Your Town. Your Issues?

What are the Issues?

Council Elections

The Fremantle Society has a range of issues and concerns it hopes will be addressed by candidates in the upcoming council election. Here are some. There will be MORE!

1) Heritage Grants

Funding for the Fremantle Heritage Conservation Grants Policy: This policy of giving grants to owners of heritage properties sits on the council website (see above), but there is no money available, and has been none since 2011. With over 3,000 heritage listed properties in Fremantle, there needs to be incentives to get people to restore their property for the common good. A businessman in High Street may be tempted to reinstate his original shopfront layout, which would be a dramatic improvement to the authenticity of the important shopping street, but a quote of $200,000 would quickly quash any interest. However, a council grant of even $20,000 might be enough to make him consider the project.

Subiaco and Perth, with far fewer heritage properties, are two councils that give generously to owners. $100,000 a year minimum is asked for this fund, the same amount as 2010.

2) Community Satisfaction

Firstly, to obtain objective data, the Fremantle Society is seeking the results of the Catalyse 2107 Community Survey so it can be compared with earlier surveys -to understand what the community feels about the council. Council already has the results. Previously such results were released in July, and the 2017 results should be released well before the election.

3) Environmental concerns

The Fremantle Society believes that environmental issues are not being treated seriously or effectively enough. Examples:

(i) Fremantle has the second worst tree coverage of any council in the state. Council promised a significantly improved tree coverage from 10% to 20% by 2020 but has not committed the funds to achieve any real progress in the next few years. Next year council will be planting FEWER tress than it did in 2009. Council apparently has committed no money to underground power, an important step towards a greater tree canopy. Plus, Council has not progressed the Significant Tree Register, and there are only 11 listings on it. This lack of attention to such an important issue is disappointing.

(ii) Despite spending over $300,000 to join One Planet, basic things are not being done. For example, there in NO air quality monitoring in Fremantle. The nearest air quality monitors are in Swanbourne and North Rockingham. There should be air quality monitoring in a port city with at times noxious cargoes. Clean air is a basic right and residents have the right to know that their council is monitoring their air quality.

4) Better Quality Buildings

Fremantle has suffered a tsunami of poor quality development detrimental to its heritage, undermining the very reason people come here in the first place. The community deserves a higher quality urban fabric, not a lower quality one. We want a review of the Design Advisory Committee and a review and implementation of the Local Identity and Design Codes which council spent over $100,000 on. These would be a positive guide to improved sustainable and compatible development.

5) Council finances

The Fremantle Society and FRRA have long raised the issue of the sustainability of council finances and the selling off of ratepayer issues. The Fremantle Society believes it has a better plan for King’s Square, and even at this late stage wants the square saved to become a true open town centre. The contract for the proposed administration centre will not be signed until next year. The ratepayers cannot afford a $50 million administration building, one that requires the sale of further assets like the Leisure Centre car park and Samson Rec Centre, and higher rates.

Fremantle Society Committee Statement Concerning Claudia Green

From August 15 Committee meeting: “President John Dowson’s statement in the most recent email to members relating to Claudia Green was based on Ms Green’s resignation from the Committee last year which was disruptive (around the time of the Beaconsfield by-election). ”

Committee Member Statement

Mike Finn says he is withdrawing from the council election race for City Ward due to the negativity and hostility of social media towards those who volunteer their time.

He believes his withdrawal will help fellow Fremantle Society member Claudia Green in her run for City Ward.

Mike says he will continue as a committee member of the Fremantle Society, and strongly supports the Fremantle Society’s determination to seek better quality development in Fremantle that builds on its special and valuable character rather than undermining it.

Fremantle History Society

The hard working committee at our sister society the Fremantle History Society produces wonderful newsletters, organise interesting events, and can be joined by sending $25 to the Membership Coordinator, PO Box 1305, Fremantle 6959. Or secretary.fhs@gmail.com

They have two important upcoming events:

a) Tour of the recently restored Dalgety Building on the corner of Cliff and Phillimore Streets 16 September at 10.30am. This large and magnificent building has been there since 1902. It would be worth joining the Society just to do this tour. The restoration there is first class, though incomplete. The 6 flagpoles and the chimneys have not been replaced. The cupola is still missing. The sectioning of upper windows on the north side has unfortunately disappeared, and the marble floor has lost its 100 year old patina by being ground into a shiny flat surface. But, what a building.

b) Studies Day: Sunday 22 October at the Fremantle Army Museum at 1pm.

Thanks Garry

Garry Gillard has resurrected our blog. Check it out (fremantlesociety.org.au). Amazing work. He has his own websites and a wonderful coverage of Fremantle history on one called Fremantle Stuff.

Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid

Council Elections:
Mike Finn Declines to Run for Council

Well known Fremantle businessman and committee member of the Fremantle Society Mike Finn (above looking out of his Market Street premises) has withdrawn from his intention to run for City Ward in the upcoming October local election.

The coming election is vital for the future of Fremantle given the financial problems and damage to heritage caused by the current council.

The mayor and six councillors are up for re-election. The Fremantle Society has worked long and hard to research issues, make submissions, lobby for high quality development, and encourage people to be involved in local politics.

At the moment Ra Stewart appears to be the only person willing to run for mayor against Dr Pettitt. In North Ward at least one person will be running against incumbent Doug Thompson, while in South Ward Liam Carter (Green) is interested in running against Cr Sullivan (former Green). The mayor is supporting former mayor Jenny Archibald to run in East Ward to replace Cr Coggin (Labour) and Fedele Camarda intends running against Cr Fitzhardinge (Labour) in Beaconsfield. In Hilton, Fremantle Society committee member Catherine Hammond will run against Cr Wainright (Socialist).

In City Ward Claudia Green (not a Green) was first out of the blocks to run the election race. Mike Finn, longtime businessman in Fremantle running Kakulas Sisters, expressed interest. Now, according to Cr Sullivan, the mayor is getting Linda Wayman to run. And Adin Lang could run as well.

Unfortunately, the keyboard warriors have written so much inaccurate and conspiratorial material about the election manoeverings, and upset so many people, that Mike has decided he has better things to do and will not run.

A major problem in Fremantle is the apathy of voters, the lack of candidates, and the low voter turnout. People should be encouraged to run, of whatever background or philosophy, but social media now seems to encourage personal attacks and wild speculation. Most people have enough to do in their day keeping a job and looking after their family without entering a Roman Circus.

The Fremantle Society was delighted when Claudia Green became the first to show interest in running in City Ward and we said so. But, the Fremantle Society has never formally endorsed Claudia Green. Two Fremantle Society committee members decided to run (Mike Finn in City and Catherine Hammond in Hilton).

This does not mean the Fremantle Society will not support other candidates, whether they are members of the Society or not.

The Fremantle Society has repeatedly asked for member’s views, and again we ask if you have specific issues you feel candidates should support and focus on.

The mayor and his big team have been campaigning for months already even if you havent noticed it. Just don’t drink the Kool-Aid.

John Dowson
President
john.dowson@yahoo.com

Next issue: Environmental Fraud in Fremantle

Heritage and Heretics

I have been fortunate to have just had three weeks studying heritage properties in France. I have stayed in many of them, including Chateau de la Flocelliere, pictured here, south of France’s biggest river, La Loire, along which many fabulous heritage properties can be found.

I particularly wanted to stay with the owners of Chateau de la Flocelliere, because owner Vicomte Patrice Vignial is chairman of the organisation Bienvenue au Chateau, which represents hundreds of chateaux in France. His heritage property is one of the few in France to have been continuously inhabited for ten centuries. Yes, ten centuries. It is a stunningly beautiful mix of 11th century castle, and Renaissance style later additions. The bedroom I stayed in is pictured also.

Vicomte Vignial and his wife breathe history and culture, and like many owners of large heritage properties, have to open their property to the public to help with the running costs. There is no doubt that larger heritage properties anywhere cost a lot to maintain, and that necessary money is often hard to come by. The fraud perpetrated by the Heritage Council of Western Australia recently in listing half of the original West End without allocating a single extra dollar to actually keep the precinct in good shape has fooled many people.

Where is the money?

If the heritage of a nation is to survive it needs a listing system that means something, advocates who can protect and enhance that heritage, and more money, not just for reports and salaries, but for the buildings as well.

The Heritage Council offer $1 million a year for all the heritage properties in WA. The annual $100,000 available from Fremantle Council disappeared after one year because staff could not be bothered with the paperwork and a new council was elected. Even the City of Perth, with relatively little heritage, give away $40,000 a year to help heritage property owners. Meanwhile in the UK, $600 million a year is awarded to heritage properties from lottery proceeds.

The White Shoe Brigade

The biggest challenge in recent years has been the infiltration of developers into the very organisations that should be helping our heritage. The Heritage Council of WA is basically a developers’ club, and is run by the former head of the Real Estate Institute of WA. The Fremantle Society has suffered efforts to reduce its focus, but the greatest tragedy has been the failure of the National Trust to do its job.

National Trust No Longer to be Trusted

The greatest concentration of National Trust listed properties is in Fremantle – directly the work of Fremantle Society members over 30 years ago who photographed thousands of Fremantle properties to provide the Trust with the basis for their listings. But, the National Trust has been almost invisible in Fremantle, and treated with contempt by the local council.

When Mayor Samson died he bequeathed his home and contents to the community. It is managed by the National Trust and disgracefully is rarely open to the public. The Fremantle Society met with the National Trust last year and offered to help open the place for a substantial number of hours each week. The offer was refused. Since then the National Trust has not attended one event organised by the Fremantle Society and refuses to take any interest or action regarding the serious heritage issues facing Fremantle.

Whereas the National Trust in places like New South Wales believes strongly in advocacy, in Western Australia the National Trust only believes in ‘education.’ The National Trust (WA) under its current leadership has utterly failed to be an effective advocate for heritage. One life member of the National Trust has been so appalled with them, he instructed his lawyers to redraw his will and remove the $1 million bequest allocated therein.

Rob Campbell on the new $52 million Administration Building

Very few Fremantle architects are providing commentary on current plans for Fremantle. The Fremantle Society is thrilled that developers want to spend money in Fremantle, but we want good planning. Thank goodness, Fremantle’s senior architect Rob Campbell, active in Fremantle for half a century, is still involved. He has provided the Fremantle Society with the following comments to inform members ahead of their meeting with the Mayor next Tuesday [25 July]  at 7pm at the Meeting Place to ask questions about the King’s Square Project.

The latest development of the proposed new administration building conforms to the old story of the Committee set up to design a horse.

Remember this? The architects describing their prize-winning design − “Materially, the building is conceived as a series of sandstone formations rising up to support a delicate glass prism. White planar elements hover above the streets and define a large verandah. The architecture is clear and coherent… the sandstone references the key historical buildings of Fremantle, the white planar massing alludes to the colour of the ocean liners that frequent the Port City…” Over the top?
Sandstone is not typical of Fremantle; the key reference here is the St. John’s Church limestone.

However, the architects had successfully used the white planar elements to pull together the difficulties presented them by the competition brief that demanded too big a footprint on the awkward triangular site. Clear and coherent? Not any more. I hear that Councillors decided that it began to look too much like the Myer building, so now we have a collection of awkward and unrelated spaces and an attempt to disguise this behind a metal curtain. A little old lady’s hat and veil trick, which may improve the wearer’s self-esteem but doesn’t fool anyone else.

This façade treatment is at its worst where it abuts and shows no courtesy to the Town Hall.
Perhaps Councillors should acquaint themselves with the public outcry that accompanied the arrival of the Queensgate building on William Street in 1989, particularly its streetscape relationship to the Town Hall. The Daily News headlined −
“Freo stands by its $10m. ugly duckling, doesn’t know if it will turn into a swan or a turkey”.
The Councillors and Officers who then thought that they were clever enough to produce a swan will now be breathing a sigh of relief and giving thanks to know that the turkey is soon to be gobbled up. The current crop of officials should prepare themselves for similar criticism of the present proposal.

The site is still being over-developed, but we now find that the top floor is surplus to Council’s requirements and will be leased out commercially. (The top floor is higher than the Federal Hotel in William Street that has always been the maximum height marker for the Square) Also, that ground floor space on William and Newman Streets will be leased out, leaving no civic function at street level, and ignoring the opportunity to locate the Library at Kings Square ground level. It begins to look as though Council is abusing its own Town Planning scheme to profit as a developer rather than to set civic standards in this sensitive area of the Town.

While there are several, the most awkward space in the whole scheme is the birdsbeak at the corner of Newman and High. At ground floor level, it is an acute triangle, with approximately seven metre sides and four metre base, behind the entrance doors to a restaurant. Imagine yourself − and the furniture − in this space. .Similarly, in the office spaces on levels one and two above. Useless floor space, and so un-Freo where corners are traditionally comfortably rounded. Worse, the metal curtain oversails the ground floor and leaves an unfriendly canyon of public space below.

It is difficult to imagine the thinking behind the two sunken pools on either side of the basement library, except perhaps that the current officials are too young to remember the pools that stood alongside the Town Hall in the 1970s − and what happened to them on most week-ends.

And where there should be some free space to allow the Town Hall to stand alone in its architectural strength, there is now none.”

(ii) Flawed Heritage Impact Statement

New Council Building gets Heritage Tick of Approval − Herald 1/7/17.

“This headline is based on a Heritage Impact Statement prepared for the City of Fremantle in April.

I am not sure what a Heritage Impact Statement (HIS) is for. It certainly is not a substitute for a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) which is the nationally and internationally recognised structure for assessing and managing the impact of new development on places of cultural significance. (ref.UNESCO; ICOMOS; AICOMOS etc.)

In my submission on the Kings Square development project in January, I pointed out this omission
and included a prototype CMP. Council staff thought so little of this idea that they did not bother to pass it on to Councillors.

This lack of a rigorously argued and structured overall conservation plan and policies for Kings Square is acknowledged in this HIS; instead, the conclusions are a series of straw-man questions or statements on the impact that the new building will have on the existing Statements of Significance listed in the Municipal Inventory for the Town Hall, St. Johns Church, and Kings Square. eg. −

The Town Hall.
Q: Aesthetic value?The building is a fine example of Victorian Free Classical style civic architecture
demonstrating the civic pride and confidence of the Fremantle Community.
A: There will be no adverse impact.
The new proposal is probably not going to change the style category as defined by Irving&Apperly.
The real question is − will it enhance or diminish the way we see ‘this fine example’ on the ground?

Q: Streetscape contribution?The building occupies a strategic position at the intersection of William
and High Streets making a major contribution to the streetscape of the West End of the City.
A: No adverse impact.
The view of the Town Hall from the West End is its most important contribution to the streetscape,
and brevity required in the documentation of the Inventory leaves it at that. But it is not the only value it has to offer. It also demonstrates the Fremantle habit of comfortably turning around corners using curved facades, towers or turrets. This fundamental principle is flatly contradicted at the new building intersection of High and Newman where a most adverse impact on the townscape occurs. That question is not raised in the Heritage Impact Statement.

Q: The Clock Tower?The Town Hall Clock Tower is a well established landmark in Fremantle,
identifying the civic centre of the city.
A: The prominence of the clock will not be diminished.
Perhaps we will still be able to check the time, but in particular, the top floor of the new building will intrude on the architectural view of the tower as a whole on the approaches to the City, and in the closer perspectives from William, Adelaide and Queen Streets, as is well-illustrated in the drawings included in the Heritage Impact Statement.

On the impact of the new building on the townscape of the Square the HIS has not much to say. The latest set of perspective sketches are showing an entirely new and different character to the Square, but this question is not asked in the HIS. However, there is a positive contribution in the statement that − Reopening of Newman Court to traffic will also enhance the urban form of the original square. The reopened street should return to its original name − Newman Street. Yes.

In general, the HIS seems to examine the impact of the new development on the existing paper-work, not the reality of its physical and visual impact on the existing cultural landscape that is Kings Square.”

R.McK.Campbell. July, 2017.

Notes for Wednesday 26: Council Meeting 6pm

(i) 2 Henry Street 5 Storey Proposal: The key issue is 2 Henry Street, a massive and insane 5 storey proposal for the old Customs Buildings in the West End.

If Council had rented those buildings to house its administration instead of renting a football club’s facilities, this project may not have been spawned.

It is depressing that so much time and effort has to go into countering appalling architecture and proposals like this one, rather than supporting those who want to spend their money following the rules. The report recommendation is for refusal, but remember that the mayor and other councillors have recently damaged the West End with 5 storey proposals being supported at 8 Pakenham Street (Quest Apartments) and in Bannister Street (Hougomont Hotel).

In fact one of those councillors, Ingrid Waltham, said at a planning meeting she had no problem with 5 storeys in the West End, contrary to her own council’s policies.

A key issue about the West End is that new works should not project up above the old. The mayor and some councillors are trying to redefine heritage and to rewrite the heritage rules to allow new works which do significantly project up above the old. Thankfully, the council report on 2 Henry Street makes it clear:

- the proposed new building, where it projects above the parapet height of the existing heritage facades, is not supportable.

Please send your views before Wednesday to: members@fremantle.wa.gov.au

(ii) There are many other important issues in the agenda. One is the tentative officer support for a look into third party appeal rights, an issue put to the council recently by the Fremantle Society.

Another is the dismal budget allocation to the urgent and pressing need for a greater tree canopy cover in Fremantle, the second worst cover of any council in WA. While council has spent millions on projects and consultants in other areas, it has only allocated $130,000 to try and meet its promise for a 20% tree canopy cover by 2020, a promise which has now been greatly watered down and which will be impossible to achieve.

Also see the discussion on sustainable cities (an important discussion on ‘doing density’ effectively), and new planning schemes for Beaconsfield and White Gum Valley.

John Dowson, President, The Fremantle Society

Congratulations Les!

Congratulations to our founder Les Lauder AM for the Order of Australia (AM) awarded to him for his services to heritage.

For decades Les has been an erudite, passionate, and successful advocate for the heritage of Fremantle.

He was president of the Fremantle Society and Fremantle councillor several times. Most recently on council 2005-2009, Les was an exceptional councillor, mature, thoughtful, committed, and focussed on representing constituents.

Les’s term on council expired in 2009, 37 years since he had founded the group that saved Fremantle from the wrecking ball.

All the work Les did for Fremantle was done on top of running an antiques business with his partner Mark Howard.

Les is a real hero in the Fremantle landscape. He and others founded a community group that was pivotal in saving dozens of heritage buildings and pivotal in helping preserve the small scale special nature of the town.

Lost Poles

The picture at the top of this email shows a series of poles recently installed in the High Street mall as an expensive addition to the public art of Fremantle. The intrusive and unsightly addition comes on top of council’s failure to enhance the mall through any improvement to shopfronts or verandahs when negotiating the Atwell Arcade development there. This key strategic retail crossroads has been let down yet again by mediocrity from council and developers.

Fremantle Society to Meet Heritage Minister

The Fremantle Society is to meet the new heritage minister Hon. David Templeman MLA to discuss its concerns about serious problems facing heritage in Fremantle and the damage being done by inappropriate new developments.

The Fremantle Society will be seeking more money for heritage. Heritage needs a significant funding boost. The very thing that attracts people to Fremantle, its heritage, needs to be maintained and restored for the benefit not just of the owner, but the community and the tourist industry. There is very little assistance available to encourage owners to undertake the sort of projects which would enhance the authenticity of the town such as reinstating shopfronts or verandahs.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame has announced they will be going back to the drawing board regarding their 5 storey plans for 3-5 High Street on the corner of Cliff Street.

The Fremantle Society worked long and hard on this issue, and our views put forward were that Notre Dame already had control of 47 properties in the West End, and thus this new project should be built outside the West End, allowing the university to have the bulk and scale they were seeking.

We also supported council’s policy of a maximum of three storeys for the West End (with a possible fourth if well set back), having a new building better address the corner, the need for improved materiality, and the need to break the large building up into three lesser ones.

The Notre Dame “Activation” Projects

Notre Dame has written to West End residents telling them that in conjunction with the firm CODA they have council permission to undertake various works in the street. But Council has yet to sign off on the details and the Fremantle Society has written and submitted a report to Notre Dame urging them to undertake a meaningful program of restoration to truly reactivate some of the buildings missing their verandahs or architectural features.

18-22 Adelaide Street

The plans put forward for a brutal and insensitive five storey block of flats at the rear of Mills Records opposite the Town Hall were rejected months ago by councillors but have made a reappearance at council and will be considered at the council meeting at the end of the month. Because the open space of King’s Square lies directly opposite the site, it is impossible to set the new building back so that it won’t severely impact the gold rush streetscape and roofscape of the area.

Members are urged to take an interest in this issue as it could have a serious and negative effect on Fremantle’s character and be another ‘precedent’ for developers to follow.

Society AGM this week

 

Reminder: the Fremantle Society AGM is this coming Wednesday 7 December at 7pm at the Fremantle Tennis Club (corner of Parry and Ellen Streets).

President John Dowson will make a presentation entitled Where are we going? Quality matters. The AGM will follow.

Refreshments provided.

We need a folding screen on a tripod in case any member can help us out!

We are grateful to the Finn family (Kakulas Sister) for offering to help with the food, We will be running a raffle and if anyone wishes to donate a prize like a new Mercedes or even a decent book, please let us know.