Freo's View


Posted in architecture, buildings, city of fremantle, city planning, development, Uncategorized by freoview on April 28, 2018


It is rather strange that the Fremantle Herald front page this week features a letter to the editor about JDAP rejecting the Woolstores shopping centre site development plans, instead of publishing an editorial about it.

There is little reason for the Fremantle Society president to gloat about the JDAP decision because it would not be in the interest of Fremantle if the development plans are abandoned. However Silverleaf Investments also need to be aware that second best and it’s good enough will not be accepted in Fremantle.

To realise Fremantle’s rejuvenation, that will hopefully kick start the economic recovery, we need development investors like the Match Group, Sirona Capital, Silverleaf, and others, but they know Fremantle Council is so desperate for new development that developers think that just about anything will be accepted.

The Fremantle Society during my presidency fought tooth and nail to stop PSA 49 but pressure from the then owners suddenly saw Council approve 11 storeys on the Woolstores site, when Mayor Brad Pettitt had only days before expressed he would not vote for double digit development, so nine storeys would be the maximum.

But PSA 49 was very clearly about only granting additional discretionary height if development was of excellent design quality, and the Woolstores plans, rejected by Fremantle Council and the WA Joint Development Assessment Panel-JDAP, clearly were not.

It appears that developers and architects still have not got the message that the Fremantle community demands creative and innovative design, and sadly Fremantle Council, JDAP and the State Administrative Tribunal also still have not got that point, as they have too often allowed mediocre development that is hurting Fremantle’s unique character. Council is so desperate to achieve rejuvenation of the inner city and economic recovery that it overlooked design flaws, out of fear of upsetting developers.

The new Sirona Capital buildings at Kings Square are not outstanding and neither is the planned and approved Hilton Doubletree hotel development on the Point Street carpark site. The LIV development along Queen Victoria Street is repetitive boredom and the Quarry Street side of it is architecturally so unresolved that it hurts my eyes and soul.

In the development pipeline are also the already approved very boring eight storey development next to the Australia Hotel and the equally uninspiring Little Lane development on the former Spotlight site next to Target.

I do get it that developers want to make as much money as they can and I don’t have a problem with that, but the JDAP rejection of the Woolstores proposal should send a clear message that if you want more money making floorspace and height you will need to offer Fremantle something special and unique.

Not only did Fremantle’s Design Advisory Committee expert panel express that the Woolstores design was not excellent, so did the three architects who spoke for the Fremantle Society, and other architects JDAP panel member Councillor Rachel Pemberton consulted had the same opinion.

I also talked to three well-known local architects in Fremantle who told me the composition and balance of the plans were all wrong and that piecemeal changes to the design would not lift it to the highest architectural standards required to receive the bonus height.

Fremantle wants and needs development. I love modern architecture and am not off the opinion that no new development in Fremantle should be above six storeys, but like most people in the community I want to see the wow factor when it comes to new buildings here.

It is very disappointing, and I agree here with the Fremantle Society president, that the Chamber of Commerce keeps supporting any development plans, no matter how inappropriate and uninspiring. For the Chamber the motto seems to be Any shit will do as long as it is new. I expect higher standards from our business leaders.

The rubbish that is often proposed might not do great harm in Cockburn or Joondalup but it would make Fremantle a lot less attractive to visitors from all over the world. The community will not accept that and developers, architects, Fremantle Council, JDAP and SAT should listen to us!

Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on April 18, 2018


The 38.9 metre high proposal for the development of the Fremantle Woolstores shopping centre site by Silverleaf Investments was this morning unanimously rejected by the five members of the South West Joint Development Assessment Panel-JDAP.

The Fremantle Society had brought the big guns with architects Ken Adams, Ian Molyneux and Sasha Ivanovich all stating that the development was inappropriate for the location and the design was not of exceptionally high standards to allow additional discretionary height.

Silverleaf’s Gerard O’Brien expressed his frustration and angrily said that he was gutted that the development might not go ahead after spending so much time and over $ 2 million dollars on it already.

“I have been misled all the way” O’Brien thundered, and that it was hard to stomach for a small business. “What do we expect Fremantle to be? What does the public want? We wanted to create something for Fremantle!”

There was a lot of talk that the building should relate to its context and that the scale did negatively impact on the heritage surroundings. Fremantle is globally a unique place!

The design of the proposal was considered to be at best very ordinary, according to architect Ken Adams and that it poorly related to the streetscape.

Former Perth City architect Craig Smith sent his assessment that the applicants had addressed all the issues brought up by the Fremantle City Design Advisory Committee. While the DAC suddenly wanted the hotel tower to be set back there were no setbacks required in the planning scheme. Smith believes there is no rational reason to set back the hotel from Queen Street.

DAC chair Geoffrey London said the decision of exceptional design was made by the collective judgment of an expert group of people, but one of the JDAP panel members said he believed there was a high degree of subjectivity.

There was short adjournment for CoF planning staff to give additional confidential information to the JDAP panel members, so no idea what that was all about as it did not change anything.

Councillor Rachel Pemberton said that the vision behind controversial Planning Scheme Amendment 49 was to give developers the option of getting more height allowance as long as they offered superior standard design. I don’t want to relax that requirement, she said.

One of the JDAP members rightly stated that the East CBD part of the city was very run down and that investment in that area was crucial for Fremantle’s development. Maybe there was too much concern about the design quality. “Who is going to invest in this type of scale when the process is so intimidating?”


While I agree that the building design is definitely not exceptional I still believe this is a loss for Fremantle. If Silverleaf Investments pulls out of this development Fremantle will end up with the very ugly and mediocre shopping centre site for many years to come and that is a disaster for the rejuvenation plans for the inner city.

There is little guarantee that the Hilton Doubletree development will happen, so then all we might get is the eight-storey Little Lane development next to Target.

I really hope Gerard O’Brien will not chuck all his efforts in the bin and walk away from his plans to develop the site, and that he will give it one more good try to get the height he believes he commercially needs and Fremantle gets the iconic landmark building it wants there. PLEASE!!

Roel Loopers





The proposal by Silverleaf Investments for the development of the Fremantle Woolstores shopping centre site will come before the state’s South West Joint Development Assessment Panel tomorrow morning at 10 am at the temporary council chambers at Fremantle Oval.

Fremantle Council have recommended to reject the proposal because the proposed additional discretionary height conditions are not met to give the proposal the excellent design rating that is required to be granted extra height.

I hope a compromise can be reached between the City of Fremantle and Silverleaf Investments as the site is of great importance for the rejuvenation of the CBD and Fremantle’s attempt at economic recovery.

The present building is ugly and boring and offers a provincial low-key shopping experience, so a new development, especially with a hotel, would be very good.

We should also not forget that the developers could simply drop their request for additional discretionary height and build a very mediocre building that is within the PSA 49 rules, so the City and Silverleaf need to try to work together to get an exceptional iconic building.

Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, heritage, property, Uncategorized by freoview on April 11, 2018


Energy Museum

Energy Museum 2


It is disappointing to see that the MATCH Group has abandoned their plans for the M27 development of the former Energy Museum site at Parry Street in Fremantle.

The building is offered for sale on the property pages of the West Australian today.

The development would have seen a four-storey residential apartment building behind the heritage listed building, while the former museum building would have been developed into a Bread in Common style restaurant and retail hospitality venue.

Also disappointing to read in the West that Silverleaf Investments director Gerard O’Brien has stated that if JDAP does not approve the Woolstores shopping centre site development his company will pull out and only refurbish the boring existing building.

O’Brien told the West, as he has told me, that they are only the custodians of their buildings. If you are serious about that statement, Gerard, why not put just a bit more additional effort in to get it right and deliver Fremantle a truly exceptional and iconic building. You can do it. Come on!

Roel Loopers

UPDATE! Only just now at 10.20pm read an email from the Match Group that they have not abandoned plans to develop, but will need to get more details as to why they put the Energy Museum building up for sale, so stay tuned until I have talked to them.




Fremantle Council Planning Committee recommended to JDAP to reject the plans by Silverleaf Investments for the Woolstores shopping centre site, with an amendment to state that council very much would like to see this proposal go ahead as long as the proponent makes the changes recommended by Fremantle’s Design Advisory Committee-DAC.

There was clear frustration in the air from both sides with Councillor Ingrid Waltham expressing that everyone on council and in the community wanted good development happening in that area. She said Councillors were lay people and not architect and hence they had to take the advise of the DAC. “This has the potential of becoming an iconic landmark.”

The clearly frustrated architect for the developers flicked page by page stating the DAC recommended this and we did it, they recommended that and we changed it,….. He was quite irate, and rightly so, that the DAC at their last meeting with them had been complimentary about the changes but now had come out of the blue with a new recommendation of a substantial set back for the massive hotel component.

Public speakers said that many architects around Perth did not believe the design warranted exceptional quality design status. One of them was certain that the plans would not be approved by any other council, but that is hypothetical bollocks.

From my personal experience with architects, and I worked for very many as a commercial photographer, is that they rarely like another architect’s work. Many creatives unfortunately are like that.

I also wonder if it would have been better to conditionally approve the development plans with the condition that the recommendations from the DAC need to be implemented. It would send a message to the developers that Fremantle Council is serious about wanting approval for the hotel development but insists on getting outstanding architecture on the site.

The main problem is that Exceptional Design has not been defined in the planning rules, so it comes back to personal taste and preference by the public and architects. Councillor Jon Strachan said that the concept of exceptional design is nebulous.

A fact that should not be overlooked is that if Silverleaf Investments, in frustration about the constant delays, moves its money to another development Fremantle could end up with the ugly shopping centre building for many more years and that definitely is not the desired outcome.

The WA Joint Development Assessment Panel-JDAP will rule on the planning proposal in due course, so stay tuned.

Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on April 2, 2018




While I agree with the Fremantle Society that the plans by Silverleaf Investments for the Fremantle Woolstores shopping centre site are not of exceptional architectural design quality to grant additional discretionary height, it would be good if FS president John Dowson stayed with the facts.

Dowson emailed FS members that Silverleaf Investments director Gerard O’Brien had rushed the plans to council because it is Easter. Supposedly JD wants to imply that Silverleaf is avoiding public scrutiny. Truth is that the plans and amended plans have been at council for many months and through the legally required community consultation process.

JD also writes that Silverleaf is rushing plans for three developments in Fremantle because it wants to get ahead of its major competitors Sirona Capital and Fremantle Council, but the City of Fremantle’s new Civiv Centre is no competition for any of Silverleaf’s developments. It is also very doubtful that any of the Silverleaf developments would be finished before the Kings Square project by the end of 2019, as Silverleaf has not even started on them.

If my memory is correct, Planning Scheme Amendment 49 allows for eight storeys plus discretionary additional height on the Woolstores site, and not six storeys as JD claims

Dowson is also wrong that the plans are coming before the Planning Committee this Wednesday because it is a full Ordinary Council meeting.

The decision making authority for this $ 80 million development is the Western Australian Joint Development Assessment Panel-JDAP and not Fremantle Council.

By the way City of Fremantle, why is there no SEARCH button on your website? I wanted to double check my facts about PSA 49 but could not do that.

Roel Loopers






The controversial development plans for the Woolstores shopping centre site come before Fremantle Council on Wednesday, before they go to the WA Joint Development Assessment Panel a week later. JDAP is the decision making authority so it will only take Fremantle Council’s recommendation of rejection or approval into account.

The Officer’s Recommendation to Council is to reject the building because the request for two additional discretionary storeys can’t be accepted as the building does not have the required exceptional architectural design standards.

This is only part of the initial application as the other high rise tower at the east end of the development has been scratched, taking out apartments for aged care and student accommodation, only leaving the eleven-storey hotel component and  four-storey car park

It is a real shame that this $ 80 million development has become such a battle because Fremantle needs a new substantial hotel and get rid of the ugly building that is there now.

I am not sure why Silverleaf Investments does not either reduce the building height or create a truly magnificent building in that location just opposite the railway station.

Fremantle Council and the Fremantle community would love to see an iconic new modern building replace the Woolstores boredom, but it needs to be of truly exceptional high standards, and this proposal unfortunately is not.

Roel Loopers



H 1

H 2

H 3


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

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