Freo's View


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, city planning, hospitality, retail, Uncategorized by freoview on May 23, 2019


City of Fremantle Heritage Coordinator Alan Kelsall made me aware of a very positive article in The Guardian by Angelique Chrisofis about the revitalisation of the town of Mulhouse in the east of France, which should inspire Fremantle to continue with its efforts of recreating the high street ambience of the past.

According to Chrisofis the town “was once considered eastern France’s grimmest town” and ten years ago “was a symbol of the death of the European high street”

The town of 110,000 residents had a very high rate of youth unemployment, poverty, crime and anti-social behaviour, but that all turned around when Council took action.

Mulhouse set out to rebalance the housing mix. Generous subsidies for the renovation of building fronts expedited a facelift of more than 170 buildings. Security and community policing were stepped up. Transport was key – with a new tram system, bike schemes, shuttle buses and cheap parking.
But making the town’s public spaces attractive was just as important, with wider pavements, dozens of benches, and what officials deemed a “colossal budget” for tree planting and maintenance, gardening and green space. Local associations, community groups and residents’ committees were crucial to the efforts. A town centre manager was appointed to support independents and high-street franchises setting up.

The big change happened and 470 new shops and businesses opened over the last eight years. 75% of them are independent!

Read the full article in The Guardian:

In this context it is good to hear that Notre Dame University is considering a Masterplan for their Fremantle West End campus, in close collaboration with the City of Fremantle.

The uni recognises that it has grown well organically over the last 20 years but that it will be good to plan more ahead for the future with Freo City’s planners and Council, in light of the fact that NDA acquired the former Customs House buildings. Very positive!


Roel Loopers



Anyone blaming Fremantle Council for the decline in retail and the many vacant shops in our port city should take note of an article in The Guardian newspaper that reports that UK shoppers are deserting the ‘high street’ in greater numbers than during the 2009 recession.

The Guardian reports that several big brand retailers in the UK are in receivership with a massive number of shops closing.

High street visits declined 3.3% in April, according to the BRC-Springboard monthly tracker, which also highlighted nearly one in 10 town centre shops are lying empty. The drop in footfall came on the back of a disastrous performance in March, when shopper numbers declined by 6%. Taken together there has been an unprecedented 4.8% drop over the two months – a bigger decline than was recorded in the same months of 2009 when the UK was mired in recession.

The question developers in Fremantle need to ask if this trend can be turned around and if new city centre based shopping centres like the FOMO retail concept at Kings Square by Sirona Capital will attract more shoppers away from the urban sterile shopping centres, that are now also changing direction and want to recreate the town square in shopping centres to make them more appealing to the community.

Roel Loopers


Posted in environment, fremantle, plastic, seafarers, western australia by freoview on July 31, 2016

The Town of East Fremantle is trying to ban the use of plastic shopping bags, what the City of Fremantle unsuccessfully tried twice and was refused to implement by the WA government, so maybe a more achievable compromise would be to demand that retailers charge a fee for plastic bags, as they have done successfully in the United Kingdom according to The Guardian.

I quote a section of The Guardian’s recent article below:

# The number of single-use plastic bags used by shoppers in England has plummeted by more than 85% after the introduction of a 5p charge last October.

# More than 7 billion bags were handed out by seven main supermarkets in the year before the charge, but this figure plummeted to slightly more than 500 million in the first six months after the charge was introduced, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said.

# The data is the government’s first official assessment of the impact of the charge, which was introduced to help reduce litter and protect wildlife.

# The charge has also triggered donations of more than £29m from retailers towards good causes including charities and community groups, according to Defra. England was the last part of the UK to adopt the 5p levy, after successful schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Good to see charging for the plastic bags did not become another profit making exercise but that the money was donated to good causes.

Unlike  retailers such as IGA and Peaches in Fremantle the big supermarkets do not offer cardboard boxes as an alternative to plastic shopping bags, and that also needs to be encouraged as it is a good way to recycle the boxes the goods arrive in at the shops.

Roel Loopers



Posted in cycling, fremantle by freoview on December 8, 2014

I am always trying to get the balance right on this blog because I am not a big believer in one-eyed, narrow-minded and blinkered views, so the article in The Guardian about the European cycling industry needs to be mentioned to please Fremantle’s bike groupies.

The Guardian reports that the European cycling industry employs more people than the mining industry there and twice as many as the steel industry. 650,000 people work in the cycling economy the newspaper reports with most jobs being in bicycle tourism, which includes accommodation and restaurants.

The fact that should be opening some eyes in the Fremantle retail industry is that cyclists contribute more to the local economy than other modes of transport, because cyclists go to local shops, restaurants and cafes. Of course our problem is that cyclists are still a tiny minority compared to motorists, and for the cycling community to have a real impact on the Western Australia economy there needs to be a change in culture and mindset.

Full article in The Guardian here:

Roel Loopers



Posted in fremantle by freoview on March 3, 2014

There is another very positive write up about Fremantle in the international media. This time the article is written by local writer Renee Bergere for The Guardian, who enthuses about Leighton Beach and the Bathers Beach Sunset Food Markets. Here it is:

It may not have Scarborough’s waves or Cottesloe’s chic beach bars and Norfolk pines, but Leighton Beach, located just north of Fremantle and a 20-minute drive from Perth’s CBD, has a chilled-out vibe I adore. Its powder-white sand is level (ideal for running) and the turquoise water is clear and calm (perfect for post-run swimming). For Fido, there’s an always-busy dog beach to the north.

On windy evenings – which are often – the kite surfers flock to Leighton to jump the whitecap waves and provide us landlubbers easy entertainment. You’ll find me at Leighton on Sunday mornings, just before the regular sea breeze blows in – known locally as the “Freo Doctor”.

I’ll grab a coffee on the sunny terrace of Olympian swimmer Eamon Sullivan’s hip restaurant, Bib & Tucker, which sits above the Surf Lifesaving Club. Its breakfast inspires a perpetual queue, so proceed with patience.

After a laze on the beach – or a run if I’m feeling so inclined – I grab a Brazilian lunch of coxinhas and fresh coconut water at Comida do Sul, Perth’s best food truck that takes up residence behind the dunes every week. Then I pinch myself – this paradise is a mere five-minute Vespa ride from my house. How did I get so lucky?

The Bathers Beach Sunset Markets, which happen every Saturday night in summer at Fremantle’s public beach, are worth the trip from Perth. Freo folks congregate at these weekly sunset markets for cheap and cheerful food truck meals, picnics on the lawn and a front-row seat for the breathtaking Indian Ocean sunset. It’s a happy mess of panting dogs, food-smudged toddlers, bottles of wine, live music and laughter.

The best nights are when Kelp Bar is open. The pop-up bar is run by indie gallery Kidogo Arthouse and has a cult-like following by those who reckon there’s nothing better than a drink with friends to the sound of lapping water and the sight of the setting sun.

The party kicks on after dark with G’n’Ts from BarPop, stargazing and – if it’s hot enough – a spot of night swimming. Finish it off with a round of pints at Little Creatures down the road, and you’ve had yourself a pretty epic evening. Gotta love Freo.

Renee Bergere. THE GUARDIAN


Posted in fremantle by freoview on May 28, 2013

I have just been made aware of an excellent article by John Pilger in the Guardian: that should be read by all of us in Western Australia and by tourists who visit Rottnest Island and Fremantle so they are aware of the history and the disgraceful treatment of indigenous people.

While W.A. goes from one resources boom to the next far too many Aboriginal people are still living in third-world conditions, the real history of Rottnest Island is rarely told and there is still no adequate recognition of the suffering and deaths at the former Quod indigenous prison, which is now the Rottnest Lodge tourist accommocation. During the Fremantle Heritage Festival we should all think about this.

Roel Loopers

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