Freo's View



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 fremantle by freoview on September 1, 2014

I listened to UK filmmaker David Bond of Project Wild Thing in an interview on ABC radio Conversations this morning just before noon. I only tuned in late in the program but even those 15 minutes were well worth listening to.

David has just made a film on how to connect city kids with nature again and get them to play outside more, rather than sitting inside at the computer or XBox.

Wild time is free and it is good for parents and children. Cities need to build more green corridors where kids can roam in and have a sense of independence and freedom away from parents, Bond said.

“I told my children to get to know strangers because they are amazing and we learn so much from others” Parents are too paranoid about stranger danger and kids’ safety, and need to learn to trust and relax more.

In the United Kingdom developers now build playgrounds in basements of highrise apartments to make kids safer. That is crazy!

David Bond also said that councils should make residential areas pedestrian priority where motor vehicles and bicycles have to give way to pedestrians.

That makes all a lot of sense to me. As David said “we create wildlife corridors but not green corridors for children.”

Roel Loopers



Posted in fremantle by freoview on May 25, 2014

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The filming of an episode for the Time Walks series by British TV personality Tony Robinson for the History Channel attracted a large crowd to the Fremantle Army Barracks and Museum. Over a thousand queued up outside the complex because the start was delayed by over 20 minutes, but they were keen to see Tony and show their historic war treasures, so no one complaint.

People brought their memorabilia; old photos, medals, a swag, a bugle, etc. while Robinson made a memorable entry on an armed vehicle.

Roel Loopers



Posted in fremantle by freoview on August 12, 2013

Fremantle Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt reports on his blog that British Planning Minister Nick Boles wants empty retail shops to be converted to residential occupation, which without a doubt would change the character of our so called ‘High Streets’ shopping streets. I believe it is a very sensible idea that would have advantages for the inner city of Fremantle.

The great thing about mixing retail with residential is 24 hour a day occupation of premises that results in passive/active observation, which would enhance security and safety in our city. It would maybe also open up new thinking for new development and in a way go back to the ‘good old times’ when people lived behind or above their shops.

Like my sisters and brother I was born behind the tobacconist shop of my parents in the Netherlands. The children’s bedroom had a window that looked down into the shop and from early age on we helped out in the shop, which grew into a small corner shop selling magazines, soft drinks, etc. The shops and their operators were part of the community, not just places that open from 9-5 and where staff commute back to the suburbs they live in. Shoppers were our neighbours and friends and people on their way to the hospital in our street.

There was a butcher, grocery, bakery, printer, chemist, library, bookbinder and other shops, and most owners lived above or behind them.

It makes sense for residential to be mixed with retail and it is something our state and city planners should have a good look at. It would be very Freo and enhance our sense of community!

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on July 14, 2013

Good urban planning and public open spaces with a lot of green soft surface are issues I am passionate about for Fremantle. I wished we had a percentage for green public open space in our planning laws, so that when developers build significant buildings they would have to create a certain area of public open space with it.

Recently Fremantle has been divided about the City of Fremantle minimising our green spaces with the Esplanade skate park and the planned basketball courts at Wilson Park in South Fremantle. There have also been suggestions to build on Pioneer Park opposite the railway station, while adding grass to the Bathers Beach Old Port Project has been rejected by council.

I don’t believe that climate change should become an excuse for no longer creating new grassed areas, we will just have to find smarter ways of watering them, through grey and recycled water, because the cost of not having sufficient green spaces in our inner city would be detrimental to the wellbeing of our community according to a recent English study.

An article in the British Psychological Science magazine reports that parks, gardens and green space in urban areas can improve the wellbeing and quality of life of people living there, according to a University of Exeter study. The findings could help to inform urban planners and have an impact on society at large, they said.

Using data from 5,000 UK households over 17 years, researchers found that living in a greener area had a significant positive effect.

The European Centre for the Environment and Human Health found that individuals reported less mental distress and higher life satisfaction when they were living in greener areas. They found that living in an urban area with relatively high levels of green space can have a significantly positive impact on wellbeing.

The research could be important for psychologists, public health officials and urban planners who are interested in learning about the effects that urbanisation and city planning can have on population health and wellbeing.

These studies are relevant to the future of Fremantle and should be taking into account by our elected members and planning officers. More green is good for us. It makes us happy and more relaxed.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on April 10, 2013

Why write a blog post about Margaret Thatcher on a Fremantle blog? Freo’s View is very much about people and humanity and when I watched the news last evening I was disgusted to see people celebrate the death of this woman. I never liked Margaret Thatcher when she was Prime Minister of England, because of her right-wing policies, but she was prepared to stand up for her country and try to make a difference. At least she should be respected for that no matter if one agreed with her policies or not.

I dislike it that we often make saints out of mediocre people at their funerals because death makes us forget the bad things they did, but to celebrate the death of a person the way a large group of English people did in public yesterday is unbecoming. To see a mob of people chanting, dancing, and drinking champagne because an old woman died, a woman who had not been part of English politics for years and who had dementia, is disgraceful and pathetic. May she rest in peace.

Roel Loopers


Posted in fremantle by freoview on June 11, 2012

Fremantle still-life artistNellie Crawford, who works from a studio in the West End, will have her 5th exhibition in the UK later this month.  The exhibition commences 30th June at the 15th century Priory Gallery in Broadway, a delightful town in the Cotswolds, known for its galleries.

Husband Bob Crawford (who works from his own workshop in West End) hand-makes all the frames.

Nellie is now busy preparing for her next exhibition at Gallows Gallery in Mosman Park in November, followed by an exhibition in Singapore in 2013.

Roel Loopers

still-life by Nellie Crawford


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