Cantonment Street Dodson’s building behind the proposed development claimed it would negatively affect their lifestyle, sun light and air flow into their building and were also concerned about the staircase being too close to their living areas which would result in noise issues.
Committee chair Jon Strachan said he believed the proposal had not met the requirements to allow for discretionary additional heights and it would not create the best heritage outcomes.
Councillors Hannah Fitzhardinge and David Coggin expressed that a message needed to be sent to developers that we want high quality buildings in the inner city, especially at historic Kings Square, while professor Geoffrey Bolton said the CoF Design Advisory Committee were concerned about the impact on the public realm.
Councillor Jeff McDonald said we needed to respect what we already have at Kings Square and a five storey spike would impact on the Townhall.
It now has to be seen if the developer and architect will listen to the concerns of the community, elected members and Design Advisory Committee and make substantial changes. The developer murmured when he walked out that this was like Italy under Mussolini and that one could not even do what one wants with one’s own property.
The article about development by WA Planning Minister Donna Faragher in today’s West Australian newspaper shows the Liberal party has resigned to the fact they can’t win the seat of Fremantle at the state election in March.
While the minister is excited about all the development in Cockburn, Midland, etc. she does not mention Fremantle once, although the port city is in an unprecedented development boom. So let’s update the minister on what goes on in good old Freo nowadays.
The Heirloom by Match apartments have just opened and opposite from there the LIV Defence Housing is building a huge residential development. Down the road next to St Pat’s another large apartment building will be built and just a couple of metres from there another one at Beach Street.
The Hilton Doubletree development should start early this year and the Quest hotel opened late last year in Packenham Street, while the B. apartments at Bathers Bay are also building new rooms.
Plans for an eight storey apartment building on the former Spotlight site have been approved and plans are well under way for residential development of the former Fremantle Workers Club, while Match is also building new apartments opposite the Local Hotel in South Freo and are developing the former Energy Museum site.
Oh and Minister, there is also a huge development commencing at Kings Square this year, in case you have not heard about it, and the Atwell Arcade development has also been completed, and there are many more substantial building projects in the pipeline for Fremantle.
And the heritage Warders and Gunners cottages are now also ready for occupation, dear Donna.
There is a lot going on in Fremantle and it is disrespectful of the Minister for Planning to not mention it at all.
A report by Knight Frank identifies that there is a shortfall of well over 23,000 Purpose Built Student Accommodation-PBSA in Perth and a staggering near 300,000 shortfall in Australia.
I have long advocated for more student housing in Fremantle for Notre Dame University students and for those at Murdoch and Curtin, as long as the accommodation is built near public transport nodes.
With an oversupply of residential apartments it might now be the time for developers to start thinking about student accommodation and for governments to support it by offering land at reduced prices.
In Fremantle it would be an economic investment to support our traders and the hospitality industry as thousands of students living here would shop and consume here and eat and drink at our cafes and restaurants. And they would bring that great youthful vibrancy to the city.
This evening Fremantle Council will decide if it wants to extend the Kings Square Project contract between the City of Fremantle and Sirona Capital and I wonder if it would be an acceptable compromise to extend it if both parties agree to make public the entire contract and Leedwell consultants business case, if the Department of Housing signs a lease to move there. Commercial confidentiality would surely no longer apply once the deal is done, as a third party could no longer benefit from the information. When the contract is signed total transparency could occur.
It is also likely that the Department of Finance, which will make the decision where Housing will be relocated to, would want to scrutinise the project’s contract details to make sure they don’t sign up for something that is dodgy and that might end up in court, as community groups threaten to do.
For me the project is too important for Fremantle’s recovery to stop it now because it would take a very long time to renegotiate a new contract with Sirona, as some suggest, and the company might not be interested in doing that. It would take forever to start from scratch and come up with new plans for the civic square, after extensive community consultation for the current plans.
Stopping now would mean we lost three years, while there is a real 50 per cent chance of Housing moving to Kings Square. Premier Colin Barnett has said the government is only considering two locations in Fremantle, one of them Kings Square.
I am in favour of the Kings Square Project because I believe the revitalisation of the CBD hinges on an active civic square, but I remain sceptical about the process and the lack of transparency and want to elaborate on that.
The City of Fremantle claims it cannot release the Leedwell business case report because the consultants own the copyright to that report. That is rubbish. Consultants who are commissioned to write reports for local governments are aware that local governments are accountable to their ratepayers and the public and that the report will be made public.
The City of Fremantle releases information to the public that is copyright constantly in agendas and agenda attachments. The new civic centre plans are copyright of Kerie Hill architects but were released by the City. The Hilton Hotel, the Queensgate, Spicers site, etc. etc. were all released by the City although they clearly do not have the copyright. Every architectural plan and artist impression is copyright, but that has never stopped the COF releasing them to the public. The Cantonment Hill plans are copyright of CODA, but they are out in public. So why are they hiding the Leedwell business case report and claim it is a copyright issue?
Commercial confidentiality is the most used excuse for not releasing information to the public by local, state and federal governments, but it is an abuse of process because the same governments will release anything that suits them, but just not the controversial bits we want to know in detail about, and have a right to know.
We know for example exactly how much money the contractors will get for the renovation of the Townhall, so why is that not commercially confidential? We know the names of design companies who tender to become part of the pool, we know which ones get shortlisted and we are told by the City who won the tender, but when we ask who the other companies were who tendered for the lease of Studio 1 at J Shed we are not told, but assured Sunset Events was the most suitable tender. No wonder the residents of Fremantle think it stinks and that something synister might be going on.
We are not really asking that much, we just ask for transparency and accountability, so why do we only get some of it and only in dribs and drabs as we keep pushing and demanding for more?
The same questions have been asked for years by experts such at Martin Lee and well respected auditor Craig Ross about Kings Square, and they don’t believe the answers they have been getting, mainly from Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt, are satisfactory, so where is the problem? None of the three people mentioned are stupid, so somehow the communication is not working and that is not acceptable. I don’t want to believe the Mayor is deliberately evasive so why don’t we seem to get the right answers to the questions?
Maybe it is time for Lee and Ross to write a polite letter to Leedwell telling them their reputation is on the line as the information released by the City of Fremantle is very different from what other experts say about the finances of the Kings Square Project and building valuations. Maybe Ross and Lee can ask Leedwell exactly the questions they have been asking the City of Fremantle and they can assure the consultants that the City would be happy for them to make their valuations public because COF has only not done that so far to protect Leedwell’s copyright.
On Tuesday the new CEO of Fremantle will officially start work, so maybe Phil St John is more inclined to release more detailed information about the Kings Square Project to the public, we could just very diplomatically ask him to do that as one of the first jobs in his new position.
I am no longer a member of the Fremantle Society but I have been leaked a letter their president John Dowson sent to the members after he met with Premier Colin Barnett about the Kings Square Project. Dowson claims: “As the Premier said to me today: “There are elements of this Business Plan that smell of WA Inc.”
That is a pretty defamatory statement by the Premier after his Minister for Local Government said he had no issues with it.
With Fremantle Council having to decide in the next weeks if it will extend the Kings Square project contract with Sirona Capital, I believe it would be a good idea to revisit the actual ideas and question if they will be the best outcome for our civic square.
When community consultation was under way there was always talk about having a hotel on the square to ensure 24/7 activation, but somehow that came undone and the project as it stands will only deliver retail and office accommodation.
I do not believe that Kings Square will ever become truly activated unless there is a residential component in either or both the Queensgate and former Myer buildings.
Possible future development within the large block between Queen Adelaide, High Street, Queen Street, facing Kings Square, should also only be approved if it contains residential apartments that would help with the passive surveillance of the square and day and night activation.
Without residential and/or tourist accommodation at Kings Square it will remain a dark and uninviting place at night in the centre of the city, a few street level bars or cafes within the KS poject won’t be enough. That is even more of a worry when the planned hotels at Cantonment Street and Point Street are built, as hundreds of visitors would walk through the deserted and hence unsafe area to the cafes and restaurants west of the square.
I wonder if the City of Fremantle will be flexible enough to revisit the new masterplan for Princess May Park now that the Hilton Doubletree hotel development is delayed for at least two years, and might never happen because of the new Adina Hotel development on the Woolstores shopping centre site over the road.
The masterplan is in parts about linking the western part of Princess May Park with the terraced planned section of the Hilton, that would open up into the park with a cafe, etc. If this does not happen that part of the park might have to be redesigned to accommodate other development should the Doubletree remain a plan rather than a built reality.