Freo's View

FREO FOCUS AT URBAN DESIGN DAY

 

It is URBAN DESIGN DAY today so I went to an event at the Fremantle Library this morning where CUSP professor Peter Newman, Dr Annie Matan and Fremantle Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt gave interesting presentations.

Peter Newman started with The theory of urban fabrics and Fremantle stating that there are three cities within cities; the walking city, the transit city and the car based city.

It is important to recognise the fabric of a city, respect that fabric and rejuvenate the fabric to ensure the city has what it needs.

Walking cities such as Fremantle need to be dense, mixed land zoning, narrow streets, pedestrian priority and minimal parking, with minimal setbacks at medium density development.

My question to Newman after his presentation if medium/high density did not demand setback to create public open space received the reply “parklets I assume” when all those people living in small apartments probably would like to relax in decent parks, not tiny parklets.

Fremantle has the highest concentration of heritage buildings in Australia and the tram used to drive here from 1905-1952 and according to Newman the future is ring rail with light rail and rapid bus transport and the new railless lightrail that drives along sensors built in the road.

Newman said that I was thinking like a transport planner and that it works in other cities when I asked if the reality of lightrail for Fremantle was not a chicken and the egg scenario where we simply do not have the population numbers that would convince private operators to invest in lightrail. I thought my question was more about economic reality and that so called triple bottom line. Yes, it works in other cities which have ten times more residents than Fremantle.

Lightrail in Freo will in my opinion only happen because of and when we collaborate with Cockburn, Murdoch and even Curtin where huge development is happening in Coogee, etc. and thousands of people will move to

Dr Annie Matan talked about placemaking which is all about creating opportunities and engaging with the community very early, so that they get what they want and take ownership of projects, such as the lovely Wray Avenue parklet.

Because of the way we live we no longer get the accidental interaction we used to get on the streets, but we need public spaces for our mental health and happiness and we should improve our streets as places where people meet and connect.

It is important to prioritise human experience over design Matan said. There is a lack of connection and a lot of isolation.

Reinventing community planning would also be desirable so that people are involved from the very start and work together with planning experts. We need to make our cities work for 8 year olds and 80 year olds, because they are the most vulnerable groups in our society, so we need to plan for those groups.

Injecting fun in public spaces is also very important and telling the story of our citizens.

Mayor Brad Pettitt talked about Urban Density and Design for Sustainability in Fremantle which include allowing higher density in the CBD and beyond and sustainable transport.

After nearly forty years of development stagnation Fremantle is finally seeing substantial development with plans to have 5,000 more residents within walking distance of the train station.

We need to stop the unsustainable car dependent urban sprawl and Fremantle is helping with that with the creation of 1,679 new dwellings, 38,697 square metres of new retail and hospitality space, 44,061 sqm of office floor pace and 727 new hotel rooms, while also improving the public realm at Kings Square and Princess May Park.

It was a really interesting morning and I am glad I attended!

Roel Loopers

 

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NEW PUBLIC DEBATE ON ROE 8

 

 

The announcement by WA Premier Mark McGowan about the Fremantle High Street upgrade has resurrected the debate about the canceled Perth Freight Link and Roe 8 highway.

There have been quite a few letters in the West Australian in support of Roe 8 and the PFL and there was an opinion piece by Liza Harvey MLA, who was the deputy premier of the previous government under Colin Barnett.

It is very intriguing to note that Liza Harvey now suddenly writes there would be other options for the McGowan government to consider than going through the Beeliar wetlands. If that is the case, why did the former Liberal/National state government not consider those options but instead, and in spite, decided to start the demolition of the wetlands, although all the indications were that they would be kicked out of government. Liza Harvey’s hypocrisy is unbelievable.

Fact is also that the Perth Freight Link was not exclusively for freight and trucks, as some letter writers claim and that it actually did not go to Fremantle Port but finished at Stirling Highway. A part solution really was no solution. Ask North Freo residents!

The new plans are not ideal either as they don’t address pedestrian crossing adequately and while I do like roundabouts I don’t like that so many Perth motorists don’t seem to know how to use them, so that could become a problem.

Freight trucks have overturned in the past at the intersection of High Street and Stirling Highway because of taking the corner at excessive speed, a roundabout won’t fix that problem either.

A new outer harbour is still a very long way away and freight to the port will no doubt increase, so when is the state government going to address more freight by rail?

Roel Loopers

A NEW PORT OR A PIPE DREAM?

Posted in city of fremantle, fremantle ports, Uncategorized by freoview on November 20, 2017

 

The outer harbour forum at Fremantle Victoria Hall was an interesting event and the hall was packed full, so there is clearly strong community interest in finding solutions for a better way on how WA deals with freight and port related transport and issues.

I was impressed with the presentation of Nicole Lockwood, the independent chair of the newly created WESTPORT.

She said the Kwinana outer harbour and issues related with it would be one of the longest planning exercises in WA, as the outcome would be looking after the State’s freight for the next 50-100 years.

The reference group was very broad and inclusive and relied on participation, input and ideas from all levels of the industries, government departments and community.

It is about planning a modern port, land and transport plans, assessing commercial aspects, identifying industrial opportunities, and maximising compatibility.

There is huge land access at Kwinana and Bunbury that can be utilised.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said it was good to have a rational conversation on how to transition part of the port activity to Kwinana as there is an opportunity to rethink the south side of the harbour.

There needs to be a better port to city connection and either upgrade the passenger terminal or build a new one further west with better access to the city.

Pettitt said Fremantle Council wanted to keep Fremantle as a working port as long as possible.

Infrastructure advisor Cameron Edwards said WA needed to offer a competitive international product and that a new outer harbour would create significant value to pay off the State’s debt.

Fremantle Port was a ‘stranded asset’ and the rail link under-utilised. Kwinana would be able to handle much longer trains than Fremantle, where the maximum length is only 690 metres.

The creation of a large industrial park and special economic trading zone at Kwinana would stimulate the WA economy. Kwinana is where the money is and that has significant advantage, Edwards said.

Fremantle deserves world-class facilities and there are great examples around the world how well we can rejuvenate old ports.

A new port would create 18,000 new jobs while the status quo would not create any new jobs.

Professor Phil Jennings spoke at length about serious environmental problems in Cockburn Sound in the past and that there are still areas where seagrass is dying and the pollution is bad, but with proper conditions and management in place the outer harbour could be acceptable.

Professor Peter Newman said we should create Lithium Valley at Kwinana as we have already eight lithium mines in WA and it is a growth industry. We should not just be exporting our lithium though but build the batteries here in WA.

Nicole Lockwood said it was going to be a huge jigsaw puzzle and a dynamic exercise to understand the constraints and opportunities of a new outer harbour.

I walked away wondering how realistic all this is, as we just had Fremantle Port wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars planning for the sale of the port, now the new Labor government is changing that all around with absolutely no guarantee that a future Liberal government will not scrap the plans again.

The reality will be that the construction of an outer harbour will not start in the next ten years because Fremantle Port is not anywhere near capacity and WA is broke. The ‘overflow port’ won’t really be needed for another 15-20 years. 

Building lithium batteries in WA is highly unrealistic because labour costs here are far too high to be internationally competitive.

And keeping a working port at North Quay while developing Victoria Quay is unfortunately also unrealistic because of the buffer zones at the port and safety and security issues. That means there can’t be residential or hotel development, so all that could be done is commercial activity of retail and offices.

While strategic long-term planning for our state is important it is essential to be extremely realistic about what can be achieved and what will remain just another pipedream.

 

Roel Loopers

IT’S ALL ABOUT POPULATION FREO!

Posted in city of fremantle, lifestyle, living, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on September 27, 2017

 

There were calls at the South Fremantle election forum last night, and we have heard them before, that Fremantle should be like Copenhagen or Amsterdam when planning the future of transport, and that lightrail is a top priority for our city, but is this realistic?

Fremantle is not a European city, but a small port city on the west coast of Australia with a population of just 30,000. It would be considered a country town in Europe. Copenhagen had 583,525 residents and Amsterdam had 821,752 in 2015, so that is a significant and very important difference, because it is all about population numbers.

Shared streets are popular and safe in Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, etc. because of the sheer numbers. When you are in your car at a traffic light behind 200 cyclists there is no way that you are going to consider to sneak passed them. You just stay behind until they turn left or right, or onto a bicycle lane. It’s safety in numbers!

In Fremantle probably fewer than 100 cyclists a day ride through the Cappuccino Strip, and mostly on their own and not in numbers, so some idiot drivers will try to sneak by them, careful not to scratch their car on the planter boxes, so they are dangerously close to cyclists.

Lightrail is not a financially viable option in a city of just 30,000, so we need drastic population growth before the state government or private investors would consider it. It is at least 15-20 years away, like the outer harbour, no matter how often we dream about it.

But why the obsession with European cities anyway? Fremantle is a very unique small city that needs to be nurtured and be allowed to organically grow. It needs sensible and sensitive medium-density infill and strongly improve residential, commercial and visitors’ numbers to help boost our economy, but we’ll never be a huge city like the European cities, and I like that.

European cities have slowly grown, layer upon layer for many centuries and Freo is still relatively young at 188 years old in that regard. Fremantle’s population has only grown slightly from 20,444 residents in 1901 to just 30,000 in 2017, so fewer than 10,000 people in 116 years. And Aboriginal people were not counted in 1901!

Why do some people want to change Freo into a city with a European character, when it is a pretty comfortable place that just needs good adjustments, more eye to detail and a lot of TLC?

Fremantle is a tree that already has strong roots, but that needs some healthy fertiliser in the form of good development, population growth and strategic planning, and some of that has to come from state and federal governments.

We need to lose the inferiority complex and be proud of Freo. We should stop believing it needs to change to a more European model, because we are very different, with a very different climate and outdoor lifestyle, and not anywhere near as hectic as the big European cities are, and our population numbers do not stack up to compare Freo with Copenhagen or Amsterdam.

It is telling that Sirona Capital gets it! They have come to the conclusion that Fremantle is like no other place and that it needs an all new and exciting very Freo retail concept at Kings Square. FOMO does not exist anywhere else in the world and will help Freo’s reputation of having a unique character and lifestyle, and we can build on that.

Let’s assist in Freo’s growth by collaborating better. If we all take ownership of our city we can create something together for future generations that we can be very proud off!

 

Roel Loopers

VOTE ROEL FOR CITY WARD!

FREMANTLE LIGHTRAIL NOT A PIPE DREAM

Posted in city of fremantle, lightrail, transport, Uncategorized by freoview on June 25, 2017

 

How nice to hear local councils in the Fremantle area working together for a change, instead of viewing each other as competition.

They could not agree on local government reform, council amalgamations and the Roe 8 highway, but now the South West Group of Cockburn, Fremantle, Melville, Kwinana, East Fremantle and Rockingham are planning ahead together for light rail, according to a report in today’s Sunday Times.

A Fremantle to Murdoch lightrail corridor is a high priority according to the report, but also a loop with Rockingham and the coast.

There is no doubt in my opinion that lightrail from Fremantle to Rockingham would be used extensively by locals and tourists alike and connect the two cities.

The South West Group report also considers lightrail from Fremantle to Canning Bridge and linking Cockburn and Fremantle.

Long-term planning by local councils for lightrail and traffic corridors is essential to pin point where new residential and commercial development should be encouraged so that planing schemes can be introduced to accommodate that.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt told the Sunday Times that local councils had a role to play in planning transit systems as they would need to rezone areas for transport hubs.

Lightrail has been on Fremantle’s wish list for a long time but low residential figures make it difficult to build a sound business case for it. However the development boom in Fremantle and Cockburn and along to coast to Rockingham is starting to make lightrail a very good option for the not too distant future, and we need to plan for that now.

Roel Loopers

 

ROE 8 -ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Posted in beeliar wetlands, environment, fremantle, nature, perth freight link, roe 8 highway by freoview on January 11, 2017

 

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There is a call for a mass public action against the Roe 8 Highway and Barnett government this Thursday January 12 at the very early hour of 6 am. See details below as supplied by the organisers:

Join us this Thursday at Tait Place, Coolbellup near North Lake Road.
Park on Malvolio Rd and walk along the fence line.
Let’s tell Colin Barnett’s unaccountable government that – ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

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STOPPING PERTH FREIGHT LINK COSTS $ 1,1 BILLION

Posted in fremantle, fremantle ports, perth freight link, western australia by freoview on September 18, 2016

W.A. Transport Minister Dean Nalder, who yesterday resigned from Cabinet, has told the Sunday Times that Premier Colin Barnett’s decision not to go ahead with the Perth Freight Link tunnel between Stock Road and Strirling Highway would cost the state $ 1,1 billion.

In the “exclusive” by reporter Joe Spagnolo Nalder says “The Premier has instructed me not to proceed with the second phase, the Fremantle Tunnel, and only proceed with the Roe 8 section.”

The handling of the PFL at State and Federal level has been shambolic, as there are still no firm plans for the link to connect with Fremantle Port, although that is the initial reason for the project and funding from the Federal Government.

With the sale/49-year lease of Fremantle Port also still in limbo it looks like WA has been wasting a lot of money on two projects that might never proceed as the WA Labor Party will not go ahead with either of them should they win the election in March next years.

The finances of Western Australia are in an incredible mess due to wasteful spending by the Liberal/National party.

Roel Loopers

CLASHING FREMANTLE EVENTS VERY FRUSTRATING!

Posted in art, artists, city of fremantle, community, fremantle, parking, students, transport, western australia by freoview on September 6, 2016

One of the most annoying and frustrating issues for me in Fremantle is the lack of coordination of community events, as we miss out on good ones because they happen at the same day and at the same time.

The Fremantle Network has talks every first Tuesday of each month and there is Council involvement there, so why does Councillor Jon Strachan has an event exactly at the same time today?

The Fremantle Network at 6 pm today upstairs at the National Hotel presents speakers from Core Fremantle and Hot Soup which occupy space at the Queensgate building at Kings Square. They will be talking about the role of emerging artists and students in the ecology of the city.

At the same time today at 6 pm at The Meeting Place in South Fremantle Jon Strachan will tackle the challenging topic of Sustainable Transport and Parking in Fremantle and the big picture of emerging social and transport trends in Perth.

I want to go to both events, but that is not possible, so why on earth do we not coordinate events in Fremantle better? I suggested years ago for the City of Fremantle to set up a register where people can lodge their events, so they are aware of other events that might clash with theirs.

I am always extremely keen to hear the ideas and visions of the younger generations, but am also very interested in the traffic issues in and around Fremantle. Where to go?

Roel Loopers

UNDERWHELMING GREENS POLICY PRESENTATION

Posted in elections, fremantle, greens, politics, western autralia by freoview on May 24, 2016

 

The Fremantle GREENS party invited the true believers to the beautiful Victoria Hall on Monday night where Senators Rachel Siewert and Scott Ludlam did the presentation after a nervous introduction by Kate Davis, who is the candidate for the Federal seat of Fremantle.

The smell of fresh Eucalypt leaves and the sound of frogs and crickets welcomed the guests. How very Green.

It wasn’t the usual fat headline shouting political event, but a rather subdued, cool, professional and academic presentation of the GREENS ideas and policies for our future.

We heard about the significant increase of container movement at Fremantle Port from just 53,944 in 1971 to an estimated 700,000 in 2015 and were introduced to the “Budget Principles” such as Diversity the Green Economy, Raise the Revenue We Need, A Lifetime of Learning, Budget Should Reduce Inequality, Right to Social Security, Designing the Future, Clean Energy by 2030, Transit City, Building Urban Forrest, etc.

The speakers said they wanted meaningful conversations with the people during this election and that the GREENS‘ vision is bold, courageous and possible, but for me they did not get that message across.

Scott Ludlam did most of the talking but he did it without his usual passion and was rather subdued. The presentation was so understated that it became underwhelming and uninspiring, and I left undecided and not sure what I would write about.

The GREENS invited all their followers to bring at least four friends to the major event Perth-Wadjuk Country at His Majesty’s on June 2 at 6.30 pm and I suggest they’ll make it less academic and more passionate so people will leave inspired and full of hope.

Roel Loopers

 

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PERTH FREIGHT LINK TUNNEL PROTEST

Posted in community, fremantle, perth freight link by freoview on April 12, 2016

 

A good crowd and the TV media turned up on very short notice at Bibra Lake this morning to protest about the Federal Government’s increased funding for a tunnel for the Perth Freight Link that is supposed to make freight access to Fremantle Port faster.

And the politicians turned up in droves as well, after all there are a couple of elections ahead. The Greens were represented by federal leader Richard Di Natale and Scott Ludlam, Rachel Siewert and Kate Davis, while the Labor party had Melissa Parke and Simone McGurk there.

Fremantle Council was represented by Mayor Brad Pettitt, deputy Mayor Josh Wilson and Councillors Rachel Pemberton and Dave Hume.

It is an interesting thought bubble process by the WA State and Federal governments as no one has any idea how the freight link will be connected to Fremantle Port from Stirling Highway. Stage 1 is also still waiting for new EPA approval and a challenge in court against the Supreme Court ruling. This means we would be building a very expensive Stage 2 without knowing if Stage 1 through the wetlands will get approval and how Stage 3 will be resolved. I don’t believe that is good governance or good professional planning.

Roel Loopers

 

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