Dr Linley Lutton/ Council Elections

Dr Linley Lutton

It is with great sorrow and distress that the Fremantle Society informs its members that Dr Linley Lutton, who has helped the Society so much, is gravely ill.

Dr Lutton, while leading a busy life teaching at UWA and running Urbanix Design, has given his urban planning expertise freely to the community in Fremantle and elsewhere. He sums up his philosophy in his LinkedIn profile:

Dr Lutton’s Philosophy

My professional life started as an architect, however in the mid 1990’s I studied Urban Social Geography and so started my journey down the path of urban planning. It took some time for me to find my core philosophy but once found I now see all of my work and teaching with great clarity. To me, human ecology is at the centre of good urban planning. City planning in Western Australia is moving rapidly from ‘planning for the good of the people’ to ‘planning to facilitate property development’. The community has no ability to appeal or object to planning decisions no matter how poor they are. Our Government makes short-term planning decisions based on political whim rather than sound planning principles. Much of the rest of the developed world is embracing the process of co-production where the community is fully involved in planning decisions while Western Australia moves in a more autocratic direction. People have the right to demand better of their city planners and architects. They have the right to live in an environment which provides the essential elements required for them to lead healthy, contented lives. In recent times I have begun to publically challenge the ill-conceived city planning ideologies and projects emanating from our Government planning and redevelopment agencies. On one hand, this puts me at odds with professionals, bureaucrats and politicians however on the other hand it puts me in synchrony with most of the community who are the real owners of the city. Few professionals are prepared to speak up and challenge the system and there is no joy in doing so. I feel it is irresponsible to remain silent when I see my city being ruined through poor planning. My great dream is to see our cities and towns full of soul and authentic character reflecting the spirit of people.

Dr Lutton’s Help to the Fremantle Society

Dr Lutton was an inaugural member of Fremantle Council’s Design Advisory Committee and resigned when it was obvious the committee was being subverted, and after the 5 storey Quest Apartments in Pakenham Street were approved. He subsequently wrote a report on the project to assess its effectiveness, calling the approval ‘possibly technically illegal.’

Before the Atwell Arcade development was approved he wrote on behalf of the Fremantle Society a 12 page assessment for councillors and staff, which was ignored, resulting in the destruction of the best remaining arcade in Fremantle, the destruction of adjacent gold rush roofscapes with the large glass office box, further damage to shopfronts, and a failure to deliver what was promised by the developer.

A perfectly good Point Street development scheme approved unanimously by the previous council, was torn up by Cr Sullivan and the mayor, resulting in years of delay and a mediocre outcome: The city has embarked on a massive, arguably unrealistic redevelopment program, and I witnessed the preparedness on many occasions by certain elected members to override the advice of independent design experts to ensure this program could at least appear to be proceeding. Point Street is a perfect example (Dr Lutton to Roel Loopers 2014).

When Dr Lutton resigned from the DAC his comments were dismissed by the mayor and no effort was made to sit down with Dr Lutton and learn from his concerns.

Dr Lutton wrote a report for the Fremantle Society on the value of King’s Square. It was likewise ignored.

Dr Lutton’s Thinking Allowed Herald 19/9/2014

FREMANTLE city council is misusing its planning scheme to facilitiate poor development outcomes in Fremantle’s heritage-rich West End precinct.

The development industry argument that heritage hinders commercial progress is alive and well and people who try to voice their concerns are labelled “negative”.

Two over-height and poorly designed developments have now been approved in the West End because developers claimed extra height is needed in this height–restricted area in order to achieve commercially viable developments.

For years, in Perth’s CBD, cynical developers have shoe-horned characterless buildings behind heritage facades and this approach is now being applied in Fremantle where approving authorities are jumping to support their initiatives.

It was deplorable to hear that in Fremantle recently the council, at a specially convened meeting, listened to a conga line of commercially-focussed people speaking in support of the redevelopment of Atwell Arcade while one lone figure tried in vain to remind the council of its responsibility to heritage conservation.

What is glaringly obvious here is the powerful influence—both negative and positive—that sense-of-place has on urban dwellers is not understood. The unique sense-of-place associated with heritage environments is highly valued in most Australian capital cities because it offers respite from otherwise utilitarian intensity.
Sense-of-place triggers strong memories, attachments and behaviours at community and personal levels.

Our very identities are shaped by sense-of-place. Fremantle’s West End precinct, regarded as Perth’s most valuable tourism asset, exhibits a sense of place found nowhere else in the Perth metropolitan area. This is largely due to its scale, streetscape and evocative architecture. Alarmingly, a pattern may be emerging which threatens the overall integrity of this very special place.

Inappropriate developments are now being approved in the West End by misusing a clause in the town planning scheme intended to protect Fremantle’s heritage character. The clause gives the council the capacity to vary any site or development provision, without limitation, in order to preserve heritage values.

However, it does not give the council carte blanche to disregard other broader aims dealing with a variety of issues including preservation of Fremantle’s character. Paradoxically, this powerful clause aimed at heritage preservation is being cherry-picked from a planning framework to facilitate developments which compromise heritage values.

There are two critical points here. First, the capability of a property to return a development profit is never a criterion used to assess development applications. Only in major urban redevelopment areas is it considered relevant.

Developers always push the envelope and in localities anxious to see development occur they will try to convince gullible decision-makers to accommodate greater demands. Regardless of how compelling a developer’s commercial argument may be it has no place in any development assessment process. It was highly inappropriate for Fremantle’s design advisory committee (DAC) to cite commercial capability as a reason to support the Atwell Arcade development. This is an issue well outside this DAC’s formal terms of reference. Additionally, there is nothing in Fremantle’s planning scheme which allows variations to site or development provisions to satisfy commercial capability.

Second, Fremantle councillors, and the DAC cannot work outside the totality of Fremantle’s planning framework, which comprises many interrelated documents thick with phrases such as: developments are to achieve an exceptionally high standard in terms of appearance; developments are to be distinctive befitting their location; and, developments are to complement and contribute to the community’s desired identity and character for Fremantle.

Additionally, the DAC must satisfy itself that a development promotes character by responding to and reinforcing locally distinctive patterns of development and culture. A third party objective assessment of the two approved projects would most likely conclude that neither satisfies the broad intent of many sections in Fremantle’s planning framework including the overall stated aim to protect and conserve Fremantle’s unique cultural heritage. The approvals could be open to challenge because they so obviously ignore many pertinent sections of Fremantle’s planning framework.

Precedent is everything in planning and the precedent is now set for increased heights and characterless modern buildings in the West End. Preservation of the community’s desired character for Fremantle, a clearly stated aim of Fremantle’s planning scheme, has been ignored in order to satisfy development-driven commercial gain. Future developers can now expect height increases anywhere in the West End, even when the design outcomes are perfunctory and the results are clearly visible from the surrounding streets. All they need do is maintain the building’s façade, which they should be doing as a matter of course in this precinct, make a few internal heritage preservation gestures and then propose whatever they like behind and above. In the process the West End’s overall cohesive scale and unspoilt sense of place is eroded.

The Fremantle community should think long and hard about its attitude to the West End because your elected members and their advisory committee are beginning the process of erosion and the character of this special place is not replaceable.

Planning a city is serious business, and Dr Linley Lutton is seriously good at it. The Fremantle Society will continue to remind people of the work he has done, which is still relevant to where we are headed.

Council Elections

Voting for the elections finishes this week. The incumbents and the annointed few new look like getting four years on council, so energetic and co-ordinated has been their electioneering, and so helped have they been by hundreds of thousands of ratepayer dollars being expended promoting every council action under the sun.

The Fremantle Herald has seriously let down the community during this election, in order to protect the large advertising budget they receive from Fremantle Council. The Herald is well aware of the true financial figures that continue to cause alarm, they understand the poor quality decision making and waste of money, and the survey results which again show widespread dissatisfaction in the community which is not being addressed. And don’t even mention Australia Day.

There is no such thing as a ‘failed council candidate’.

Anyone who put their hand up to run at these elections deserves the gratitude of the community for ‘having a go.’

There has been enough angst and emotion in this election to prove that the status quo must change whoever wins. Things must be done better, more inclusively, and more economically responsibly. Will they?


The Election Season Final Act

Fremantle Architect Shows Quality is Possible

Quality is Possible

Hilton architect Don Zivkovic lives and works in skyscraper city New York, and this is some of his award winning work in the heart of that City.

Don has accepted an invitation from the Fremantle Society to give a presentation of his ideas when he next visits Fremantle. He will be too late to save much of Fremantle’s heritage character, but his ideas will make a good Thinking Allowed column in the Herald for the faithful few who still read such things.

Car Parks Not Needed?

Fremantle Council is selling yet another car park (corner of Josephson and High Streets -see next article) and you can buy it, and stick a 21 metre high building on the site to overshadow the little gem – Victoria Hall – across the way.

Fremantle Council’s advanced thinking is that driverless cars and driverless bicycles will soon replace the need for any parking spaces. The progressive Fremantle Council is years ahead of other councils who still believe that business needs support, and that car parks are strategically located in order to assist customers of those businesses.

Progressive Investigation Needed

There are a lot of people wanting Fremantle to be progressive. But you need money for that. An investigation is needed into the questionable property dealings of Fremantle Council so that we can get better value with our money. Since Dr Pettitt was elected as mayor 8 years ago, the council’s property portfolio has fallen in value from $57 million to $23 million.

The two most recent worrying examples are:

a) New Fremantle Depot Site: Council paid $7.8 million in 2014 for the contaminated site which the previous owner bought just 9 years earlier for $1.88 million. In the three years since 2014, the property, worth $640,000 a year in rent, has lain empty, losing ratepayers a possible $2 million in revenue.

b) Josephson Street Car Park: Adding to the sale of Queensgate Car Park, Point Street Car Park, Spicer Site Car Park, Bannister Street Car Park, and Phillimore Street Weighbridge Car Park, now comes the sale of the Josephson Street Car Park. The sale of so many car parks is alarming enough, but the conditions of sale, which include that the new owner must lease back the car park to the council until at least 2020 at $1 a year, mean that the price realised for the site will be much less than if it was sold as vacant possession. In fact, condition 2 ( As a condition of sale of the Property the Buyer must grant to the Seller an option to lease the Property (Option to Lease) for use as a car park for a peppercorn rent ($1.00 per annum) until development of the Property is commenced) means that the owner must allow the council to continue leasing the site for $1 a year until it is built on.

These onerous conditions could lose ratepayers at least $1 million for the sale of their asset.

The loss to ratepayers on these two issues alone could be in excess of $3 million. As the mayor of one major city told The Fremantle Society: “If I screw up on financial issues, I will man up and accept the blame.” It is hoped Dr Pettitt will do the same.

It is time for an independent investigation of all ratepayer asset sales in the past 8 years.

Election – Final Act

The local elections are almost over and the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by council in publicising themselves in lavish advertisements and publications, will greatly help incumbents to be reelected.

Also helping incumbents are the ‘jobs for the boys (and girls)’ that the hangers on have received and are receiving for aligning themselves closely with the council.

The energetic Roe 8 protestors who moved from that issue to supporting the current Fremantle Council, do not seem to have transferred any interest from Roe 8 environmental issues to Fremantle ones. Otherwise they would have picked up on some of the unsustainable council projects (how much money was wasted with solar panels at the Leisure Centre?), the cut back in the number of trees being planted in Fremantle, the failure to seriously tackle the lack of tree canopy cover, the lack of any air quality monitoring in Fremantle, the unsatisfactory health of the great Moreton Bay fig trees in Kings Square and so on.

The False Accusation

During the election, it was put about that until Dr Pettitt arrived as mayor, ‘nothing happened’ and, in Dr Pettitt’s own words, ‘the previous council was ineffectual.’

These falsities overlook the many things that occurred prior to his 8 years, which in contrast to the current council, involved consensual and high quality decision making, and high quality outcomes, particularly in the area of heritage. Much of the good work done by previous councils has been undone by the current council.

The previous Fremantle Council Heritage Architect Agnieshka Kiera has kindly put together her recollections of what was achieved by previous councils from a largely heritage point of view. It is long, but worth reading, and stands as testimony against the false accusations of the election. See the previous post, below.

Fremantle – Major achievements prior to 2010

Agnieshka Kiera

Establishing Fremantle as the heritage and cultural capital of WA took roots with the major overhaul of the Perth Metropolitan Region Scheme 1971 and the Town Planning Scheme no.2 which for the first time stopped the planned massive demolitions in Fremantle. But it was the post-America’s Cup period (1987 ->) and the Town Planning Scheme no.3 when the heritage of Fremantle was accepted as the important social and economic asset to the city. Interestingly enough at the time, Western Australia didn’t have legislative means to consider heritage, so the recognition came from the community. It was the group of professionals, artists and history lovers that established the Fremantle Society in 1972 and in 1979 produced the list of Fremantle’s heritage places. The City took this list as a base and, over the next 20 years, has revised, expanded and threaded it through the various material and legislative processes, including the much, later introduces Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990, to finally formalise it under the Planning and Development Act 2005 and adopt it as the Heritage List under the Local Planning Scheme no.4. Simultaneously with the process of identifying and expanding the legal recognition of Fremantle’s heritage, the successive Councils of the 1990s-2010’s period gradually developed the planning framework to manage heritage protection and conservation as well as the strategies for sustainable growth and revitalization of the Fremantle with heritage as the main driver of development. The culmination of establishing Fremantle as heritage and cultural capital of WA was the physical transformation of the declining 19th-century port city into the prime tourist destination of WA. The evidence of this introductory statement can be summarised as follows:


3600 individual places and 18 heritage areas on the Heritage List under Local Planning Scheme no.4. The next closest heritage list in terms of heritage wealth is Perth and Subiaco with some 300 listed places each;
Fremantle Prison inscribed on the World Heritage Register. On 31 July 2010
the Australian Convict Sites became Australia’s 18th World Heritage listed place, including the most intact surviving convict establishment in Australia in Fremantle. It has been a culmination of some 20 years long process for the local, State and National Governments, and ultimately, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to accomplish what the Fremantle City Council initiated by commissioning the first Australia ICOMOS World Heritage Evaluation Report on Fremantle in 1990; 
the State Heritage listed area (the West End). The process of State heritage listing for Fremantle historic core was initiated in the early 2000 and involved a lot of preparatory work required by the Act such as heritage research, evaluation of significance, preparation of expert report, staged community consultation, numerous revisions and discussions with the senior officers of the WA Heritage Office and, in 2010, submission of the area called Fremantle Historic Town to Heritage Council of WA for inscription on the State Heritage Register. However the newly elected 2010 Council took over the process and immediately reduced the originally proposed whole of the historic city centre down to the 1/3 of the area, which has ultimately been accepted by the Heritage Council and inscribed on the State Heritage Register as the West End of Fremantle;
• the Fremantle Society put numerous submission objecting to the reduction of the area and when the objections were ignored the Society nominated Fremantle Historic Town to the National Heritage Commission for inscription on the National Heritage Register. While this process has not yet been resolved, it’s worth noting that to date only Broken Hill in Victoria is listed on the National Register as the whole historic town.

Heritage Places Reserve Fund – the fund was established in 1987 and periodically amended until in 2006 the Council’s adopted the Capital Conservation Works Strategy, which identified 10 years worth of capital conservation projects for staged implementation. The final revised Heritage Fund, still in operation, allocates a proportion of income from the selected, incrementally restored properties together with the 1% of rates to the fund. During the 25 year period, this fund was available to the City for implementation of the capital conservation works. The selection of projects for implementation was decided annually in accordance with the Capital Conservation Works Strategy as part of the Council’s budget process and availability of the external funding. Over the years the City became successful in obtaining funding from external sources due to the quality, depth, and professionalism of its submissions and success in delivering the outstanding outcomes. Supplemented by the external grants, the Heritage Fund has facilitated implementation of the ambitious strategic program of conservation projects, outlined further below.

Heritage grants – in 2008-2010 Fremantle adopted the heritage grants budget as the financial incentive to conserve Fremantle heritage. The owners of heritage listed properties may apply for funding assistance for up to $10,000 for conservation works, which are in public view and can reveal the significance of a heritage place. Examples of eligible works include restoration of original verandahs and repointing and restoration of masonry facades. While the grants’ policy is still in place, there is no evidence of these grants being used since the 2010 elections.

Heritage Regime – It was pre 2010 Councils that, over time, have established the wholistic heritage regime, involving combination of the relevant expert skills, heritage listing, the local planning scheme provisions, policies, guidelines, plans and strategies, practical models, incentives and an active role in building conservation projects that encourage the heritage driven revitalisation and redevelopment of Fremantle in the 25 years period post America’s Cup to the early 2010s i.e. before the Council elected in 2010 has changed the priorities and introduced corresponding amendments to TPS4.


The pre 2010 Council commissioned the production of the Local Identity and Design Code for Central Fremantle with the view, like with the first World Heritage Evaluation Report in 1990, that it could be used as a planning tool by the City, owners, architects, and developers, to guide the harmonious and sustainable development, consistent with the city character as opposed to demolitions and replacement with much bigger scale buildings. While ensuring the protection of the city’s heritage the Codes promote using it as the inspiration and driver of development. The Codes represent the innovative planning and design approach to the development of the city and provide means for advancing and fostering the locally specific urban architecture. In the established cities around the world, the similar codes are used to manage change by reducing the negative impact of new development on the urban fabric of the historic cities and the social heritage of their communities. In addition to the Local Identity and Design Code for Central Fremantle, the commissioned consultants also prepared the specific Design Codes for the Spicers site and Point Street site, which were to be redeveloped at the time. Yet the 2010 Council resolved to adopt the Codes only as a study and the community resources as it was then considered as potentially a hindrance to much more aggressive transformation and large-scale developments favoured by the City’s elected body at the time. Both, the Spicers and Point Streets sites remain undeveloped.


During some 15 years of implementing the Capital Conservation Works Strategy, the City assisted revitalisation of Fremantle by undertaking the heritage driven the development of its then extensive property portfolio and leading by example. This has proven to be a very successful strategy. The City’s award-winning projects involving the combined, straight conservation and restoration/adaptations projects worked as a model for private developments and together have added thousands of the new residents to Fremantle (the precise number is yet to be determined) and attracted equally large numbers of state, national and international visitors to the city. In addition to strict conservation, the Council’s developments involved a creative modernisation of the heritage buildings, inserting new uses and extending their economic life. At the same time Council’s projects celebrated the design excellence across a range of building types and public spaces. Among the most successful were the State award- winning adaptions and redevelopment of Moores Buildings, the 1988 restoration/ adaptation of the Town Hall and Kings Square upgrade, Union Stores and Victoria Hall. Other successfully implemented projects involved Victoria Pavilion, Arts Centre (former Asylum), Fremantle Markets, Fairbairn Street upgrade, Gilbert Street Reserve, Fremantle Park and the Pioneer Park Archeological Project. The most successful of them and appreciated by the community and visitors alike according to the latest Catalyse Survey has been the most transformative Arthur Head Project. It has taken some 20 years for Council to accomplish and involved the complete transformation of the former Fremantle Port depot and the only reconstruction of the beach in Australia into the A Class Reserve – the significant to Western Australia historic site, the settlement place of Swan River Colony. It also involved extending the A Class Reserve’s boundaries to include the underwater area of Bathers Bay. In terms of physical transformation the project involved the staged and progressive reconstruction of the 1870s shoreline, Bathers Beach, the dunes and coastal vegetation, restoration of the Round House, Pilots cottages, Fort Arthur, J- Shed, former Kerosene Store (now Kidogo gallery), stabilisation of the cliffs and the Whalers Tunnel, restoration of the Whalers Station, culminating in the most successful of them all, the Old Port Project. The latterly involved construction of the boardwalks, steps and decks, shade structure (formerly Mortuary) and public facilities including the seating, paths, extensive heritage interpretation, the wooden structure of the Long Jetty, the rails and rail carriages and (constructed previously on the headland), public toilets and the Round House bakery. The Old Port Project served as a catalyst to a very successful revitalisation of the former Co-op building on the Reserve’s southern boundary.

The 1990-2010 Councils were also involved in a provision of the community services involving, among other things, the construction of low-income housing and the women refuge. These projects aimed at making Fremantle more inclusive and liveable for the city’s mixed community thus hindering its gentrification. They represented the then Council’s true commitment to Fremantle community. The particularly successful was the Small Housing Scheme involving the construction of the Council’s designed and constructed medium density housing complexes in Jenkin, Sydney and Wardie Streets and the Women Refuge in Knutsford Street. The then Councils were also involved in the successful negotiations, active cooperation and design of the Steven Street redevelopment (former quarry) for a mixture of public and private medium density housing and the public park. Another successful example was the joint preparation with the State Government of the Fremantle Prison Management Plan and retrofitting the Council owned property in the corner of Tydeman and John Streets in North Fremantle for the then State Housing Commission’s tenants.
The friendly cooperation of the former Councils with the State Government has resulted also in the State implemented developments that positively contributed to solving the housing shortage prevailing within the city’s low-income groups at the time. Most notably the medium density housing complex in Queen Victoria Street that incorporated the heritage buildings and the retrofitting and adaptation of the former Newspaper buildings in Leach Highway. The State Government funded exemplary restorations/ adaptation included Fremantle Prison’s complex, the Courthouse complex and Warders Cottages on Henderson Street, the former Girls School in Princess May Park, the former Drill Hall, and Fremantle Railway Station.


It was the Councils of the 1990 – 2000s that have established a very effective heritage regime and planning framework to manage Fremantle’s development, much of which is still in place. Over the years the combination of regulations, policies, and incentives not only encouraged the heritage driven revitalisation and redevelopment of Fremantle but saved the economy of the city from collapsing in the decade post-America’s Cup. The development pressure during the America’s Cup had resulted in some rather unfortunate developments (almost complete demolition and replacement of the Tram Barn in High Street, gutting and upwards extensions of the Navy Club in corner of High and Pakenham Street, the façadism of the Custom House complex in Pakenham/Phillimore/Henry Streets), so the Council’s learned lesson from that period was to adopt the Town Planning Scheme no.3 that included at the time innovative heritage provisions, measures, planning controls, and incentives – all aiming at protection of Fremantle’s heritage and encouraging sympathetic redevelopment of the city. It has proven absolutely essential when following the America’s Cup temporary spur of economic activity, the WA experienced economic downturn-a that set the real economic setback for the city.

It was in the late 1980s that most wholesalers, shipping companies, woolstores and factories closed down and departed from Fremantle en masse, leaving behind large number of big, empty industrial buildings and raising fears of the bankruptcy of the local economy. The massive departure of the vital industry was followed by the commercial businesses, including the famous Pellews, furniture shops, garden and equipment suppliers and number of other wholesalers. The Western Australia’s economy was in recession and the future of Fremantle looked doomed. Yet the City, in cooperation with all other tiers of government and the supportive community, took the lead by providing tangible planning incentives i.e. using the heritage provisions of the then TPS3 to induce developers of all kinds to invest in Fremantle. The Council decided to use the TPS3’s clause 9 (?) that permitted relaxation of all provisions of the scheme for developments that involved a retrofit/reuse/revitalisation of a historic building. So instead of enforcing the then planning scheme’s low density, the owners and developers of empty buildings were able to design and built as many residential units within the existing building shell, as the particular old building would physically accommodate. It was the Notre Dame University that first took advantage of these incentives when in 1988, after the withdrawal of the promised private funding for their planned country campus in Broome, the then vice-chancellor David T. Link looked for opportunities to establish the Australian campus elsewhere and came across Fremantle. At the time Fremantle represented an unprecedented market opportunity created by the oversupply of empty buildings and the enthusiastically supportive Council. It was the positive negotiations and cooperation between David T. Link, the Council and the State Government that saved the West End at the time. By their willingness to adopt heritage buildings rather than demolish and replace them, the University quickly established itself in the beautifully restored and adapted buildings acquiring the timeless and respectable quality of an old institution afforded by the Victorian character of the area. And the City, by assisting the University, had facilitated the urgently needed salvation for the ailing Fremantle economy. The City’s support wasn’t only restricted to the planning incentives. The senior officers of the City cooperated with the State Government agencies in order to come up with the alternatives to the then strict building regulations to allow the old timber structure to remain and be restored instead of being replaced by the concrete slabs and walls. The then converted old warehouses remain to this date the University’s exemplary and most creative adaptations. These include the Batemans complex of buildings in Henry and Mouat Streets (now the lecture rooms, chapel, library, and offices), the Old Furniture Factory (now the school of medicine) and the former Courthouse in Marine Terrace (now the public lecture room). The early success of Notre Dame University in the late 1980s/early 1990s was followed by the rapid succession of the privately funded developments involving reuse of the vacated heritage buildings. In a span of some three years, all the vacated industrial buildings in Fremantle were restored and converted into the alternative uses including the medium to high density residential units, restaurants, cafes, breweries, art studios and galleries. These privately funded and heritage driven developments include, in the West End alone, the former Bag factory and Saddlers warehouse in Pakenham Street, the Samson Warehouse in Little High Street, the Trade Union building and Esplanade Hotel on the corner of Marine Terrace and Collie Street, the Kakulas Sisters shops in the former Princess Theatre, the superbly restored and adapted National Hotel in Market Street, the B&B in the former German Consulate in Mouat Street and a number of residential adaptations of the heritage buildings in Cliff, Bannister and Phillimore Streets. In the late 1990s and the first decade of 2000, the planning framework provided by the TPS3 also facilitated a range of the new infill developments in the West End. The planning scheme aimed at protecting the heritage and character of Fremantle by restricting the height and scale of new developments to max three stories with an option for the strictly controlled extension of a fourth story. Thus Notre Damme conversions were followed by, to date harmoniously inserted, new infill buildings such as the corner of Cliff and Croke Streets or corner of Henry and Phillimore Streets. In addition, the new sympathetic, award- winning infill buildings were also privately constructed in Henry Street, Pakenham Street, Market, Collie and Leake Streets.

However, the greatest injection of new residents/activities and investment in Fremantle was achieved by the heritage driven developments outside the West End. A lot of them involved conversion of the old buildings combined with construction of the new, sympathetic infill development. These included but were not confined to the former Flour Mill in Essex Street, Ellen Street Factory, the Cold Stores in Marine Terrace, the Primaries in South Terrace, the warehouses in Price, King William and Ada Streets, the former Biscuit Factory in South Terrace, followed by the medium density housing developments in Jenkin and Wardie Streets, the redevelopment and upgrade of the old fishing sheds in the Fishing Harbour as the restaurant and art precinct; the conversion and redevelopment of the former boat sheds into the Little Creatures; the numerous private developments in Marine Terrace, South and North Fremantle and, in particular Hilton Park. In fact Hilton Park was discovered and generated a lot of interest as one of the most thought after residential areas in the 1990s only after the Council declared it to be the heritage area – the only surviving garden suburb in Fremantle. Finally it was then that the concept of restoring the Elders Woolstores in Queen Victoria Street and adapt them as the New York apartments, was born and actively encouraged by the Council. It was in the first decade of 2000s that Council actively negotiated with the then developers to retain the building instead of the initially proposed demolition and replacement. It was also the Council of the early 2000s, in cooperation with the State Government, who successfully negotiated the design of retrofitting and reuse of the existing Woolstores and approved the first proposal based on the requested Heritage Assessment Report and the Conservation Plan. These were the protracted and complex negotiations as even when the developer has agreed to reuse the existing building, he still pushed for the extra upward extension and demolition of the saw tooth roof. Currently known as the Heirloom, the development gives the testimony to the 2000 Council’s commitment to the heritage driven development.


It was the two decades between the 1990s – 2010 that Fremantle successfully achieved the steady and sustainable growth and has undergone a sympathetic transformation from the struggling, largely ignored as an investment opportunity and crumbling port town into a vibrant and attractive residential area for the ethnically and income mixed population of its residents. This was achieved by the active involvement of the Fremantle City Council in a provision of the affordable housing as well as ample opportunities and a wide range of options for private development. These options ranged from the opportunities for compatible infill development, from single houses to medium and high-density unit developments, to the creative reuse of the existing buildings and conservation of Fremantle’s heritage. These opportunities were largely created by the heritage regime and the planning framework adopted by the 1990-2000 Councils that was conducive to the development of the city by the mix of individual private and public investments in the city existing resources and its community.

From the hindsight and as demonstrated on the evidence outlined above, it can be said that the strategies and initiatives of the City prior to 2010 have proven to be successful and produced the tangible long-term benefits to the city. Mainly the proactive use of the Town Planning Scheme no.3 to manage the change, combined with the creative and leading role of the Council in the local development industry by undertaking its own, award-winning, developments that served the community and worked as a model for private owners and developers to follow. Thus the City has provided the successful model of sustainable urban development for Fremantle, added thousands of new residents, and established the city’s reputation as the most attractive West Australia’s international, national and state tourist destination. On the other hand, it looks like the urban development model adopted in the last 8 years of facilitating large-scale, conventional, and the developer’s driven urban development model has resulted in the visible stunt of the previous harmoniously incremental and sustainable growth. With no much of visible achievements to date, it appears to be a retrogressive step in managing change, sustainable development or inducement for the local economy. The time will tell if this change can benefit the city in the long term.


Council records and the summary of the former City Heritage Architect account of the Council’s and Fremantle achievements during the 25 years with the City of Fremantle.

Subway on Steroids


Sorry to Show this Again

The image above needs to be shown again, because it represents what the current election should be largely about – the damage to Fremantle from insensitive developments.

Mayor Pettitt and Cr Sullivan have both been on social media this week extolling the virtues of this proposal for the Coles Woolstore development before it has even reached the planning committee. The mayor claims this development and others like the 8 storey approval for 22 Adelaide Street opposite Johnston Court are “well away from the heritage areas” when of course they are not. This building will forever be an inappropriate blockage to the linkage between the station and the Town Hall, and a visual eyesore no tourist will ever pay money to come and see. Visitors arriving at Fremantle Railway Station, a facility beautifully restored inside and out by the government, and others driving along Beach Street, will be jarred by the incongruity of this supsersized Subway sandwich and its offspring.

In Paris, there is one large modern building at Montparnasse Station which impacts the remarkable congruity of the scale of Paris and should never have been allowed. But Paris is huge in comparison to Fremantle and the building proposed here – 50 metres from our railway station, and 200 metres from King’s Square – will forever blight the human scale of the town.

On the far left, looking positively tiny despite being given approval for a 6 storey development, is Marilyn New’s wool store. She will no doubt apply for the same height bonuses as the Coles site.

The Fremantle Society would like to hear from members their thoughts about the project pictured. The Fremantle Society is keen to see developers spend their money, but wonders why we can’t get something that will be the “heritage of the future” we keep being promised.

The Fremantle Society did receive a brief assessment from Ian Molyneux, the inaugural chair of the Heritage Council of Western Australia, who labelled it “moronic”.

When the election is out of the way, this proposal, and other bad news like the financially inept Fremantle Depot decision reported to you on September 20, will come to Council.

Secrets of our Cities

Tonight, Tuesday 10 October at 7.30pm SBS will air their program on Fremantle entitled Secrets of Our Cities. It will be a lively look at some of the colourful characters of Fremantle from Bon Scott to the Rajneeshees.

The Fremantle Society was pleased to help producers, free of any fee, in the making of the program.

The interest shown by the producers in listening to the Fremantle Society and others in town, is in marked contrast to Fremantle Council, who do not attend Fremantle Society events when invited, do not include the Fremantle Society in any heritage discussions, ignore detailed and professional submissions made, and do not invite the Fremantle Society to any events regarding heritage, such as the opening of the Town Hall or the Fremantle Boys School projects.

One of the producers, with a BBC background, commented that Australian towns are generally linear – you drive in one end and drive out the other, but that Fremantle was different – it had a town centre. It is probably the only town in WA to have a town square. It was pointed out that this rarity of having a town square was unfortunately not considered important by the local council who intend to build over their half of the square with a new $50 million administration building as part of a large King’s Square development.

Public Art

The Fremantle Society has received a response from the council to our letter of early September in which we wrote:

The Fremantle Society keen to see high quality public art and high quality restoration projects, but is concerned with the effectiveness of the Percent for Art Program.

The intention of the program was to provide money for heritage or public art. Developers have to spend 1% of the value of their project either on public art or heritage works.

This is an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the public realm with art that is loved and appreciated and which enhances the urban streetscape on a permanent basis, or heritage improvements that add to the authenticity of Fremantle.

It would appear that what the public have received so far has in most cases been very poor quality art installations, often affixed to the property of the developer.

While the Fremantle Society appreciates the detailed response received below, the main issues remain – the poor quality of the public art and the failure of council to do archaeological investigations on all heritage sites as required by their own policy.

Dear John,

Further to my holding reply to you regarding your email dated 13 September, I now have the information you have requested. I apologise for the time taken to respond.

a & b) 8 and 50 Pakenham Street. I have noted your comments. In both cases the commissioning and approval of the artwork was carried out in accordance with the City’s Percent for Art Guidelines, which provides for the Chief Executive Officer to approve the works under delegated authority based on a report by the City’s Public Art Coordinator and a recommendation from the Public Art Advisory Group. This group includes independent professional representatives from the fields of urban design and art.

c) Atwell Arcade/120 High Street. A condition of planning approval required a percent for public art contribution of $69,950. This was expended in conjunction with some of the City’s own public art budget allocation on a joint public art project in High Street Mall. This is the installation of poles with weathervanes at the top which you refer to. The artwork, titled Windcatchers, is by Tom Muller and Arianne Palassis. A plaque is scheduled to be installed to explain the artwork to the public. Its elements are intended to reference Fremantle’s port and maritime and colonial history, with the design of the weathervanes referencing maritime instruments and signs.

d) King’s Square project. The City’s percent for public art and/or heritage policy is applied to developments requiring development approval, and therefore only directly applies to the Sirona development on the former Myer/Queensgate sites and not to the King’s Square redevelopment project as a whole. Therefore the project value you have quoted is not the basis for calculating the amount to be spent on public art. The condition of planning approval on the Sirona development requiring a public art/heritage contribution must be complied with prior to occupation of the development. I understand that Sirona are considering the manner in which they will procure public art to comply with the condition but have not made any firm decision yet. The City’s Percent for Art Guidelines referred to above will apply to Sirona’s public art proposals, which in due course will need to be submitted for consideration by the Public Art Advisory Group as part of the process set out in the Guidelines.

The redevelopment of the City of Fremantle’s administration building is a public work which does not require development approval. Nevertheless, an evaluation of the schematic design of the new civic building against the City’s local planning scheme and policies has been carried out. I refer you to the minutes of the Ordinary Meetings of Council on 26 April and 28 June this year which dealt with this matter. Opportunities for public art are being considered as part of the design process for the new building and for the King’s Square public realm. On 27 September the council approved the release of the draft King’s Square Public Realm Concept Plan for public consultation. The draft Concept Plan includes a section dealing specifically with public art. Community consultation on the draft Concept Plan will be commencing shortly, and the City would welcome the Fremantle Society’s participation in this process. In the meantime, if you would like to see a copy of the draft Concept Plan it is available in the agenda attachments section of the City’s website at the following link:

e) LIV apartments development, 51 Queen Victoria Street. The estimated construction cost of the development as stated in the application for development approval, which is the basis for calculation of the percent for art contribution, is $30 million. Accordingly the planning condition requiring a public art/heritage works contribution attached to the approval of this development specifies a contribution to the value of $300,000. The artwork commissioned by the developers is a collaboration by artists Rick Vermey (a Fremantle resident) and Felix Laboratories. The artwork is to be integrated into the soffit and columns of the pedestrian link through the development from Queen Victoria Street to Quarry Street, and is a geometric sculptural form with illumination. The inspiration for the work is based on coastal weather systems and oceanic currents in the vicinity of Fremantle. I understand that the actual value of the artwork commission is significantly greater than the $300,000 amount specified in the condition of planning approval.

With regard to archaeological investigation, the site of 51 Queen Victoria Street is not included on the Heritage List or within a Heritage Area under the City’s Local Planning Scheme 4, and consequently the requirement to undertake an archaeological investigation under the City’s local planning policy LPP2.7 as a condition of planning approval did not apply to this development. Therefore there is no study which I can provide to you.

I trust this response covers all the points raised in your email.

More Mediocrity on the Way

Election Analysis

In recent months the Fremantle Society has covered many issues as it sought to engage the community and promote better quality outcomes. There have been the results of the community satisfaction surveys, the vexed design and financial aspects of King’s Square, the poor quality of many of the new developments, the continual selling off of income-producing assets at often bargain prices, and the dumb deals like buying the Dockers out, and wasting millions on a depot site that isn’t being used. Etc. Etc.

But here we are in the week when the ballot papers start coming out, and all we have seen is the press giving the mayor endless photo opportunities, with little scrutiny. The mayoral debate tonight will be but a blip in the radar unless the media report the differing points of view in detail and give Ra a chance to get her message across. It has been tough for the sole contender against the incumbent to get traction when every time she explains why she is running she gets accused of being ‘negative’. That tactic is used by the mayor and his coterie of councillors all the time.

Failure to Tap into Fremantle’s Expertise

The single biggest failure of the mayor and his acolytes has been the dismissal of those who are not part of the ‘team Brad’. In the past 8 years, as he has energetically gone about his mantra of ‘revitalisation’, the mayor has ignored the very people who have the expertise to nurture and navigate change, without damaging the very thing that brings people to Fremantle in the first place – its heritage and character. Instead he has allied himself closely with developers, and those who think loud music and alcohol are planning tools.

The spin and party politics have been so pervasive in this election that some Fremantle Society members who contemplated getting involved, simply walked away. There are still five Fremantle Society members contesting the elections, and five former members.

In City Ward, while there is no doubt Adin Lang is charismatic and genuinely useful on green issues, Lynda Wayman seriously well qualified but seen as the mayor’s candidate, and Roel Loopers well intentioned but a total ‘flip flop’ on issues, the candidate who would best scrutinise council and who has done the hard yards in preparation is Claudia Green. There is another candidate Julie Morgan, who did so much modernisation to the heritage facade of her building (Bairds Buildings between P&O and Orient in High Street), that she should not be eligible to run, except perhaps out of town.

In North and East Ward there is no real contest. Talented and experienced former Fremantle Society President Jenny Archibald is running in East Ward with the support of the mayor and should win easily. In Beaconsfield the popular Fedele Camarda is up against the Labor Party machinery, and in South Ward Marija Vujcic offers reality and hope for some level-headedness against Cr Sullivan, who has done more damage than most councillors in recent years, and the young and determined Greens candidate Liam Carter. In Hilton the quietly talented and sensible Catherine Hammond is up against the Socialist Alliance incumbent Cr Wainwright.

What You Will Get After the Election

Finally, when the election is over and you wake up to what is hiding around the corner, take a good long look at the next monstrosity (at the top of this page) to be inflicted on Fremantle thanks to Dr Pettitt and Andrew Sullivan and their scheme amendment 49 in particular.

The plans are currently before the Design Advisory Committee (photo Roel Loopers blog).

Remember – Mayoral Debate Tuesday (tonight) 6.30 at Notre Dame

The Fremantle Society wants a Bigger (and better) Fremantle

Reminder: Mayoral Debate Tuesday
3 October Tannock Hall Cliff Street 6.30pm

This important community event is sponsored by the Fremantle Society and is your chance to hear from both mayoral candidates, incumbent Dr Brad Pettitt, and challenger Ra Stewart.


To be sustainable Fremantle Council needs to grow its population and its land area, not annoy people so much they don’t want to be part of us.

There is currently another push from North Fremantle residents to secede from Fremantle.  A previous effort to secede just a small area near Mosman Park failed, but now there is a much more ambitious plan, which seeks to take all of North Fremantle except Fremantle Ports land into an amalgamation with Mosman Park.

The mayor of Mosman Park Ron Norris had a meeting with seven of the group a couple of weeks ago. Mosman Park has accepted the idea in principle, and the Fremantle Society has been told by the mayor and the secessionist side that the concern from locals revolves around dissatisfaction with Fremantle Council in general and specific concerns about foreshore and insurance issues.

East Fremantle made it very clear they did not want a voluntary amalgamation with Fremantle when they had the chance.

Hamilton Hill residents next door to Fremantle booed the amalgamation idea so much at a public meeting last year, Fremantle councillors Coggin and Hume slunk out of the hall.

When the amalgamation of Fremantle and Melville was mooted by the Liberal government, Melville Council told the Fremantle Society they thought the Fremantle finances were so suspect, they would not be interested.

Cockburn has refused to give an inch of its northern suburbs, even though the South Fremantle power station is not in Fremantle but Cockburn.

The North Fremantle group have not made the secession an election issue, because they want nothing to do with Fremantle Council. Their chances of success may be slim, but the totality of rejection of Fremantle Council by so many people, should be a wakeup call to the council. This is especially true during the current mayoral election where Dr Pettitt is seeking a third term.

This issue should motivate the mayor and council to do a better job, to cut the spin and fake news, and to represent the whole community – not just small segments of it.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

Coming soon: Election analysis