Freo's View

BUILD US HERITAGE OF THE FUTURE!

 

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

WE DEMAND OUR SAY IN CITY PLANNING!

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, city planning, development, Uncategorized by freoview on November 17, 2018

 

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This letter to the editors of the West Australian by Ian Kerr of Mt Lawley makes so many valid points about the failures of our planning process that it deserves to be spread around, so that more people can read it and comment on it.

The rights of local communities to have a proper say on city planning have been eroded over the years by giving more power to the Joint Development Assessment Panels(JDAP), SAT and the WA Planning Commission, which often overrule local council decisions and approve inappropriate high and bulky buildings in character suburbs.

Main Roads is all about moving vehicles, with often scant regard for pedestrians and other road users, and JDAP is all about building bigger buildings and higher density, and not about amenity and aesthetics. That needs to change.

Great letter, Ian Kerr! Keep up the good fight!

Roel Loopers

 

URBAN INFILL DEMANDS NOISE PROTECTION MEASURES

 

One of only two agenda items for the Strategic Planning and Transport Committee on Wednesday will be the community consultation paper put out by the WA Planning Commission-WAPC about noise in entertainment areas such as Northbridge, and the question if Fremantle Council should consider asking the WAPC to include the Fremantle CBD in the trial.

Medium and high density urban infill has seen a rise in complaints in recent years from residents who are not happy with the noise from entertainment venues and transport, but the entertainment industry believes it is not fair that the onus should only be on them and that it should be shared with developers of new residential buildings, which should be required to put better noise insulation measures, such as double glazing and thicker glass in their developments.

I remember many years ago that when the new apartments opposite Clancy’s were built that it only took one week before the first complaint was made about live music there, although the tavern had been having regular live concerts for many many years.

In Fremantle where we are going to see a glut of new residential apartments and hotel rooms, combined with new taverns and bars, it is essential to also protect the livelihood of the hospitality industry and demand new buildings that have better noise protection for their users.

Roel Loopers

WA PLANNING GREEN PAPER BUT NO ARCHITECTS

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, city planning, development, Uncategorized by freoview on July 6, 2018

 

The WA state government has released a green paper of changes to the planning process. It is 81 pages long, so too long to blog it all, but below the most important aspects of it.

Fremantle architect Tobias Bush already remarked on social media that the word architect has not once been used on all the 81 pages, and that is a rather remarkable oversight, and a slap in the face of those professionals who create the future of our cities.

 

  • Local governments to have up-to-date local planning strategies, including one for housing, through which the community has a say in how their neighbourhood will be developed.
  • Make strategic planning for sustainable development the purpose of planning in Western Australia.

Make the planning system easy to access and understand

  • A single concise State Planning Policy framework with common elements for State, regional and local plans and policies.
  • A comprehensive local planning scheme will be available online for each local government including a local planning strategy, the statutory scheme and local planning policies.
  • Reduce red tape by standardising commonly used zones.

Open up the planning system and increase community engagement in planning

  • A Community Engagement Charter with a focus on up-front community involvement in strategic planning.
  • Re-balance Development Assessment Panel processes including recording meetings, providing reasons for decisions, and undertaking more comprehensive investigation and consideration of complex proposals.
  • Local governments to report annually on their planning responsibilities.

Make the planning system well-organised and more efficient

Refocus the planning system to deliver quality urban infill

  • Revise the WA Planning Commission (WAPC) to include 5-7 specialist members and increase their focus on strategic planning and policy development.
  • WAPC to delegate more statutory matters to the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage and accredited local governments.
  • Rethink administrative processes that add unnecessary time and cost to approvals processes.
  • The State Government, WAPC and local government to collaborate on the planning and delivery of key centres and infill locations and forward planning of infrastructure.
  • Develop a state planning policy focused on delivering consolidated and connected smart growth.
  • Provide for coordinated land use and transport planning of key urban corridors.

 

Roel Loopers

FREO THINKS BIG ABOUT SMALL HOUSING

Posted in city of fremantle, housing, lifestyle, living, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on March 29, 2018

 

I am a bit lazy because of the flu and fever I have, so just some points I copied from this media release  by the City, as I could not attend last evening’s committee meeting:

The City of Fremantle has given its final approval to a ground-breaking new approach to infill housing in suburban areas, called the ‘Freo Alternative – Big Thinking about Small Housing’.

Council last night voted to change the City’s Local Planning Scheme and adopt a new planning policy to stimulate development of a wider choice of housing in Fremantle’s suburban areas while still maintaining what people value about their neighbourhoods.

State government has set density targets across the metropolitan area to cater for population growth and limit urban sprawl, but poorly planned or inappropriate infill developments are often met with a backlash from local residents, and don’t always match housing needs.

The proposed planning scheme amendment and policy will now be sent to the Minister for Planning for final determination.

The Freo Alternative is the result of more than three years of research and community engagement. Because of the widespread concern about the impact of infill development in our suburbs, Fremantle wanted to create a shared community vision of the future of housing in the city

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said “We needed to come up with a way of delivering more diverse and affordable housing while retaining the established form and feel of the streestcapes and neighbourhoods that people love about where they live.”

The Freo Alternative project began in 2014 when the Australian Urban Design Research Centre and local architects were engaged to model different small housing types and test if they could work in a Fremantle environment.

That was followed in 2016 with a widespread community engagement campaign to establish what attributes the community most valued about their suburb and the benefits and challenges of small housing types.

The key themes to emerge from the consultation included having a range of housing choices, good access to transport, retention of open spaces and trees, good quality design, sustainability, affordability and encouraging community interaction.

The proposed amendment to Fremantle’s Local Planning Scheme establishes seven special control areas throughout the suburbs with special provisions for small infill development, as an alternative to traditional single lot subdivision.

Key provisions include:

Only applies to lots larger than 600 square metres
Dwellings to have a maximum floor area of 120 square metres
Maximum of three dwellings on lots of 750 square metres or less
Minimum of 30 square metres of outdoor living area per dwelling
Developments to have higher than standard energy efficiency ratings, and include solar panels, rainwater tanks, grey water systems or meet best practice accessibility standards
A minimum of 70 per cent of the entire development to be open space
At least one large tree to be retained or planted for each dwelling
A maximum of one parking bay per dwelling
Developments to be referred to the City’s Design Advisory Committee to consider design quality.

Freo Alternative will initially be applied to specific locations within the City of Fremantle, in sections of White Gum Valley, Samson, Hilton, O’Connor, Beaconsfield and Fremantle that meet certain criteria regarding proximity to public transport, existing lot size and housing stock, and heritage streetscapes.

To be reviewed in four years, Freo Alternative may then be rolled out across further locations.

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QUALITY AND DIVERSITY GOOD CITY PLANNING

 

According to WA Transport, Planning, Lands Minister Rita Saffioti the revised Perth and Peel@3.5 planning concept will focus on good design and amenity while pushing to develop half of the 800,000 needed dwellings in existing suburbs through urban infill and higher density.

But as we are experiencing in Fremantle we do get urban infill and higher density but not quality architectural design and new innovative public amenity, with the Kings Square public realm as the exception.

Wood Bagor principal Leslie Ashor, who is visiting Perth from San Francisco, says we need to build up a different demographic and embrace not only new residents but also universities and schools and encourage incubators and co-working spaces for new technology because they would create potential for new micro businesses.

Roel Loopers

 

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QUALITY THE KEY FOR SMALL INFILL DEVELOPMENT

Posted in architecture, city of fremantle, development, housing, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on March 19, 2018

 

The City of Fremantle’s Strategic Planning and Transport Committee will this Wednesday deliberate the implementation of Scheme Amendment 63 for Small Infill Development.

Small houses and so-called granny flats are popular but rare in Fremantle, so there is a need for them. However it is essential that PSA 63 does not become a license for a glut of unsightly portable mining dongas and sea containers in backyards as a form of alternative housing. Design quality needs to be one of the priorities when planning officers decide on approval.

You can read the entire agenda item on the City’s website. Click on Agendas and Minutes.

I have selected and copied some considerations addressed in the agenda below:

The Freo Alternative is an investigation into alternative housing forms for Fremantle’s suburban areas, to address gaps in provision.

The second stage of the Freo Alternative is a proposed amendment (no. 63) to the City’s Local Planning Scheme No.4 (LPS4 or Scheme) and a local planning policy (LPP3.20) for small infill housing in specific areas of lower density coded residential land in the City of Fremantle. The purpose of the proposal is to increase housing choice for smaller households in Fremantle’s suburban areas while maintaining what people value about their neighbourhoods. The approach focuses on the scale of housing, rather than the traditional metric of number of dwellings per land area.

The major themes that emerged from these discussions with the community were: location, housing choice, built form, sustainability, open space, trees and landscaping, community, and car movement and parking.

following spatial aspects contributing to the negative impact of infill housing:

reduction in tree cover

doubling in roof cover, crossover and paved area

decrease in usable outdoor space including private garden, open space and living areas

increase in areas required for vehicles including vehicle parking and manoeuvring

increase in impermeable hard surface.

The modelling and further research brought up a number of additional considerations. Based on this, council resolved to further refine the previously agreed principles, including a cap on the number of small houses, 70% open space and 25% DPZ requirements, to ensure a resultant scheme amendment achieves the purpose of providing diverse and affordable housing types in the City, whilst also retaining the character of the area.

Ensure good quality design outcomes including design that is responsive to local character and context.

The design of a development contributes greatly to the visual interest of the building.

Roel Loopers

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IT’S ALL ABOUT GETTING THE DEVELOPMENT BALANCE RIGHT

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

SLOW DOWN TO PROTECT FREMANTLE’S CHARACTER

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

 

LIV 2

 

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

STATE GOVERNMENT CREATES URBAN INFILL MESS

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

 

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