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.