Opportunity Lost

Yesterday’s press release by John Day on the Cockburn Coast Structure Plan (SP) should have been a time for celebration; unfortunately for me it only brought disappointment.

We had a real chance of developing a high quality Village, even a carbon neutral village but all we have is the land being chopped up into urban lots.  The Minister said “The redevelopment of Cockburn Coast will see medium to high-density urban living, embodying the values of Directions 2031 and Beyond”.  Yet Directions 2031 is a special plan for a connected city, what we have here is a return to the days of Hepburn and Stevenson with a huge controlled access highway and NO transit Plan at all.  Greg Smith once produces a bumper sticker which said “Perth a City for Cars”, it was meant to be ironic, and unfortunately has become prophetic for Cockburn Coast.

I will however save my greatest disappointment for the Old South Fremantle Power Station which was destined to be the centrepiece of any development in the area.  This has been excised from the zoning to become ‘Urban Deferred’ to “address heritage considerations, (and) land use potential.”  I fear this is planning speak for them weighing up the Heritage value against the development value of the land if it is demolished.  This is a nobrainer, the building is a Heritage Icon that must be saved and reused.  The turbine hall is a huge area unencumbered by supports or pillars, the potential is limitless.  If they are in doubt they should check out Brisbane’s Powerhouse which is a stunning contemporary multi-arts, dining and conference venue, or the Sydney Powerhouse Museum or the plans to regenerate London’s Battersea Power Station.

Closer to home the Midland Workshops show what can be done with run down industrial buildings.  These are all projects built on imagination and vision, not on the best instant return for the owners.  This building is in the hands of a State Government agency, it belongs to the people.  It should be turned into something the people can be justifiably proud of.

The only chance now is for the City of Cockburn to show some vision when they implement Scheme Amendments to guide planning for the Cockburn Coast, I’m not holding my breath.

We were given a once in a lifetime opportunity for something very special, there for the taking, but the State Government chose mediocrity instead.

Jon Strachan

2 Replies to “Opportunity Lost”

  1. John Day’s response to the development of the Cockburn Coast District Structure Plan is unfortunately typical of people who cannot think outside the square. It is all too easy to just do things the usual way and not consult wide enough to gather a broard range of options for what is a unique opportunity. I live in Fremantle Village in a Park Home which I own. Throughout the world in (first world countries) people live in our style of homes. We rent the land our home is on, therefore reducing our set -up costs while remaining independent and not causing a drain on the state housing authority. Unfortunately we are at the mercy of the land owners when an opportunity comes along to realise a greater return on their investment our continuing tenure is discontinued. The removal of our homes costs anything from $30,000 upwards. To remain living in Fremantle is economically, socially and physically our desire. John Day could has the opportunity to create a Village that is not only inovative but would see many older Australians securely situated on gazetted land designated for Park Homes only. Park Homes are not ‘huts’ or temporary dwellings they are exceptionally well built abodes which owners are very proud of and are fully owned by the residents. Open up your minds when planning for social housing because the opportunities are endless and can often be much cheaper than the standard current reponses.

  2. A quote from the draft Cockburn Coast District Structure Plan (late 2008):

    “A redeveloped South Fremantle Power Station forms the heart of a new town centre
    for Cockburn coast. It is envisaged that the Power Station and its immediate
    surrounds will be a major attraction, with the potential for a mix of festival retail,
    commercial, residential, tourism and community uses.”

    More sprawling, soulless suburbia….

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