Freo's View

FREMANTLE COUNCIL’S MOMENT OF INSANITY

 

J Shed

 

Predictably Fremantle Council last night voted to recommend for approval by the WA Planning Commission a 300 patron tavern at J Shed on Arthur’s Head, against the express wishes of the local community, Noongar people, artists and heritage groups.

But the battle was lost long before last night when over four years ago Council in a moment of collective insanity decided that the best applicant for the Expressions of Interest process for a bar/cafe/gallery was the proposal for a 1,500 patron live outdoor music venue and an 850 patron tavern, and signed a 21-year lease with Sunset Events.

Since then the live music aspect was taken away as the Council back tracked more and more because of public outrage, so at the end they believed everyone had compromised enough and 300 patrons was just a bit more than a small bar, and a tavern would activate Arthur’s Head.

The public gallery was jam packed full, and more than 30 people spoke for an hour and a half, with 80 per cent of them being against the tavern.

There were many new faces and young artists and valid arguments were made that a good arts venture would help activate J Shed and the historic area, while a very eloquent young psychologist warned about the dangers of alcohol and public health, but it was all to no avail and only four of the nine Councillors present voted against the proposal.

It was very disappointing that the elected members were abused by some people in the public gallery as that is totally inappropriate. The planning approval went through proper process and the community has elected Councillors to make decisions, and as with all decisions governments make half of the people won’t agree with them. For the record. I don’t agree with this one either.

The deciding authority is the WAPC and even if they approve Sunset Events’ application they will still need to convince the liquor licensing authority that a tavern at Bathers Beach with only portaloos is a good idea.

I am very disappointed with Fremantle Council about this issue. They did not have the backbone to admit the 21-year lease for a tavern was wrong, so they had to back their wrong decision all the way. That is not good governance.

Roel Loopers

 

TIME TO HAVE A SUNSET ON TAVERN PROPOSAL

 

 

The Sunset Events proposal for a tavern at J Shed on Bathers Beach will go to Ordinary Council-hopefully for the very last time!-this Wednesday and it could be a close call.

Deputy Mayor Ingrid Waltham, who is against the tavern, is on holiday and Councillors Rachel Pemberton and Sam Wainwright will declare a conflict of interest, so these three won’t be voting.

If there are no other apologies there will be ten elected members who will vote on the item.

It is likely that Mayor Brad Pettitt and Councillors Dave Hume, Adin Lang, Andrew Sullivan and Hannah Fitzhardinge will vote for the tavern, while Councillors Jeff McDonald, Bryn Jones and Jenny Archibald will probably vote against it. How Jon Strachan and Doug Thompson will vote would be a guess, but if they vote against the proposal the casting vote of the Mayor would get it over the line for recommending it for approval by the WAPC.

But the deciding authority is the WA Planning Committee, which rejected the previous proposal because a tavern was inappropriate use of the A Class reserve at historic Arthur’s Head. Will they change their opinion just because the number of patrons and the outdoor footprint has been reduced?

Whatever the outcome it is time to move on and have a long term Masterplan for the area.

Roel Loopers

UPDATE! I have been advised that Councillor Jon Strachan is also an apology so that will make the voting by only 9 elected members very interesting.

FREMANTLE COUNCIL J SHIT GOVERNANCE

 

The Fawlty Towers approach to governance by Fremantle Council on the proposed J Shed tavern development continued at the Planning Committee on Wednesday evening and will be repeated again at full Ordinary Council next week.

The Bathers Beach saga has been going on since November 2012 when the City asked for Expressions Of Interest (EOI) for a bar/cafe/gallery for the No 1 unit at J Shed on historic Arthur’s Head.

With stars in their eyes the naive Council then decided to sign the ‘applicant driven’ 21 year lease for an 850 patron tavern and 1,500 patron outdoor live music venue, against the express and loud wishes of local residents and heritage groups, Fremantle Ports and neighbouring J Shed artists, as well as Noongar representatives.

But when Sunset Events finally put their planning proposal in Councillors got cold feet and rejected the application, which subsequently was also rejected by the WA Planning Commission, which is the deciding authority.

Since then the proposal has been watered down a few times and is now only for a 300 patron tavern on a reduced parcel of the A Class Reserve and no outdoor live music events. If that is actually financially viable for the proponent is very questionable, and according to a CoF director I spoke to this afternoon Sunset Events will need to find a financial partner for the around $ 1 million development to be able to realise it.

The WAPC rejected the proposal because it was inappropriate in use, bulk and scale for the area and Councillor Jeff McDonald passionately reminded his fellow Councillors of that.

McDonald said that the land is of regional significance, the parking requirements are not addressed, that it is not a low profile development, and it is not at all similar to Rottnest Island!

Mayor Brad Pettitt however believed that the proposal for a tavern is a real opportunity to activate the West End and Arthur’s Head and that the plans were now close to where the Council initially wanted to go. One has to wonder then why Council signed a 21 year lease for an large 850 patron tavern and an even bigger 1,500 patron music venue in the first place, when all they wanted was a small bar. Yes Minister!

The process has been unfair to everyone! Sunset Events had every reason to believe in good faith that Council would support the tavern and music venue when they signed the long lease, but the same elected members who approved the lease keep stuffing the proponents around until the proposal is close to no longer being viable.

The J Shed artists had to live with the anxiety of not knowing what is going to happen with their work spaces, studios and galleries and if the impact of the proposal might mean they will have to move elsewhere.

The heritage groups are of course concerned about the negative impact on one of the most significant historic areas in Western Australia and how that might impact also on tourism.

The inner city residents are rightly concerned about drunks, anti social behaviour, littering of Bathers Beach and parking issues. One can just imagine that at night time clever motorists will find that Mrs Trivett and Captain’s Lane, as well as Fleet Street are just fine for illegal parking and maybe having a quick wee in the dark. With the Whalers Tunnel closed at night it is a long walk around Arthur’s Head in the dark to the Little High Street and Victoria Quay carparks.

The fact that there are no plans for building a proper toilet block should also be a concern as portaloos are unsightly and smelly.

Councillor Jenny Archibald summed up pretty well what I have been saying for years. Arthur’s Head and the Bathers Beach Arts Precinct need a more cohesive approach from Council. She said it was disappointing Council is willing to compromise so much and that the original EOI was interesting. May I remind the Mayor that he agreed before the October election at an event in the National Hotel that the Bathers Beach Art Precinct needed to be revisited by Council because it was not working!

Councillor Adin Lang said it was unlikely a cafe could afford to spend $ 1 million on infrastructure.

Don’t waste your time folks watching a satirical program on TV, come attend Fremantle Council instead when they debate the J Shed proposal and you’ll get a mix of Yes Minister and Fawlty Towers all on the same night and free to hot air. If it wasn’t so sad to watch the incompetence it would be a good laugh.

Roel Loopers

FREO SOCIAL HALL NEW MUSIC VENUE

Posted in city of fremantle, concerts, heritage, hospitality, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on May 1, 2018

 

Freo Social Hall

 

While the controversial proposal for a tavern at J Shed on Bathers Beach will come before the City of Fremantle Planning Committee tomorrow evening, at the other end of town Sunset Events appear to be progressing well with converting the former Drillhall and former home of the Fly by Night Club into the FREO SOCIAL HALL music venue.

Sunset Events signed a lease with the National Trust to bring back the heritage building to its former glory and has been working on it for years. The new music venue is opening later this year.

A new large music venue will be very welcome in Fremantle, but it will be serious competition for the struggling Fly by Night in Victoria Hall, so time will tell if the two venues can survive in the same town.

Roel Loopers

FROM THE FREO FPOL COMMITTEE

 

The Fremantle Council Finance, Policy, Operations and Legislation Committee last night approved all, but one, items on the agenda. Some of them will have to go through full council next week before being implemented though.

  • The contract for J Shed between the City of Fremantle and Sunset Venues will be changed for a smaller venue. The Director of City Business explained that is not a planning approval, so the proposed  300 patron tavern might still be stopped when and if Sunset Venues applies for it and for a liquor license.
  • The Solar Farm also got the tick of approval but Councillor Andrew Sullivan said he would have liked to see officers explore the possibility and costs of remediation of the site as it might well be profitable if it could be developed for residential living.
  • The new Precinct Policy was also adopted with Councillor Andrew Sullivan saying he never saw the need for precincts to be managed by the City, as community groups should rise and fall depending on the interest and participation of residents.
  • The contract for Fremantle Oval with the South Fremantle Football Club will also go ahead, so the footy club is getting all their Christmases at once. It appears they have been playing a bit of hard ball with CoF, so I am not sure why we so desperately need the club at the oval as it will not generate any income for the City. Not even the outgoings for power, water, etc. have reached an agreement yet. Councillor Rachel Pemberton was very worried about the big LED sign and said the City should make sure that the SFFC would not put up more of them.

Roel Loopers

 

WILL THERE BE J SHED MEDIATION OR NOT?

Posted in bathers beach, city of fremantle, j shed, Uncategorized by freoview on January 29, 2018

 

When Fremantle Council at its meeting on December 13 decided it would engage a professional mediator to move forward with the Sunset Events proposal for a tavern at J Shed, it was expected that this meant mediation between J Shed artists, the proponents and the City of Fremantle, but that assumption appears to be wrong.

There has not been mediation between the artists and Sunset Events but some Councillors and Creating Communities have visited J Shed to consult with the artists.

There are of course the rumours that Freo City and Sunset Events will agree on a change to the contract and scale down the use of the A Class reserve to create a much smaller foot print for the controversial hospitality outlet.

Sunset Events director David Chitty mentioned at the council meeting in December that  permitting fewer patrons would mean a smaller foot print for the tavern and that SE might not need all the Bathers Beach A Class Reserve allocated to them.

There is still nothing official and the saga drags on further, but one has to wonder when mediation is actually mediation and why council decide to have it but than not implement the action.

Freo Council often works in mysterious ways hey. ; >)

—————

Of course there are other ways to activate J Shed as yoga instructor Ava Irani points out:

A few months ago I was really sick of the lack of activation of studio 1 at the J shed and decided to take some action to create a 1 day yoga festival for the community.

It has been birthed, and we will enjoy music, family, yoga, meditation, sound healing, dance, busking and healthy food on Sunday the 18th of February.

We want to create a community vibe outside the shed as well, where kids activities will carry on on the grass, and a space for people to gather in a relaxed way on the grass and at the beach. Of course this will all be free.

However, if participants want to take a class on the schedule IN the J shed its around $15-20 per class.

I’d really love eventually for the city to support something like this. I’m happy to put in the work with my team and put up the money to rent the space but I want the community and city to recognise that we can have alcohol-free, wellness based, community-building yet totally funky family friendly offerings in this space.

Here some more details :
http://spandaschool.com/class/classes/fremantle-yoga-festival/

 

So maybe it was just a typo and Fremantle council meant meditation, and not mediation. ; >)

 

Roel Loopers

J SHED MEDIATION FAR TOO LATE

Posted in bathers beach, city of fremantle, j shed, Uncategorized by freoview on December 13, 2017

 

Arthur Head

 

Fremantle Councillors will be pleasantly surprised that they are getting a lot of agreement from this obnoxious blogger about the Sunset Events proposal for a tavern at J Shed on Bathers Beach.

I agree with Mayor Brad Pettitt that there must be a way forward, and I agree with Councillor Hannah Fitzhardinge that mediation between the J Shed artists, City of Fremantle and Sunset Events is a good idea.

I also agree with Councillor Adin Lang that Sunset Events need not only convince Fremantle Council but also the local residents and neighbouring artists, and I agree with Councillor Jenny Archibald that the proposal for a tavern does not resemble anything the City asked for in its expression of interest.

And I agree with Councillor Andrew Sullivan about the connectivity of places around the inner city and about activation of that rather dormant part of Bathers Beach.

But the major question for me is WHY NOW AFTER FOUR YEARS?! Why was this not suggested much earlier in the process to avoid all the negative polarisation between the stakeholders? It’s mind-boggling.

And why does Sunset Events put a planning proposal to Council, but director David Chitty then told us tonight they actually won’t need to use all the leased area for a 400 patron tavern.

Why did Sunset Events not put in a proposal showing that they are going to make the tavern a much smaller footprint, and why did they not go to the City of Fremantle and ask for a new lease for a smaller area?

And let’s be clear about connectivity between Bathers Beach and Victoria Quay here too. There needs to be a path in front of the J Shed studios so tourists don’t have to divert to the west to walk between those tourist destinations. A tavern fence there is not ever acceptable, no matter how small the footprint or the number of patrons.

We will now have three months of mediation to see if there actually will be a good compromise, a way forward and a whole lot less negativity, but I fear the polarisation, dislike and disrespect between the J Shed artists and Sunset Events is now so ingrained that it will just become more nastiness, and the City of Fremantle deserves all the blame for that.

Roel Loopers

J SHED DEBACLE ON COUNCIL AGENDA

Posted in architecture, arthur head, bathers beach, city of fremantle, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on December 13, 2017

 

hero

 

There were indications at last week’s Fremantle Planning Committee that Mayor Brad Pettitt might try to defer the decision at tonight’s Ordinary Council meeting on the proposed tavern at J Shed for 2-3 months to get Sunset Events to make more changes.

This would be contrary to what the Fremantle community wants, as it has expressed very clearly and loudly for four years.

The Wadjuk Noongar people, inner city residents, Fremantle Ports, Fremantle Society, Fremantle History Society, Fremantle Volunteer Heritage Guides and the J Shed artists have all very clearly said no to a tavern at Arthur Head, and so has the WA Planning Committee.

We have heard the excuses and semantics in the past that somehow that specific part of Arthur Head has less historic significance than the rest of the historic area, but that is baseless rubbish.

Fact is that Arthur Head in its entirety is heritage listed. Fact is that the proposed site for the tavern is only metres away from where the Whaling Station used to be. It is 30 metres from the Whalers Tunnel, and it is just below the Gunners Cottage and WA’s oldest public building the Roundhouse gaol.

Bathers Bay is where British settlement started in ernest and where the first port was, in the form of a one-kilometre-long jetty. It is also where Aboriginal men and boys were put on boats to be transported to the inhumane Quod prison on Rottnest Island. The Arthur Head area is the foundation of Western Australia’s British settlement.

Another reason why the item should not be deferred by Fremantle Council is a point made by Councillor Rachel Pemberton when Council discussed another planning proposal a few weeks ago.

Pemberton stated that the Elected Members had agreed that they would no longer indefinitely defer planning proposals if these proposals required substantial changes, instead of minor tweaking. That is the case with the Sunset Events proposal for J Shed. It requires substantial changes, not just minor adjustments, and for that reason alone refusal of the proposal should be the only outcome of the Ordinary Council meeting tonight.

Sunset Events wants a tavern on the A Class reserve, that the community does not want, and WAPC has made it clear in its past ruling that is inappropriate use of the reserve. WAPC did not rule on the number of patrons, but about inappropriate use of a public space. That will not change.

It is also highly unlikely that Sunset Events would be willing to reduce the number of patrons yet again, because they already deleted the 1,500 patron outdoor music venue and halved the number of tavern patrons. There is little left of their initial plans.

The sad fact for Sunset Events is that they have been had by Fremantle Council. What is happening with the tavern proposal is akin to the City of Fremantle signing a lease for a funeral parlour, but when it comes to planning approval they suddenly decide that they don’t want dead bodies in the building and no hearses in the street. It’s outrageously bad governance!

The J Shed saga is an unmitigated debacle that Fremantle Councillors should be ashamed about, and it needs to stop now!

Roel Loopers

FRESH IDEAS NEEDED FOR ARTHUR HEAD

Posted in art, arthur head, bathers beach, city of fremantle, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on December 8, 2017

 

The desire of Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt and Councillor Hannah Fitzhardinge to extend the decision period on the proposed tavern at J Shed by Sunset Events comes in my opinion far too late. What could possibly be achieved in 2-3 months of talking that could not have been achieved in the last four years?

Fremantle Council did have many opportunities to listen to the community but instead created a divide that has now become too polarised to be resolved and end in a good outcome for the proponents and opponents.

Sunset Events has in desperation asked Freo Massive readers what they believe is acceptable for the J Shed studio at Bathers Beach, as director David Chitty also did at the Council meeting on Wednesday. The community already told you that, David, so why engage social media when there has been community consultation, meetings, information sessions, a special electors meeting, written and verbal submissions, etc?

The dilemma is that the two sides are too far apart to find a compromise, and there appears to be a bit of stubbornness on both sides as well. The stuff them attitude is not going to help anyone!

Would Sunset Events be happy to just run a day-time cafe and small bar with a nice deck to watch Bathers Bay and the sunset? I doubt it, as they want big numbers of patrons to make their investment worthwhile, and that is fair enough from a business perspective.

The J Shed artists appear to not want anything but another art studio in that location, so they will probably also object to a small bar at the No 1 studio.

Community groups might well be happy with a 150-patron small bar there, as I would be, but I don’t think Sunset Events will want to scale down its proposal that far.

Fact is that the City of Fremantle should not have wandered off so far from the initial Expression of Interest and CoF should not have signed a 21-year lease for a tavern and outdoor music venue.

Councillors and the administration have to accept all the blame for this fiasco and they now will have to do their utmost best to get Sunset Events to relinquish the lease and start from scratch.

It is however also important for the J Shed artists to show more willingness to compromise as they should not dictate who their next door businesses can be. A small bar and cafe is totally acceptable for the venue and would become a good attraction for tourists and local residents.

The A Class reserve is very suitable to support the artists and create a sculpture park, with the addition of some shade structures and more seating. That would also support a new cafe/bar at J Shed. And a small playground for the kids would also be a nice addition for the area.

The Bathers Beach Art Precinct should go back to the drawing board as it is not working. The Pilot’s Cottages at Captain’s Lane are closed too many days of the week and do very little to help activate the area. The only exemptions up there are the Glen Cowans photo gallery and the very popular Roundhouse which attract a lot of visitors, and so did the High Tide biennale by the way.

I still wonder if the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre would not have been far more successful at the J Shed No 1 unit and complement the existing art businesses there better.

Fremantle Council need to acknowledge they got it wrong as far as the activation of Arthur Head is concerned and should start all over again with an open mind. This might well be the opportune time to engage an outside consultant to get some new and fresh ideas.

In the meantime the Roundhouse volunteer guides want to put new displays inside the popular tourist attraction, and they need big money to do that. Time for Fremantle Council to engage with them and collaborate and also to give them some assistance!

 

Roel Loopers

 

 

COUNCIL INCOMPETENCE IN J SHED FARCE

Posted in arthur head, city of fremantle, heritage, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on December 7, 2017

 

The highly farcical tavern proposal at J Shed on Bathers Beach saga continued last night when the Planning Committee of Fremantle Council refused again the proposal by Sunset Events for a 400-patron tavern at the number one studio on the A Class reserve.

In its utter incompetence in this matter Fremantle Council has managed to make victims of both the proponents and opponents of the development at historic Arthur Head. That is a remarkable feat!

Some four years ago Council supported the applicant driven proposal for a 1,500 patron outdoor music venue and 850-patron tavern and signed a 21 year lease with Sunset Events.

This was against strong opposition of West End residents, J Shed artists, FICRA, Aboriginal and  heritage groups and Fremantle Ports, but our Councillors had their rose-coloured ACTIVATION glasses on and suddenly wanted something much bigger than a cafe, restaurant or small bar, as was invited for in the Expressions of Interest document.

All public submissions were ignored and even the packed full Townhall special electors meeting was dismissed because our elected members knew best what is good for us.

In good faith and with the justifiable assumption that Council would approve the tavern and music venue Sunset Events signed a 21-year lease, but now their scaled-down proposals keep getting rejected and that is extremely unfair to them.

I agree with last night’s refusal and the refusals before that because a large tavern is not acceptable for one of our state’s most significant historic areas, but to leave the proponents in limbo with no room to move shows arrogance, naivety and incompetence by those Councillors who voted for the 21-year lease.

J Shed artists have had their nerves stretched to the limit as their livelihood is at stake, and Sunset Events rightly insists that the project has to be financially viable for them before they invest millions in sewerage, toilets, a commercial kitchen, etc.

The way Fremantle Council has handled the J Shed proposal is so absurd and incompetent that it might well have been an episode of the satirical TV series Utopia.

Sunset Events has every right to being frustrated and should take legal action against Fremantle Council for wasting their time and money, because reducing the scale of the tavern even more would not make financial sense for them.

One has to seriously wonder why it is that only after four years officers and Councillors now decide that a tavern is inappropriate for the A Class reserve, the heritage area and the Bathers Beach Art Precinct, although they signed a lease for it. That, as Planning Committee chair Jon Strachan pointed out, will make any size tavern un-approvable in the future and leaves Sunset Events in limbo.

It is an absolute disgrace and those Councillors who voted for the long-term lease should kick themselves in the backside really hard and get an injection of a dose of reality.

Roel Loopers

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