Freo's View


Posted in city of fremantle, community, development, western australia by freoview on September 5, 2016

I received the information below from the Committee for Perth today and since infill and higher density is very relevant to Fremantle I copy it below:

Lunch Learnings: Densifying the Suburbs

At the latest Committee for Perth’s Perth in Focus luncheon, Densifying the Suburbs, Planning Minister the Hon. Donna Faragher opened the event by talking about the soon-to-be released Design WA report.

The Minister said the report would ensure that good design was also cost effective, functional, liveable, vibrant and sustainable and that design review panels would be standardised and prioritised to support DAPs.

Emma Booth, Team Leader Design at North Sydney Council, explained how the council had an on-again, off-again love affair with density since the 1950’s. The council is now focused on creating 12,000-14,000 new residences and 10,000 new jobs by 2031. To achieve this, they spent three years preparing and implementing a design strategy.

The key findings from the strategy are:
Start by mapping urban renewal opportunities.
Do density once and do it well.
Measure the financial uplift of density and capture part of the value to deliver amenity that benefits the community.
Good design is achieved through a design process not a static plan.
Densifying the suburbs also means densifying the land use mix.
There is no point increasing density around train stations without decreasing car use.
Density must be supported by commensurate public benefits.
Value capture is possible with an endorsed strategy.

Keynote speaker, Associate Professor Julian Bolleter, from the Australian Urban Design Research Centre at The University of Western Australia spoke about the findings in his book ‘Scavenging the Suburbs: Auditing Perth for 1 Million Infill Dwellings’.

The book examined how many infill homes could be created by better utilising land around Perth.

Associate Professor Bolleter’s provocative views are that Perth could infill more and contain sprawl if:
Each person in Perth only had 75m2 of garden space instead of the current 132m2 it would create 115,000 infill dwellings.
50% of publicly owned carparks had homes built above them and carparks below it would create 203,000 dwellings.
Freeway reserves were reduced, 50,000 new homes could be created.
10% of light industrial areas were developed for housing it would create 95,434 affordable homes.
The amount of public park space was reduced from 40m2 to 28m2 per person 144,000 homes.
Golf courses were reduced to 9 holes it would yield 86,000 homes.
10% of the foreshore was used for development it would create 62,000 dwellings.

While admitting it was controversial, Assistant Professor Bolleter said that if all of the recommendations were followed it would create 913,879 dwellings, obviate the need for 97 masterplanned communities the size of Ellenbrook and no greenfield homes would need to be built in Perth until 2036.


Labor party leader Mark McGowan will today announce that if his party should win the state election in March next year it will scrap the Perth Freight Link and instead invest $ 20 million on planning a new outer harbour at Kwinana.

McGowan said if he became Premier he would also put a cap on the capacity of Fremantle Port.

Whoever is in government though will still need to do something about traffic around Fremantle as the building of an outer harbour would still be 10-15 years away if it was dealt with as a priority.

Roel Loopers


Posted in bathers beach, fremantle, heritage, hospitality, western australia by freoview on August 27, 2016

I don’t believe it is disrespectful to call Fremantle Society president John Dowson an enigma. The Pres. has just arrived back in Fremantle from a long stint in Europe and his latest letter to the FS members contains an interesting opinion on the controversial large deck at Kidogo Arthouse at Bathers Beach that was opposed by the State Heritage Council and rejected by the WA Planning Commission.

Dowson wrote” Joanna Robertson at Kidogo also has a fight on her hands – to prevent the removal of her new deck outside Kidogo. She is being told by the Heritage Council to remove the deck because it is detrimental to the heritage of the adjacent building. This is the same Heritage Council which approved a row of toilets in the same location, which would be far more detrimental. Joanna has indicated she is willing NOT to go ahead and build the toilets if she can keep the deck.”

Facts are that Joanna Robertson received approval to build a small toilet block and a small deck to accommodate the Kelp Bar, but she changed her mind and did not build the toilets but a much larger deck instead for which she had not applied for or given approval. For her to now say she would be willing to not build the toilets if she can keep the deck is insincere, as she has shown by building the deck that she has no intention buildings the toilets that would require part demolition of the new deck.

Not building permanent toilets would mean the regular appearance of very unsightly portable toilets in the significant Bathers Beach heritage area, so it is beyond me the Fremantle Society prefers that.

John Dowson’s swipe at the Heritage Council most likely comes because that office has proposed different boundaries for the West End Conservation Area than JD wants to see.

The Kidogo Arthouse deck saga will now go before the State Administrative Tribunal, so stay tuned.

Roel Loopers


Posted in arthur head, bathers beach, city of fremantle, hospitality, western australia by freoview on August 23, 2016

Today is an important day for historic Arthur Head and Fremantle, with Sunset Events trying to get planning approval from the WA Planning Commission for an 850 patron tavern and 1,500 outdoor live music venue at J Shed on Bathers Beach.

The development application was rejected by Fremantle Council, but the Sunset Events directors did not want to take no for an answer from our local government and community representatives, although they are very aware of the community opposition to the tavern.

Fremantle Ports, FICRA, heritage organisations, neighbours, Roundhouse volunteer guides, J Shed artists, etc. have all loudly voiced their opposition to the plans and even more so since the trial period last summer showed what negative impact a tavern and live music venue would have on tourism at Arthur Head and the lifestyle of inner city residents and businesses.

The WAPC ruling won’t be due till the end of the week, so stay tuned!

Roel Loopers


Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square, sirona capital, western australia by freoview on August 22, 2016

A little bit more detail has emerged about the Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association engaging prominent Cottesloe lawyer John Hammond to investigate the Kings Square Project deal between the City of Fremantle and Sirona Capital.

John Hammond told the West Australian ” He would investigate whether the city had complied with the Local Government Act.”

This implies that FRRA believes that Tony Simpson, Minister for Local Government failed to do his job properly when they asked him last year to investigate the matter, and the minister declared it was all above board.

It should not take long then for John Hammond to do that investigation as the Local Government Act should be pretty straight forward.

Let’s hope it can all be dealt with fast so the project can commence as soon as possible so the square comes alive again.

Roel Loopers




Posted in fremantle, fremantle ports, maritime, state government, western australia by freoview on August 21, 2016

The WA Liberal/National State Government has so far spent a staggering $ 11 million on the preparation of the sale/49-year lease of Fremantle Ports, according to media reports.

Treasurer Mike Nahan confirmed they had spent that huge sum of money on consultants and exterior advise, although the National Party and Labor Party are against the sale, so it most likely won’t eventuate with the state election due in March 2017 and a probable change of government.

The present government has shown an insane lack of care for our state’s finances and a willingness to irresponsibly waste money at their leisure.

Roel Loopers


I realise the Kings Square Project and its handling by the City of Fremantle has divided community opinion, which has now resulted in the Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association engaging prominent lawyer John Hammond to try to stop the development.

I also know that by publishing this article the same opponents will bring up the same arguments we have read many times and heard at Council and during public meetings. I don’t want to rehash all the pros and cons, but ask what it would mean for Fremantle if a court challenge succeeded.

The first hurdle is probably that the Department of Housing would not sign a long-term lease with Sirona Capital unless it can guarantee that the development will go ahead within an appropriate time frame, so even if the legal challenge is not successful it could delay the Kings Square Project substantially.

The legal and financial ramifications for the City of Fremantle and its ratepayers, should a court challenge to stop the development be successful, could be enormous, as it is likely that Sirona Capital would want compensation in the millions of dollars from COF. It is also likely that Kerry Hill Architects which won the Civic Centre architect competition would want compensation if the building is cancelled.

At the end we could end up with huge costs to the City and no development at Kings Square, and that would be a huge shame in my opinion.

It is very disappointing that the Kings Square Project public relations has been so inadequately managed by the City and has left too much room for doubt, although many Councillors made very strong presentations and assured the community they had listened to and challenged expert consultants and staff and were satisfied they had crossed all the Ts and dotted all the Is.

I do support the Kings Square Project because I believe substantial inner city development is essential for Fremantle to grow and become a shopping destination again, but I am disappointed about the lack of transparency and the City citing commercial confidentiality.

A few hundred dissatisfied Fremantle residents who are not happy with the answers they received about the financial details, will now question the democratic process and the right for local government to make tough decisions, sell assets and invest in the future. It will be very fascinating to hear the legal arguments in court.

Whatever the outcome, I fear this will do serious damage to brand Fremantle when it has just started a very good recovery process of many new buildings in the CBD and many more planned for the very near future. It makes me sad that we are such a divided community and that there is so much negativity and political point scoring. There will be no winners at the end of it.

Roel Loopers


Quite an interesting FPOL Committee meeting of the City of Fremantle this evening with several Noongar speakers and Chamber of Commerce CEO Olwyn Williams addressing committee about the proposed cancellation of the Australia Day fireworks.

The Chamber CEO said the business community did not support the cancellation of the fireworks, or for them to be moved to Cockburn. It was one of the most loved events in Fremantle. It brings together families and the community and Fremantle needs to shine as the second city, Williams told Councillors.

The Noongar speakers were of a very different opinion, arguing that Fremantle is different from Perth and that Australia Day ignores the fact that it is invasion day for the indigenous people of Australia and it reminds them of the atrocities and massacres committed by the English settlers.

Fremantle is a young progressive city that attracts people from all over the world because of our culture and we should be celebrating more of our Noongar culture on the day. Australia Day is a good opportunity for reconciliation and to close the gap.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said that Australia Day is a challenging issue and that there are more appropriate ways of celebrating it than with fireworks and that City staff should collaborate with the Noongar people about that.

Councillor Jon Strachan said Australia Day has become the day for flags on utes and that made him very uncomfortable. We want to see a move toward reconciliation, he proclaimed.

It is interesting to note that there is a suggestion to offer $ 25,000 to the City of Cockburn for them to organise the fireworks but that did not have much support from Councillors.

It would be hypocritical for Fremantle to abandon the fireworks out of consideration for the Noongar people, the environment and the high cost, but then encourage a neighbouring council to do it anyway and pay money toward it. Fireworks down the coast at Cockburn would definitely pull people away from celebrating the day in Fremantle to the disadvantage of Freo traders.

The State’s Development Assessment Panels(DAP) were debated a little and will  also go to full council, but the sentiment is to ask for a comprehensive review of the DAP process with special exemptions for Councils such as Fremantle who are capable of meeting housing and employment targets.

I agree with Councillor Sam Wainwright though that DAPs have nothing to do with infill targets and density and only judge applications on planning issues, so these are two different issues the City might like to talk about with the State Government.

It’s always good to see democracy at work and I recommend that more people attend and actually see and hear how our Council goes about their business and how serious they take it.

Roel Loopers



Two interesting articles about city development in the West Australian property section drew my attention this morning.

The first one “Giving residents first priority” is something I have been calling for for many years, as I believe proper community consultation about new development at the earliest possible stage will take a lot of negativity out of the process, and does not force community groups to be reactive when it is often too late, and subsequently being branded as nay-sayers.

The West reports that RobertsDay‘s studio leader Duane Cole said “Developers tapping into  a community’s values and culture should start with genuine collaboration to build trust.”

Duane Cole told the West “…residents needed to be first in the process, not an afterthought.” and I could not agree more with that sentiment.

I do realise that Councils and developers might be reluctant to take this on as often the NIMBY attitude makes collaboration with the community difficult and frustrating, but building resentment by ignoring the wishes of the community is definitely not the way to go.

The second article is by Dr. Anthony Duckworth-Smith of the Australian Urban Design Research Centre in Perth who writes that AUDR has been working with the City of Fremantle to explore ways of finding the right balance for infill.

Duckworth Smith writes in the West that if Fremantle wants to keep its diverse social mix it should be looking at building smaller homes in suburban areas, because in the past two decades the vast majority of new homes in Fremante were four or more bedrooms, although households have become smaller and more diverse.

He warns however that the suitability for small houses is limited and does not cater for those who want to own. a house.

Modified local planning and design guide lines that respect the character of suburban areas could be developed to achieve urban infill the community accepts.

The City of Fremantle is willing to lead to find solutions to fill the gap between single residential and high density apartment buildings, Duckworth-Smith writes.

I believe that good infill in suitable targeted areas is the way forward, not just random infill and higher density because a property becomes available for development. That requires long-term planning and a vision for the ‘burbs’.

It has become quite clear that especially in older character suburbs many residents are against substantial change, infill, high density and medium and high rise buildings. That does not make the task for local and state government any easier. Some people believe the urban sprawl is inevitable to continue the great Australian dream of owning a large house with front and back garden, even when we have limited water supplies and urban sprawl is very expensive because it requires ever expanding roads, rail, power, water and gas to suburbs many tens of kilometres away from the CBD. This of course also causes traffic nightmares during peak hours.

Like with most things in life there are no easy solutions that will please and satisfy everyone, but I believe tough decisions have to be made now because future generations will suffer from the lack of foresight and leadership of our state and local governments.

Roel Loopers



The neglect by the National Trust of the historic former Royal George Hotel in East Fremantle is a bloody disgrace and shows the organisation’s dismal failure of protecting the heritage buildings in it’s care.

The Royal George saga has been going on for many years, when artists were forced to move out and the building has been vacant since, making it a target for vandalism and homeless people.

Every now and then we are assured that yet again new developers are looking into the viability of renovating the building and making it habitable again, but it always turns out to be hot air and empty promises.

The Town of East Fremantle appears powerless to force the issue and demand that the site be renovated and activated.

It is an utter disgrace and something needs to be done at state and federal level to force the issue because the status quo is no longer acceptable and is endangering the beautiful heritage-listed building.

Roel Loopers

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