Fremantle Councillor Jon Strachan alerted me to the presentation by WA Treasurer Mike Nahan to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday, where he told the 100 strong crowd that the Passenger Terminal and all land to the east of it at South Wharf would not be part of the sale of Fremantle Port.
The land would developed by an MRA-style project management group and also allow for community access to the area west of the railway bridge.
Under the present buffer zone rules around Fremantle Ports that land could not be developed for residential use and I wonder if that would be a great idea anyway as it is very close to train noise.
Where would they put the new passenger terminal though? Would it be part of the contract with those who lease the port for 49 years to build a new passenger terminal west of the present one, closer to the CBD and how would that be enforced, or would it have to be part of the new development and even further away from the CBD? I doubt it would be considered to be safe to let the massive cruise ships turn around so close to the old traffic bridge though so a new passenger terminal would more likely be near the present Rottnest ferry terminal at B Shed.
There is possibly a need for a new and stronger railway bridge in the future and also for a new traffic bridge with more lanes, so any development in the area needs to be done with that in mind.
The West Australian reports today that City of Fremantle CEO Graeme McKenzie will recommend to Council to extend the contract for the Kings Square project with Sirona Capital for six months, to see if the State Government will commit to relocate the Department of Housing to the former MYER building. According to McKenzie a decision is due mid year. A decision was also expected by November last year and the year before, so I won’t be holding my breath.
The Freo CEO told the West reporter that the department is looking at two locations, the second one presumable the Woolstores shopping centre development.
Should Council decide not to extend the contract, my bet is they will, Sirona could go it alone and buy the Queensgate building fom COF, but it is questionable if the Civic Centre still would be built if there is no partnership, so what would happen with that idea? Could the City afford to build the Kerry Hill designed building and if not where would all the staff be accommodated?
The reality is that there is a 50 per cent chance that Housing will move to Kings Square. We have waited a long time, so my gut feeling is to grant the extension, maybe not even for six months but until the State has made a decision on the relocation.
There is no doubt for me personally that the development of Kings Square is essential for the revitalisation of the Fremantle CBD. I still believe it needs to be 24/7 activation and that means residential should be put in the mix as we otherwise will only have daytime activation and the same old dark city square at night. The area needs passive surveillance and that can only happen when people live there and frequent the area day and night, for that reason alone a hotel would have been good.
P.S. The West must be getting desperate claiming the story about the Fremantle Oval development is an exclusive. It is an agenda item for Wednesday’s committee meeting for heaven’s sake, so there is nothing exclusive about it.
The controversial State Development Assessment Panels-DAP are here to stay by the sound of it. The West Australian reports today that Gail McGowan, the Director General of the Planning Department, has dismissed the angst around DAPs as not being helpful.
McGowan told the West that Councils and DAPs are bound by the same planning schemes, but adding that the discretionary options DAPs have are interesting. Yep, like building a 17 storey building in the centre of Subiaco when Council’s planning scheme only allowed for eight storeys!
There has been a lot of protest by local councils against the DAP system with Vincent, South Perth, Stirling, Subiaco, Cottesloe, Mosman Park, Bayswater and others asking for it to be abandoned or significantly changed.
All development over $ 10 million is assessed by a DAP and developers of over $ 2 million projects can opt-in and bypass councils.
There is no doubt that the urban sprawl can’t go on indefinitely as WA does not have the funds for all the extra infrastructure, so urban infill makes a lot of sense. It should however only be done with quality architecture and in very targeted locations that don’t destroy the local character of especially the older suburbs.
The population of metro Perth is predicted to rise by 70 per cent by 2030 to 3.5 million, so all those new people need to be catered for.
Demographer Bernard Salt told a Property Council conference that Perth needs to address the challenge of densification and that is is inevitable as it has happened in all major cities in Australia.
City planning experts URBIS predict that within ten years 30 per cent of dwellings in Perth will be apartments.
Premier Colin Barnett warned Councils a few weeks ago that unless they get closer to their urban residential infill targets the State would take over and enforce them. That would severely erode local government democracy and is not acceptable.
I am worried about the discretionary allowances in planning schemes as they are far too often used to bypass and overrule the schemes. As I understand it the Fremantle Hougoumont Hotel in Bannister Street will be allowed to build a fifth storey loft in the West End Conservation Precinct although the planning scheme only allows four storey. The invasion of additional height in the West End under the guise that it is only a loft and set back is not acceptable and Fremantle Council and the DAPs are too lenient in that regard.
I hear the arguments that Bannister Street is not a great street and has little heritage value and already some pretty average buildings, and that to just add a little loft does not have much impact on the streetscape and surroundings, but that does not cut it for me. It should be a matter of principle to not award discretionary height in the West End unless a very, very good case can be made that is would be the very best heritage outcome for the building, the streetscape and the West End. There would not be very many projects that would apply to.
Yes to modern development for inner city Fremantle, but only with extreme restraint and exceptional architecture.
The Federal Government’s green energy arm ARENA will be funding $1 million into a micro-grid project in White Gum Valley.
The solar battery technology will allow the apartments on the former Kim Beazley school site to store and trade power. This is the first trial in the world of the micro-grid technology.
The Landcorp solar energy project that will cost a total of $3 million will have solar panels and batteries installed at four apartment buildings on the WGV development site at Stevens Street.
Strata companies who manage the apartment can sell the electricity to tenants, so they don’t have to buy their power from Synergy. It is estimated that the strata companies would be able to sell electricity to tenants and home owners cheaper, or at the same price as Synergy does, while the owners and occupiers of the apartments will be allowed to sell power to other apartments if they don’t use all the power generated.
The development has received criticism from the White Gum Valley community because nearly 100 trees were killed to make way for the development. Solar energy does not like large trees around buildings as they impact on how much sun light the solar panels receive.