Freo's View

POPULATION GROWTH A BIG CHALLENGE FOR US ALL

Posted in fremantle, housing, planning by freoview on October 8, 2015

A new report by the Australian Council of Learned Academies-ACOLA tells us a lot what we already know but is important to remind us all about it time and time again.

The ACOLA reports says that by the middle of next century the population will be double in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne and that the cost of urban congestion will increase four-fold in the next 20 years to $ 53 billion by 2031.

We all know and understand that urban sprawl is the major factor in this, so ACOLA recommends to reduce and avoid the need to travel through creating economic hubs so people live close near where they work, and to shift to environmentally friendly transport; public, bikes, walking, and improve energy efficiency; electric cars.

The recommendation I like best, and wonder why it is not happening already, is to get all three levels of government, Federal, State and Local to actually coordinate planning.

ACOLA also suggest to establish a planning philosophy where the need for mobility is reduced and the aim of good health and sustainability advanced.

It all makes sense but how do we get the Great Australian Dream of a big house and garden out of the Australian culture?

The W.A. State Government is not exactly rushing to create so called satellite cities around the Perth metro area and move large departments to places like Fremantle, and neither are big businesses keen to move away from their highrise palaces in Perth and West Perth.

One option would be for Landcorp to release less land for single housing and insist on higher density new suburbs, and urban infill needs to increase faster than at the present rate and that is a challenge for local governments as residents are reluctant to embrace it.

Roel Loopers

ROEL FOR FREO! Beaconsfield Ward. Truly Independent.

Written and authorised by Roel Loopers of 5 Maxwell Street, Beaconsfield 6162.

TREE PRESERVATION ESSENTIAL FOR GOOD CITIES

Posted in fremantle, trees by freoview on September 16, 2015

There is an interesting article on WA Today on-line by reporter Emma Young on the tree canopies of our cities and what they mean to keep temperatures down in our suburbs.

WA Today reports that five Perth Councils engaged Dr Paul Barber of Arbor Carbon, who is also an adjunct professor at Murdoch University, to do a study.

It shows we are not doing very well in the planning department with the modern trend toward smaller blocks with bigger houses and often granny flats, where in the past we had bigger blocks with smaller houses and more green and trees in our gardens.

It is also a worry we cut down mature trees when developing and replace them with younger ones, but that is not the same according to Dr Barber. He said that a mature large tree has a canopy cover of 100 square metres but replacing it with three small trees would provide only 3 metres of cover.

In 2014 evidence collected by the Sydney University of Technology, that ranked Australia’s Councils’ tree canopy, found that the Fremantle, Belmont and Canning areas scored the lowest in Perth for tree cover with around only 10 per cent each.

With Councils failing to take heat islands and the preservation and management of our green spaces serious, and not planning substantially more small green public open spaces, it is no wonder that URBAN TREE NETWORKS are being formed by communities all over Perth.

We just have to become smarter about our urban design and the City of Fremantle need to make the retention of mature trees in new development part of their planning policy.

Roel Loopers

ROEL FOR FREO! Beaconsfield Ward. Truly Independent.

Written and authorised by Roel Loopers. 5 Maxwell Street. Beaconsfield 6162.

MORE GREEN PLANS FOR FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, local government by freoview on July 13, 2015

This Wednesday’s Special Projects Committee meeting of the City of Fremantle is well worth attending with items such as the Cantonment Hill masterplan, the Green Plan and a Princess May Park masterplan on the agenda.

The Green Plan has in my opinion rightly identified the importance of incorporating Nature Play green spaces for children and families to enjoy, away from the standarised, and a bit boring and too safe, normal playgrounds.

The creation of Urban Forest is something many councils around Australia are implementing and Fremantle wants to be part of the trend of creating green lungs and combatting heat zones in the city.

The Green Plan also identifies that there needs to be a focus on the provision of green space within high-density areas to compensate for reduced private open space. Mayor Brad Pettitt reported recently on his blog that in some European cities 30% of new development has to be public open space.

All that is good but it is also essential to retain existing green spaces and tree canopy and not take away those and then replace them with new trees and spaces. A building at Pioneer Park for example would be contrary to what we should be doing in the Freo CBD, instead the space should be beautified with modern seating, shade structures and a children’s playground.

The Princess May Park Masterplan follows on quite well from the Green Plan with emphasis on providing good public amenity, playground, seating and light and the integration of the soon to be built Hilton Hotel bar and restaurant with terraces down to the park, and the possible use of the former Boys School and FTI building as a cafe. That would create a great community hub in the east end of the CBD where residential and commercial development is already thriving.

I recommend to attend Fremantle Council meetings as the community can have a real input and impact, and it is the closest we’ll ever get to democracy. In that context it was intriguing to get feed back from the Notre Dame University student council that “The consensus is that students are not interested in local government and never will be.” Politics and governance affects each and every one of us, so we should participate to make sure the community has a voice, even if we believe we often get ignored.

Roel Loopers

HIGH DENSITY LIFESTYLE QUESTIONED

Posted in fremantle, high-density, living by freoview on December 8, 2014

It was very interesting to read two articles in two newspapers on the weekend about high-density living. In the West Australian Kate Emery wrote that Western Australians don’t have the mentality for high-density housing and that the W.A. Planning Commission(WAPC) is proposing to State Government to change the R30 and R35 buildings codes because there has been a huge community backlash against inappropriate and out of character high buildings being detrimental to the overall community amenity. The WAPC also wants to increase the minimum parking requirements for new dwellings.

In the Subiaco Post renowned urban planner and architect Dr Linley Lutton writes under the headline “Frantic Density Push Is Alarming” that …”experts warnings from those outside the industry are rarely heeded.” And that the warning for a huge population growth in Perth is an unrealistic and alarmist over-estimation of future growth.

We have already witnessed that planning schemes by Local Governments are completely overridden by State Government agencies and are a real worry to especially older suburbs like Fremantle Subiaco, Cottesloe, etc.

Lutton writes “High-density European and Middle Eastern cities work because they provide a diversity in stimulation, convenience and interaction opportunities. The piazzas, squares, courtyards, parks, shops and streets of these cities are where people live and grow. Most high-density development in Perth offers none of these things.”

 The article continues that Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that only 5-7% of people living near suburban train stations actually use the train to go to work. A 2010 study in Australia, Canada and the USA showed that the main users of public transport were those living in the low-density outer suburbs, not those who live in high-density areas with railway access.

Dr.Linley Lutton also warns for health impact of high-density living along main streets near traffic noise, especially on the older population, because poor air-quality and noise trigger mental and physical health problems.

Lutton suggests that self-sufficient suburbs with a variety of housing densities and with ample employment opportunities, and less need to commute far and wide to work, would be a better way to plan for the future, and I could not agree more. In an ideal world no one living in Rockingham should have to commute to Joondalup for work.

Fremantle Council also needs to heed these warning and realise one cannot change a decades-old entrenched culture and lifestyle overnight. Change happens slowly and only when the community embraces it and takes ownership of it. Collaboration and integration is what is needed, not a narrow focus anti-car mentality.

New developments like Kim Beazley and Stevens Reserve offer very little in lifestyle enhancement, with no green lingering nodes between buildings and only a strip of green on the periphery. As Lutton points out, the piazzas, parks, town squares, etc. are needed to create a lifestyle people embrace. Much better and more creative and innovative city planning is required in Fremantle and the ambiance of the CBD needs to be improved with modern seats, shade structures, green areas, more trees, play nodes for children and better and creative lighting.

Higher density living will only be embraced by the community if it supports and enhances the Freo lifestyle and when it allows for diversity.

Roel Loopers

SAT IS THE NEW TAG

Posted in fremantle by freoview on July 29, 2014

Most people hate TAGS, those spray painted initials by immature and disrespectful fools on buildings. TAGS are the ugly part of graffiti and cost local councils many thousands of dollars each year to clean up. Creative murals of graffiti art however are fantastic and should be encouraged.

To spray TAGS, and leaving one’s mark like a dog that urinates against trees, is illegal and incurs fines, but with recent development I wonder if we should still be worried about TAGS when SAT appears to be a far worse new form of urban vandalism.

SAT is state government initiated and sanctioned ‘graffiti’ that destroys cities and suburbs. SAT overrules local councils and makes planning departments obsolete. SAT erodes democracy because the community no longer has a say about the lifestyle they want to live and about the character of their cities. SAT dramatically and irreversibly changes the face and character of suburbs, with little regard for the wishes of the residents, ratepayers and elected council members.

Local government is invaded and pushed aside by the Western Australian State Government, who demands higher density living and forces unacceptable high-rise in low-rise city centres. Subiaco and Cottesloe will never have the same appeal again, once modern ugliness has destroyed the ambience there.

The proponents of high-rise keep assuring us that we will get iconic buildings, and that is true to some extent, because a building that totally dwarfs adjoining buildings and streets will be iconic in the sense that it sticks out like a huge eyesore. Sixteen storeys in the centre of Subi? You must be kidding!

The rationale for putting high-rise in the centres is that the buildings need to be close to public transport, shopping, etc, while these high buildings really should be built on the periphery so that they don’t destroy the uniqueness of many of the older suburbs. High-rise near the Mandurah railway station for example would make sense because, for all the wrong reasons, the station was not built in the city centre.

There is nothing wrong with higher density living. I believe it is essential because we can no longer afford the urban sprawl, as it has become far too expensive to build the infrastructure needed for it. But city planning has to be done with respect for the character of place. Sterile sameness of monotone concrete boxes is not the best solution to cope with increasing population. Far more sensitivity needs to be shown by our State Government that appears to be on an ego-driven high-rise crusade.

In Fremantle we can accommodate high-rise in the Knutsford Street. It’s a five-minute walk to public transport and an easy twenty-minute walk or five-minute bike ride into the city centre. Beaconsfield and Hilton and probably even White Gum Valley could also accommodate higher rise. Be warned though that there are a few elected members in Freo who can envisage an “iconic 21-storey building” on the Woolstores site.

People make cities. People create the ambience and lifestyle they want to live in, a place where they have a sense of belonging and where the community takes on ownership. By dismissing the wishes of the local communities, state government is making local governments irrelevant, because they can no longer decide what they want their cities to look like.

SAT is vandalism far worse than TAG and it needs to be stopped before it gets out of hand.

 

Roel Loopers

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FREO YOUTH PLAZA WINS URBAN DESIGN AWARD

Posted in architecture, fremantle by freoview on July 15, 2014

Urban Design Award 2014

 

The City of Fremantle and CONVIC have won the Australian Urban Design Award 2014 for the Esplanade Youth Plaza skate park in the small scale category. Congratulations!

The Youth Plaza has been very controversial in Freo and divided the community, but it has been a great success that is a huge attraction for young people. The place is packed full most days and has become an asset to our city. Would it have been less successful 50 metres further south on the carpark there? Probably not, but we’ve got it on the Esplanade now, so let’s embrace and enjoy it!

Roel Loopers

SEBASTIAN BEFUMO AT FREMANTLE PS ART SPACE

Posted in art, fremantle by freoview on April 10, 2014

Fremantle PS ART SPACE in Pakenham street is showing BUSINESS AS USUAL by SEBASTIAN BEFUMO. The Western Australian up and coming artist  presents three new works which respond to the gallery’s voluminous ground floor. His monumental assemblages shape space, and elevate everyday materials to a new level of appreciation.

Perth based writer Andrew Purvis describes Befumo’s work as:
‘…like a cross between a Le Corbusier fantasy and a run-down Brazilian favela. Befumo is keenly interested in the future of Western Australia’s urban planning: whether the city will continue to sprawl out along its coastline or whether it will expand upwards in densely packed high-rise buildings. The artist’s fascination with both the future and the past of his own urban environment animates this current body of work.’

Exhibition: 11 – 26 April
Gallery hours: Wed – Sat, 11am – 4pm
Closing event: Fri 25 April, 6:30pm

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THE IMPORTANCE OF GREEN OPEN SPACE IN OUR CITIES

Posted in fremantle by freoview on April 7, 2014

The Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association is presenting Valuing Our Urban Green Space, a Free Community Information Forum on Saturday 12 April 2014, 1pm to 4 pm at Replants, 96 Wray Avenue, Fremantle 6160

There will be three expert speakers on why we should preserve trees and green spaces in our city.
Dr Paul Hardisty, Director of the CSIRO Climate Adaptation National Research Flagship: ‘The Value of Urban Ecosystems in a Changing Climate’

Dr Noel Nannup, Nyoongar Elder and Educator

Dr Lisa Wood, Deputy Director, Centre for the Built Environment and Health, University of Western Australia: ‘Play, walk or sit awhile… the health and wellbeing benefits of a greener urban realm’

A short discussion will follow each speaker; tea break approximately 2.30pm-3pm.
SPACES LIMITED.  RSVP email: Fremantlerra@gmail.com

Roel Loopers

PRESERVE OUR URBAN FOREST LECTURES

Posted in fremantle by freoview on March 14, 2014

Preserving Our Urban Forest
Saturday 15 March, 2014
9am to 12.30pm
The Grove Library
1 Leake Street, Peppermint Grove

Excellent speakers;

·        Dr Paul Hardisty The Value of Urban Ecosystems in a Changing Climate   (9.45am to 10.15am)

·        Peter Ciemitis Thousand Cuts; Land Development and Loss of the Urban Forest   (10.15am to 10.45am)

·        Beyond Gardens Team  Bioscaping at Home is Easy   (11.00am to 12.00noon)

Learn why developers are clearing lots the way they do, the benefits of Perth’s urban forest and how to protect biodiversity and how to plant appropriate species in our drying climate.

To register call 1300 369 833 or the Beyond Garden’s website http://www.beyondgardens.com.au/registrationbg.php

ECOBURBIA SHOWS REQUIEM TO DETROIT MOVIE

Posted in fremantle by freoview on January 2, 2014

Detroit was once the fourth largest city in the USA mainly due to its (in)famous car industry, but that has dramatically changed since and the city is now a dystopic post-industrial place where farming has come to the inner city through a burgeoning urban agricultural movement, and a city where streets have been turned into art.

Fremantle ECOBURBIA will be showing Requiem for Detroit at Replants, 96 Wray Avenue this Friday January 3 at 7.30. BYO dinner and come at 6.30 for conversation and dinner before the movie, and engage in a discussion about hope and change afterward.

Roel Loopers

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