Why You Need the Fremantle Society

In three years time The Fremantle Society will be 50 years old.

Many people have made amazing contributions to the Society, and many have helped just by being members. The Society has achieved a great deal, and its presence is important for, if nothing else, keeping decision makers on their toes.

The work done by the Society, and its value, in its first 38 years is well examined by Ron and Dianne Davidson in their book Fighting for Fremantle.

Ron said today that ‘for a community group it is a notable achievement, an elaborate book launched by a popular premier (Colin Barnett), with an introduction written by the esteemed Geoffrey Bolton.’

The Fremantle Society needs to plan for its 50th birthday in 2022,  and would like to hear from members about ideas for a 50th anniversary project. Ron Davidson has already jumped in with a suggestion:  ‘Get the South Fremantle Power Station refurbished and used for the community.’

Meanwhile, 2019 represents ten years since Fremantle Council embarked on a ‘revitalisation’ program, spending millions on consultants, and selling $40 million of ratepayer assets at bargain prices to the developers they are working with.

Now, ten years later, despite a host of new incongruous boxes appearing in Fremantle, many of the old problems remain.

This is an election year for 6 local councillors. With a lazy media, and political parties involved in local politics, there are important reasons for the Fremantle Society to continue its advocacy for good quality decisions and development, using its own expertise and that of hired consultants.

If you have not paid your annual subscription yet, we ask that you do so now.

The Fremantle Society
c/- 72 High Street
WA 6160

East Fremantle needs your help — today!

The Royal George Hotel and Roofing 2000 Site

The Fremantle Society works with similar groups outside Fremantle when it can, and we have campaigned with Friends of Royal George for months on the issue of the rezoning the Royal George site, and the shocking deal with Saracen that gives them the magnificent hotel for just $576,000 plus GST in return for not doing any of the restoration so far that was supposed to be completed within 36 months, but giving them a massive bonus of up to 7 storeys of apartments on the site.

Then there is the Roofing 2000 site on the corner of Stirling and Canning Highways where the owner is seeking 80 to 100 apartments on a relatively small plot of land.

Submissions are due TODAY by 11.50pm, and its really easy to go to the East Fremantle Council website and make a brief, or lengthy, submission.

The top photo of a possible outcome on the Roofing 2000 site is borrowed from the Friends of Royal George facebook page and shows the obscenity of the current push by government and developers to allow high rise totally out of keeping with local character.

The second photo is from the Town of East Fremantle website and shows the negative impact of 6 storeys on the hotel, not 7 as approved by Lisa Saffioti.

Few people have read the full conservation plan for the Royal George Hotel, but the Fremantle Society has. It outlines the huge social and historical importance of the Royal George Hotel, including the rarity of the rear under building stabling, probably unique in Western Australia and described by one architect as like being in a small cathedral.

That value alone should be enough to ensure no large apartment block is allowed right up next to the hotel.

The Fremantle Society attended a town hall meeting on these two issues last week and asked why the heritage precinct listing for the Royal George Hotel and George Street disappeared some years ago, when the hotel is obviously an important landmark heritage building and George Street is good enough and important enough to have a heritage listing.  Council is looking into it.

Below is what Genevieve Hawks has written on the Friends of Royal George facebook site:

Royal George Hotel (No. 15) and Roofing 2000 (No. 14) submissions:
In brief, East Fremantle Council’s two amendments (Scheme Amendment No. 15 [Royal George Hotel], passed by the Council in June 2018; and Scheme Amendment No. 14 [Roofing 2000], passed by the Council in April 2018) both gave upper height limits to any future developments on those sites. The State Minister for Planning is seeking to modify those amendments in several ways, and we are being asked whether we support those modifications (hence our submissions). ON BOTH SITES, HEIGHT LIMITS HAVE BEEN REMOVED BY THE MINISTER’S MODIFICATIONS. In the case of the Royal George Hotel, the Minister’s modifications cap development at seven storeys, but the height of each storey is OPEN, so potentially the development could be higher than the hotel spire. (This would not be possible under the Council’s original amendment.) In the case of the Sewell Street site (Roofing 2000), the Minister’s modifications potentially allow a 16+ storey building (this would be the tallest building in Fremantle).

The NUMBER OF FLATS that can be built in each development doesn’t really vary that much between the Council’s original amendments and the Minister’s modified amendments: so the choice is basically between shorter and bulkier, or taller and narrower buildings.

If your main concern is HEIGHT, you can state in your submissions that you support the Council’s original amendments (Scheme Amendment No. 15 [Royal George Hotel], passed by the Council in June 2018; and Scheme Amendment No. 14 [Roofing 2000], passed by the Council in April 2018).

If you have ongoing concerns about the impact on the neighbourhood (heritage, amenity, traffic, parking, overlooking, overshadowing, development precedent, local school catchment, etc.) list all of those concerns as well. You may oppose ANY large-scale development on either of those sites (for reasons that you outline) and there is still some value in stating that in your submission. (See GR’s submission on Scheme Amendment No. 14 below [posted by me on 17 February] – it’s a good example of what you might say.)

Sorry for the short notice, but you can do it!

John Dowson

$50 million to get your vote?

Oh No, another Election Year!

Another election year has arrived for local governments and six councillor vacancies will be available in Fremantle.

City Ward (incumbent Cr Pemberton)

South Ward (Cr Strachan)

East Ward (Cr Waltham)

Beaconsfield (Cr Hume)

Hilton (Cr McDonald)

North Fremantle (Cr Jones)

Are you getting value from your councillor? Besides getting $500 a week for attending meetings etc, councillors pay themselves to run those meetings, from a little pot of honey worth $60,000 a year.

On important issues like King’s Square, too many councillors seem either ignorant or disinterested in the details of the spending of $50 million of ratepayer money on a new administration building.

Some seem more interested in ideology. A few weeks ago Cr Strachan (up for re-election) seconded a lunatic-fringe motion to council from Cr Pemberton (up for re-election) to prevent any troops in any parade in Fremantle from carrying weapons (the whole point is the weapons show trust by the City when allowing marches).

On the important subject of the $50 million administration building, Cr Strachan told a ratepayer today: “I do not have a comprehensive set of figures you seem to be asking for available to me at the moment”.

How can a councillor not know the finances of the biggest expenditure of money in Fremantle’s history?

As a result of our last post to you, a resident had written to all councillors with questions about the finances of the King’s Square administration building. At least Cr Strachan was one councillor who replied, as he is very good at doing.

Cr Strachan wrote to the resident: “It is totally inappropriate to make commitments and sign contracts then abandon them because John Dowson thinks it would be nice to have a large open space.”

Cr Strachan’s insulting and false statement ignores the fact that the final contract to build the building has not yet been signed, and it is not just John Dowson who has concerns about the finances and building out the Town Square. Two former WA premiers, two former Fremantle MPs, and all the experts spoken to by the Fremantle Society DO NOT support building the administration building in the town square.

In the same letter Cr Strachan falsely states that:  “the Civic Centre is intended to be the key attractor to Kings Square”. No, the revamped Myer and Queensgate were intended to be the key attractors.

Yes, it is very important to have civic facilities that attract people. The proposed library in the “Civic Centre” will not even be called a library. It will be called a “Community Hub.” Goodbye books, welcome more computers. Goodbye the biggest and best Local History Library in the State – half the staff from which have already been sacked.

The Fremantle Society asked another councillor for the current financial figures, but they didn’t know. The Fremantle Society then asked yet another councillor for the projected rate at paying the building off, and the councillor got the figures all wrong.

So, the Fremantle Society has provided the answers the resident sought from the councillors.

Great Towns have Great Squares

You Have till Next Wednesday

Go and see King’s Square while you can. Walk around it now that the 5841 tons of concrete making up the former administration building have been unsustainably taken down.

Imagine, for probably the last time ever, what King’s Square and its Regency planning from 1833 could finally look like without a huge building there.

But, next Wednesday night, behind closed doors, Fremantle Council’s audit committee will meet to discuss the final shape and cost of the intended new Administration Building, at one time called  ‘Cultural Centre.’

Just over a year ago councillors were asked would they like to save over $20 million and walk away from the large Kerry Hill design. They said no.

The original cost was projected at $47.7 million, and soon climbed to $52 million.

The increasingly cash strapped council is now trying to reduce the building cost to less than $44 million, so they can afford it (and that doesn’t cover the fit out).

Council’s partner, Sirona, who just flicked the ratepayer’s Spicer Site, which they were supposed to develop, to Twiggy Forrest, have just flicked the management of the Administration Building to another company to oversee! More money to Sirona for doing nothing.

Council have not signed the contract to build this building and they do not even know yet if it will have the speculative top floor or not. The top floor will certainly detract from the view of the Town Hall, as former City of Fremantle heritage architect Agnieshka Kiera pointed out.

A posiitve, progressive, sustainable council who cared for the future and appreciated the magic of a true town square for the long term future, would:

a) Save massive future rate rises by putting the council office workers and library elsewhere.

b) Appreciate what the experts have said and what the Fremantle Society has lobbied for for years and give Fremantle the true open space it needs at its heart. Great towns have great squares.

Or, at least defer this project until it is clear that the redeveloped Myer and Queensgate will be filled.

Look at the few council investment property assets that are left. At one time council owned $87.7 million worth of income producing real estate. By building a new $44 million admin building with money it doesn’t have, it will soon have to sell off much of the following:

a) Depot site

b) Car park at Leisure Centre

c) Victoria Hall

d) Car park Josephson and High Streets

and heritage treasures like Union Stores High Street, Furniture Factory Henry Street and Evan Davies Building (Dome) South Terrace.

And of course council may even sell their new administration building.

The $87.7 million of income producing assets will be nothing but a memory, never to be seen again.

You have till next Wednesday to talk with your councillor.


Colin Barnett and Carmen Lawrence Back Fremantle Society

Two former Premiers of Western Australia back Fremantle Society concerns about King’s Square and the proposed new $44 million administration building.

Colin Barnett, whose government was responsible for organising 1200 government workers to move from Perth into King’s Square, to partially make up for the loss of Myer and 1900 jobs lost from Fremantle Hospital, said today he supports the Fremantle Society efforts to save King’s Square from a new administration building for mayor and staff.

Colin Barnett said a true civic square is an important goal. He said when Claremont Quarter was being built he personally intervened to make the developer build a square in the development along Quentin Avenue.

He said Fremantle’s square was far more important.

Former WA Premier Carmen Lawrence reiterated her concerns to the Fremantle Society last week.

She has repeatedly said the the King’s Square project will ‘blight Fremantle for the next 100 years.”

Large boxes are good for developers but ruinous for the scale of Fremantle.

The Fremantle Society wants change and good development based on expert views and not developer views.

The experts repeatedly state that the intended town square, proposed and planned back in 1833, the only one of its kind in WA, should be ‘a true urban square’ ie without an administration building.

At the very least The Fremantle Society wants the administration building delayed until it is clear the proposed government workers will in fact be taking up the available space currently being built on the Myer and Queensgate sites.

New High Street Art Installation- Inner City Beach Created

New Public Art Installation?

Felice Varini has long since departed Fremantle with the $150,000 he was paid to stick yellow aluminium foil over High Street heritage buildings. Many people enjoyed the clever optical illusion, but it was only supposed to be a short term temporary art work, for 3 months.

Over a year later our premier street is a mess, and the clean up bill of over $115,000, which could have funded a dozen heritage projects in the street, will instead go to a clean up.

The clean up is being done by a building contractor who is sand blasting his way up High Street, creating another mess as he goes. The sand (pictured above) from the sand blasting has not been cleaned up. This week council will no doubt announce another art project – the installation of an inner city beach along High Street, to save people from risking their safety transiting Arthur Head to get to Bathers Beach, a headland now at risk of collapses, and covered in scaffolding due to a lack of maintenance by council at that A class reserve.

On the first day of this year the West Australian’s advertorial writer for developers Kent Acott wrote a full page piece on High Street, named by Mayor Pettitt as “WA’s most historically rich street.” The reason given for this laudable assertion was that “it was only made possible through the demolition of dozens of buildings.” This is code for “The Fremantle you love will change rapidly as developers are allowed to build whatever they like.”

Anyway, enjoy the inner city beach.