WOW! Great news for Fremantle and the revitalisation of the CBD with the Department of Finance advertising for office accommodation in today’s West Australian.
They are looking for A-grade building standard and lettable area of 20,000 square metres no further than 600 metres from the train station with an expected completion by 2019.
I don’t think Kings Square is within 600 metres of the Freo train station, so this might be a build up to sell Victoria Quay and Fremantle port. I am not sure also if the Atwell Arcade has enough available floor space to accommodate the requirements. Whatever the outcome it will be positive for Freo I hope.
The City of Fremantle full Council meeting tonight has many interesting items, such as the Cantonment Hill and Princess May Park masterplans on the agenda, and also the City’s submission to the State Government on the Perth and Peel @ 3.5 Million directions.
There are many people who questioned the need for the Perth and Peel @ 3.5 Million document when the government only launched its Directions 2031 four years ago. That document directed local councils to increase infill-higher density- development near train stations and along transit corridors, without guidance or support on how to do it, so it has achieved very little.
In 2014 the residential development fill in stood at 28% and the Directions 2031 wanted an increase to 47%, but we are not even close to that target in the metropolitan area where it stands at only 30%. Fremantle is one of the highest achievers with a 36% infill rate.
Part of the problem has been that the State Government has simply demanded a fill in increase without showing local governments how to achieve it and there has been lack of support for integrated planning with State agencies unwilling to increase public transport services to potential infill locations. It’s the chicken and egg thing where local governments want the State to introduce the services before they start infill development while the State expects the development to go ahead without committing to increasing old or implementing new services such as lightrail and or rapid bus transport.
What amazes me about all these plans, ideas and directions is a severe lack of reality at all levels of government and by so called planning experts. On TV yesterday opposition against the extension of a large northern suburb shopping centre was vocal, with overflow parking in residential streets being a problem, so yet another ‘expert’ voiced her opinion that shopping centres should be built near train stations. Ooops! I though State Government wanted mainly residential infill near train stations, so not sure how very large-scale shopping precincts would be incorporated within those plans.
There is also naivety about suggesting shopping centres near train stations as it would be near impossible to do so along the Fremantle to Perth and Armadale line where shopping centres would destroy the older residential suburbs to an unrecognisable mess and severely impact on the character and lifestyle.
Let us look at the practicality of shopping centres near railway stations. Why is it IKEA, BIG W, The GOOD GUYS, HARVEY NORMAN, etc. are not near railway stations but next to large parking areas? Because people will not buy a huge flatscreen TV, new computer, washing machine, etc. and take it home on the train. They want to put it in their car or on the back of the ute and that is why shopping centres near railway stations only could be what we already have; highstreets. Sadly highstreets have lost popularity and people flock to sterile shopping centres instead.
Long and short term city planning needs to receive a severe injection of reality. The naive dreamers and unrealistic placemakers should take a cold shower or direct their creativity toward making surreal art, because city planning needs to be about achievable outcomes.