Freo's View

MORE PERTH FREIGHT LINK QUESTIONS

Posted in fremantle, perth freight link, western australia by freoview on April 25, 2016

Economic Editor Shane Wright reports in the West Australian today under the headline Fremantle port proposal not in freight link plan that the reasons the State Government gave for building the Perth Freight Link can now be questioned, with Treasurer Mike Nahan saying Fremantle Port container capacity could be tripled to two million containers per annum and that an outer harbour at Kwinana would not be needed for another 25 years.

Shane Wright points out that the cost-benefit figures for the Perth Freight Link were based on Fremantle Port only handling around 1,2 million containers per year and that the State Government had said the new outer harbour was a key point behind the plans to build the PFL.

This article shows again what piecemeal ‘planning’ the PFL is with different ministers and Premier Barnett giving different time frames for when an outer harbour is needed and now officially saying there is no need to build Stage 3 that would link the tunnel from Stirling Highway into the port of Fremantle.

Shane Wright also questions if the increase of containers by road would have an impact on the maintenance cost for the PFL and if there could be an overflow effect of trucks on other roads such as Leach Highway.

I believe it is highly likely truck drivers will start using alternative roads when they find out that there is one big traffic jam at the end of the tunnel and that the time they might have saved on the new road will be eaten up by traffic jams at the end of the tunnel.

Those who keep telling me there won’t be more trucks on the road when the PFL is built will now have to explain how we can triple port capacity without more trucks as it can’t happen on the present rail line. Drones?

Roel Loopers

 

KINGS SQUARE LOSSES AT $ 2,4 MILLION

Posted in city of fremantle, kings square, local government by freoview on April 24, 2016

kings sq 3

 

The extension of the Kings Square Project contract between the City of Fremantle and Sirona Capital will be debated at full council this Wednesday and no doubt there will be many people in the public gallery and some passionate public speakers as well.

While I am extremely disappointed with the very long delay and waiting for a government department to move to Kings Square, I believe it would be wrong to not extend the lease up till the moment the State Government has announced its preferred location in Fremantle for the relocation of the Department of Housing. This is supposed to happen in August, so no need for a six-months extension.

It is evident and in print in the agenda for Wednesday that the delay  is costing the City money at $ 800,000.00 per annum in lost income at Queensgate, so over the three years of waiting that is $ 2,4 million!

I personally would love to never have to write a single negative or questioning word about Kings Square but I fear this is going to be an epic saga that won’t go away, as community groups will keep demanding more clarity on what it is going to cost the ratepayers. With Premier Colin Barnett telling the Fremantle Society president that some of the contract smells of WA Inc. it could well be that the Minister for Local Government will be asked by the Premier to investigate again and in more detail.

Roel Loopers

PERTH FREIGHT LINK IS NOT ABOUT FREIGHT

Posted in fremantle, perth freight link, western australia by freoview on April 23, 2016

The planned unlinked Perth Freight Link is not at all about freight, the WA State Government now claims. Instead it is about getting thousands of private vehicles off suburban roads.

The tunnel/highway which was to connect Fremantle  Port all the way down to Muchea, so that trucks would be able to drive without having to stop at traffic lights and thus getting a much faster run, saving time and money, is no longer about that Transport Minister Dean Nalder claims, as 90 per cent of traffic using the tunnel will be passenger vehicles.

It must be election time when an a new road promoted as a link actually does not link and when the last Stage 3 link is supposedly not needed for another ten years, so bad luck that all that traffic comes to a grinding halt during peak hours at the end of and inside the tunnel. Bad luck also for North Freo residents who will see many more cars being spewed out of the tunnel instead of bypassing North Fremantle.

Even a flagged $ 5 million upgrade of the Stirling Highway, Canning Highway intersection will find it very hard to make traffic flow over the bridge go any faster.

Roel Loopers

WHAT IF KINGS SQUARE DOES NOT PROCEED?

Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square by freoview on April 22, 2016

I want to make a few points about the call by community groups to abolish the Kings Square Project. I don’t want to go through the same old arguments of the controversial and badly explained business plan, but about what could happen if the project does not go ahead.

The project was at length debated by the community some three years ago and was seen as essential to restart the retail economy and activate Kings Square and the CBD, before Council signed off on it.

I now hear calls to demolish the administration building and create a big grass area there, but it comes from the same people who constantly complain about anti-social behaviour at Kings Square. A grassed area would not attract families for a picnic, but would bring more troublemakers, and it would not bring more badly needed shoppers and office workers to the inner city.

A lawn is not going to do anything at all for the retailers in town, but those who accuse the City of Fremantle for being responsible for the demise of retail, conveniently forgetting the Global Financial Crisis, now want to scrap a major project that significantly would help revive the retail economy in Fremantle.

The people who laud the convenience of modern (but very boring) shopping centres don’t want Fremantle to be modernised and become more attractive to traders, but will probably keep blaming the City for not doing enough for our retailers.

I keep hearing arguments that in the past consultants and Council wanted to go in a different direction, but that changed in 2012 when the Kings Square Project was approved by full council, so why can’t some people accept that changes are being made by new councils, not only in Fremantle but everywhere in the world. There are new ways of doing things, new perspectives, new policies, new State Government directives, etc. Times change.

It it negative, unhelpful and not factual that the City of Fremantle did not try hard enough to keep Myer in town. The big department stores have issues and do things differently. They need a lot of footfall and passing trade that Fremantle could no longer offer.

I drove through Subiaco this morning where most of the expensive fashion labels have abandoned the Colonade Shopping Centre in Hay Street, and a significant downturn in retail has happened in very many cities around Australia and the world, not just in Fremantle.

It is too simplistic to blame Fremantle Council, and it is not fair. We finally have a building boom in town after twenty years of development hibernation, but none of the Council bashers want to acknowledge that because there are a few big-headed people with bruised egos and a personal agenda who arrogantly believe that they know everything better than the rest of us, and who are quite happy to ignore that proper community consultation was done on the Kings Square Project. There is a 50 per cent change the Housing Department will move to Kings Square, so why not allow time for that State decision to be made before abandoning or altering the project and lose that opportunity.

If the KS project was scrapped it would seriously and negatively impact on the confidence developers have been showing the City of Fremantle and many might pull out and not bother in the future. The same would apply to new retailers who are contemplating to move into Fremantle.

Not going ahead with Kings Square would also mean a loss in connectivity and wayfinding to the developed Fremantle Oval precinct and the Henderson Street Warders Cottages.

No is never a good word to start with when one is considering change, development and a new direction. Fremantle can’t and won’t remain the same, no matter how hard some individuals keep trying to stop progress. Fremantle will change because it needs to grow and modernise, and it needs to happen fast, but with adequate restraint and a genuine attempt at getting better quality buildings.

You can’t say you want more retailers in town when you want to stop most development, because without more people living, working and visiting Freo new retail is not viable here and no one will take the risk opening up shop.

The Kings Square Project will cost the community money, it is arguable and still unclear how much that is, but should we not invest in the future and the retail resurrection, should we not entice more developers to start building, should we not want more hotels so visitors can stay overnight, and do we really expect that this will all come at no cost to the ratepayers?

Some on blogs and social media defend the extremely expensive and not very impressive Elizabeth Quay development in Perth but are attacking the Kings Square Project, and no doubt will attack the Cantonment Hill project and oppose any new building development that is over two storeys in height.

The community elected a Council to make decisions, many of which we might not agree with, but it is their job. The community had the chance to vote out six Councillors at the last election, but changed only one. I think it is imperative to keep that in mind when shouting at public meetings.

Now have a very special ANZAC Day long weekend everyone!

Roel Loopers

HOW THE FREO SOCIETY PUSHED FOR HERITAGE PRESERVATION

Posted in fremantle, fremantle society, heritage by freoview on April 21, 2016

 

What a difference a few years make! Four years ago on a very cool and very early Saturday morning on April 21, 2012 the Fremantle Society took action against the neglect of the Warders Cottages in Henderson Street. We had been lobbying State Government for a long time but nothing was happening, so we started our SHAME campaign that we spelled out in very large words, made out of socks, on the fences in front of the cottages.

The colourful protest got a lot of media attention and we continued with interviews on radio stations, letters to editors and submissions to the State and Fremantle Council. Now these cottages are being renovated and will be put up for sale while the former Police Station and Courthouse have been sold to Freo developers Silverleaf.

We also lobbied Defence Housing in Canberra and asked for urgent action on the vacant and derelict Married Quarters Gunners cottages at Cantonment Hill and were supported by Melissa Parke MP, now these cottages are ready again for occupation.

I have heard criticism that the Fremantle Society of the last five years has been ineffective but these examples show that was certainly not the case. We worked very hard behind the scenes to make a positive difference to Fremantle and while we lost a few battles we succeeded in others.

Roel Loopers

 

PREMIER ADMITS TRAFFIC JAMS AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

Posted in city of fremantle, perth freight link by freoview on April 20, 2016

All those people who have been attacking Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt, opponents of the Perth Freight Link and me about our warnings of the traffic congestions the Perth Freight Link would create at the end of the tunnel and in North Fremantle can now eat their own words, as Premier Colin Barnett admitted on ABC Radio this morning that it will be the case.

Colin Barnett said “So the first sort of kilometre or so out of the harbour is going to be slow, but it works and from there on, when the freight link is completed, the trucks will be on a no-intersection route that will take them all the way through to Muchea.”

He also agreed with Minister Dean Nalder that the final stage-from the tunnel to the port-would not be needed for a  decade but that there will be a traffic congestion point in the meantime.

No big deal hey Premier for the people of Fremantle, East Fremantle and North Fremantle to have to put up with it, especially with significant residential development south of Freo and in the inner city. We can all meet at the bridges and maybe engage in yoga or meditation classes while we are waiting in the traffic jams every morning and evening.

Roel Loopers

PASSENGER TERMINAL NOT PART OF PORT SALE

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle ports, western australia by freoview on April 20, 2016
Even the great Charles Yelverton O'Connor appears concerned about the plans for Fremantle Port.

Even the great Charles Yelverton O’Connor appears concerned about the plans for Fremantle Port.

 

 

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.

Roel Loopers

 

WA TREASURER: OUTER HARBOUR ONLY NEEDED IN 25 YEARS

Posted in fremantle, perth freight link, western australia by freoview on April 19, 2016

WA Treasurer Mike Nahan told the media today that the start of building the outer harbour at Kwinana was not needed in another 15 years. The government’s own estimates are that it would take ten years to build the port, so that would mean it would not open before 2040. That is an awfully long time away.

Top that with Transport Minister Dean Nalder saying that a new bridge or tunnel to connect the Perth Freight Link with Fremantle Port would not be constructed for another ten years and one realises the unacceptable planning mess this state is in.

The people of Fremantle, Melville, Cockburn and Kwinana, and other affected communities, expect better and more urgent solutions!

Roel Loopers

KWINANA OUTER HABOUR ESSENTIAL FOR WA ECOMONY

Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on April 17, 2016

An exclusive report by Joe Spagnolo in the Sunday Times today says a yet to be released report by the Perth and Peel Economic Development Strategy sees the development of the outer harbour as essential for the WA economy and that it would create a significant number of jobs in the region of up to 48,000.

The outer harbour is seen by the expert committee as game-changing and essential and the top priority for the region.

The PPEDS paper , to be released in June, makes no case for the Perth Freight Link but states that an extension of the inner harbour is not a viable option.

Roel Loopers

KINGS SQUARE CONTRACT EXTENSION LIKELY

Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on April 16, 2016

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.

Roel Loopers

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.

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