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.
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.
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt has been publishing interesting articles on his blog about his fact-finding trip to some of the European most liveable cities. His latest article can be read in full here: https://cofremantle.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/lessons-learned-from-europe-part-two/
I commented on Brad’s blog a few weeks ago that some of the things he is very impressed about are things we in Fremantle have long indicated as being desirable for our city and a lot of it was mentioned during the Fremantle 2029 community sessions, but largely ignored when the report on it was published.
Brad writes in his latest blog post that his observations in Europe showed that new development needs to be accompanied by a major provision of high quality green spaces at a total of 30% of the land size of the development, not the 10% that is standard in W.A. Increase in public open spaces and making it compulsory for new developments is something others in the Freo community and I personally have called for on this blog for years. It shows that there are visionaries with sensible and practical ideas in our own suburbs and they should be listened to better and taken seriously..
Brad also writes that new development needs to have a diverse range of housing that brings the community together of all ages and incomes, ideally in the same building. This is again something I an others have been pushing for for a long time, because there is a risk that especially the Fremantle CBD could become a yuppy town that is only affordable to those on high incomes, while those who need affordable housing are pushed away to the suburbs where anti-social behaviour often becomes a problem, as recent reports about Hilton and the one on the Iceworks development show.
I would love to see Brad initiate a public forum session on how we can plan and develop Fremantle better, because it is essential to get it right and it should not be left to a few ideology driven who have a big public profile and get all the media attention.
People have been critical of the Fremantle Mayor going on this trip and calling it a junket, but I really enjoy Brad Pettitt’s first-hand reporting on those European cities, because we can make them relevant to what we are doing wrong here and improve faster that way.
It is interesting to read in the article by Kate Emery in the West Australian that the City of Vincent council is pushing for changes to the Local Government Act and in a motion have asked the W.A. Local Government Association-WALGA-to suggest the State Government change the act “To enhance governance, transparency, accountability and consistency.”
I am all for that as many of the gripes the Fremantle community has with Council are basically all of the above, but it also should apply to State and Federal government where inconsistent governance has become a rule rather than an exception. The community gets very annoyed about piecemeal planning and ad-hoc decision-making.
Transparency buried in spin is also highly annoying, as is hiding behind commercial confidentiality, as the Kings Square project business plan debate has shown.
The City of Vincent also wants changes to the declaration of gifts and restrict gifts to Councillors. At present the maximum gift allowed is $ 300.00 but the City of Perth would like that to be pushed up as far a $ 1,000.00 because otherwise Elected Members would not be allowed to accept free tickets to events that cost more than $ 300.00.
I believe the whole free tickets for Councillors should be scrapped and only two Councillors per event should be delegated as observers and report back to Council. I have seen Facebook posts where Councillors ask who wants to come with them and that is not the way free tickets for Elected Members should be used.
There is no doubt for me that most Councillors work very hard and that it is almost a full time job to be on Council for a remuneration of under $ 30,000 a year, but I would like to see the standards lifted, especially more consistency and much higher transparency. It would keep all the cynicism and negativity away from social media, letters to editors and blogs and that would be a good thing.
It is interesting to hear that Grahame Searle, the Director of the Department of Housing, is moving to a new department that will deal with indigenous issues. Searle is the man who considered to move Housing to Fremantle, but we have heard lately that it is highly unlikely to happen.
The Fremantle community needs to know how much longer the City of Fremantle is going to wait and wait and wait before it pulls the plug on the Kings Square development, because the alleged plans B and C, etc. don’t appear to exist. The Kings Square project was going to be the catalyst for the revitalisation of Freo’s CBD and the struggling retail sector but it has now become more of a negative than a positive because nothing is happening.
Neither the City nor project partner Sirona Capital are telling us what their plans are. All we hear are promises and that the Mayor is going to have yet another chat with the Premier and that not all is lost yet. Really?
I want to write good and positive stories about the Kings Square development but nothing has been forthcoming but empty promises so far, so no wonder more and more business people and the general community are becoming cynical and very worried about it all.
What would happen with the new Civic Centre if the project did not go ahead? How much money would the community have to fork out to the architects, etc? How much income would have been lost by not leasing out Queensgate for years? So many questions but far too few answers from COF.
The reality is that even if the start of the development was in early 2016 we would not see anyone moving in to the Myer and Queensgate buildings till 2018, and long after that the Spicers site at Henderson street might go ahead.
Waiting longer and hoping and praying for a government department is no longer an option. If a department was to move to Fremantle Premier Barnett would probably make it an election promise for the 2017 election, so that is too far away to wait for.
The City of Fremantle needs to demand urgent action from their project partner or pull out and admit defeat that the project can’t go ahead in the present economic climate. It would be a huge shame if that happened but just living in hope without tangible evidence that a major anchor tenant for the Myer building can be found is no longer good enough.