Kings Square Project planning moves into new phase

From: City of Fremantle media release 13 October 2016

Kings Square Project planning moves into new phase  

City developing masterplan to connect Kings Square with key areas of the city centre ~ to be released for public comment in early 2017.

The City of Fremantle is progressing with detailed planning work for the   $220m Kings Square project to transform the heart of Fremantle into a vibrant civic, retail, commercial and community hub.

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The current focus for the City is the development of a coordinated masterplan to link public spaces in Kings Square with other key parts of the city centre.

The masterplan will include upgrades to the Kings Square public spaces as well as enhancements to connecting areas including Queen, Adelaide and Point streets and the development of a new public square at the Fremantle Train Station.

“Catalyst”

“The Kings Square project is a catalyst project with a far greater flow-on benefit for Fremantle than just the development of buildings in the Kings Square precinct itself,” said acting Mayor Dave Coggin.

“The project has always been seen by council as a way to reconnect public spaces in central Fremantle which have become disconnected from the city centre over several decades.

“The current work is focused on how best to upgrade surrounding areas which flow towards Kings Square to ensure the entire city centre is well-connected and a more attractive place for visitors, workers and businesses.

“Sirona Capital has entered commercial negotiations with the Department of Finance, which is the next stage in the state government’s Fremantle office accommodation process and this is very positive and encouraging for the project’s future delivery.

“The current master planning work being undertaken will enable us to deliver what will be a game changing project for Fremantle as soon as possible after these commercial discussions are finalised,” Mr Coggin said.

Kings Square and City Centre Masterplan

As part of ongoing work, the City will develop an over-arching masterplan for the public realm in key city centre precincts. This masterplan will guide the detailed design and sequencing of the individual projects which will see parts of the city upgraded with better roads and footpaths, new street furniture, bike lanes, hard and soft landscaping, public art, lighting and CCTV.

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The focus areas in the Kings Square and City Centre Masterplan are:

  • Kings Square public realm upgrade
  • a new city square at Fremantle Station Precinct
  • Queen, Adelaide and Point street upgrades
  • City Centre Northern Gateway: Proclamation Tree, Queen Victoria and Parry Street intersection upgrades.

It will also deliver new civic buildings including City of Fremantle administration offices and library, enhanced public spaces, commercial and retail offerings and a new visitor centre.

The masterplan also recognises two important public open spaces: Pioneer Park and Princess May Park. It is anticipated the draft will be developed over coming months and presented to council prior to being released for public comment in early 2017.

The project will create a civic, retail, commercial and community hub that is a vibrant, active and safe place which reflects Kings Square’s unique position in the heart of Fremantle.

Laying the foundations for good design in WA

Breaking News – O’Brien Empire Expands

Major new project

THE whole of the Manning Estate in High Street Mall and Market Street Fremantle, comprising 26 shops, is to be bought by Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf Investments for approximately $31 million.
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The map above shows the O’Brien empire, with the Manning Estate coloured in black, and his other properties outlined in black. They comprise the 7,700 sqm site of the former police buildings and courthouse in Henderson Street, the Coles supermarket site, Target, the banks along Queen Street and the Atwell Buildings and Atwell Arcade.

O’Brien’s developments have drawn strong criticism for what is perceived to be mediocre quality architecture, damaging to the scale and heritage values of Fremantle.

When his new Commonwealth Bank building on the corner of Queen and Cantonment Streets was opened by Minister for Planning and Infrastructure  Alannah MacTiernan, she arrived with the comment: “When is the scaffolding coming down?’

“Crass design”

When the new adjacent buildings (the Q&A Centre on the corner of Queen and Adelaide opposite St John’s Church where Mr O’Brien has an office) were built, outrage was expressed at the crassness of the design.

When the current Atwell Arcade glass box development rose above the world famous gold rush architecture surrounding it, former councillor Bll Massie said: “it sticks out like dogs’ balls.”

Bill Massie, the most pro-development of councillors on Fremantle Council, was the only councillor in 2014 to vote against the Gerard O’Brien Atwell Arcade development when it came to council at a special meeting called by the mayor for  this developer. Bill Massie said it would damage the heritage of Fremantle.
Why Does this Damage to Fremantle’s Heritage Keep Happening?

Besides former councillor Massie, others have condemned the quality of the new project and the Fremantle Society is seeking answers to a series of questions. Architect Sasha Ivanovich, who was on the approving Design Advisory Committee for the development, said that the project went “off the rails”. His full report is published below.

History will show that the halving of the West End Heritage area by council which the Fremantle Society objected to was a deliberate ploy to aid developers. The approval for Atwell Arcade came just after the mayor was installed on the Heritage Council, an organisation which has done little to protect Fremantle since.

At the special 2014 meeting of council to approve Atwell Arcade the following voted to approve the project:  Mayor Pettitt, councillors Sullivan, Strachan, Pemberton, Nabor, Wilson, Hume, Waltham, Wainright, and Fittock.

The community should remember those names at the next election.

Large apartment building planned

Gerard O’Brien is said to have plans to construct a large building of apartments behind the Manning Estate facades. He currently has plans before council for a 12 storey building on the Coles supermarket site.

The Fremantle Society is concerned at the current tsunami of poor quality development damaging to the world class heritage values of Fremantle.

The Fremantle Society is pro-development and wants progress, but it wants better quality results.

Among other things it calls for a revamp of council’s Design Advisory Committee (DAC), which clearly is not working. It still has the same chairman, nominated by the mayor, since its inception. The review should include a rotating chairman and ideas as expressed in the report below.

Professional Assessment of Atwell Arcade Development by Architect Sasha Ivanovich

The Atwell Arcade Development now nearing completion began with cautious optimism. It was hoped that a sensitively thought out design solution would, on one hand contribute to the restoration of  culturally valued, heritage listed shop‐ front of  commercial premises on Adelaide, Market St and High Street Mall and on the other, re-vitalise  a precinct in central Fremantle with new retail and office tenancies. The commercial viability of the proposed new office building to be built in the middle of the site, occupied by low value sheds, justified the cost of redevelopment.

As initially presented, and as reviewed by Council Planning and guided by Fremantle DAC, the new office development, with its simple lines of continuous patterned glass screen on four sides, would conceal the new building façade and provide a plain seamless backdrop to the more ornate historical facades of the shop­‐fronts at ground and first floors, highlighting the original heritage architecture.

There would also have been advice given by Council officers to the Developer for the arcade itself to be restored close to its original character. With the Developer employing their own heritage consultants, Council would have received assurances of that kind.

It is of concern that the finished building deviates from such clear requests from Council and DAC advice, recoded conditions of Planning Approval:

•    Instead of a simple glass box of uniform patterned glass forming the envelope and backdrop to the street level heritage frontages, the screens of the new office building have been angled, other various façade features have been introduced -­‐  spandrels and canopies added and the patterning on the glass removed, amplifying a clash of presentation between the new building and the original..
•    Though there has been some restoration of original glass shop-­fronts, new contemporary style materials have been introduced.
•    Substantial restoration has been performed on the street facades but intermixed with a modern look fascia to the street canopies
•    There would have been an argument from the Developer and their consultants against restoration of the Arcade to its original, ‘for lack of original detail’ -­ the arcade has gone through several refurbishments since its inception. When construction began however, unique timber mouldings that adorned the steel structures of the original arcade were exposed. These have been ignored. Instead of a continuing reference to the ornate design of the original, the new arcade, stripped of its historical references, shares its impersonal and generalist design with shopping centre malls anywhere.

There is a lesson to be learn’t here about implementation of planning approvals. If conditions imposed at planning approval are to be performed, a follow up process is needed – to monitor a developer’s progress from planning approval to construction, before and during construction:

a.    Once the project progresses to Building License, review of design documentation would need to be thoroughly performed to ensure that building license drawings conform to what has been approved and negotiated at planning approval.

b.    The construction process would need to be more vigorously monitored, to ensure that what has been approved at planning stage and in building license drawings and specifications, is carried through in the finished work.

The Design Advisory Committee is best suited to review final construction documents. They would be most sensitive to design issues and be alert to the carefully worded conditions of an original planning approval. Whilst Council remains shy of enforcing in every detail planning approvals, there can be only more breaches in a planning approval process that is considerably invested in time and professional resources.

Sasha Ivanovich FRAIA Fremantle practicing Architect
(past DAC member City of Fremantle DAC,  Town of Vincent DAC  and DAP State DAP sitting member) September 2016.

DAPs tweaked for more transparency

Extract – BUSINESS NEWS, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Author: Dan Wilkie
Thursday, 13 October, 2016

THE state government has moved to make the development assessment process more transparent, unveiling a raft of changes to the system in response to feedback from local governments and resident groups.

Development Assessment Panels have been in place in Western Australia since 2011, with the system designed to add an additional level of technical expertise to the planning process.

Changes announced today include publishing DAP agendas earlier, providing opportunities for developers to opt out if their project does not significantly impact local amenity, and more information to be provided in regard to why decisions are made.

Other changes include local governments being required to contact all those who provided written submissions to DAP applications to inform them of the meeting, and allowing developers to choose between local councils and DAPs when seeking minor amendments to existing approvals.
Planning Minister Donna Faragher  –faragher

– said the changes would ensure the decision-making process is better communicated and understood. Ms Faragher said the system had been reviewed twice to provide the best planning outcomes for the state.

All of the amendments can be seen below:

  • Provide an option to opt-out of a DAP in favour of a local government for developments, such as industrial warehouses, that will not significantly impact local amenity.
  • DAP agendas will be published at least seven days before a meeting – instead of the current five days – to provide greater advance notice to the public.
  • Local governments will be required to proactively contact each person who has provided a written submission in relation to a DAP application, to inform them of when the meeting will take place.
  • Responsible authority reports to include more information about why decisions can be made, to ensure that the decision-making process is clearly communicated and can be better understood.
  • DAP members and local governments to be provided with more governance support, where required.
  • DAP presiding members will be able to intervene in the ‘stop-the-clock’ process if parties disagree about the level of information that has been provided for an application.
  • Provide proponents with the option to choose between a local government or a DAP when requesting an amendment to a minor aspect of an existing development approval (Form 2).
  • Empower the Minister for Planning to remove DAP members who do not undertake the appropriate DAP training.
  • The maximum term of office for DAP members can be extended if a vacancy is waiting to be filled.
  • Add a reference to the DAP regulations that all Form 2 minor amendment meetings should be open to the public.
  • Changes to the DAP fee structure.

DAPs Changes Superficial                                      

WA Local Government Association
Media Release

Thursday, October 13, 2016

PROPOSED changes to the Development Assessment Panel process are superficial and will not redress many of the concerns identified by the Local Government sector.
Announced October 13 by Planning Minister Donna Faragher, the proposed changes include a two day extension to the notice period for meeting agendas, extension of the scope to opt-out of the DAP process and a further notification requirement of upcoming DAP meetings to be undertaken by Local Governments.WA Local Government Association President Cr Lynne Craigie said the changes did not go far enough to redress Local Government concerns surrounding the system’s effectiveness and increased rather than reduced red tape burden on Councils.

Significant concerns

“Feedback from our members has revealed significant concerns about the strategic intent and effectiveness of the DAPs system, however the changes proposed are merely administrative in nature,” she said.

“Our call for a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis remains unheard and instead the sector is being required to undertake additional administration that should be the role of the State.”

Cr Craigie said without the cost benefit analysis, questions would remain around the relevance and effectiveness of the system with limited DAPs resources being focused on minor planning matters, rather than matters of State significance.

“The current system is getting overrun with everyday applications such as petrol stations and fast food outlets with a staggering 258 DAPs meetings held over the last financial year”, she said.

“Many of these applications currently considered by DAPs align with Council recommendations and take longer to determine than through a Council-led process.”

Token changes

Cr Craigie said WALGA had been advocating for ministerial call in powers and changes to the opt-in system to reduce this unnecessary pressure on DAPs and refocus the process with its original purpose of strategic high level vision rather than day to day development applications.

“Instead of effective review, we are faced with token changes and are being required to absorb an administrative burden on behalf of the Department,” she said.

“Whilst the sector agrees those providing submissions to a DAP application should be notified of upcoming meetings, it is the responsibility of the Department of Planning that administers DAPs rather than the role of individual Local Governments.

“We remain committed to working with the State Government on ways to deliver genuine improvements to the system, but these changes are at best superficial and will do little to benefit local communities and industry alike.”