Freo's View


Posted in Uncategorized by freoview on September 6, 2020



WA Premier Mark McGowan said at the breaking of soil ceremony at a massive Subiaco development that he wished the Western Suburbs would embrace highrise the way his hometown Rockingham has. I don’t assume that Fremantle is classy enough to be called one of the Western Suburbs, but have little doubt we were included in the Premier’s sentiment and that made for a sleepless night, where I contemplated the State Government’s demand for urban infill and high density living, especially in older suburbs along transport corridors. That was apparently not applicable for Midland where the Midland Redevelopment Authority could have created a highrise satellite city just 35 minutes away by train from Perth, without doing much damage to the public realm.

Dare I mention that the Premier, like many supporters of urban infill, does not live in an apartment but in a nice house with garden, but that is just a small reward for living in a place where other-strange-people live, where the ugly mullet is a lifestyle statement, where bogans roam and where there are more street fights on a Friday night than in notorious Northbridge during a year.

Why is there expectation that unique character suburbs, such as Fremantle, Subiaco, etc. embrace high density urban infill, but not for the new suburbs to the far north, east and south?

And that guided my tired brain to the whole tedious and frustrating planning process that makes developers and architects angry, because it creates lengthy delays. An architect I bumped into on Friday told me a project they are working on has already been five times before a Design Advisory Panel of a local council, but the DAP only meets once a month, so the project is already delayed by five months. Once the DAP ticks it off it still will need to go to the planning committee and full council, where elected members will also want to have their two bob’s worth, with possible deferrals, changes, etc. So with a bit of luck the project gets planning approval within a year. That is unacceptably long!

That brings me to the Design Advisory Panels peer reviews, which are professional ego clashes, where DAP architects patronise equally, often better, qualified architects and tell them how to improve their planned buildings. That is also done by council’s planning staff, elected members, Joint Development Assessment Panels, and it means that the micro-managed projects have often a worse outcome instead of a best outcome.

For cynics planning approval must look to be self-serving, because it keeps planning staff in the job and creates a nice bit of extra income for the highly-paid DAP members, so any suggested or demanded change is good, because the plans need to be modified and again debated during long talk fests.

In the creative professions hardly anyone ever agrees with another professional. Give ten architects the same brief and they will all come up with totally different designs, and each one of them will believe their design is the best and most suitable. The same applies to photographers, graphic designers, copywriters, musicians and artists, hence the Fremantle Society will always find some architects who will slam a new planning proposal as inadequate or inappropriate. That is also why discretionary additional height, based on design excellence, does not work, because it is a subjective process about taste. How do we quantify and define what excellent design and good architecture is? Whose taste is better than others?

The State Government, as part of their Covid-19 Recovery Plan, wants to fast forward the planning process and take some of the powers away from local governments. That does not guarantee best outcomes either, because JDAPs are often pro developers and a lot less about creating great communities and public realms.

There need to be better and faster ways to create better-BEST-outcomes, especially for older unique cities like Fremantle! Any realistic and pragmatic suggestions?

Roel Loopers

PS. I like Rockingham. More precisely, I like the few hundred metres of foreshore boardwalk with the lovely cafes, restaurants and bars near the jetty. And I like it because Mister 91%, Mark-Rocky-McGowan, our Covid warrior lives there. ;>))





Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, lifestyle, living, Uncategorized by freoview on May 27, 2020





There is more good development news for Fremantle, with neighbours of the former Energy Museum site at Parry Street receiving information from the Match Group that the M/27 apartment building construction will start soon.

The four-storey building, facing Fremantle Park, will have forty 1,2 and 3 bedroom apartments, and only a few are still available.

This is a very welcome development in the east of the Fremantle CBD that will help the activation of the area.

In that context it is interesting to read the opinion of Peter Hobbs, WA president of the Institute of Australian Architects in the West Australian this morning.

Hobbs advocates for more three to five-storey buildings to achieve the urban infill density, instead of highrise buildings. Read the article on page 50 of the West!

Roel Loopers





From The Australian


The news that the NSW government is drafting amendments to the legislation to ban property developers, real estate agents, and their associates from being elected to local councils is rather outrageous and most likely unconstitutional. No surprise though that there are people in WA who believe we should introduce it here as well

Since when did these professions become illegal activities and make those professionals not proper enough to stand for local government, and why should we stop there? Maybe make architects and builders also the enemies of the community and ban them as well, or anyone who migrated, people from foreign cultures, people who are not blonde and blue-eyed, or just anyone we disagree with.

Real estate agents and developers have the same human rights to vote and be elected as everyone else in our country. As far as I know even outlawed bikies could be elected on local councils or other forms of government.

It is rather remarkable that a government wants to ban those people who invest in developing our communities, because governments have neither the means nor the commitment to build new urban infill and outer suburbs, so why should those who do that not be part of the decision making?

Fremantle had two solid Councillors in Bill Massey and John Alberti, who both are real estate agents, and from my observation neither of them ever abused that position for personal gain. Councillors have the duty to declare a conflict of interest and are excused from participating in the debate and voting when they do so, so there is no reason to ban the professions the NSW government wants to exclude.

It is extremely dangerous to start banning law-abiding people from being elected to government. It is fascism really.

Roel Loopers



There was an interesting panel discussion NO FIXED ADDRESS, to discuss the importance of social housing and building diversity in our urban centres, in the lovely courtyard of DADAA in Fremantle’s Princes May Park, last night with Dr. Mariana Atkins, Research Associate Professor, The Centre for Social Impact, University of Western Australia and the UWA Living Lab, Dr Holly Farley, Research Fellow, Fremantle School of Architecture, The University of Notre Dame Australia, Dr. Shane Greive, Urban and Regional Planning, School of Design and Built Environment, Curtin University, Michael Piu (CEO, St Patrick’s Community Support Centre), and  Heather Thompson (Senior Assertive Outreach Worker, 20 Lives 20 Homes Program, St Patrick’s Community Support Centre).  It was facilitated by Lisette Kaleveld, Senior Consultant, The Centre for Social Impact, University of Western Australia.

Changing cityscapes are inevitable with urban infill making places such as Fremantle desirable, especially since most of the services are provided in town, and that attracts a diversity of people, including homeless ones, and those who require social and affordable housing, but we are not designing and building for that diversity and the needs of individuals. Not many local governments have the capacity and desire to change with the times, so how do you design a city for all?

People want to be connected, be in contact with nature and there is a real disconnect there, so we need to bring the community on board because it is about the collective, not individuals. To do that we need to start understanding the history of Australia and the values, and where we want to go. We need to understand the diverse perspective, and need to learn to understand the different realities. Design should not be about excluding people!

Homelessness is nothing new and has been around for decades, so the whole community needs to own the issues and solutions, but there is a lack of value judgement. It is a fallacy that homeless people are in control of their own future! We all are only a few steps away from homelessness and if we come together the solutions are in our own hands. Start a conversation and humanise the issue!

A social worker said she had met some of the most amazing, caring and resilient people one would like to meet.

Architects and developers need to start actively listen to everybody’s stories from a design perspective. Bring the focus of development back to the people! We need a change of mindset there, as the next generation of home buyers can’t afford to buy the homes of the present generation. Inter-generational housing is not available, the housing options are not there.

There is huge value in diversity in a community, and we don’t want people with similar social/financial issues all living together, there needs to be a mix and we need to understand what home means for different people. Public housing often results in people failing because of the wrong set up and location and the lack of support. For some community housing or a boarding house is better because they don’t have to look after paying bills and connect with others. Community housing is more flexible.

There is also an interesting small exhibition in the DADAA gallery, so go and have a look at it!


We don’t build communities, we build spaces where people are alone, spaces of loneliness, because at the lower end of the apartment market there are no community spaces where people can connect. There are no swimming pools, gyms, roof gardens, etc. We build highrise along transit corridors, instead of building them around green open spaces where people can meet and play.

There are tens of thousands of single middle aged and older women and men who have no social life because they can no longer afford to go to pubs, concerts, festivals, theatres, etc. where they used to connect with friends and meet new people. They don’t meet anyone and get isolated. High density living does not cater for that by providing community spaces. Many single people live in a small box with no communical spaces where they can meet their neighbours and make new friends that way.

Roel Loopers



Now that we are nearing the end of the year, and the end of the decade, it is good to reflect on Fremantle’s progress and opportunities.

While other councils refused to accept the State Government’s direction of higher density infill Fremantle Council was more realistic about the fact that urban infill is necessary because the urban sprawl won’t be sustainable.

Fremantle introduced new planning schemes that encouraged developers to invest in Freo, especially the CBD, and it worked with Sirona Capital on the much-needed modernisation of Kings Square that will see many more people working in the city centre from early next year.

It took a while until developers saw the unique opportunities to build in Fremantle, but they came and we saw the Heirloom and LIV residential apartments being built, plans approved for the Little Lane residential development on the former Spotlight site, redevelopment of the Manning building and the Atwell Arcade office building, plans approved for the development and hotel on the former Police&Justice complex in Henderson Street, the start of the Warders Cottages hotel and tavern development, and new hotel plans will soon be approved for the Woolstores shopping centre site.

Plans have also been approved for a wood frame commercial development in High Street, just east of Kings Square, and we are still waiting for the Match group to start on the development of the former Energy Museum, and for the SKS Group to finally commence the Hilton Doubletree hotel building in Point Street.

The residential development of the former Workers Club in Henry Street is nearing completion, there is substantial development in the Knutsford Street area, and there is development in South Fremantle.

Top that with the Freo Social and Old Synagogue attractions and big plans for the Fishing Boat Harbour and no one can argue that Fremantle has not positioned itself very well for an exciting future that embraces old and new, and low and medium high buildings.

Already the second part of this year Fremantle has seen an increase in visitors and there is little doubt that the new FOMO retail and hospitality precinct, with supermarket, at Kings Square will become an attraction, and the four new hotels will create the 24/7 activation of the CBD that is badly needed.

When one compares Fremantle with Subiaco, where council has been reluctant to embrace urban infill, and have now been told by Planning Minister Rita Safiotti that they will have to approve buildings of up to 20 storeys near the train station, one has to be grateful that Fremantle Council took our city’s destiny in their own hands and kept building heights to a more Freo-friendly level. Future Fremantle Councils will need to start planning for a port city without a container port, as there is little doubt that the Westport Taskforce will recommend to the State Government a relocation of the port to Kwinana.

There is sometimes fair criticism about the architectural quality of buildings, but that is an issue that needs to be addressed at State level, and I am not alone to wish for a bit more colour in our city, instead of the drab colours we have been getting.

I honestly believe that Freo’s future is great and that we all have a lot to look forward to. Anti development sentiments constantly expressed by a few people who are disgruntled with Fremantle Council are not very helpful. Fremantle needs to grow to prosper!

Happy New Year!


Roel Loopers

PS and former North Fremantle Councillor Rob Fittock chastised me rightly for not mentioning the Leighton Beach and other development in North Freo. Mea Culpa!



Bulk and height in a suburban environment created unhappy neighbours for a proposal in Beaconsfield at the Fremantle Planning Committee last evening.

The proponents want to build two storey grouped dwellings in Cadd Street, Beaconsfield with vehicle parking access through the Milky Way laneway, but neighbours and Councillors were not impressed.

It was suggested that the height could be reduced with deeper excavation of the soil as the block is on a significant slope.

One neighbour said since he has lived in the street the tree canopy had been reduced significantly because of clear felling required for the Mc Mansions built in the suburban street.

Councillor Dave Hume questioned if the building was too big for the block and said he would want the building height to be lowered to make it acceptable, and Councillor Jeff McDonald agreed and said although the height had been adjusted it was still too high.

Mayor Brad Pettitt said he was still struggling with the proposal as it was a very large-scale development, and Councillor Adin Lang said he was not satisfied with the height and impact on the neighbours. Councillor Ingrid Waltham said she could not support the application as there were a whole ranges of issues with which she was not satisfied.

The Planning Committee voted 5-2 against the proposal, which will have to go to Ordinary Council, but a motion was then put after the vote to recommend the proponents make changes, especially to the height, of the building, so that they might have a better chance of getting it approved.

Roel Loopers





The Town of East Fremantle has published a draft vision report for the East Fremantle Oval Precinct Revitalisation Project.

See it all here:



The precinct should be revitalised

A community and sporting space that is open to all

An inter-generational, inter-connected open space

A sporting precinct – with or without WAFL games

Preference to retain the entire precinct as a Class A Reserve

Affordable and equitable revitalisation with multiple funding options

Improve physical and visual accessibility into the precinct

Create shared facilities that meet the needs of clubs and community

Preference to retain the social heritage of existing clubs

Maximise use of existing areas, and better utilise underused space


There are two vision concepts with Vision Concept 1 Opening The Park, which supports to retain the current functional arrangements on site with the least/minimal intervention and extensive landscaping.

Vision Concept 2 Community Hub, supports the oval as a community hub in the heart of the precinct, surrounded by parklands which maximise connectivity, and visual aesthetic to all boundaries.

East Fremantle Council has stated it prefers the East Fremantle Football Club to stay at the oval and not as was flagged move to  Fremantle Oval and share facilities and playing ground with the South Fremantle Football Club.

Roel Loopers





WA Planning Minister Rita Saffioti has released stage one of DESIGN WA, the guidelines to improve the quality of urban infill.

One of the most heard complaints in Fremantle and all over the suburbs is the mediocre design of most of the new residential apartment and other buildings in our character cities, but planning rules and even design advisory panels have had little impact on improving the architecture and streetscapes, this will hopefully now improve, depending on how strict and strong the new policy can be enforced by local councils, JDAP, SAT and the WAPC.

Rita Saffioti’s statements says:

Design WA includes clearly defined objectives about what future developments should consider, and includes it in the revised Residential Design Codes. Objectives include:

  • Appropriate scale to respect the local character and context;
  • Minimum apartment sizes based on floor space and number of rooms;
  • Safe, healthy environments with good natural light and ventilation;
  • Development that creates walkable neighbourhoods with high amenity;
  • Green space such as shady trees for outdoor spaces and mature tree retention; and
  • Development that enhances local neighbourhoods. 

The policy will come into affect soon, on May 24, 2019, so that is a good thing.

One thing I have been wondering about is why urban infill and medium/high density buildings are demanded in older suburbs by the State Government but not in brand-new suburbs which are developed near public transport corridors. That makes no sense to me.

Roel Loopers



I have been contemplating what the memorable moments in Fremantle were for me this year, so let’s make a start.

  • The Kings Square Redevelopment Project is no doubt the most significant one in decades for our city, so I walk by daily to have a look.
  • The Heart of Beacy project could positively change and modernise the suburb and provide much-needed urban infill.
  •  Andrew-Twiggy- Forrest showing faith in Freo’s future by investing in property here is significant.
  •  The Woolstores hotel development finally approved and two other hotels in Henderson Street as well.
  • If it is environmentally safe the South Fremantle solar farm will be a good development.
  • No more single-use plastic bags.
  • The tavern proposal by Sunset Events for J Shed was finally given the boot by the WAPC.
  • The removal of the stunning Felice Varini yellow art work is a major headache for the city and property owners in High Street.
  • Traffic calming in South Fremantle looks great and so does the Hilton Town centre.
  • Destination Marketing planning for Freo is under way, so let’s wait and see.
  • By-election for South Fremantle won by Andrew Sullivan-again.
  • The Long Table Dinner is huge, great and very Freo.
  •  Age Friendly City working group established.
  • Highrise proposal for Royal George Hotel in East Fremantle stopped.

It has been a big year for Fremantle and next year is going to be similar when many of the approved developments will start and the FOMO retail concept opens at Kings Square before Christmas 2019.

And at the risk of some people accusing me of sucking up, I want to express my thanks to Freo’s very diligent councillors. I do not always like their decisions, but they make them with care and after long deliberations, as I witnessed myself by going to about 80 per cent of council and council committee meetings this year, to see first hand how our grassroots democracy works.


Roel Loopers






An opinion piece in the West Australian by Suzanne Hunt, the WA president of the Architects Institute of Australia, caught my eye because the headline claims that ‘Architects make great cities’ I don’t believe the architectural reality in Perth can sustain that claim.

Ms Hunt wants architects appointed to the Metronet Reference Group and Infrastructure WA, because in her words It would ensure that local planning incorporates the very best examples of good design. Really?!

Suzanne Hunt also writes that Architects advocate for small policy decisions, which create happier, healthier and more connected suburbs, but that is unfortunately not what most of her colleagues are doing.

Drive and walk through the Perth metro area and you’ll see mostly boring, mediocre and visually unattractive multi-storey buildings, which have little regard for the streetscape and public amenity and which do very little to add new public open spaces with trees.

What we have been getting instead are bland concrete boxes which are often too high and bulky. The ‘creativity’ of the architects is putting cladding or screening on facades to hide the boredom of the actual building. That is make-up only that is trying to hide the flaws.

I get it that architects need to make a living and that the developers they design projects for are mostly interested in getting as much profit-making floor space as possible, and that beauty, aesthetics and great design are not  priorities for them, hence many architects compromise and design average buildings, instead of enhancing our suburbs with creative and inspiring new buildings.

That is the reason why so many of us are against suburban infill, not necessarily because of the proposed hight and bulk, but because we want to retain the unique character of older places like Fremantle, and that means we want heritage of the future in outstanding and beautiful buildings, not mediocrity.

Roel Loopers

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