Freo's View


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, planning, Uncategorized by freoview on March 14, 2018


There is a big conundrum about development in Fremantle and elsewhere. The difficult question about urban infill in older character places is how much, how big, how high, how good, what kind of and when to stop.

We are getting very confusing messages from people, with many moving from WA to Melbourne because it is so European, whatever that means, while I read that many people in Sydney want to move out and go to Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane because Sydney is getting too big, traffic too mad and property prices too high.

Feedback from tourists is that most of them love Fremantle but are not impressed with the bland mediocrity of many of the new buildings in Perth, while they adore Freo’s gorgeous heritage West End.

What is good and appropriate development for Fremantle and how much is needed? We can forever argue about what we like or not but for example the development of the dormant Henderson Street in connection with that of Kings Square and the future development of Fremantle Oval is a good thing I believe.

One can rightly question though if the massive planned Woolstores shopping centre development and the eight-storey Little Lane on the Spotlight site are just a bit too much for Fremantle and overkill.

Does Fremantle need more highrise apartment buildings or should is start encouraging micro lots of around 100sqm for terrace housing/townhouses, that would suit our inner city much better.

I believe it is all about balance, but developers and city and state planners are not getting the right mix in my opinion.

I left Sydney in 1985 because real estate was simply unaffordable there while house prices in Perth were very cheap then, and it looks like this is still going on, although Fremantle is relatively expensive to move to.

It is time the WA state government organised a symposium on how much and what kind of development is needed, so that it can give better guidance to developers and local councils and its own JDAP and SAT.

It is imperative to show real respect for character cities like Fremantle, Subiaco and others and develop with restraint. To keep pushing for urban infill when the targets might be unrealistic will be detrimental to the uniqueness of our heritage cities.

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, real estate, Uncategorized by freoview on March 6, 2018




I spoke with an always thoughtful Fremantle resident at the South Ward candidate forum last week, who was very concerned that the glut of new development in the CBD is threatening the Freo lifestyle we all love.

The man, who has lived in Fremantle for a very long time, is not against development or higher density but feels that it is all happening too fast and I kind of agree with him.

There is a massing of apartment development that is rationally and emotionally hard to accept for many in the community, because it needs a longer and slower period to getting used to the new modern Fremantle. People are concerned that it seems to be happening too fast and over night, and that worries those who love the laid back lifestyle in Fremantle.

The tsunami of residential apartments is like a huge wave that threatens to drown that special and unique Freo lifestyle.

You won’t get an argument from me that we need more people living and working in Fremantle and more visitors to stay overnight in hotels to boost our local economy, but it needs to be done more deliberately because we seem to be getting more of the same and not the required variety of development to encourage diversity.

I agree with restrained and targeted urban infill because the urban sprawl clearly can’t go on indefinitely, but the pace of it in Fremantle needs to be slowed down. Urban infill needs to be better spread around the councils. Mosman Park and other western suburbs do very little to fill the government set infill targets while Fremantle is in a mad rush to change the special character of the old city irreversibly in the hope that it will rejuvenate and activate our city.

There is a lack of diversity in the new planned development that will not attract many families. Why don’t developers also offer 2-3 storey townhouses in the residential mix in our CBD? Imagine, instead of a four storey carpark, the Woolstores development had a row of 3-4 storey townhouses along Cantonmment Street between the two bookend highrise buildings

Life is all about balance and while Fremantle Council has done very well to attract development, we are just not getting the right mix and the desired outstanding architectural quality.

We are now on the road to modernisation so let’s stop behaving like beggars and accept just about anything developers propose. Fremantle needs quality and diverse development in the inner city, not just a wave of small apartments in ugly high buildings!

Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, lifestyle, living, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on February 26, 2018


The issues Fremantle faces with urban infill, demanded by the State Government, are not unique to our city as an editorial by POST community newspapers editor Brett Christian shows.

Claremont residents are up in arms against proposed high density near the Loch Street train station. Christian writes “Distress in voices heard in the council chamber revealed the anxiety felt by home owners selected for high density infill.”

“These are real people with real fears who cannot be dismissed as being NIMBYs.”

Brett Christian says that the WA Government is keen to forcibly cram more housing units around transport hubs, which leads to permanent changes in the lifestyle.

The editor writes that Government planners naively believe that new residents will abandon their cars and use public transport when evidence proves the opposite.

Let me note here that public transport use in Perth has dramatically decreased over the last years and that only a very small percentage of those living within a ten minute walk from a railway station do use the train to work, according to government figures.

Christian rightly laments that local councils are being caught in the middle of the infill mess created by the state.

In Fremantle we are getting more and more inappropriate and unacceptable high rise development that will change the unique character of our city forever.

Yes, we need more people living, working and staying here to boost our local economy, but any development needs to show sincere consideration for the heritage, streetscapes and amenity, and that is not happening.

Fremantle Council has done well to encourage substantial development but it now needs to scale back and stop approving mediocre architecture in our inner city.

Tell developers and architects that if building proposals are not exceptional and great they are not good enough for Freo!

Roel Loopers




Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on February 21, 2018


DEFENDING PUBLIC SPACES WA has just posted the outcome of a court case on Facebook that is significant to other communities, such as Fremantle, where significant urban infill is happening. Here the essential part of the media release:

Once again two individual rate payers have won their bid in the WA Court of Appeal to correct errors made by a Development Assessment Panel (JDAP) in Western Australia. Karyl Nairn and Ric Hawley succeeded today in overturning another erroneous decision by a JDAP to approve a non-compliant planning application for the site at 74 Mill Point Road in South Perth’s Peninsula.

The WA Court of Appeal today (20/02/2018) issued its judgment in respect of planning approval granted last year at 74 Mill Point Road for a 34 storey tower block. The development application by Edge Developments was strongly opposed by local residents, including on the two grounds which the Court of Appeal has upheld and which a majority of members of the JDAP ignored.

The Court found that the JDAP misapprehended or disregarded the limits of its function under the scheme and took into account an irrelevant consideration. Importantly, the Court also held that the JDAP was wrong to rely on its own previous unlawful approvals of other very high towers in South Perth as a justification for approving new high rise developments.

Consequently, the JDAP exceeded its jurisdiction and the Court quashed its approval.



Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on January 13, 2018


I came across an article published in September 2017 in The Conversation  by internationally renowned Perth city planner and architect Linley Lutton, who sadly died this week, and want to share some of Linley’s thoughts with you.

Lutton writes that retrofitting cities is poor planning, justified in the name of sustainability, and that the results are often substandard living environments that show no relationship to local content.

The dispersed city form means we have to work, sleep, shop and socialise in different parts of the city.

High-density living works well where streets are at human scale, buildings  are interesting and where there are plenty of public meeting spaces, but in Australia we build jam-packed home units with minimal public open space, Linley Lutton says.

That is the failure to understand the unique qualities of Australian culture and how people choose to live.

Lutton writes that recent research shows that the great majority of Australians reject apartment living and that the majority of those living in an apartment would not repeat the experience.

It is seriously questionable to randomly subjecting suburbs to high-rise apartments, and so is the public transport corridor argument, or building infill near suburban railway stations.

Public transport only works if people actually use it, but Bureau of Statistics figures show that in Perth less than 10% of those living within walking distance of a train station actually travel to work by train.

Linley Lutton writes that there are three essential requirements of a good city:

  • Cities must nurture and stimulate healthy human growth and community development.
  • Local communities must meaningful participate in city planning.
  • The unique cultural and physical context of a city must be respected.


These are all very important points to consider for Fremantle Council for its strategic infill targets and the introduction of buildings that are too high for our human-scale character city!

The funeral of Linley Lutton, a man I greatly respect and like, will be held this Monday January 15 at 3.30 pm at the Karrakatta Cemetery.


Roel Loopers



Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on November 2, 2017


There was an interesting article on the property pages of the WEST AUSTRALIAN yesterday by senior architect Carmel van Ruth of the Office of the WA Government Architect about how good design is the foundation of infill development.

Van Ruth argues that urban infill has a significant impact on the public realm and the surrounding communities and needs to deliver improved site-specific outcomes.

I have been concerned for a long time that the importance of site-specific architecture in Fremantle and other character suburbs is something that seems to be lost on most developers and architects/designers, who just want to build something that might look good in Joondalup or Midland, but has no place in Fremantle. That attitude needs to change to guarantee we get outstanding modern Freo-specific architecture in Fremantle.

Innovative solutions will ensure that developers will receive discretionary addition height concessions from councils, van Ruth writes, and I believe Fremantle Council should have stricter rules for discretionary height.

Only really exceptional architecture should receive a reward in height for developers and will make them aware that only excellent design will be a win for the community and for them.

Van Ruth also writes that it requires skilled architects who understand the significance of infill development to get the desired outcomes. I totally agree with her, as the Fremantle example of poor architecture for development proposals is not acceptable.


Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on October 20, 2017


The Perth’s Infill Housing Future report by the Bankwest Curtin Economic Centre has warned that the urban sprawl will create extreme infrastructure costs and traffic congestion.

It concluded that Perth is missing the vital medium-density housing options, and that forces people to live on the fringes, where property is more affordable.

There are many people who want to live closer to the centres but the housing options are not available to them, because the urban infill target of 47 per cent set by the WA government has not been met and is only at 35 per cent.

The report says that local councils play a key role in facilitating medium-density development and to help identify the right areas in the inner suburbs.

While Fremantle is getting substantial medium-density infill east of the CBD, there is not much happening further out, but there are very good opportunities at the Heart of Beaconsfield, Hilton centre, the Knutsford Sreet precinct, and North Fremantle’s McGabe Street.

One issue the report identifies is the NIMBY approach to higher density where locals just don’t want anything above four storeys. I believe it is not only that, but the boring and mediocre quality of architecture that we are getting in Fremantle.

More people would embrace medium to high density I believe, if we got more creative and visually appealing buildings, rather than square boxes with a bit of cladding around them.


Roel Loopers

Vote Roel for City Ward!



Posted in city of fremantle, development, kings square, Uncategorized by freoview on August 31, 2017



The fence maze at Fremantle’s Kings Square already looks a whole lot better with the promo wording on it.

Also good to see BID putting signs up so people know where to park during the construction, and the City of Fremantle will also put up wayfinding signs in the area.

In this context I sent the letter below to the West Australia in response to an article they published today about the former Subiaco market site:

As a Fremantle resident I find Gareth Parker’s opinion piece on the development plans for the Subiaco Market, and the opposition by its council very interesting.

While 16 storeys for the market site are probably excessive, it is important that councils do find a middle ground to assist urban infill.

In contrast to Subiaco the Fremantle Council has actively promoted Fremantle as a pro development destination over the last eight years. That has now resulted in unprecedented development in our port city for forty years.

The Kings Square Project that starts this month is the biggest development ever seen in Fremantle, and the Woolstores shopping centre site will also soon be developed into a nine storey hotel, student accommodation and commercial spaces.

Not all development we are getting in Freo is outstanding, but at least most of it is in the run down east of the inner city and does not severely impact on the heritage character of the West End.

Fremantle, like Subiaco, had been stagnant for years, our traders are struggling and there are too many shop vacancies, but that will all be turned around through massive development and more people living and working in the CBD, and more tourists being able to stay overnight in new hotels.

Future focussed planning is essential and where Subi Council failed Fremantle Council excelled. There are lessons to be learned here for other councils.


Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, Uncategorized by freoview on August 30, 2017


Fremantle LIV Defence Housing apartment development seen from Quarry Street.


There is an interesting article about urban infill in the West Australian today by the president of the Property Council of WA Tanya Trevisan.

Trevisan reports and reflects on a recent collaborative study by the PCA, Curtin University and CODA architects.

The study found that if the state’s infill target was increased from 47 per cent to 60 per cent, WA could save $ 23 billion by 2050.

According to the report supplying infrastructure to greenfield development costs up to three times more than urban infill development.

Tanya Trevisan argues that urban infill, when done well, offers balanced and diversity of housing. She writes that infill creates stronger communities and maximises the effectiveness of existing infill.

There is no doubt for me that the Perth urban sprawl is not sustainable and the Great Australian Dream of one’s own house with front and back garden can’t be sustained in our fast-growing city.

However, due to the mining bust, thousands of people have left the state, and fewer move or migrate to W.A. so our need for extensive residential development is also diminishing for the time being.

There have been serious social issues around the world with high-density living, so not all is good.

I believe there is also the need for new public transport nodes outside the inner character cities, because inner city living is often too expensive for those on lower income, students, etc. Building medium to high density in some outer pockets, where good public transport is provided, is essential as we can’t just stuff our unique centres with large concrete boxes, and destroy their character.

Tomorrow evening at 5.30 there is a Housing Forum at the Moore&Moore cafe in Freo’s Henry Street, so check it out!


Roel Loopers


Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, kings square, Uncategorized by freoview on July 22, 2017


There is a bit of ambiguity in this little snippet of the invitation to a Kings Square information session by the FRRAemantle Society.

“The Fremantle Society has from day one expressed concern at the King’s Square Business Plan. That and the flawed King’s Square Urban Design Study by CODA architects have set the parameters for large buildings insensitive to the scale of the historic human scale of Fremantle, the nearby World Heritage listed Fremantle Prison, turning King’s Square into King’s Triangle.” 

It was not the CODA Kings Square Urban Design Study that set the parameters for medium-rise buildings at Kings Square, but Planning Scheme Amendment 49, approved by the Minister in 2012.

PSA 49 identified 13 sites in the Fremantle CBD for high density infill. One site will become the Hilton Doubletree development, the Woolstores shopping centre site is another one, and Kings Square is also one of the PSA 49 sites.

Some of the historic woolstores in Fremantle are well above the “human scale” we constantly hear the Fremantle Society talking about, and the Townhall probably would not have been approved because of its height if FS had had anything to say about it.

The medium-rise Kings Square development will have no impact whatsoever on Fremantle Prison.

The lament about Kings Square being changed into two triangles is tedious, as in 1881 High Street was extended through the square, so two triangles were created then. One triangle belongs to St John’s church, the other triangle is City of Fremantle.

Only in 1960 was High Street closed and the square returned to a square, but the High Street road reserve still exists and St John’s church still own half of the square, realistically making it into two triangles.

Even now some traders in the West End want to reopen High Street through Kings Square to help their struggling businesses, but I hope that will never happen.

High density infill is a State Government requirement, and the near derelict condition of the city east of Kings Square will only benefit from substantial development, that will greatly help improve the retail and hospitality economy in our city.

Nothing is constant in life. The world changes, Fremantle progresses and modernises, and that is a good thing. We don’t live in a museum, but in a living, breathing space full of energy, innovation, change, creativity, and after 40 years of stagnation and hibernation, finally development!

What we need to be far more concerned about than the Kings Square Project and development in the East End is the relentless push by developers to get extra height in the historic West End of the city. That is not acceptable and needs to be stopped!

Roel Loopers

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