The City of Fremantle full Council meeting tonight has many interesting items, such as the Cantonment Hill and Princess May Park masterplans on the agenda, and also the City’s submission to the State Government on the Perth and Peel @ 3.5 Million directions.
There are many people who questioned the need for the Perth and Peel @ 3.5 Million document when the government only launched its Directions 2031 four years ago. That document directed local councils to increase infill-higher density- development near train stations and along transit corridors, without guidance or support on how to do it, so it has achieved very little.
In 2014 the residential development fill in stood at 28% and the Directions 2031 wanted an increase to 47%, but we are not even close to that target in the metropolitan area where it stands at only 30%. Fremantle is one of the highest achievers with a 36% infill rate.
Part of the problem has been that the State Government has simply demanded a fill in increase without showing local governments how to achieve it and there has been lack of support for integrated planning with State agencies unwilling to increase public transport services to potential infill locations. It’s the chicken and egg thing where local governments want the State to introduce the services before they start infill development while the State expects the development to go ahead without committing to increasing old or implementing new services such as lightrail and or rapid bus transport.
What amazes me about all these plans, ideas and directions is a severe lack of reality at all levels of government and by so called planning experts. On TV yesterday opposition against the extension of a large northern suburb shopping centre was vocal, with overflow parking in residential streets being a problem, so yet another ‘expert’ voiced her opinion that shopping centres should be built near train stations. Ooops! I though State Government wanted mainly residential infill near train stations, so not sure how very large-scale shopping precincts would be incorporated within those plans.
There is also naivety about suggesting shopping centres near train stations as it would be near impossible to do so along the Fremantle to Perth and Armadale line where shopping centres would destroy the older residential suburbs to an unrecognisable mess and severely impact on the character and lifestyle.
Let us look at the practicality of shopping centres near railway stations. Why is it IKEA, BIG W, The GOOD GUYS, HARVEY NORMAN, etc. are not near railway stations but next to large parking areas? Because people will not buy a huge flatscreen TV, new computer, washing machine, etc. and take it home on the train. They want to put it in their car or on the back of the ute and that is why shopping centres near railway stations only could be what we already have; highstreets. Sadly highstreets have lost popularity and people flock to sterile shopping centres instead.
Long and short term city planning needs to receive a severe injection of reality. The naive dreamers and unrealistic placemakers should take a cold shower or direct their creativity toward making surreal art, because city planning needs to be about achievable outcomes.
The City of Fremantle’s Economic and Marketing Department has put together the INVEST FREMANTLE brochure to entice more developers to spend their money here. It is an interesting brochure with some interesting facts and an areal view artist impression that will shock the Freo purists when they see all those high buildings to the east and north of Kings Square.
The ‘investment pipeline’ sounds fantastic on paper and the reality is not bad either as there is a lot of building and maintenance activity going on in central Fremantle. It is questionable though if COF can claim that the construction of the Hilton Double Tree hotel project has commenced, as is claimed twice in the brochure. On half of the site buildings have been flattened, while the Point Street carpark still stands and operates and no construction work has started there yet.
19 Douro Road is listed as development approved, while construction there has started, and Douro Road is spelt Duoro.
Retail rent in central Freo is expensive, in fact it is more expensive to rent space in Market Street and the Cappuccino Strip than it is on Bayview Terrace in exclusive and rich Claremont. Market Street is $ 1,250 per sqm, Marine Terrace $ 1,850 per sqm and Bayview Terrace only $ 1,150 per sqm.
Mayor Brad Pettitt writes in his foreword that Fremantle is home to one of the oldest buildings in WA, but the Roundhouse is of course the oldest remaining public building in the state.
54% of the Freo workforce lives in Fremantle. Tourism and Hospitality were responsible for $ 373.8 million turnover and in 2013 1,26 million people visited Freo.
I received the info about Invest Fremantle on Facebook but it will be on the City of Fremantle website, so have a read and give us some feedback.
For those of us who like to keep our democracy and a say on how we want our cities to develop the meeting in South Perth, see details below, about the very controversial State Development Assessment Panel is a start to defend the right of our Local Governments to make decisions.
More than 90 per cent of the development cases to the DAP as rubber stamped and approved, often contrary to the wishes of the local council and community. See the 17 storey-building approved on the former Subiaco Markets site as an example of how the State agency overrules the wishes of a local community.
Please note there is a very important meeting coming up in South Perth regarding the Barnett Government’s highly controversial Development Assessment Panels (DAPs).
The City of South Perth Resident’s Association is hosting the meeting to discuss the impact the DAPs on communities in Perth. The meeting will be held at 7pm Wednesday 29 July, 2015 at the Como Bowling Club and everyone is welcomed to attend and listen to the speakers and ask questions, no matter where you reside in WA.
They hope to inform residents and strengthen the voice of local communities who have on too many occasions been ignored or given token recognition by the current DAP system which many have said is stacked in favour of property developers.
Currently there is a Legislative Council Inquiry into the operation and effectiveness of the current DAP System.
The Inquiry has already conducted a number of hearings, and is due to report to State Parliament later this year.
It is hoped the recommendations of the Inquiry will include improved genuine consideration and weight to the voice of local communities as our city of Perth continues to grow.
Please RSVP by 27/7/15 more information contact Cecilia phone 9368 6275 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
This might come as a surprise to many people in Fremantle, but these are the official figures just released by the City of Fremantle:
Results of the City of Fremantle’s 2015 community perceptions survey are back and show improvements in a number of key areas since the last survey was conducted in 2012.
Some of the key areas of improvement (based on levels of community satisfaction) are:
· overall satisfaction with the City as a governing organisation – up 7%
· council’s leadership – up 9%
· youth services and facilities – up 21%
· openness and transparency – up 9%
· value for money (rates) – up 11%
· parks and other green spaces – up 9%
· family services and facilities – up 13%
· access for people with disabilities – up 10%
· conservation and environmental management – up 12%
· planning and building approvals – up 8%
· parking in the city centre – up 8%.
404 phone surveys were conducted with a random and representative sample of Fremantle residents.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt has summarised his fact-finding visit to some of the most liveable European cities on his blog and I have copied it here with my remarks and suggestions in Italic bold. I believe this should be a discussion the Fremantle community needs to have and a think tank would be nice to sit around with a few experts but also lay people like myself who are interested in urban design:
Brad Pettitt: Taking the European lessons learned and where Perth is at today I decided to have another go at defining the key ingredients of liveable and sustainable new developments. I think it is not as hard as is often make out and that these key ingredients can be narrowed down to a ten simple ingredients. These ingredients or perhaps commandments, however, are not etched on stone tablets so I’d appreciate your feedback on what I might be missing: Ten Ingredients for liveable and sustainable urban design:
- Gentrification is not the same as rejuvenation. Mandate a diversity of housing types, sizes and levels of affordability.
Roel: Gentrification is the rejuvenation of old run down buildings and in larger buildings, e.g. the Woolstores opposite Clancys, has the opportunity for diverse housing that would rejuvenate that area.
- Invest in high quality public parks and spaces for people to meet and recreate in. Make space for spontaneous community to flourish and especially for children to enjoy.
Roel: Small surprises scattered around the city for children so they can explore and discover and linger and do activities, but not massive playgrounds was something we talked about with David Engwicht when he had community sessions in Fremantle, but nothing has come from it.
- Plant street trees and lots of them. Trees are wonderfully generous towards even the dullest modern architecture.
Roel: We have very few trees in the CBD and that should be improved. It breaks up the monotony of building facades and streetscapes. Beach Street and High Street east could be tree-lined welcoming boulevards for example.
- Activate the street level with ground level shops and cafes. There should be a different business every ten metres on high streets and these ground floor usages should be diverse, meet local needs and be open diverse hours. This is essential to creating a “cities of short distances”.
Roel: Retail diversity, good shop fronts and window displays are missing in Fremantle, and Notre Dame University still occupies too much ground level space that needs to be activated in the West End. It has been part of the Memorandum of Understanding with UNDA for years now, but they have done little to implement reactivation of their ground level properties. That is disappointing.
- Embed sustainability features into the design from the start. Water and fossil fuel based energy is going to be a lot more expensive in coming decades and our designs should plan to be future proof.
Roel: Why can’t we start in Fremantle with a policy that requires all new buildings to have solar energy and rain water collection. It would make a big difference over time.
- Embed high quality and high frequency public transport into the development from the start. Preferably light rail or street cars that create investor certainty and influence a denser built form.
Roel: I love trams/light rail, but Fremantle does not have the population numbers for it yet to make it financially viable for private investors. The short-distance shopping experience with more localized deli’s etc. should be encouraged.
- Traffic calm streets. Keep cars to fringe of residential developments or at least design them so cars don’t dominate. Local streets are for people so make cars last in the transport hierarchy.
Roel: This is what they do so much better in many European cities. Prioritising pedestrian amenity in local streets and making safe places for kids to play in the streets is the way to go. Laneway access to carports instead of street access would be good where it can be done.
- Waste removal and storage needs to be well planned and designed into new developments so high levels recycling can occur and other waste turned into energy not just landfilled.
Roel: Waste removal away from streets and maybe create collection points could be something we should look at.
- Greater urban density is essential for our centres to be more liveable and sustainable. Global evidence suggests there is a sweet spot between 4 and 8 floors. There is no need to obsess over the height of buildings though; it’s normally not the most significant amenity factor if you get the rest right.
Roel: Height should not be the main factor of concern, but design and building quality should be. We in W.A. compromise far too fast and approve bland, boring, mediocre, and really unacceptable, design and that does not make our cities more liveable. What we need is diversity, higher density and outstanding design, the heritage of the future we keep hearing about but that is never built. The City of Fremantle Council, the Planning Department and the Design Advisory Panel need to show a stronger front and tell developers that Fremantle does not want mediocre concrete boxes.
Brad: Mandate and integrate the above. This requires risk and leadership but future residents will thank you for it.