Freo's View

FREO FANTASTIC FUTURE FOCUS

Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square, Uncategorized by freoview on August 31, 2017

 

 

The fence maze at Fremantle’s Kings Square already looks a whole lot better with the promo wording on it.

Also good to see BID putting signs up so people know where to park during the construction, and the City of Fremantle will also put up wayfinding signs in the area.

In this context I sent the letter below to the West Australia in response to an article they published today about the former Subiaco market site:

As a Fremantle resident I find Gareth Parker’s opinion piece on the development plans for the Subiaco Market, and the opposition by its council very interesting.

While 16 storeys for the market site are probably excessive, it is important that councils do find a middle ground to assist urban infill.

In contrast to Subiaco the Fremantle Council has actively promoted Fremantle as a pro development destination over the last eight years. That has now resulted in unprecedented development in our port city for forty years.

The Kings Square Project that starts this month is the biggest development ever seen in Fremantle, and the Woolstores shopping centre site will also soon be developed into a nine storey hotel, student accommodation and commercial spaces.

Not all development we are getting in Freo is outstanding, but at least most of it is in the run down east of the inner city and does not severely impact on the heritage character of the West End.

Fremantle, like Subiaco, had been stagnant for years, our traders are struggling and there are too many shop vacancies, but that will all be turned around through massive development and more people living and working in the CBD, and more tourists being able to stay overnight in new hotels.

Future focussed planning is essential and where Subi Council failed Fremantle Council excelled. There are lessons to be learned here for other councils.

 

Roel Loopers

HOW DESIRABLE IS URBAN INFILL?

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on August 30, 2017

 

Fremantle LIV Defence Housing apartment development seen from Quarry Street.

 

There is an interesting article about urban infill in the West Australian today by the president of the Property Council of WA Tanya Trevisan.

Trevisan reports and reflects on a recent collaborative study by the PCA, Curtin University and CODA architects.

The study found that if the state’s infill target was increased from 47 per cent to 60 per cent, WA could save $ 23 billion by 2050.

According to the report supplying infrastructure to greenfield development costs up to three times more than urban infill development.

Tanya Trevisan argues that urban infill, when done well, offers balanced and diversity of housing. She writes that infill creates stronger communities and maximises the effectiveness of existing infill.

There is no doubt for me that the Perth urban sprawl is not sustainable and the Great Australian Dream of one’s own house with front and back garden can’t be sustained in our fast-growing city.

However, due to the mining bust, thousands of people have left the state, and fewer move or migrate to W.A. so our need for extensive residential development is also diminishing for the time being.

There have been serious social issues around the world with high-density living, so not all is good.

I believe there is also the need for new public transport nodes outside the inner character cities, because inner city living is often too expensive for those on lower income, students, etc. Building medium to high density in some outer pockets, where good public transport is provided, is essential as we can’t just stuff our unique centres with large concrete boxes, and destroy their character.

Tomorrow evening at 5.30 there is a Housing Forum at the Moore&Moore cafe in Freo’s Henry Street, so check it out!

 

Roel Loopers

UNION TRUTH ABOUT FREMANTLE PORT

Posted in city of fremantle, containers, freight, fremantle ports, Uncategorized by freoview on August 29, 2017

 

I was given a copy of an eight-page flyer The Truth About The Flawed Outer Harbour Plan, written by the Maritime Union of Australia WA Branch secretary and National President Christy Cain.

It’s always good to try to see all sides of an argument, so let’s have a look at the facts the MUA published in the leaflet.

# The MUA claims that Fremantle Port is only running at 50% capacity and that there is no need for a premature costly duplication of the port at Kwinana.

# The MUA supports the long-term vision of an overflow port at Kwinana when it is needed, but say it is not needed yet, and that the volume at Fremantle Port has been falling for some time.

# The proposed cap on Fremantle Port is lower than the current volume and would be anticompetitive, the union claims. It would prevent the current terminal operators to grow.

# 90% of containers to and from the port are on the road between 6am-6pm Monday to Friday. The port operates 24/7 but nearly all containers are handled in just 35% of all the hours available.

# Better coordination of road transport, plus general decline in volume has seen a 11% reduction in truck visits to Fremantle Port over the last two years.

# Rail is underutilised as is handles only 14.5% of containers, while it is designed to carry 30% of container traffic.

# The MUA says that if the outer harbour was built now, 20-30 years before it is needed, it would add $ 10 billion to the construction cost, making it a $ 15-16 billion dollar dud, that would cause a dramatic increase to freight costs.

# Fremantle Port supports 2,000 direct employees and an estimated total workforce of 6,000 direct and indirect employees servicing the port.

# The outer harbour would be automated and would have less jobs than Fremantle Port.

# Government Treasury predicts another 25 years of growth potential for Fremantle Port. It stated that artificial capping would result in earlier capital investment in the Outer Harbour and related road and rail infrastructure-imposing an unnecessary financial burden on the WA Government, container trades and the community.

If you have any questions it is best to contact the MUA as I won’t have the answers.

 

Roel Loopers

UNIONS PUT FREO’S SOUTH QUAY PROJECT IN JEOPARDY

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle ports, Uncategorized by freoview on August 28, 2017

 

port

 

In a comment to this blog I was chastised last week for believing articles published in the West Australian and media in general, but today’s article about the WA Labor state conference, shows that it was not fake news after all.

It is a great worry for Fremantle Council that the South Quay development plans, they wanted to realise in collaboration with the state government, are put in jeopardy by the right-wing new faction Progressive Labor, that got a motion passed on the weekend at the Labor state conference, to delay the development of a new port at Kwinana because it would cost jobs on the wharf.

According to union secretary Adrian Evans Fremantle Port is only running at 50 per cent capacity and hence a new outer harbour would only be needed in 20-30 years from now.

Development of Victoria Quay and connecting it better to the Fremantle inner city would be fantastic, especially with the imminent development of the Woolstores shopping centre site.

 

Roel Loopers

 

UNION NOT HAPPY WITH KWINANA PORT

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle ports, maritime, Uncategorized by freoview on August 24, 2017

 

Very interesting to read that the WA Labor State Government is clashing with the Maritime Union of Australia because of their commitment to build an outer harbour at Kwinana.

The MUA wants the WA government to delay the building of the new port, which experts say would take at least ten years to realise, because they fear the closure or part closure of Fremantle Ports would create job losses for port workers.

When one looks at the automation of other ports around the world it is highly likely that a new Kwinana port would also heavily rely on automation and would need fewer workers to do the wharf jobs.

The scrapping of the Roe 8 highway and the desire by the City of Fremantle to develop the south quay of the port means a new harbour is probably on the cards in the not too distant future.

But unions do have a huge influence in the Labor party, so nothing is certain until they have sorted out their differences.

 

Roel Loopers

NO COMPROMISES FOR FREO’S WEST END

Posted in city of fremantle, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on August 12, 2017

 

The FREMANTLE HERALD was kind enough to publish my Thinking Allowed about the necessary protection of Fremantle’s permanently heritage-listed West End this weekend. In case you don’t get the Chook home delivered or pick up a copy in town, I’ll post it here as well.

The attack by developers on Fremantle’s historic West End needs to be stopped and the City of Fremantle needs more support from State Government agencies to do that.

Applications for five-storey buildings keep coming although architects and developers are well aware that there is a three storey limit in the West End precinct.

There is an option for additional discretionary height of one floor, if it creates a better heritage outcome, or if the architecture of the building is considered to be of exceptional high quality.

What we see though are applications for boring and mediocre concrete boxes which would destroy the streetscape.

Architects show little to no respect for the spatial environment and the history of place, they just want to bang a totally inappropriate modern building in the middle of heritage buildings. This was shown in the recent application for three five-storey buildings behind Customs House in Henry Street going all the way to the former Centrelink site in Pakenham Street.

There was also a five storey application for the former Workers Club site in Henry Street, but fortunately that was rejected.

But even when Fremantle Council rejects development proposals the State’s Joint Development Assessment Panel or State Planning Commission can overrule council decisions, and they often do.

The State’s Heritage Office in my opinion sometimes also fails, as was the case with the now cancelled application by Notre Dame University for a mediocre five-storey building on the corner of High and Cliff streets. The Heritage Office recommended approval of the building, but Fremantle Council rejected it.

If UNDA had decided to go to JDAP with it they might well have approved the building the community and council did not want, on the recommendation of the Heritage Office.

It is only the sense of community and corporate responsibility of UNDA’s Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond that made the university decide to withdraw the plans for the new School of Nursing and Midwifery and start the process from scratch with a whole new design.

I am not against the development of some derelict sites and renovation of buildings in the West End, but there is nothing that can convince me that more than four storeys is appropriate for the heritage precinct. We only want outstanding development in the heritage area and nothing above four storeys!

Fremantle Council approved the five-storey nothingness of the Quest Hotel in Pakenham Street, because according to the planning and heritage officers of CoF it would preserve the interior heritage integrity of the building, but it hasn’t! Walk into the foyer of the serviced apartments buildings and you have no clue whatsoever that this is a heritage building. The blue artwork on the top corner of it is not suitable either.

Developers believe they can get away with murder in Fremantle because we are desperate for economic recovery in the port city. Yes we are, but not at any cost and the destruction of the unique character of our city.

If developers need extra height to please the bottom triple line they can develop in the east of Fremantle, and not even there indiscriminately.

Fremantle deserves more consideration when one wants to develop here and we need more support from State Government to protect the unique qualities of our city!

Roel Loopers

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CITY OF FREMANTLE FINANCES SOUND

Posted in city of fremantle, economy, finances, Uncategorized by freoview on August 11, 2017

 

A small article in today’s West Australian reported that David Templeman, the Minister for Local Government, had announced that 15 per cent of, or 22 local councils in W.A. were considered to be high risk by the department.

They include the City of Perth, Fremantle, Kalgoorlie, Exmouth, Derby, Carnarvon, etc. but the article did not go into detail as to why these councils are judged to be high risk.

The claim about Fremantle’s finances has been made before, and rejected by the City, but I thought it would be prudent to ask them for a comment. Here it is:

Today’s page 14 newpaper article in The West Australian: ‘More councils high-risk’ has named the City of Fremantle as being identified by the Department of Local Government as ‘high risk’.

The City assumes it was included in this list due to a one-off low Financial Health Indicator (FHI) score for the 2015/16 financial year. The lower than usual score was caused by a combination of factors including a change in accounting methodology used by the City to simplify the way overhead costs are recorded. This change artificially inflated the year-on-year operating expenditure in 2015/16.

With this anomaly addressed in subsequent budgets, the City’s FHI score will normalise back to its long-term healthy trend when the 2016/17 audit is completed.

In previous reports issued by the Department of Local Government the City of Fremantle has not ever been classified as being in any risk category, let alone a high risk.

The City is independently audited each year and no audit has ever indicated any fundamental issues or problems with the City’s medium or long-term financial viability.

I wonder if it should not be a matter of course for the Department of Local Government to notify local councils of their findings and concerns and offer support to them, and clarify how they reached the findings.

 

Roel Loopers

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ELECTION TIME IS EMPTY PROMISES TIME

Posted in city of fremantle, democracy, elections, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on August 2, 2017

 

Politicians promise us the world before elections, but often disappoint us when they get elected when they don’t honour all those promises.

The Fremantle Council elections are only a couple of months away and already we have candidates who tell us they will change this and change that and do so and so, if elected. But the basic fact is that individual candidates cannot dictatorially change anything, because every elected member has just one vote on council. That includes the Mayor, who also has the casting vote if the other 12 elected members have a hung vote.

Council process is a democratic one, so to achieve changes one needs to convince the majority of fellow councillors, and that is a pretty robust debate and often lengthy process with changes and motions made to fine tune the outcome.

It is easy to slag off on the present council, because they can rightly or wrongly be judged on past performance, while new candidates have no record. All the wannabe councillors have to do is make-often empty-promises and criticise the present members. That is a bit too simplistic for me.

I want candidates with new innovative ideas, long-term strategic planning, not just whingers who blame everything they don’t like on their local council.

Candidates blame things on Fremantle Council that are the responsibility of State Government. The moving of TAFE from Beaconsfield, the downgrading of Fremantle Hospital, crime and anti-social behaviour, the global retail downturn, etc.

The reality is that a local council can do very little about these things as law&order are police responsibility for example. The City of Fremantle has put more security rangers on the street but they don’t have the power of arrest or even giving move-on notices.

I have been scrutinising Fremantle Council and its administration for over ten years and go to 75 per cent of council and committee meetings to witness myself what goes on there. While there have been many occasions I don’t agree with the outcome I have always been impressed with the thoroughness and high standard of the debate during the process.

There is absolutely no doubt that there are many levels the City of Fremantle can improve at, and most of that is up to the administration.

Politically there will always be polarisation. Those who do or don’t agree with the Australia Day change, that was badly handled in my opinion, or if we should have higher density in the inner city, should environmental issues be a priority for a local government, is banning plastic bags tokenism, etc.etc.

As a community we often lament the perceived lack of community consultation, but the sad reality is that most people can’t be bothered to attend meetings, as the recent South Fremantle speedhump saga showed.

Far too many people to my liking base their opinion about Fremantle Council on ignorance. They are badly informed, or not at all.

Some of the stuff I hear election candidates say indicates to me that not all of them know what they are talking about either, and that is disappointing.

If we want a better council we need to do better at informing ourselves and participate in community consultation. That takes commitment and time.

If we are serious about wanting to be part of the solution and drawing up the future of Fremantle, we need to get off the couch and experience first hand how local government works.

There is a lot of unfair criticism out there that is not based on facts. Sometimes the devils we know, those with actual local government experience, are better than the devils we don’t know, but who make lots and lots of unrealistic promises. Voters beware!

 

Roel Loopers

 

LOCAL GOVERNMENT IS NOT JUST (ABOUT) RUBBISH

Posted in australia day, city of fremantle, local government, politics, Uncategorized by freoview on July 31, 2017

 

With the Fremanle local government election just two months and three weeks away I have been contemplating what the role of local government actually is.

Some people in our community believe it is all about delivering services, collecting rubbish, cleaning streets, etc. but is there a bigger picture our Elected Members should also be involved in?

I personally believe there is because local politicians are the closest to grassroots democracy and should inspire state and federal governments.

I asked Dr. Martin Drum, Professor of Politics and International Relations and Chief of Staff of the Vice Chancellor at Fremantle Notre Dame University and this was his reply:

“Elected representatives have both a deliberative and representative function. We focus a lot on the deliberative part, where our MPs and councillors are empowered to make decisions on our behalf. They decide what proposed developments can and cant proceed, they decide what does and doesn’t get funded. Some people argue that this is all our elected representatives should do.

But our representatives are also expected to represent the community which elects them. In electing them, we have authorised them to do this. Representation is arguably even more important than deliberation because it helps shape the identity of a community. Our councillors are the voice of the people they represent. If you ask me, its especially important for elected representatives to speak up for people who dont have the capacity to represent themselves.

Fremantle is a special part of Western Australia. It’s a little different to other areas. Local representatives need to speak to this difference. That is why the council, the sum body of local representatives in Fremantle, should feel free to speak up about the date of Australia Day, especially if their community has communicated this to them.

Elected representatives get judged not only by the decisions they make but also by how effective they are at representing people.

Whether a particular policy position is a good or bad one (such as moving Australia Day, opposing Roe 8, banning plastic bags) is up to the Fremantle community to judge, but there is no doubt that elected representatives are entitled to speak about them. We expect that people we elect become a voice of the people they represent, so they should speak up.

Those who are running as alternatives should likewise feel free to express their views on these issues. Competition for political office is healthy and should be welcomed. We then expect the public to judge them on that come the next election. That’s why I think being accountable and transparent is important.

Personally I always hope that debate focuses on the issues rather than the person, but that’s a pretty idealistic position these days.”

There is no doubt though that Council needs to have its priorities right and that people in the community rightly complain when basic maintenance is not done. One has to consider and acknowledge though that the day to day running of the City of Fremantle is done by the administration.

There is also an absolute and non-negotiable need for excellent community consultation, which was lacking on the Australia Day changes. This should have been handled much better as it polarised the community and became a political, and sadly sometimes racist, debate.

The positive thing about the initiative of Fremantle Council is that the Australia Day date and plastic bags ban now have become a national debate and that looks like pretty healthy democracy to me.

I agree with Dr Martin Drum that the debate should focus on issues rather than on the person. Respectful dialogue is essential to move forward together, and I especially am aware that it is not always easy to keep that in mind when one has a passion for Freo.

 

Roel Loopers

ATTACK ON FREO’S HISTORIC WEST END STOPPED

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, heritage, Uncategorized by freoview on July 27, 2017

 

Pakenham Street development proposal

 

I am delighted that Fremantle Council last night unanimously rejected the application for three five-storey buildings in Fremantle’s West End.

The three buildings would have been built from the Customs House on the corner of Henry and Phillimore Street all the way to Pakenham Street and would have destroyed the West End forever and set a precedent for future massive buildings.

Not only did our Councillors reject the application but the State Heritage Office also recommended its refusal.

Councillor Bryn Jones said that the reasons for the refusal are very comprehensive and it would have been the end of the West End as we know it.

Councillor Andrew Sullivan said the development was significantly out of order and that the permanent state heritage listing of the West End was a game changer that would have an impact on how the State’s Joined Development Assessment Panel(JDAP) would rule on future applications for the historic area.

Councillor Jones said that JDAP cannot approve a development when the State Heritage Office recommend it to be rejected.

There is incredible arrogance by architects trying to get five-storey buildings in the West End, when the planning scheme only allows for three storeys, with a possible discretionary additional storey for outstanding architecture or heritage preservation.

The proposed buildings show absolute disrespect for the heritage significance of the beautiful West End and are very basic, boring, mediocre TBL(tripple bottom line) boxes that would do nothing to enhance the area.

The attack by developers on the West End needs to stop and the State Government needs to step in and be stronger and make sure that the DAP does not approve future five-storey applications.

Councillor Bryn Jones reminded us last night that the State Heritage Office had recommended the Notre Dame University five-storey building in High Street for approval and that is a serious worry.

It was only the university’s Vice Chancellor Celia Hammond’s respect for Fremantle Council and the Freo community that saw Notre Dame withdraw the development application after public rejection.

That building will now be totally redesigned to accommodate the wishes of the community. That is responsible and respectful development other developers should take heed off!

 

Roel Loopers

 

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