Freo's View


Posted in cusp, fremantle, fremantle ports, TRAFFIC by freoview on April 24, 2015

A report by Professor Peter Newman and Research Fellow Cole Hendrigan of the Curtin University of Sustainable Policy- CUSP has concluded that the $ 1.6 billion road freight link from Kewdale to Fremantle will be a waste of taxpayers’ money and will harm the City of Fremantle.

Newman and Hendrigan say that the number of trucks passing through Fremantle would increase fivefold and would make Freo into “Truck City.” They argue that the money would be better spent on a rail and road connection to a new port in Cockburn Sound since Fremantle Port will reach capacity to deal with containers in 10 to 15 years.

The planned new toll road will also split communities in half and create a huge bottleneck and traffic congestion in North Fremantle, the Road2Rail group has warned, but unfortunately indications are the Federal Government will increase its funding for the truck tollroad to offset GST losses Western Australia is making.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle, linley lutton, urban planning by freoview on November 1, 2014

Well-respected urban planner and architect Linley Lutton commented on my article On the Cusp of Crap that was about comments made in the media by CUSP professor Peter Newman, and a subsequent comment by Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt that it was a rant. I believe the debate about urban planning is too important to ‘hide’ Linley’s comment under last week’s post, so here it is.

Roel Loopers

I suggest that far from being a rant, Roel is simply echoing the frustration many people feel when the usual industry-focused voices dominate the sustainability debate. We need better.

There are many well-reasoned arguments for and against densification of existing cities. If done properly and in the right places, densification via appropriate urban infill can have a positive impact. When done badly however it can trigger a whole range of micro-climatic, infrastructural, economic and societal problems.

Increasing density does not have to mean high-rise or even medium-rise development. Attached row houses, three-storey walk-ups, apartment houses, narrow-fronted two-storey houses and micro lots all result in significant densification in sensitive ways.

In most European cities, apartments up to five or six storeys have existed in city centers for hundreds of years. These dwelling types work because at the ground plain there are wonderful squares, piazzas, parks, and streets which the people use as extended living spaces. Importantly, people in Europe have always lived with higher densities – it is part of their culture.

In my city planning work in China we always planned the ground plain as if it was a living space. In Libya I also recommended the emerging new towns be planned to ensure the public realm and higher-density housing were properly integrated.

In Perth however we seem to think that high-rise buildings shoe-horned onto small sites in inappropriate locations is the only way to increase population density. This is of course the lazy way to increase density and is embraced by industry. Some like this approach because it happens quickly and the sight of a cluster of new towers is interpreted as successful infill. The reality is however that most of these types of developments in Perth offer little more than a dormitory existence where the residents rarely engage with the surrounding area and still prefer to use their motor vehicles for regular travel.

In the last few years of ongoing design review work I have seen the design quality of apartment buildings drop alarmingly as the government encourages higher densities. Many are very small, have internal bedrooms with no natural light and ventilation and are located so close to busy roads that the balconies are unusable due to traffic noise. This compels residents to leave their windows closed all day and night to achieve a comfortable aural environment which then requires them to run their air conditioning system all night which they simply can’t afford.

Sustainable design in terms of energy and water consumption is a low priority and the construction materials used are very rarely recycled and are high in embedded energy. Once the current batch of substandard strata apartments has been constructed they will be there for a very long time and all of this is in the name of so-called sustainability via densification.

The sustainability debate at present is out of balance and dominated by a few who are driven by narrow-focused ideologies. Roel is intuitively responding to this imbalance.

Linley Lutton


Posted in city of fremantle by freoview on October 26, 2014

The Sunday Times reports today on the, yet to be published, Find the Gap book by Assistant-Professor Julian Bolletor of the Australian Urban Design Research Centre.

Bolletor argues that urban infill is essential for sustainable growth of our cities and suggests that we need to sacrifice urban space, such as parks, gardens, golf courses, universities open spaces, etc. It is a point I made only a few weeks ago about some very wide verges in Fremantle that could be developed for residential living.

Professor Bolletor is known in Freo as the man who launched the Fremantle Visioning 2029 project at the Fremantle Town Hall with his lecture The Future of Australian Cities. He then told the audience that Fremantle should be the centre of densification and substantial urban infill, but that we “should build on our strength” and take advantage of Freo’s cultural and natural amenity, connectivity, employment and Freo’s character and heritage and he warned that residential high-rise was not the way to go. Instead we should embrace density that gives back sustainable, liveable, affordable and integrated living.

Urban infill is no doubt a discussion Fremantle needs to engage with and if done well and at a human scale it could enrich our city’s character. Outstanding 5-8 storey buildings could greatly enhance the amenity of central Fremantle and beyond, but it is essential to include the outer CBD and suburbs in that kind of development, because it is highly unlikely real affordable housing will ever become available in the inner city where property and land values are far too high to accommodate affordable and social housing.

I am waiting in anticipation to read the Freo Visioning 2029 report by consultant James Best to see what Fremantle residents think about the future of our city.

Roel Loopers



Posted in fremantle by freoview on October 5, 2012

It was disappointing that not more people came to the lecture on Mary Ann Friend at the Notre Dame University last night. They missed out on an excellent and engaging presentation about the young woman and her husband Matthew by the delightful Associate Professor Deborah Gare.

Mary Ann Friend wrote a journal about her travels in which some of the earliest watercolour paintings of Fremantle are published. The diary will be on auction at Christies in London on October 10 and the Western Australian State Library would like to buy it.

It would be fantastic to have the journal in W.A. but whatever the outcome of the auction I hope Deborah Gare will write a book about Mary Ann and Matthew Friend and their time in the Swan River Colony.

Although only 30 people turned up it was nice to see two candidates for next year’s state election attending in Liberal Matthew Hanssen and Greens Andrew Sullivan.

Roel Loopers

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