Freo's View

HIGH DENSITY LIFESTYLE QUESTIONED

Posted in fremantle, high-density, living by freoview on December 8, 2014

It was very interesting to read two articles in two newspapers on the weekend about high-density living. In the West Australian Kate Emery wrote that Western Australians don’t have the mentality for high-density housing and that the W.A. Planning Commission(WAPC) is proposing to State Government to change the R30 and R35 buildings codes because there has been a huge community backlash against inappropriate and out of character high buildings being detrimental to the overall community amenity. The WAPC also wants to increase the minimum parking requirements for new dwellings.

In the Subiaco Post renowned urban planner and architect Dr Linley Lutton writes under the headline “Frantic Density Push Is Alarming” that …”experts warnings from those outside the industry are rarely heeded.” And that the warning for a huge population growth in Perth is an unrealistic and alarmist over-estimation of future growth.

We have already witnessed that planning schemes by Local Governments are completely overridden by State Government agencies and are a real worry to especially older suburbs like Fremantle Subiaco, Cottesloe, etc.

Lutton writes “High-density European and Middle Eastern cities work because they provide a diversity in stimulation, convenience and interaction opportunities. The piazzas, squares, courtyards, parks, shops and streets of these cities are where people live and grow. Most high-density development in Perth offers none of these things.”

 The article continues that Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that only 5-7% of people living near suburban train stations actually use the train to go to work. A 2010 study in Australia, Canada and the USA showed that the main users of public transport were those living in the low-density outer suburbs, not those who live in high-density areas with railway access.

Dr.Linley Lutton also warns for health impact of high-density living along main streets near traffic noise, especially on the older population, because poor air-quality and noise trigger mental and physical health problems.

Lutton suggests that self-sufficient suburbs with a variety of housing densities and with ample employment opportunities, and less need to commute far and wide to work, would be a better way to plan for the future, and I could not agree more. In an ideal world no one living in Rockingham should have to commute to Joondalup for work.

Fremantle Council also needs to heed these warning and realise one cannot change a decades-old entrenched culture and lifestyle overnight. Change happens slowly and only when the community embraces it and takes ownership of it. Collaboration and integration is what is needed, not a narrow focus anti-car mentality.

New developments like Kim Beazley and Stevens Reserve offer very little in lifestyle enhancement, with no green lingering nodes between buildings and only a strip of green on the periphery. As Lutton points out, the piazzas, parks, town squares, etc. are needed to create a lifestyle people embrace. Much better and more creative and innovative city planning is required in Fremantle and the ambiance of the CBD needs to be improved with modern seats, shade structures, green areas, more trees, play nodes for children and better and creative lighting.

Higher density living will only be embraced by the community if it supports and enhances the Freo lifestyle and when it allows for diversity.

Roel Loopers

WE ARE NOT ALONE, FREMANTLE!

Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 19, 2014

Let me quote a little from a letter to the editor in a community newspaper: … to the detriment and of total disregard for the everyday requirements of its domiciliary ratepayers. How about some attendance to the neglected rubbish strewn unsealed and rat-infested lanes?

Then consider:

* A program for poor kerbside drainage and local flooding issues.

* Attention to inadequate traffic management.

* The totally unmaintained and unsightly street verges, and a consolidated street tree program.

* The abominable state of street lighting.

* The very mundane and uninspiring town centre.

* The very dangerous slab footpaths.

Sounds familiar?

Well, it is not someone complaining about Fremantle but about Cottesloe in the Subiaco Post newspaper.

Yep, we are not alone. Local councils everywhere neglect the basics and the present and mainly plan for the future.

Roel Loopers

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WHY ALL THE HERALD NEGATIVITY?

Posted in fremantle by freoview on October 11, 2013

The Fremantle Herald should have a good hard look at itself and ask what they believe fair and proper journalism is. The paper is happy to attack God and the world and especially Fremantle council, but it does not like to receive flack. The paper was keen to publish an article on me allegedly comparing mayoral candidate Matthew Hanssen with the nazis, and were also happy to publish a letter to the editor accusing me of hypocrisy, but while they did not interview me and give me a right of reply, which is one of the rules of basic journalistic fairness, they did not even publish my letter responding to the article and letter either, instead Steve Grant, the Chief of Staff, who wrote the unbalanced and unfair piece, is so incensed about my letter, that he sent me an email addressed to “Mister Loopers”, acknowledging my email. I have known Steve for some 15 years and worked with him, and we have been on first names forever. Pretty immature Steve! Do you really believe you are above criticism?

But there is a much bigger issue here and something the Herald should be worried about, and that is that the community starts rebelling against the constant negativity of the Herald and them talking Fremantle down. While the West Australian, Sunday Times, radio and TV, WA Business News, etc. all report about all the fantastic new development planned for Freo, our community paper prefers to ignore most of it and harps on about negative things.

Some very prominent Freo business people at yesterday’s Fremantle 2029 workshop by the Chamber of Commerce, were even considering an advertising boycott to make the Herald aware that they do have a responsibility to our community and that their constant negativity is bad for our city and might well affect their advertising dollar, unless they start to do more balanced and professional reporting.

It came as no surprise, that while my letter to the editor was ignored, that a letter from John- Stop the Growth- Dowson  sent from an airplane was published. Of course it was yet again all about council getting everything wrong and that the Fremantle Society is ineffectual. Dowson should know ineffectual, as he made himself a pretty ineffectual and irrelevant councillor during his last years there, because of his negativity. Dowson seems to believe that the Fremantle Society has to be negative to achieve things, but the modern FS has been working closely with the City of Fremantle to try to get better amalgamation boundaries and is an equal partner in the Fremantle Forever campaign, which was an outcome of the Society’s Sock it Colin campaign..  President Henty Farrar and the committee, of which I am a member, should be congratulated for their positive and pro-active work, instead of receiving yet another swipe from Dowson.

I admire John Downson for the fights he has engaged in to preserve Fremantle’s heritage, and I will man the barricades right next to him, should anyone want to touch and destroy the unique beauty of our city, but growth is inevitable and progress is necessary, or Fremantle will go under. A lot of the new development is tourism based, with another hotel planned for the former Spotlight site in Adelaide Street, and that is fantastic for Freo.

Please Fremantle Herald, do a double-spread on all the great plans for Freo and our exciting future and get some balance in your reporting! Take some lessons from the Subiaco Post, a critical, but fair and balanced community newspaper.

Roel Loopers

LAWYER ADVISES COUNCILS AGAINST FORCED MERGERS

Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 27, 2013

That best Perth community newspaper, the SUBIACO POST, reports today that prominent local government lawyer Denis McLeod has warned councils against co-operating with State Government on council amalgamations as councillors could be in breach of the law. McLeod said in his written paper that “councils are not subject to direction by the Minister for Local Government.” and that councillors had to vote in the best interest of their community.

It worries me greatly that a high-quality expert on local government law has this opinion, while Premier Colin Barnett and State Government believe they can just bully councils into submission and accept the not wanted amalgamations. Did  Tony Simpson, the Minister for Local Government receive legal advice before trying to headbutt his way through community opposition on forced mergers, or has Western Australia under Barnett become a dictatorship? It’s a worry!

SIGN THE FREMANTLE FOREVER PETITIONS TOMORROW AT THE GRAND FINAL CELEBRATIONS!!

Roel Loopers

forever dl 1

VERY COSTLY MEGA MERGERS WILL CREATE DISENGAGED COUNCILLORS

Posted in fremantle by freoview on September 14, 2013

While Fremantle mayoral candidate Matthew Hanssen says he supports amalgamations, without saying which one he’d prefer for Fremante, the SUBIACO POST newspapers reports that the Department of Local Government has admitted in a 100 page guide book that council mergers will be very expensive and “will not be achieved without incurring some significant and contingent costs.” It goes on to say that “Experience has shown that the logistics associated with changing signage etc may be significant and will more than likely incur substantial contigent costs.”

It is clear that IT technology would also costs council amalgamations a lot with new websites, computer and telephone systems, etc. and the guide book to the councils admits that “Information technology may involve significant costs and implementation resources as well as staff training requirements.”

State Government is yet to come clear on who is going to have to cover these costs, but it is likely the local councils will have to carry the burden of it, at the expensive of services and improvements to the councils.

I highly recommend you read the editiorial on the front page of the Subi Post by its owner/editor Bret Christian, who rightly points out how important local councils are and the enormous workload they already have. Let me quote the last paragraphs of Bret Christian’s article: “My best guess is that the new councillors will disengage. Important decisions will be delegated to staff, to be made without scrutiny. Democracy will suffer-and suffer badly.”

It is my personal opinion that local councils are being taken for granted by the community and State Government, and that the community does not recognise how important local government and access to councillors is.  Once lost we will regret we did not act and try to retain this essential form of government and democracy.

Roel Loopers

UWA STUDY SHOWS BIGGER COUNCILS NOT BETTER

Posted in fremantle by freoview on June 21, 2013

There is an interesting article in today’s Subiaco Post about a study on local council amalgamations by University of Western Australia economist James Fogarty and co-author Amin Mugera.

Fogarty told the Subi Post that there is no evidence at all that merging councils would be better for delivering services or the economy of local councils. Interestingly this is the first major study done on this in WA and the results are supported by studies done interstate and overseas.

Fogarty and Mugera measured the efficiencies of 98 W.A. councils and came to the conclusion that policies should not been based on assertions but on evidence.

No doubt our matter of fact Premier Colin Barnett will totally ignore these facts and ram through the mergers of local councils, no matter if for example Fremantle wants to marry Melville or not. Like all spin experts Colin will not let stand facts in the way of his dictatorial approach to government. The question is though with the government wanting to save money all around, why it would waste it on amalgamations that are unlikely to benefit the community. The Muja power station financial disaster should make the Premier think twice about it.

Roel Loopers

DICTATED COUNCIL AMALGAMATIONS ON THE CARDS

Posted in fremantle by freoview on June 16, 2013

So what is actually planned at Western Australian state government level as far as amalgamations of local councils is concerned? Why does the Premier or Minister not tell us what they are going to do, instead of giving us conflicting messages. Colin Barnett assured us before the last election that there would be no forced mergers of councils, but the Subiaco Post reports that the Minister for Local Government has informed councils not to make deals about mergers because the state government will only accept new boundaries they want. So it’s is going to be dictated amalgamations instead of forced ones Premier? Is there a difference?

Fremantle Councillor Jon Strachan reports on his blog that Liberal backbencher Simon O’Brien wants a Fremantle Redevelopment Authority. To do what Simon? Ram highrise down our throats because that is what the Premier loves. Maybe another Elizabeth Quay at Fremantle Port or in the Fishing Boat Harbour?

Interesting times ahead Freo. Be aware and stay alert!!

Roel Loopers

 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Posted in fremantle by freoview on January 13, 2013

I know we whinge too much about the price of everything. Water, gas, power, coffee, groceries, rent, property prices, restaurants, you name it, we complain about it. Maybe it is because the prices are more suited to the minority of people in this state who benefit from the mining boom and earn $ 150,000+ a year, while the rest of us are just trying to get by. However the price for locally grown grapes at Farmer Jack’s in Claremont, as advertised in the Subiaco Post is excessive. $ 4.99 per grape?

Time to sack the proof reader maybe? ; >)

Roel Loopers

Grapes

 

 

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SUPERSIZE FREO COUNCIL OR RETAIN COMMUNITY BOUTIQUE?

Posted in fremantle by freoview on June 8, 2012

I thought I had made a mistake this morning and picked up the PROSH newspaper, published as a bit of fun by university students each year, but no, it actually was the Fremantle Herald I had in my hands. The editor must have had an juvenile moment then, because the cover pictures are pretty ridiculous, even more so because they supposedly illustrate the very serious issue of council amalgamations, as proposed by the Colin Barnett Liberal/National government. I think it was Pablo Picasso who said that if you learn to paint as a child again you have mastered your craft, so maybe  the Herald editors have applied that thinking for today’s cover images.

Local government mergers are the talk of the week with the Subiaco Post also running stories on it, and it seems not many councillors, Mayors and CEOs are in favour of amalgamations.

Fremantle Deputy Mayor Josh Wilson is all for the current boutique style of mini councils and believes the proposed supermarket style maxi councils will be detrimental to community involvement. Subiaco Mayor Heather Henderson has the same believe as Josh. East Freo and Peppy Grove don’t like the idea of merging either, so it will obviously become one of the election issues at the W.A. state election in March.

So what is Simone McGurk’s, MLA Adele Carles’, and the still unknown Greens and Liberal candidates’ position on council amalgamations? Is bigger better and should we supersize our councils McDonald’s style?

With our booming mining industry Colin Barnett obviously also wants to create Super Pits of local councils. Maybe a referendum about it at the election would be the most appropriate way of finding out what the people of Western Australia want.

Roel Loopers

PROTECT FREMANTLE’S SPECIALNESS!

Posted in fremantle by freoview on February 18, 2012

I am worried about Fremantle‘s future, worried because I feel present development plans for the inner city will be more detrimental to the ambience and character of Freo, than good for the revitalisation of the city.

I am for good and sensitive development, and I am absolutely certain that the ugly parts of town need a facelift. The Woolstores, both of them, the Target building, the Point Street car park, the Gas&Coke carpark sites, all need to get some decent modern buildings instead of what is there now. The ugly bits of Queen Street at Kings Square also need to get a work over, as does the Spicers carpark site in Henderson Street. So I am thinking alike there with the City of Fremantle. Where I don’t agree with council is the height and bulk of the buildings, and even less with a massive 17 targeted sites in Planning Scheme Amendment 49. That is overkill!

I’d like to quote some passages from a letter to the editor of the Subiaco Post by renowned architect Linley Lutton. It is about the Perth foreshore development, he and several prominent architects are against. Lutton’s opinion is very relevant to proposed development in Fremantle.

* the plans show little understanding of the unique sense of place.

* the plan lacks authenticity, which is the essence of good tourism locations.

In the same newspaper Cottesloe Mayor Kevin Morgan attacks Premier Colin Barnett‘s comments that Scarborough‘s high-rises have failed to revitalise the beachfront there. Morgan said “How ironic that ground-floor restaurants remain vacant underneath Sarborough’s new high-rise towers, yet Mr Barnett still lauds extra heights as for this not to occur.”

Basically that is what is wrong with PSA 49. It does not take into consideration what an important tourist destination Fremantle is, and those in favour of PSA 49 do not believe a large number of 7-9 storey buildings in the city centre will have an impact on the city’s tourism appeal.

Nowhere in PSA 49 are there suggestions to make the city more attractive to tourists. It is mainly based on getting more people and workers into the city centre and that will then revitalise it and retail will boom. Like in Scarborough and Claremont?

Fremantle city has barely tried to make it a more attractive tourist destination. We have not much to offer but the heritage west end buildings, the Maritime and Shipwreck  Museum, the Fishing Boat Harbour and port. We have not built a substantial cultural centre in town, we have little that shows Aboriginal heritage and history, and nothing in PSA 49 suggests that will change.

This morning I noticed again those things that work so well in Fremantle, and we could do with many more. Wray Avenue was abuzz with the corner cafe full, many people browsing the second hand shops and Galatti’s and Frank’s were doing their usual roaring trade. It’s very Freo, so it works!

Our very tired mall, in desperate need of good modern colourful seating and shade structures, has two outstanding long term operators in Cully’s and the Shepherd’s news agency. Cully’s refurbished their interior some years ago and adapted their menue to modern taste, i.e including two excellent curry pies, while the Shepherd’s keep old fashion country town service, never forgetting to make eye contact with their customers and saying thank you. Basic stuff really!

But then we can look at those who complain about retail being down. Many have not bothered to make their shopfronts and windows more appealing for years, they look tired, unattractive and un-inspirational. Why would anyone want to walk into your shops when you give us the impression you don’t care!

Improving Fremantle is about many of those basics things; good service, good freshly painted shopfronts, creative window dressing, service with a smile, lovely new trees in High Street, good and more seating, drinking fountains, parks and open spaces where people can linger and have lunch, etc. There is nowhere to sit at the Round House for example. It’s one of the prime tourist destinations in Fremantle.

Tourism has been ignored in plans for Fremantle’s future, as council is panicking about losing the regional centre status. Councillor Andrew Sullivan, who would like to see even higher buildings than proposed under PSA 49, talks about a catastrophy if we don’t develop rapidly in the next five years. But that doomsday scenario does not have to happen if the members of the Chamber of Commerce and other retail groups took the lead and started to be actively involved in making Fremantle a better looking place. Don’t whinge and wait for highrise to look after your businesses, start cleaning, painting, do things differently. I walk past shops daily whose appearance have not changed for years. Tired looking old commercial umbrellas at cafes instead of flowers and plants and colours, etc.etc.

Create the ambience high-rise never will, and built 4-7 storey buildings sensitively and creatively, and allow for a lot of space for city squares, play grounds, trees, interactive art works, and much more.

Fremantle council needs to dare to be different because this city is different and special. If we lose what people come here for, the most stunningly, architecturally creative high-rise in the world will not make up for that! Protect our specialness by developing with extreme sensitivity to the character of our city!

Roel Loopers

P.S. Linley Lutton is on the City of Fremantle Design Advisory Panel

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