AGM and Picture Palaces of the Golden West

Legend Vyonne Geneve, founder of the WA Art Deco Society, gave Fremantle Society members a real treat last Thursday night at the AGM with a talk focussing on the inter war history of Fremantle and its various art deco buildings.

A couple of copies of her wonderful book are still available ($60, which includes a free $35 copy of Fighting for Fremantle). Call John Dowson 9335 2113

The AGM showed that the Society is still in a strong financial position, with hundreds of members. President John Dowson outlined some of the many projects undertaken during the year and the many submissions made.

For 2018 John Dowson will continue as President, with Jack Turnbull as acting honorary treasurer, and a committee including Mike Finn, Agnieshka Kiera, Adele Gaskin, Robert Bodkin, and Ian Molyneux.

Submissions Due today on Police Complex

Yes, you have Christmas shopping to do, but you may want to make a submission today (or tomorrow should still be acceptable to planning@fremantle.wa.gov.au) on the 31-41 Henderson Street former courthouse and police courthouse and warders cottages complex.

Gerard O’Brien bought the large site of around 8000 sqm. He has rushed plans into council to get ahead of Sirona, who are apparently still running around  trying to get their money together. Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf, with major plans for Coles Woolstore site, Mannings Buildings and the police complex, will be keen to get tenants ahead of his rival developers Sirona and the City of Fremantle.

The police complex proposal is for a 6 storey hotel and bars.

To help you, the following comments may be of use:

a) The 6 storey hotel proposal is too high for this heritage area and should be limited to 4 storeys. The developer references the Myer building, but that is too far away and is not a good precedent. Even the Queensgate car park opposite should not be used as a precedent, as it is a damaging anomoly in a heritage precinct.

b) The heritage impact statement prepared for the developer is deficient given this site lies in the buffer zone of the world heritage listed prison. It states that this proposal has POSITIVE benefits for the Fremantle Prison and approach but provides little supporting detail.

c) Effect on adjacent Artillery Hall: No mention is made in the heritage impact statement on the effect on the Artillery Drill Hall two metres from this site, where Sunset Events have a tavern licence for 900 people.

d) Parking: The number of car bays required under the town planning scheme are not being provided and nor is cash in lieu being asked for. Given that council is busy selling off its car parks and that most of them are being built on, the situation for essential parking is unsustainable. Existing businesses are being penalised by having newcomers take their car bays without having to contribute.

Lack of Good Public Consultation

The community is not being given a heads up on major developments and has very little time to respond. Fremantle Ports for example, despite having little interest in new developments in town, were asked back in October what they thought of this proposal. Key relevant interested groups like the Fremantle Society and the National Trust should be given notice of what is in the pipeline months ahead.

Membership Fees Due

Please pay your membership fees now.

BSB 633 000

Acc  143193530

(please note on your bank transfer some detail so we can identify you!)

We encourage you to consider becoming a Life Member for $250, but by sending in at least $30 for single and $40 for family membership you are enabling us to commission the reports that have become a major part of our work.

If you have a particular project you would like to see and would like to fund it, please contact us!

Compliments of the Christmas Season

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society

john.dowson@yahoo.com

9335 2113

0409223622

Warders Cottages/AGM/Kings Square Urban Space

Warders Cottages Disgrace

(Above: important inner city gardens of Warders Cottages now destroyed)

Last night at Fremantle Council’s planning meeting, councillors voted through the proposal for a hotel and bar for up to 500 people in the rear gardens of the Warders Cottages, despite officers admitting they did not know of the existence of the 2016 Conservation Management Plan which clearly states that two storey tavern proposals like the one put forward are not allowed. Only Cr McDonald voted against the proposal.

The Fremantle Society presented relevant excerpts from the conservation plan to all councillors, but no councillor made any reference to the heritage of the cottages (except Cr Lang in a passing reference) in their deliberations, focussing on the alcohol issue and how many patrons could fit in the small space in the rear (former) gardens. And, these cottages are of NATIONAL importance.

The lack of interest in heritage and the gardens and  the lack of due process was astonishing, and a disgrace.

A boutique hotel may well be a good fit for the site, but again councillors were falling over themselves to do favours for a developer, one who already has a 5 storey approval in the West End, where 5 storeys are not allowed, and who has not yet committed to buy the cottages.

The issue will go to JDAP next week.

AGM

Reminder that the AGM is today Thursday 7 December 6.30 at the Fremantle Tennis Club.

Contact: 9335 2113 or 0409 22 36 22. Bring your friends.

Submissions due Thursday 8 December on Kings Square Urban Space

To help you with your submission, conservation architect Dr Bremen has kindly provided the following notes:

Notes on Kings Square: urban play space

Where is the up-to-date conservation plan for Kings Square that sets out what is significant and what should be protected in any changes made to the place? I do not mean the conservation plan for the Town Hall, or the Heritage Impact Statement for the new Council buildings, but a comprehensive conservation assessment and protection of the Square as a whole place, its definitions, its key buildings, its boundaries (streets and surrounding buildings), its landscape features and its open spaces. We all know it has been left out of the West End listing in the Heritage Council assessment, and we know perhaps why, to remove constraints from development in the area including Kings Square.

Such a conservation plan would include consultation with all stakeholders, including primary schoolers, and would lead to policies for change that protect and enhance the cultural values that the place already has, while planning for changes that are seen to be necessary, not just fashionable and suited to a small proportion of the users of the Square. No changes should be made to the Square without first testing them against the requirements for the retention of significance; a section always included in a good conservation plan for that purpose. (See Australia ICOMOS Burra charter, conservation planning processes and JS Kerr The Conservation Plan 2013).

Notes for a draft conservation management plan were prepared for Kings Square by Rob Campbell in 2015 and further developed for the use of students of conservation architecture as part of their course in 2016 and 2017. On the basis of that draft I can offer the following:

1.  The key to the children’s responses appears to be the mature shade trees; I presume they mean the Moreton Bay figs. These are highly significant items in Kings Square, with historic, aesthetic and social value. There are at least three that look sick. I hear that Council has sought advice on their care, and they should be saved. If they cannot be saved, they should be replaced with similar species, but it will take at least 20 years for any replantings of this species to become as large and attractive climbing and shady trees. Surely all efforts should go into the health of these significant trees first, rather than any new play space or elements. Similarly it is important that if they do become more actively used for children’s play, that this is carefully considered by horticulturalists to ensure that the trees are not damaged in the process.

2. Water play is fine in a private secured back yards, but ponds and play spouts in a public area are a known health problem (see Betty’s Jetty experience), not respected by people who do not have children playing in them, and they become filled with debris by accident or on purpose. This is going to happen to the ponds in the new basement library. Any water should be used to keep the trees and lawn alive, not for public playground amusement. Open water bodies are not part of this traditional town square, even though fountains were tried in the 1970s, these were always a problem and were removed. The only water play types that might be suitable would be temporary water points, more like drinking fountains with secure taps. Perhaps a horse trough for multiple users, doubling as a memorial, and removable if it does not work. What about pop-up water plays?

3.  The Square is bounded by four streets and contains two historic structures and six historic Moreton Bay fig trees. It is already full of statues and memorials, which add something to the social value and interpretation of people and place in the Square, perhaps they could become play structures if necessary. There is no room for new play structures.
The only open space left in the Square after the new Council buildings are erected will be in the St John’s Triangle, which is also their churchyard. Any new structures will crowd it still further and may not be appropriate for their uses of their land. I presume they are being consulted on all of this. If they are not comfortable with these developments, in the end, they will move out of the Square and leave the Square and the building for the rest of us to look after, and the significance of the Square will be reduced by the loss of its earliest and longest continuous user. It should be remembered that the church can also redevelop their land if they want to, having been given a marvellous precedent by the Council.

4. Play types that require safety or security fencing are not appropriate in this now confined public space; it further segregates and limits the people who can use the space as well as being visually intrusive. This is the only civic square of its type in WA. It should not be a suburban playground. Fremantle already has transformed the Esplanade Park into a playground. Council’s new design has swallowed up the playground they had in Kings Square, and given it back as a so-called civic lawn. Consider this as a children’s playground, as it has fences on three sides already, and does not look like it will be any good for anything else.

5.  For the conservation of the cultural values of Kings Square, the landscape should be opened up, not closed in. If it must host children’s playtimes, these must be carefully scheduled into the uses of Kings Square with only temporary equipment housed elsewhere when not in use, and with close and organised parental supervision onsite, with their take-a-way coffee in their hands, and not from inside a cafe nearby, and not with fencing or other forms of policing.

Dr Ingrid van Bremen 4/12/17

AGM/Warders Cottages/Local History Library/J Shed

Fremantle Society AGM, with some Art Deco

Come for a Christmas drink at 6.30 next Thursday 6.30pm at the Fremantle Tennis Club for the Fremantle Society AGM. Meet legendary Vyonne Geneve of the Art Deco Society.

Buy a copy of Vyonne’s Picture Palaces of the Golden West for $59.95 and receive a FREE copy of Fighting for Fremantle (the history of the Fremantle Society worth $35). Proceeds to the Fremantle Society and the National Trust.

Members – Please pay your membership NOW or at the AGM. We have asked three times already. We don’t have rows of volunteers manning desks and telephones to keep reminding people about the membership fees.

Our fees are too low and are not enough to cover the work we do commissioning expert reports and giving you glasses of wine.

Please consider a donation to help fund the work we do.

Local History Library Staff Cut

The Fremantle Society can reveal that Fremantle Council intend to cut the Local History staff in half.

Fremantle’s Local History Library, the best in the state, has been untouchable as the best local history department in the state, and untouchable as an important osurce of information for staff, councillors, developers, and the community. No mayor in history has dared allow the local history library to be pruned or nobbled.

The move of staff out of the administration building while it is demolished and replaced by an utterly unnecessary new $50 million new one, will allow for changes to be made to the number and composition of staff, to suit the ideology of the current council.

It is hoped members will support the Fremantle Sociey in its push for the Local History Centre to retain its two full time staff.

Next Wednesday Council Planning Agenda

Warders’ Cottages:  Wednesday 6 December 6pm Fremantle Council planning committee will deal with the boutique hotel proposal and tavern for 475 people proposed for the 6 warders cottages in Henderson Street bought by the same people who run the Hougoumont Hotel, which extraordinarily sought and won permission for 5 storeys in the West End precinct where only 3 (plus possibly one extra storey set back) are allowed.

The proposal for 475 bar patrons seeks the building of two storey structures in the rear of the gardens CONTRARY TO THE CONSERVATION PLAN WHICH ONLY ALLOWS ESSENTIAL SINGLE STOREY WORKS. The plans have been ticked off by the Heritage Council, which is nothing more than a developers’ club nowadays. That is no reason for Fremantle Council to also ignore the sensitivity and importance of the rear gardens and the conservation plan.

The officers’ report fails to provide a heritage impact statement and assessment, and nowhere is there reference to the fact that the cottages, being of national importance, being nationally listed, and in the buffer zone of the World Heritage prison, need Federal approval.

This was the Fremantle Society submission, which is ignored in the officer’ report:

The Warders Cottages are convict built, rare, and of national importance. They are the only buildings in WA (outside the prison) that are significant enough to be on the Federal Government heritage list.

 Unfortunately the main focus for this development is alcohol (475 patrons). As one conservation architect said: “Imagine Tasmania proposing hotels for the Port Arthur convict site?” The same architect wrote: “The real test should be a carefully researched and considered assessment based on the cultural values of the Convict Establishment as a place, the cottages as significant fabric in their own right, and the townscape qualities of that part of Fremantle.”
 
The proponent, who somehow was granted a 5 storey approval for the next stage of the Hougoumont Hotel in the West End, where only 4 storeys are permissible, will only buy these cottages if he gets the approvals he wants, so he can easily walk away if there is a refusal.
 
Just next door, the six Warders Cottages with verandahs have already been sold to private owners. Council policy on venues serving alcohol (DBU6)  ‘does not support proposals which may encourage conflict betwen land uses’.

The boutique hotel proposal for the cottages has merit, because the cottages were residences for 150 years, and giving people access to such authentic places is laudable. But the plans show entry to the second floor via a second storey walkway. Yet the conservation plan (policy 171) clearly states that only: ‘small single storey structures may be acceptable in the rear  yards if they are required for the amenity and practical functioning of the cottages.’ 
 
The rear gardens of all the Warders’ Cottages are an important part of their significance and magic, despite the brutal clearing of vegetation by the Heritage Council.

 Fremantle Society Submission Comments:

SIGNIFICANCE: The Warders Cottages are the only buildings in Western Australia on the Federal Government heritage list besides the adjacent Fremantle Prison and are thus of supreme importance as rare convict built terrace houses over 150 years old. Council should ensure that the highest standards are applied to this application.
  
 IMPACT OF PROPOSAL: The idea of a boutique hotel development for these cottages has merit as one way of maintaining their residential use. The cottages have over 150 years of use as private dwellings with their own private backyards, and a major part of the heritage significance of the place lies in the cottages with their conjoined backyards. The question is, how much impact does the current development proposal have on that heritage which was earned over a very long time?
  
The impact of an 11 room boutique hotel on the fabric of the main building is sensitively managed in many respects, and it is heartening to see the trees retained, though the apparent inability to use the existing staircases because of code compliance issues necessitates a rather clumsy and intrusive upper floor entry. Sightlines to and from the rear of these significant cottages are thus negatively affected.

FOCUS ON ALCOHOL: The applicant is seeking to do much more than just run a small boutique hotel – there is provision for serving alcohol to 475 people. This appears to be an overintensification of the site, however well managed. New owners of adjacent residential warders’ cottages are understandably concerned, and they have every right under current liquor laws to have their amenity and privacy protected.
  
The size of the proposal leads to a parking shortfall of over 122 car bays and 20 bicycle bays. The applicant argues that the temporary lift on requirement for cash in lieu to be paid in case of a parking shortfall was suspended until September 2014 and that technically it is still suspended and should stay that way because of all the nearby council controlled car parks. But, in recent years council has sold a significant number of its car parks and some have disappeared altogether. Also, a number of recent major development applications are, like this application, focussing on liquor sales, and it appears that Fremantle is heading down the path of becoming less of a place to live, work, and recreate, and more of a “Northbridge by the Sea.”
  
RECOMMENDATIONS: The Fremantle Society believes:
  
 a) the intensity of this proposal in terms of patron numbers if excessive and should be scaled back.
  
 b) this intensity adds too many new physical elements to this significant site and they should be scaled back. 
  
 c) Council should consider reintroducing cash in lieu payments in order to facilitate provision of parking nearby.
  
 d) The applicant’s plans show 5 car bays in Henderson Street earmarked for the hotel. If council is going to hand those car bays over to the hotel, a fee, the equivalent of lost parking revenue, should be charged.
  
 e) The applicant’s report acknowledges the hugely significant vistas in adjacent streets, and thus in William Street, the totally incongruous hotel awning proposed that juts out into William Street should be deleted.
 
 f) The proposed new blank wall facing William Street should be reduced in impact.
  
 g) The proposed art works for the 1% for art scheme are for a light show highlighting the building. While this sounds like an advertising campaign to promote the hotel, it has merit compared with the dismal outcomes at other new development sites around Fremantle under the same scheme.
  
 h) The important original lettering on this building carved into the facade (VR) is bisected by the installation of a downpipe, and this issue should be addressed.
 
 i)  Any aerials, lift overruns, or plant installation should be strictly conditioned to be not visible from surrounding streets.

J Shed

The controversial liquor outlet at J shed for up to 400 patrons is on the agenda again for Wednesday, with a recommendation for refusal. The applicant’s submission for this liquor application begins  with a laughable graphic showing 14 people enjoying the site without a glass of liquid visible, though there is a single bottle sitting on one table. There are also some children playing with an environmentally unacceptable plastic balloon in this marine related area.

The Fremantle Society Submission on Manning Buildings 135 High Street

(Members who want a full copy of the report with illustrations and maps can send $12 to The Fremantle Society PO Box 828 Fremantle 6160. The $12 covers the printing, binding, and postage  of the report. Alternatively, contact President John Dowson at john.dowson@yahoo.com for a colour pdf by email free of charge) .

Executive Summary

The proposal for the Mannings Buildings at 135 High Street in the Mall seeks partial demolition of the Mannings Buildings, the separation of first and second floors, which have been united for over 100 years, the removal of all existing staircases, works to shopfronts and awnings, removal of various existing walls, and provision of a 1500 sqm brewery.

This is a once in a generation opportunity to revitalise a critically important central city building and in particular to make better use of the underutilised upper storey. This opportunity to get an excellent outcome must not be missed.

Unfortunately, the proposal is brutal in its treatment of heritage elements such as the rear structures, dismissive of the social history of shops like Norm Wrightsons’ Hairdresser, whose business has existed in the same shop since 1933, silent on the 1995 council recommended reinstatement of original verandahs, and does not seek to restore and reuse the former existing Majestic Theatre still in existence there.

This is a major development of a level 1b building, designated as being of ‘exceptional significance’ to the city.  Under council’s town planning scheme, nothing of heritage significance can be allowed to be demolished. A very detailed and careful assessment of this proposal is essential to prevent any loss of original heritage fabric.

The Fremantle Society believes this project should deliver a carefully refurbished heritage building where internal and external heritage elements are respected and kept, where the original verandahs and shopfronts are reinstated, and where important social history like Norm Wrightson’s is celebrated and encouraged to continue in its current location.

The Manning Buildings

Designed by renowned architects Cavanagh and Cavanagh in 1902 in Federation Free Classical style, the collective group of buildings make a bold, confident, and significant contribution to the streetscape. The three shops in William Street (7, 9, and 11) were constructed earlier and had a two storeyed open verandah, rare in Fremantle (see next page). The Majestic Theatre was not opened until 1916 and closed in 1938, becoming the location of the first Coles to operate outside the Perth CBD,  The buildings have housed many and varied tenants over the years, including the famous photographers Izzy Orloff and Charles Nixon.

It is unfortunate that the original verandahs were removed in the 1950s as with many Fremantle properties and that the original shopfronts in most cases have been unattractively altered.

However, the building is listed as being overall of ‘exceptional significance’ to Fremantle and there are many individual original elements remaining on the facade, at the rear, and inside some of the shops.

Comments

Introduction:

Given the recent highly controversial Atwell Arcade development by the same developer (Silverleaf’s Gerard O’Brien) just 10 metres from this proposal, extreme caution and care should be taken with this development to ensure that mistakes made there are not repeated here.

One Fremantle architect described the completed Atwell Project as ‘such a tragedy’ with ‘a gigantic loss of original fabric’. The damage to the world famous gold rush roofscapes of Fremantle with the new glass office block, the alterations to the arcade, the lack of restoration of verandahs and shopfronts,  the failure to complete the building as approved, and the failure to complete restoration as promised, are clear warnings.

1) Restoration of verandahs

The developer is not proposing to restore the verandahs of the shops, as he should, yet council spent several years between 1994 and 1999 discussing the issue, and paying for plans to be drawn up with all the detail necessary to encourage the Manning Estate. The detailed plans and files are in the council archives.

As one architect stated: ‘The Mannings Buildings are naked without their verandahs and awnings.’ In particular, the double storeyed verandah originally on 7-9 William Street as shown below, should be reinstated.

2) Norm Wightson’s – Important Social History

Plans submitted show the relocation of this business to Market Street, and the demolition of much of the shop, to facilitate a brewery.

The tenant does not want to relocate. There is enormous social history with this business having being been there since 1933. Only Warren’s Menswear is an older business (1931) in the Manning Buildings, but they are not been asked to relocate and their shop is not being demolished.

The developer wishes to make this shop, which is directly opposite the entrance to the town hall, the entry to his brewery.  Such proximity to the town’s most important civic building is an inappropriate location for such a business. The shop should stay.

The social history of the various shops in the Manning Buildings is highly significant and should form part of the assessment to ensure that any relevant significant fabric is preserved and the story of those businesses told. Such story telling would add significantly to the marketing advantage of the refurbished premises. For example, Swansea Cycles and Motor Co factory was originally at 9 William Street adjacent to Norm Wrightson’s and significant original fabric may still exist at the rear (see image below). Given the current interest in cycling, this heritage is relevant today.

As the WA Historical Cycle Club notes: They started business at 9 William Street, Fremantle, with a small annex at the rear of the shop where they began making their own bicycles using components imported from England

In the first year of trading Swansea made and sold all of 70 cycles. The great Wall Street crash of 1929, followed by the disastrous Depression years actually helped Swansea Cycles, as many people found bikes a great means ofcheap transport that was healthy as well By 1939 Swansea Cycles had expanded to larger factory premises in Newman Street Fremantle, with 5000 square feet of floor space, a staff of 33, and a turnover of more than 1500 cycles a year, as well as trotting spiders and children’s tricycles. There were also branches at Barrack Street, Perth and in Kalgoorlie and Bunbury, with agents throughout the state. 1939 saw the introduction of the top end 4 and 5 Swan models.

3) Facade Works and Shopfronts

a)  Shopfronts: Most of the existing shopfronts have been altered and do not match the significant heritage values of the rest of the building above. This is a once in a generation opportunity to create a high quality shopping environment that will be an attractor for the businesses with distinctive high quality shop fronts which match the heritage values above by recreating the original shopfront configurations.
Some shops currently have roller shutters, which should not be permitted because of the detrimental effect on both the building and the street scene.

In terms of security it should be remembered that smaller paned glass, transoms, mullions and stallrisers are more difficult to break into than large areas of glazing as recently installed by this developer nearby at the Atwell Arcade buildings. They are also cheaper to repair.

b) Cinema Facade: The developer proposes to ‘tuck paint’ the former cinema’s facade  on High Street. The paint should be stripped and a proper tuck pointing restoration carried out.

c)  Electronic Security: all security systems should form an integral part of the design and be located unobtrusively in order not to interfere with any architectural detail.

d) Lighting: Internally illuminated letters or fascias can conflict with the design of historic shopfronts, are
incongruous in heritage areas and must be resisted by council. Full details of the fitting, method of fixing and
luminance should be provided by the applicant. Moving signage, as currently existing on one Manning Building shop (tobacco shop) is not allowed under council bylaws.

e) Materials: Traditional materials should be used. Timber is appropriate as is wrought and cast iron.

f) Corporate colours and styles: Corporate housestyles can seek to have shopfronts and advertisements inappropriate for historic buildings, and may have to be adapted to fit in with the age and character of the building.

g) Original detail: Where possible, original detail should be preserved. The photos below show how the original pediments on the left of the Manning Buildings have been covered over and need to be revealed again.

4) Significant Value of the rear of Mannings Buildings

The developer proposes drastic changes to the rear of the shops, including demolition of significant heritage fabric.

The rear elements of heritage buildings are undervalued, but often have highly significant heritage values with useable and interesting spaces.

Melbourne is world famous through its laneway projects and the rear of the Manning Buildings provide an unusually open and accessible urban space that should be utilised and appreciated, while preserving significant heritage features. Paddy Troy mall is in effect a public street and the streetscape values of this area, especially being unusually so open for an inner city location, should be respected, enhanced, and should form an integral part of any proposed development. In particular, significant heritage features should not be obscured by new works.

This is a rare opportunity to create a unique and authentic inner city urban space that would be of great interest, and a high value commercial attractor.

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society
28 November 2017

Wrightsons Hairdressers

About to be Destroyed

Norm Wrightsons Hairdressers has been at 7 William Street since 1933. Prior to that the shop was home to the famous Charles Nixon photographer from 1894 to 1933. Two businesses in 120 years!

Gerard O’Brien wants to relocate the hairdresser. The hairdresser doesn’t want to go. O’Brien wants this as the entry to his new brewery and wants to strip out the shops here and demolish the rear of all the shops.

He has allowed the rear of these heritage buildings to be painted without permission of the tenants to mask the heritage values of what remains.

Look at the single storied building with the very interesting air vent – probably part of the former Swansea Bicycle factory.

Save the Magic!

The hairdressers shop is unique. It is magic. It and nos 9 and 11 William should stay. AND it should have the double storey verandah on it restored as shown above when it was  home to Fremantle’s famous photographer Nixon until Wrightsons moved in in 1933..

The development proposal covers all the Manning Estate shops that begin with these three shops in William Street (built in 1886 before the others) and continue through the Mall and down Market Street to the Newport Hotel.

The Fremantle Society is keen to see people spend money in Fremantle restoring and upgrading their properties but this developer wants to make major changes to the shops – knocking down the rear sections of all the shops (some of which have significant heritage), remove various staircases, insert a large brewery where Norm Wrightson’s is right outside the entrance to the Town Hall, and separate the second floor sections of the various shops from their ground floor sections.

Submissions due on the whole Manning Buildings development on Tuesday 28th at 5pm..

Comments to:   planning@fremantle.wa.gov.au

And, to all councillors at: members@fremantle.wa.gov.au

Urgent – Woolstores Submission by Ken Adam and FS Nomination Form

Coles Woolstore development – please make a submission today however brief

The photo above top shows Fremantle when Frank Hurley flew over it at the time the Coles woolstore was still in place and before council allowed it to be demolished in 1986.

Comment closes today on a major development application for this site, seeking 38.9 metres height, higher than anything else in the town.

Please make a submission, however brief to: planning @fremantle.wa.gov.au

This is a once in a generation chance to redevelop a run down site well. What happens here will influence surrounding development sites.

Below is the submission by Ken Adam, award winning architect and head of CityVision, which you are free to use if you like.

WOOLSTORES CENTRE: PROPOSED MAJOR REDEVELOPMENT, CANTONMENT STREET, FREMANTLE
SUBMISSIONS & COMMENTARY                        prepared  by KEN ADAM LFAIA, LFPIA, LFAIUS

If the application were approved, in my opinion the game, for the future of Fremantle, will have been lost, and the detail hardly matters.

This document is in two parts. The first part comprises a set of succinct submissions in relation to the proposed development. The second comprises support and justification for those submissions.

These submissions and commentary represent solely the professional assessments and opinions of Ken Adam. They have been prepared both personally and for the Fremantle Society, for submission to the City of Fremantle and the Joint Development Assessment Panel charged with considering the proposed development on its merits.

PART ONE: SUMMARY SUBMISSIONS
Submission 1:
The comprehensive redevelopment of the Woolstores Centre site is extremely welcome as an important contribution to the future of Fremantle.
Submission 2:
In general the mix of uses proposed for the site is appropriate.
Submission 3:
The most important benchmark for the height, scale and massing of the development is set by the adjoining Woolstores building and, to a lesser extent, the newer building at the SE corner of Cantonment and Queen Streets.
Submission 3:
The appropriate benchmark for the height of the development is the level set by the adjacent Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building, and that level should best be maintained consistently over the whole site. No protrusions above this level, other than minor necessary protrusions, should be accepted. It is accepted that the 21m height limit approximates this level.
Submission 4:
This level should not be exceeded, even were the architectural design to be judged “distinctive” and of “exceptional design quality” or representing “excellence” in design. Even at the highest level of design quality any extensions of the kind proposed, above this level, visible from the public realm, would not be acceptable.
Submission 5:
Regardless of any other considerations, it is my professional opinion, based on a lifetime experience of architecture, urban design and planning, that the proposed development, while unquestionably of an acceptable design standard, falls well short of either distinction or exceptional design quality.
Submission 6:
For the reasons given here, it is my professional opinion that the development application should be refused.

The appropriate benchmark for the height of the development is the level set by the adjacent Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building, and that level should best be maintained consistently over the whole site.

PART TWO: JUSTIFICATION AND SUPPORTING COMMENT
Credentials
Ken Adam is an architect (retired), planning consultant and urban designer. He has directed a practice in those disciplines since 1974. He is a recipient of the prestigious Architects Board Award. Prior to private practice he had headed the Urban Design Section of the Town Planning Department. He was a founding member of CityVision in 1987 and has been Chairman since 2001. He has taught urban design at Curtin University.

Ken Adam has acted regularly as an expert witness in the Supreme Court and the State Administrative Tribunal and its predecessors, in relation to matters of architecture, urban design and planning, for both private clients and local government authorities.

He is a fourth-generation Fremantle person, and lives in North Fremantle. He is a member of the Fremantle Society. He was the consultant responsible for the most comprehensive study of Fremantle, carried out in 1979-80 for the purposes of establishing a comprehensive strategy for the City and the preparation of TPS3.

Introduction
This submission is necessarily brief and does not pretend to be fully comprehensive. It focuses on the major urban design issues of scale, form and character of the proposed development, in relation to its surroundings and the city centre as a whole. It should not be read as necessarily agreeing with those aspects of the proposed development not specifically covered here.

In preparing this document I have studied the report and drawings accompanying the application and held brief discussions with the officers responsible for reporting on the application. I have revisited the site and its surroundings. I have not had access to the applicant’s Design Report (Appendix A to the applicant’s report).
This document tries to go to the heart of what really matters for the future of Fremantle. It is not just a simplistic exercise in checking whether all the boxes have been ticked.

Total Redevelopment of the Site is Welcome and offers a Great Opportunity
It should be clear that, in my opinion, a total redevelopment of the site is not merely welcome; it is well overdue. The replacement of the original woolstores building by the existing banal shopping centre, car parking and open servicing areas was, in urban design and other terms, a complete and unrelieved disaster. The decision to redevelop the entire site offers a wonderful opportunity to undo that mistake and create a very positive development that will serve and greatly enhance the city centre. The opportunity must not be missed, nor should it in any way be compromised by confusing what may be permitted with what is best for Fremantle

The Issues
The issues dealt with here are:

  • whether the general character, including proposed use , scale and form, is appropriate;
  • whether the building heights proposed are appropriate and whether the development meets the criteria for design excellence; and
  • whether the more detailed architectural design aspects are appropriate.

Context is Everything
The site occupies a pivotal position in the city’s townscape and activities, mediating between the major woolstore buildings (now converting, appropriately, to residential use) and the central business (essentially retail, entertainment and office) district.

Both the uses and character of development proposed for the subject site must recognise this pivotal position.

There are two buildings that, in my opinion, set the benchmark for the height and scale of what should occur on the site. These are: firstly and most critically, the superb Goldsborough Mort and Company Woolstores building immediately north of the site, which, like the subject site, spans between Cantonment Street and Elder Place and extends for a long distance along Cantonment Street and Elder Place. The second is the relatively recent and modern building on the SE corner of Queen and Goldsborough Streets. Whatever happens on the site must recognise both the scale and character of these two buildings.

None of the other adjacent sites – the obsolete Point Street car parking building and the tired shops on the east side of Cantonment Street and the Wilson’s Car Park on Queen Street – is determinant of what should occur on the subject site, but what is built on the site will inevitably influence their future development.

General Character and Form of the Development
It seems to me that a mixed use development of the site is most appropriate, because the site does mediate between the essentially business and essentially residential precincts of the city.
For that reason, I support, in general terms, the mix proposed, including the replacement of the major supermarket, market hall, offices, significant active-frontage retail and other uses and housing for both active young adults and predominantly retired people.

Provision of active uses at the street frontages of Cantonment and Queen Streets is especially important, and supported. Goldsborough Street, currently a pedestrian desert, also offers the opportunity to become an active and very attractive street in future, especially with a future re-use of the Goldsborough Mort Woolstore building.

In general terms the most appropriate precedents for the overall scale and form of the redevelopment of this pivotal site lie with the adjacent Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building and in the memory of the site, itself a former wool store building of similar scale and mass to the Goldsborough Mort building and the other woolstores along Elder Place and Beach Street – the so-called “March of the Giants”. These suggest a strong, perhaps even monolithic, well-defined mass. The proposed development largely achieves this, were it not for the superimposition of the two tower elements, one at either end, and the excessive size of gaps in the facades, compromising the continuity of the facades.

The unusually large size of the site also strongly suggests the provision of at least one public pedestrian accessway through the site, in line with either the Westgate Mall entry, as proposed, or Point Street, or both. This access way, however, should be completely permeable at ground level, ie it should provide a clear view through between Cantonment Street and Elder Place.

Building Height and Design Excellence
In my opinion the most beneficial height for development over the site would be set precisely at the level of the very fine Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building, creating a  beautifully proportioned streetscape in Goldsborough Street. This level would appear to be close to the level that would generally result from the 21m height limit.

At the southern end of the site a benchmark, but not such a precise one, is set by the building on the SE corner of Queen and Cantonment Streets. This building, of four tall storeys, may be a little short of the 21m mark, but development to the 21m level on the subject site would produce an acceptable outcome. The discrepancy would not be material.

Further to that, in my opinion the buildings on the site should maintain a consistent level, as the adjacent Woolstores building does.

The key issue is whether the additional heights proposed at the north and south ends of the development would be acceptable. This should be looked at from both a straightforwardly urban design perspective and from the more legalistic perspective of compliance with the provisions of the planning scheme.

From an urban design perspective the most desirable streetscape outcome is unquestionably to maintain a consistent building height/level based on the level of the Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building. The 21m height level appears to be a good approximation of this. No extension of height above this visible from the adjacent streets would improve the appearance of the building.

Even one additional floor would be detrimental. It is instructive, in this regard, to consider the outcome of a single additional floor, set back from the facade, on the Marilyn New building at the northern end of Cantonment Street, at and adjacent to Parry Street. The extra floor is both highly visible and destroys the otherwise clean lines of the facades. Go and look at it.

The two proposed blocks of additional height, one at each end of the development, almost doubling the height of the development at those places, create an awkwardly balanced and poorly proportioned architectural composition. Despite the (relatively minor) setting back of these blocks, and the conscious facade design effort to distinguish them from the main building mass (the so-called podium/floating tower effect) they remain simply obtrusive elements. Far from being a beneficial element, as claimed by the applicant’s report, they are significantly detrimental to the urban design outcome. That’s from a purely urban design perspective.

From the perspective of compliance with the provisions of the town planning scheme and other instruments, my conclusion is no different. In order to gain approval for the additional height it is necessary for the applicant to demonstrate that the outcome would represent “Distinctive Architectural Design and Exceptional Design Quality”. The architectural design of the complex as a whole, and of the additional floors, is competent, but no more so than must be expected of any architect. Architects are rightly expected, at the very least, to produce buildings that not only function well, are solid and don’t leak, respectful of their neighbours and compliant with the rules, but also are visually attractive and fitting to their setting. That is as a minimum. “Good”, even “High” quality design is expected of all buildings, especially those designed by architects.

“Distinctive” and “Exceptional Design Quality”, by definition, are terms that cannot be applied to any but a relative handful of buildings. It is frequently claimed that the practical application of those terms is (merely) a matter of subjective opinion, and one opinion is as good as another. That is not so. As in all fields requiring the exercise of judgement it is a matter of professional/expert opinion, based upon professional knowledge and experience. That is why the Council has an (expert) Design Advisory Committee. And that is why my opinion has been sought.
It is rare, and difficult, for a development such as this that is driven, quite properly and essentially, by financial imperatives, to achieve distinction (positive or otherwise) and exceptional design quality or design excellence. To gain some idea of what is required to reach these heights, one needs to look at examples of highly regarded contemporary buildings, notably those that have achieved awards of excellence. In the City of Perth Council House and the new City Library come to mind, as do 40 William Street and the Central Park development. In Fremantle perhaps the proposed Kings Square redevelopment might meet the test. Could anyone seriously argue that the proposed Woolstores redevelopment would stand proudly alongside these?

Competent and attractive as the proposed development may be claimed to be it is neither “distinctive” nor of “exceptional design quality”, and hence does not pass the bar for the additional height concession.

Detailed Architectural Design
Had time permitted, I would have prepared comments on some of the more detailed aspects of the architectural design, including the materials and articulation of the facades, the treatment of the corners, the entry points into the development, and so on. However,  I have necessarily focussed on the critical  issues of the height and form of the development.

In a sense the detailed architectural and design treatment can wait: in my opinion the application should be refused, for the reasons given. If the application were approved in my opinion the game, for the future of Fremantle, will have been lost, and the detail hardly matters.

 it is neither “distinctive” nor of “exceptional design quality”, and hence does not pass the bar for the additional height concession.

Ken Adam       22 November 2017

Fremantle Society Nomination Form:  Closes Today

 The Fremantle Society Incorporated

Nomination Form 2017-2018

Office Bearers and Committee

Members are invited to nominate as Office Bearers and Committee Members.

The Positions being : President, Honorary Secretary, Honorary Treasurer, and to nine

Committee Members.

 

The Committer will take office from the conclusion of the

 

Annual General Meeting to be held on Thursday 7th December 2017 at 6.30 at Fremantle Tennis Club

 

Only financial members are eligible to make and second nominations and to be nominated.

Financial membership requires that the annual subscription be paid prior to the AGM

 

I (print name)………………………………………………………………………………….

 

Nominate (print name of member being nominated)………………………………………

 

For the position of: President/treasurer/Secretary/Committee

 

Signature of Nominator………………………………………………………………………

 

I, (Name of Seconder)………………………………………………………………………..

 

Signature of Seconder………………………………………………………………………..

 

Am pleased to second the nomination detailed above

 

I (member being nominated) consent to the nomination as detailed above

 

Signature of member being nominated……………………………………………………..

 

Completed nomination forms must be received by

`

Wednesday 22 November 2017

 

Please post or email form to:

 

Fremantle Society Inc, POB 828, Fremantle 6959

or email to john.dowson@yahoo.com