Freo's View



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The Planning Committee of Fremantle Council last night recommended for approval by the WA JDAP the development of a five-storey hotel, restaurant, tavern and shops at the heritage listed Henderson Street Police and Justice complex and Warders Cottages by Fremantle’s Silverleaf Investments.

The Fremantle Society was concerned that five storeys on the site did not fit in with the City’s own criteria, but planning staff and Councillors had a different opinion.

It was agreed that further work needed to be done on dealing with the noise of the future live music venue of the Drillhall, but the overall concept was welcomed by the elected members and officers.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said it was a good outcome and Councillor Dave Hume said it was a really good outcome and good interpretation of the historic site, and the access way through the development from Henderson to Parry streets was excellent.

Councillor Adin Lang said he had given it a lot of consideration and while the sightlines might impact somewhat the development showcases what is inside the old buildings. We are lucky we don’t have the site empty for ten years as was the case with the Warders Cottages, Lang said.

Councillor Ingrid Waltham said it was a fantastic adaptive re-use of the convict precinct and a good outcome.

The City’s heritage architect Alan Kelsall said the additional fifth storey allows the developers to have a minimal impact on the heritage buildings. “The benefit on the heritage buildings out weights the impact of the higher building.”

The deciding authority for the $10 million development is the state’s Joint Development Assessment Panel.

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, tourism, Uncategorized by freoview on March 3, 2018


Fremantle’s Silverleaf Investments have applied for building approval for the former Henderson Street Police and Justice complex and Warders Cottages which they bought last year.

The plans will go before the City of Fremantle’s Planning Committee this coming Wednesday at 6pm.

The proposal is for a five-storey hotel, tavern, restaurant, shops and offices development.

The decision making authority is the WA Joined Development Assessment Panel-JDAP.

I was under the impression that the planning scheme only allows for four storey in that historically very significant precinct just a stone’s throw for the World Heritage listed Fremantle Prison, but the Officer’s Recommendation is for approval.

If the additional fifth storey is discretionary height is should be refused because the hotel building is bland and shows no connection to the heritage surroundings.

There are concerns in the report about the neighbouring Drillhall, which will be opened by Sunset Events as a full-time live music venue in November this year, so the recommendation is for 10mm thick glass in the hotel windows. Consultants for the Drillhall believe they glass should be even thicker to keep the concert noise out of the hotel rooms.

Check out the architect impressions on the City of Fremantle website. They are in the separate agenda attachments, but my Acrobat Reader is playing up this morning so I can’t copy any images to show you here. Sorry! ; >(


Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on February 14, 2018




What a coincidence to just see an article on Facebook about a rooftop garden on a Melbourne shopping centre, when I only yesterday talked with North Fremantle architect Murray Slavin about the opportunity lost to do something similar with the proposed Woolstores shopping centre development in Fremantle.

Besides the poor design qualities of the proposed development, Murray and I both lamented that a rooftop garden for residents and hotel guests on top of the four-storey carpark had not been included in the development, as that would lift it to another level.

I also sugested that to indicate the bulk of a woolstores the two towers of the development could be linked at the top with massive steel beams, so that there is an impression of bulk, but it does not fill up the space above the carpark.

Unfortunately we are getting very conservative and rather boring new development in Fremantle and that is partly to blame on a council that is so keen on economic recovery that it is willing to compromise far too easily on the beauty and aesthetics of new buildings.

Fremantle is unique and that unique character needs to be acknowledged with creative and outstanding design!

Roel Loopers


Posted in art, city of fremantle, culture, Uncategorized by freoview on February 7, 2018


art award


2018 TASF Art Awards by the Fremantle Artisan Store, Fremantle BID and Silverleaf Investments is to promote emerging and established artist from all mediums. An art event that will be encompassing of all things Fremantle as an arts community represents.

The awards will be open to Western Australian artists only.

The awards will be exhibited between the 4th – 27th May 2018 at The Old Courthouse 45 Henderson Street, Fremantle.

There is a $6000 Prize Pool for:

2D works (painting, drawing, printmaking, mixed media) – $1000
3D works (wood, ceramics, glass, sculpture, mixed media) – $1000
Photography – $1000
Jewellery – $1000
Textiles – $1000
Fremantle BID People’s Choice Award – $1000
Important Dates

Entries open Monday 19th March 2018. Entries close Sunday 15th April 2018.
Selected Artwork delivery: Friday 20th April 2018, 10am to 6pm
Exhibition Opening Night: Friday 4th May 2018
Exhibition open to the public: Saturday 5th May to Sunday 27th May 2018 (Open 10 to 4pm Tuesday to Sunday)
For more information, please download the Terms and Conditions and application form at

http://www.the or email

Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on January 31, 2018



Woolstores 2


Chairman Jon Strachan pointed out on Wednesday evening that this was not a formal meeting but a special meeting of the Fremantle Council Planning Committee, to deal with the aspects of applying or not architectural excellence to the development proposal for the Woolstores shopping centre site.

The Planning officers stated in the agenda that they believe design excellence could apply if specific modifications are undertaken by the developers, and the architects for Silverleaf Investments said they were quite happy with the recommendations.

Contrary to the initial plan of two bookend towers the north east tower is no longer part of the application, which makes it quite awkward to apply design excellence, but planning applications can only deal with the application and not with possible future plans or additions to a development.

The proposal has been going through 27 months of Silverleaf dealing with CoF planning staff and the Design Advisory Committee. That is commendable as they could have gone straight to the state’s JDAP for approval of their project and could have bypassed Fremantle Council.

Silverleaf director Gerard O’Brien pointed out there is only a narrow window for development as investors and future tenants demand certainty.

He said that Fremantle is losing people and businesses every day and that he never would have thought that Mountain Design is closing many shops all over Australia, including Fremantle.

I am only a custodian of the buildings we develop, O’Brien said.

Architect Ken Adams said that the over riding importance of the development is scale, bulk and form and that design excellence should have a chance of receiving awards from the Australian Institute of Architects. City of Fremantle Design Advisory Committee chair Geoffrey London said he could not disagree with that.

Adams also said, and I do agree with that, is that to not include the second tower in the development application was incredible. But Adams added that the two vertical elements are demonstratively awkward anyway.

DAC chair Geoffrey London said the last 27 months had been an upward process and that the application was certainly on the way to design excellence, but was not there yet. It is about scale and the urban setting.

Deputy Mayor Ingrid Waltham said she believed the site was the place for a landmark buildings and that it would take Fremantle into the 21st century.

CoF Director of Strategic Planning and Projects Paul Garbett said that internationally acknowledged design excellence was not just about the aesthetics, but also about character, continuity, public realm, legibility of the building, ease of movement, adaptability and diversity mix of use, and that is was a multi-dimensional approach to planning.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said he welcomed the boldness of the design and that they were making good progress in a very long process. This is a clear direction of where we want to be, Pettitt said.

Councillor Waltham asked if they could have some 3D design of the proposed buildings, while Councillor Jon Strachan put an amendment forward that sightlines from Cantonment Hill and other strategic points would be considered.

Councillor Adin Lang mentioned twice that he was elected on an economic recovery platform at the October election and hence would support the development proposal because it would bring more people and shoppers to Fremantle. That really is not a good enough reason for planning approval, so the young Councillor will have to learn what the Planning Committee is all about.

Now let me just be the Devil’s Advocate for a moment. Silverleaf gets design excellence from Fremantle Council and building approval from JDAP, but then decides it is economically better for them to not go ahead with the aged care tower. They could also only do stage 1 and leave the public carpark, which would mean Fremantle ends up with only a ten-storey tower at the south west corner at Queen Street of the site, that has a hotel and office accommodation and some retail below.

I personally would prefer that over the awkwardness of the two bookend towers connected by a long low-rise red brick building.

Roel Loopers




Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, planning, Uncategorized by freoview on January 26, 2018



A City if Fremantle Special Planning Committee will be held on January 31 to consider the design and planning principles for the proposed development of the Woolstores shopping centre site.

Silverleaf Investments is proposing a 4-10 storey mixed use development that will be a public carpark, shops, hotel, offices, student accommodation and aged and dependant persons accommodation.

The agenda states that the planning officers and Design Advisory Committee believe the plans have merit to develop into a scheme capable of satisfying the scheme provisions to exceptional design quality, which I find hard to believe

While I quite like the modern and light five-storey container shape with porthole windows idea for the hotel there is a severe disconnect to the red brick four-storey podium it is resting on.

The rest of the very large building is boring, plain, sombre, unimaginative standard red brick nothingness that does not qualify at all to get design excellence standards, and surprisingly the officers recommend to increase the use of red bricks, which will just enhance the darkness of the building and increase its blandness.

Woolstores 2

Here some snippets from the agenda:

The design and planning principles this report will consider are as follows:

  •   The proposed brick podium component of the development and its empathetic response to the scale and architectural character of the adjacent Elders Woolstores
  •   The Hotel building located at the Queen Street end of the site and the Aged Care (Retirement Living) building located at the Goldsbrough Street end of the site particularly the external appearance of the upper floors of these buildings.
  •   The location, design and activation of the proposed mid-block pedestrian link.
  •   The presentation of the proposed development to the corner of Queen Street and

    Elder Street, specifically the interaction of the Hotel lobby with Queen Street.

Brick Podium

The proposal includes the construction of a brick podium base to the development of approximately 4-5 storeys in height, extending across the whole site. The DAC has been consistent in its encouragement to the applicant to respond more emphatically to the scale and ‘weight’ of the remaining former Woolstores building on Elder Place.

The applicant has been encouraged to use brick as a utilitarian and structural element of the proposal to produce a meaningful representation of the scale and ‘weight’ (in an architectural sense) of the adjacent Elders Woolstores. The current concept uses brick as the primary material for the podium, however its use has evolved more into a decorative screen rather than an essential structural element of the podium. The proposed use of brick as a primary material is still supported, however the applicant is encouraged to develop the design of the podium as discussed below.

In my opinion the overall visual appeal of the building is very disappointing, with only the hotel component as a stand out of modern architecture, while the rest is 1970s design that is unbecoming to modernising the boring east of the Fremantle CBD.

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, art, city of fremantle, development, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on January 10, 2018


An interesting flaw in the City of Fremantle’s Percentage for the Arts or Heritage policy came to light during the Planning Committee on Wednesday evening.

Fremantle Society president John Dowson made the very sensible suggestion that the percentage should be used to reinstate the wrought-iron verandahs on the Manning Buildings when they are developed, but was told it is not possible to use the percentage for the arts/heritage on a private building.

I had just written down that the Quest Hotel and another Pakenham Street development both have percentage for the art works attached to their buildings, when Silverleaf director Gerard O’Brien made exactly the same point to the Councillors.

The percentage for the arts and heritage policy was introduced to enhance and beautify the public realm, and Councillor Rachel Pemberton made the realistic observation that verandahs are very much in the public realm.

It is absolutely non-sensical that building owners and developers cannot spend percentage for heritage and arts money on beautifying the public realm with heritage features, but are forced to spend it on often pretty mediocre and uninspiring art that can be attached to their buildings.

Developers tell me that a lot of the money from percentage for the arts is spend on administration and art consultants, and not on the actual art work, so let gets some reality in a policy that is clearly flawed and needs to be amended, so that we can encourage developers to reinstate verandahs, which look much better than modern awnings.

It would be a win win for all!

And to make it clear! I love great public art and believe the percentage for the arts and heritage is good, but it needs to be realistic and flexible.

There are many silly rules and regulations in our planning laws and some of them are detrimental to achieving the best outcome. All the community wants is the very best building outcomes, not silly bureaucratic nonsense.

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on January 6, 2018


The proposal for the development and part demolition of the Manning buildings will come before the City of Fremantle Planning Committee this Wednesday January 10 at 6pm.

The plans by developers Silverleaf include a 250 patron dining area and 250 patron tavern and a micro-brewery, as well as office and retail accommodation.

The approval authority for the $ 10 million project is the WA Joint Development Assessment Panel. The City of Fremantle Officer’s Recommendation to the CoF Planning Committee is to recommend the conditional approval of the three storey development, that will retain the Manning Arcade between the High Street mall and Paddy Troy Lane.

The modernisation of the Frematle CBD is inevitable and should in general be welcomed I believe, as long as new development proposals are considerate of the heritage character of the inner city.

Silverleaf is a major player in Fremantle and therefore has an obligation to the community to do excellent and attractive development.

While Silverleaf is applying for the Manning development, and soon will be applying for the development of the Woolstores shopping centre and Justice and Police complex in Henderson Street, it still has not completed the development of the Attwell Arcade building and installed all the cladding on the four-storey building.

Completion of the Atwell development should be a requirement by the City of Fremantle before Silverleaf gets approval for any new development in Fremantle.

The planning officers also recommend the requirement of a photographic archival record of the existing building, but that should be amended to a professional high-resolution photographic archival record, as we might otherwise end up with useless low-res amateur photos.

Council meetings will be held at the North Fremantle Community Centre at Thompson Road during the Kings Square Project construction and start at 6 pm.

Roel Loopers





Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on December 31, 2017


Only one more sleep and we are starting a new year, which will be a very significant one for Fremantle.

I am very optimistic about the future of our delightful port city, as 2018 will be a year of transition, change and consolidation for Freo.

Major development will start early in the year at Kings Square and other massive development is in the pipeline.

The large LIV apartment building at Queen Victoria Street will be completed toward the end of the year, and the Warders Cottages boutique hotel will be built next to the Fremantle Markets.

One of the major development players in town is Silverleaf, which are embarking on the huge development of the Woolstores shopping centre site, the Manning Building and the Police and Justice complex at Henderson Street.

Being one of the major developers responsible for future building Fremantle Silverleaf does not only have a real opportunity to make a big impact, but also have an obligation to create beauty and character in the CBD.

Silverleaf, Match, Sirona Capital, and other developers can create history by building exceptional heritage of the future buildings of creative architecture and old-fashion craftsmanship pride.

Cheap and cheerful concrete boxes with a bit of cladding to make them more appealing are not very Freo at all, and should be refused. There needs to be softness and roundness instead of square hard corners, and lovely features that makes building attractive.

Building modern Fremantle just a stone’s throw from the old heritage town comes with responsibility to do more than just watching the triple bottom financial line for investors. It comes with community demand for outstanding design and respect for Freo’s character and lifestyle.

It is just mindset and goodwill that are the difference between building boring mediocrity or classy high-quality eye-catchers!

Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, Uncategorized by freoview on November 27, 2017




Retired North Fremantle architect Ken Adams has submitted his opinion about the Fremantle Woolstores development by Silverleaf for the Fremantle Society, that deserves to be shared with the wider community

It is quite detailed and hence long, so I have edited it a bit, but it is still long for a blog post.

Below are his excellent expert thoughts and opinion about the massive development:

Total Redevelopment of the Site is Welcome and offers a Great Opportunity.
It should be clear that a total redevelopment of the site is not merely welcome; it is well overdue. The replacement of the original woolstores building by the existing banal shopping centre, car parking and open servicing areas was, in urban design and other terms, a complete and unrelieved disaster.

The decision to redevelop the entire site offers a wonderful opportunity to undo that mistake and create a very positive development that will serve and greatly enhance the city centre. The opportunity must not be missed, nor should it in any way be compromised by confusing what may be permitted with what is best for Fremantle

The issues dealt with here are:

  • whether the general character, including proposed use , scale and form, is appropriate;

  • whether the building heights proposed are appropriate and whether the development meets the criteria for design excellence; and

  • whether the more detailed architectural design aspects are appropriate.

Context is Everything
The site occupies a pivotal position in the city’s townscape and activities, mediating between the major woolstore buildings (now converting, appropriately, to residential use) and the central business (essentially retail, entertainment and office) district.

Both the uses and character of development proposed for the subject site must recognise this pivotal position.

There are two buildings that set the benchmark for the height and scale of what should occur on the site. These are firstly and most critically, the superb Goldsborough Mort and Company Woolstores building immediately north of the site. The second is the relatively recent and modern building on the SE corner of Queen and Goldsborough Streets. Whatever happens on the site must recognise both the scale and character of these two buildings.

General Character and Form of the Development
It seems to me that a mixed use development of the site is most appropriate, because the site does mediate between the essentially business and essentially residential precincts of the city. For that reason, I support, in general terms, the mix proposed, including the replacement of the major supermarket, market hall, offices, significant active-frontage retail and other uses and housing for both active young adults and predominantly retired people.

Provision of active uses at the street frontages of Cantonment and Queen Streets is especially important, and supported. Goldsborough Street, currently a pedestrian desert, also offers the opportunity to become an active and very attractive street in future, especially with a future re-use of the Goldsborough Mort Woolstore building.

In general terms the most appropriate precedents for the overall scale and form of the redevelopment of this pivotal site lie with the adjacent Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building and in the memory of the site, itself a former wool store building of similar scale and mass to the Goldsborough Mort building and the other woolstores along Elder Place and Beach Street – the so-called “March of the Giants”.

These suggest a strong, perhaps even monolithic, well-defined mass. The proposed development largely achieves this, were it not for the superimposition of the two tower elements, one at either end, and the excessive size of gaps in the facades, compromising the continuity of the facades.

The unusually large size of the site also strongly suggests the provision of at least one public pedestrian access way through the site, in line with either the Westgate Mall entry, as proposed, or Point Street, or both.

This access way, however, should be completely permeable at ground level, ie it should provide a clear view through between Cantonment Street and Elder Place.

Building Height and Design Excellence
In my opinion the most beneficial height for development over the site would be set 
precisely at the level of the Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building, creating a  beautifully proportioned streetscape in Goldsborough Street. This level would appear to be close to the level that would generally result from the 21m height limit.

From an urban design perspective the most desirable streetscape outcome is unquestionably to maintain a consistent building height/level based on the level of the Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building. The 21m height level appears to be a good approximation of this. No extension of height above this visible from the adjacent streets would improve the appearance of the building.

The two proposed blocks of additional height, one at each end of the development, almost doubling the height of the development at those places, create an awkwardly balanced and poorly proportioned architectural composition.

Far from being a beneficial element, as claimed by the applicant’s report, they are significantly detrimental to the urban design outcome. That’s from a purely urban design perspective.

In order to gain approval for the additional height it is necessary for the applicant to demonstrate that the outcome would represent “Distinctive Architectural Design and Exceptional Design Quality”. The architectural design of the complex as a whole, and of the additional floors, is competent, but no more so than must be expected of any architect.

Distinctive” and “Exceptional Design Quality”, by definition, are terms that cannot be applied to any but a relative handful of buildings.

To gain some idea of what is required to reach these heights, one needs to look at examples of highly regarded contemporary buildings, notably those that have achieved awards of excellence. In the City of Perth Council House and the new City Library come to mind, as do 40 William Street and the Central Park development.

In Fremantle perhaps the proposed Kings Square redevelopment might meet the test. Could anyone seriously argue that the proposed Woolstores redevelopment would stand proudly alongside these?
Competent and attractive as the proposed development may be claimed to be it is neither “distinctive” nor of “exceptional design quality”, and hence does not pass the bar for the additional height concession.

It is neither “distinctive” nor of “exceptional design quality” and hence does not pass the bar for additional height concession.

I believe that Ken Adams sums it up pretty well and it is also my opinion of the development proposal.

Development of the ugly site is very welcome, but it needs to be of very good architectural design quality, and sadly the proposal is mediocre and uninspiring. Silverleaf need to come up with something much better and more balanced, because the two towers on either side create a severe imbalance that would look awful.

I agree with Ken Adams that there is nothing exceptional about the architecture and hence discretionary additional height should not be granted by Fremantle Council or the DAP.

Ken Adams received the prestigious Architects Board Award. He headed the Urban Design Section of the Town Planning Department. He was a founding member of CityVision in 1987 and has been Chairman since 2001. He was the consultant responsible for the most comprehensive study of Fremantle, carried out in 1979-80 for the purposes of establishing a comprehensive strategy for the City.

Roel Loopers


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