Booze, High Rise, AGM, Tsunami and More

Fremantle’s Scale Ruined Forever

The building above is in St Georges Terrace Perth. It is LOWER in height than the Coles Woolstore Gerard O’Brien Silverleaf development proposal currently out for comment.

The 38.9 metre high (plus 3 metres lift overrun) Coles proposal is 50% higher than the 10 storey Johnston Court and will destroy forever the scale of Fremantle.

The Fremantle Society can reveal that the council’s Design Advisory Committee have NOT signed off on this proposal which will appear before Council on Wednesday 13 December before going to JDAP. They have NOT agreed yet that this design meets the criteria for EXCEPTIONAL design which is required if the developer is to get the extra height up to 38.9 metres that he is seeking. The DAC is required under local planning policy 1.9 to:

have due regard to the following principles to assist in determining the design quality of the development:

1. Character – a place with its own identity

Successful places are distinctive and memorable, with a character that people can appreciate easily. The positive attributes of a place and its people contribute to its special character and sense of identity. They include landscape, building traditions and materials, patterns of local life, and other factors that make one place different from another.

When new development creates public spaces identical to those in every other town, a place risks weakening its connection with its history and losing the things that make it stand out when competing for investment and skilled people.

Objectives:

(i) New development should integrate into its landscape / townscape setting and reinforce local distinctiveness.

(ii) New development should respond positively to the existing layout of buildings, streets and spaces ensuring that adjacent buildings relate to one another, that streets are connected and that spaces complement one another.

(iii) New development should respond positively to local building forms and patterns of development in their detailed layout and design.

(iv) Building materials, construction techniques and details should enhance local distinctiveness.

(v) The scale, massing and height of new development should respond positively to that of the adjoining buildings, the topography, the general pattern of heights, and the views, vistas and landmarks of the place, reinforcing a coherent local identity.

(vi) In designated areas new development should promote the re-establishment of local distinctiveness that builds on the past and reinvigorates locally distinctive patterns of development, landscape and culture to provide the area with a ‘sense of place’.

The Fremantle Society has commissioned experts to help with the writing of submissions. We ask that members submit comments however brief by 22 November to:

planning@fremantle.wa.gov.au
members@fremantle.wa.gov.au

There is no doubt that this massive proposal which promises a hotel, student accommodation, a new Coles, tavern, and offices will appear to councillors like a giant Christmas present, and some will be falling over themselves to say, like Atwell Arcade, ‘we have to have it all, and we have to have it now.’ The mayor will probably argue that the views into Thomson Bay, Rottnest from the top will be so fantastic, that the building thus meets the ‘exceptional’ criteria for extra height.

It is wonderful that developers want to spend money in Fremantle, and we do need good hotels and student accommodation, but developers need to follow the rules.

To guide your submission, we suggest you insist on the policy above being adhered to. The key issue is: Is the proposal ‘exceptional’ in order to get this extraordinary height? Exceptional by definition means something very very special and rare. Does this proposal meet that criteria? What makes it better than the vast majority of other buildings, which are not ‘exceptional’? Given that people can often be judged by what they have already done, consider the Atwell Arcade development, where council is still trying to get this developer to finish the damaging project as promised, and to complete restoration works as detailed.

Initial advice from our expert is that the design is in no way ‘exceptional’ He states that context is key and any new building on this site should take its cues from adjoining buildings – in the case of the northern end of the site the Marilyn New woolstores (21 metres) and at the other end the 4 storey bank on the corner of Queen and Cantonment Streets (18 metres).

Northbridge by the Sea

In an excellent letter to the Fremantle Herald a few weeks ago, member Professor David Hawkes discussed the issue Who is Fremantle for? David sided with the residents (David’s letter is printed in full at the end of today’s epistolary).

But, it appears that council has other ideas. Judged by the tsunami of major developments heavily featuring alcohol, Fremantle appears to be heading in the direction, as Professor Hawks stated recently, of becoming Northbridge by the Sea. Some recent development applications focussing on alcohol:

Warders Cottages: Boutique hotel of 11 rooms, but alcohol for 475.

Police Station Complex: Tavern

Mannings Buildings: Brewery

Coles Woolstore: Tavern

Quarry Street next to oval: Tavern

We Need You, and Your Money

The AGM is on Thursday December 7 at 6.30 at Fremantlle Tennis Club.

Vyonne Geneve (Art Deco Society) will gve a brief talk about her book Picture Palaces of the West which will be for sale on the night along with cards and prints.

Those who buy a copy of Picture Palaces of the West will receive a FREE copy of the history of the Fremantle Society Fighting for Fremantle worth $35.

Also for sale on the night and just in time for Christmas will be some stunning Michal Lewi mounted photographs of Fremantle for the ridiculously low price of $10 each, or $20 if you are feeling wealthy.

We ask members to pay their subscriptions now if possible.

Please consider a donation. Having a lot of people on a concession membership of $15 does not help us pay for the architects and planners we need to employ to help write submissions.

Nomination Deadline: 22 November

22 November is the deadline for applications for the Fremantle Society executive. Please consider putting your name forward. Contact 9335 2113 if you need further information.

Warders’ Cottages 17-29 Henderson Street

The Fremantle Society has made the following submission to council for the proposal of boutique hotel and bar for 475 people, which goes to council on December 13:

Comments:

SIGNIFICANCE: The Warders Cottages are the only buildings in Western Australia on the Federal Government heritage list besides the adjacent Fremantle Prison and are thus of supreme importance as rare convict built terrace houses over 150 years old. Council should ensure that the highest standards are applied to this application.

IMPACT OF PROPOSAL: The idea of a boutique hotel development for these cottages has merit as one way of maintaining their residential use. The cottages have over 150 years of use as private dwellings with their own private backyards, and a major part of the heritage significance of the place lies in the cottages with their conjoined backyards. The question is, how much impact does the current development proposal have on that heritage which was earned over a very long time?

The impact of an 11 room boutique hotel on the fabric of the main building is sensitively managed in many respects, and it is heartening to see the trees retained, though the apparent inability to use the existing staircases because of code compliance issues necessitates a rather clumsy and intrusive upper floor entry. Sightlines to and from the rear of these significant cottages are thus negatively affected.

FOCUS ON ALCOHOL: The applicant is seeking to do much more than just run a small boutique hotel – there is provision for serving alcohol to 475 people. This appears to be an overintensification of the site, however well managed. New owners of adjacent residential warders’ cottages are understandably concerned, and they have every right under current liquor laws to have their amenity and privacy protected.

The size of the proposal leads to a parking shortfall of over 122 car bays and 20 bicycle bays. The applicant argues that the temporary lift on requirement for cash in lieu to be paid in case of a parking shortfall was suspended until September 2014 and that technically it is still suspended and should stay that way because of all the nearby council controlled car parks. But, in recent years council has sold a significant number of its car parks and some have disappeared altogether. Also, a number of recent major development applications are, like this application, focussing on liquor sales, and it appears that Fremantle is heading down the path of becoming less of a place to live, work, and recreate, and more of a “Northbridge by the Sea.”

RECOMMENDATIONS: The Fremantle Society believes:

a) the intensity of this proposal in terms of patron numbers if excessive and should be scaled back.

b) this intensity adds too many new physical elements to this significant site and they should be scaled back.

c) Council should consider reintroducing cash in lieu payments in order to facilitate provision of parking nearby.

d) The applicant’s plans show 5 car bays in Henderson Street earmarked for the hotel. If council is going to hand those car bays over to the hotel, a fee, the equivalent of lost parking revenue, should be charged.

e) The applicant’s report acknowledges the hugely significant vistas in adjacent streets, and thus in William Street, the totally incongruous hotel awning proposed that juts out into William Street should be deleted.

f) The proposed new blank wall facing William Street should be reduced in impact.

g) The proposed art works for the 1% for art scheme are for a light show highlighting the building. While this sounds like an advertising campaign to promote the hotel, it has merit compared with the dismal outcomes at other new development sites around Fremantle under the same scheme.

h) The important original lettering on this building carved into the facade (VR) is bisected by the installation of a downpipe, and this issue should be addressed.

i) Any aerials, lift overruns, or plant installation should be strictly conditioned to be not visible from surrounding streets.

j) If archaeological studies have not been carried out, they should be.

The Fremantle Society has received the following letter on this proposal from a conservation architect:

The State Heritage Office and Heritage Council member Brad Pettitt will probably commission a Heritage Impact Statement which will say that the change of use and new developments will not affect the significance of the buildings or the site as a whole, as they have done for the proposals for Kings Square and for J Shed at Arthur Head.

The real test should be a carefully researched and considered assessment based on the cultural values of the Convict Establishment as a place, the cottages as significant fabric in their own right, and the townscape qualities of that part of Fremantle. This should include a discussion of the Burra Charter idea of compatible use. “Compatible use means a use which respects the cultural significance of a place. Such a use involves no, or minimal, impact on cultural significance”. And “setting” which is defined as “the immediate and extended environment of a place that is part of or contributes to its cultural significance and distinctive character”. This will only be possible if there is a good assessment of significance for the cottages in the conservation plan. It is usual to update a conservation plan for a place at regular intervals and whenever important changes that may affect its cultural value are being made.

I note that the HIS in the Proposal papers reports a conservation management plan for the cottages dated 2016. I have not seen this document, and it is interesting to note that the HIS does not use the statement of significance in this document to make its assessment, but rather refers to the National Heritage assessment of value for the prison site as a whole. This is not enough to use in assessing the affect of the proposal on the cultural values of the cottages in their own right.

We were still angry about the poor quality repair work carried out on them which continues to degrade, and the VR is still covered by a downpipe.

Letter to Herald from Professor David Hawkes:

When seeking re-election Brad Pettitt promoted himself as wanting to make Fremantle more livable. The question remains however for whom is it be made more livable? Too often we are left with the impression that the City’s livability is to be measured in terms of the financial health of its retailers, some of whom, but not all of whom, live in Fremantle. Others see Fremantle merely as a retail opportunity.

Self evidently, retailers benefit from more people buying things, so maintaining their viability frequently
translates into there being a need to attract more visitors, to which the City responds by offering more events calculated to bring those visitors into the City.

The question is however whether this makes the City more livable. Retailers are often their own worst enemy, offering essentially the same goods on opposite sides of the street, and expressing surprise when one or more of them goes bust; while events sometimes corral parts of the City, confining them to those who have paid for entrance to what was previously public space.

What the City needs to be more liveable is a greater diversity of retailers not a redundancy of coffee and cake cafes and fast food outlets: a diversity which services those of us who live here, pay its rates, its parking permits and sometimes its parking fines. While a City as attractive as Fremantle is always going to have visitors, and many of us will have been visitors to other cities, a balance needs to be struck which favours and acknowledges the priority of those who live here. A City becomes less liveable not more so as it increases its number of visitors, as residents of other even more renowned cities have come to realize.

The City does not belong to its retailers: it belongs to those of us who have chosen to live here, which of course includes some retailers. It belongs to us in the sense that we have acquired a familiarity with it, are recognized as we move around it, have ready access to its officers and are respected by them as their employers. It is reflected in our willingness to provide services for those less fortunate than ourselves and our responsiveness to the City’s requests for advice in relation to its many submissions and in the many other intangible ways which have contributed to our desire to live here.
Visitors, and their presumed appetite for retail, are not the reason for our choosing to live in Fremantle, nor do they, except in a transient way, define its ambience.

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society

Another Tsunami

The elections are over. Developers are rushing into council to lodge their plans. Some of the plans are distressingly crass and damaging to the heritage values of the town. A significant focus of the plans appears to be: more alcohol.

Members are asked to take note of the following, and to be involved in putting their opinions forward. The Fremantle Society is in the process of writing submissions.

Comments:

TO PLANNING DEPARTMENT: planning@fremantle.wa.gov.au

TO MAYOR AND COUNCILLORS: members@fremantle.wa.gov.au

TO LOCAL MEDIA: news@fremantleherald.com

TO FREMANTLE SOCIETY: john.dowson@yahoo.com

1) Warders’ Cottages 19-29 Henderson Street

11 room hotel and bar

COMMENTS CLOSE 14 NOVEMBER

The developer and architect of the Hougoumont Hotel in Bannister Street has submitted this application. While the Hougoumont gets great reviews, it is a very modern experience more akin to staying in a shipping container than a heritage building. It has been granted approval for 5 storeys for its next stage, possibly a technically illegal approval given the rules for the West End.

If members examine the plans submitted for these terrace cottages, which are of national significance and the ONLY properties in the whole of Western Australia outside the prison to be on the Federal Heritage list, they may find the plans swamping the original cottages and their backyards with the added infrastructure. A huge focus is alcohol – it’s an 11 room boutique hotel catering for up to 475 drinkers. No wonder there have been 15 submissions already from concerned residents who have just bought next door in the other 6 Henderson Street cottages, and others.

2) MHI Review

You are asked to comment on a review of the Municipal Heritage Inventory. See document online.

COMMENTS CLOSE 17 NOVEMBER

3) Mannings Buildings

The Fremantle Society broke the story that Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf was going to buy all 26 shops in the Manning Estate that wraps around from William Street, through the mall and into Market Street. He has now submitted plans to ‘revitalise’ them by turning them into: a brewery. He also wants to ‘modernise’ and open up the interiors and thus remove a reason people like coming to Fremantle – it has small individual shops with character.

10 metres away across the Mall lies the Atwell Arcade project done by Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf. The mayor granted him a special council meeting for this development on the basis that a) a new national chain would be brought to Fremantle (it wasn’t) b) 300 new workers would be brought to Fremantle (they weren’t) and c) the building and shopfronts would be restored (they haven’t been).

There will be a public information session on November 16 at 5.30pm at Council.

COMMENTS CLOSE 28 NOVEMBER

4) King’s Square Public Space Draft Concept Design

The Fremantle Society position is that King’s Square is important as the only town square in Western Australia and that it should be a dignified open civic space, not a cluttered entertainment zone.

COMMENTS CLOSE 8 DECEMBER

5) Woolstores Shopping Centre and Car Park

Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf has submitted plans so awful that even a council employee told the Fremantle Society “For the first time I will be making a submission.”

The proposed high rise soars 50% higher than the 10 storeyed Johnston Court, whose height in the middle of town we were promised would never be repeated. To achieve this height the design MUST show ‘exceptional quality’. Council will say that the determining authority is JDAP (Joint Development Assessment Panels) but the reality is that what council writes and thinks is crucial to getting a good outcome. When the initial plans for a new Queensgate also had to pass the test of demonstrating ‘exceptional quality’, the mayor argued that the view from the top would be so good that he would be voting that that was enough to demonstrate the requirement. Hopefully, council will debate this one a bit harder that that.

COMMENTS CLOSE 22 NOVEMBER

6) Court House and Warders Cottages 31-45 Henderson Street (see photo above)

Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf has submitted plans for a 6 storey hotel and bars in one of the most significant heritage precincts in Western Australia. which covers the 7,700 sq m court house and police station complex and the adjacent warders’ cottages (the latter bought for the bargain price of $1.7 million).

The Fremantle Society will study the plans, which seem at first glance to be remarkably insensitive to what is a dignified and important set of colonial buildings, some (the terrace houses) being of national significance.

These buildings are in the buffer zone of the World Heritage Listed Fremantle Prison for good reason, and any development in the buffer zone must not impact negatively on the setting of the prison.

Public information session 30 November 5.30pm at Fremantle Council.

COMMENTS CLOSE 11 DECEMBER

Notre Dame Breaches its Own MOU

Notre Dame announced today it has purchased the massive Customs Buildings fronting Henry, Phillimore, and Pakenham Streets.

This is in direct breach of the 2012 MOU it has with Fremantle Council, where the MOU states that the university, having created a monoculture with its hugely successful business controlling 46 buildings in the West End, would in future build outside the West End:

“The City encourages UNDA to expand its academic activities to locations throughout the CBD and expresses the wish that any expansion should not be immediately adjacent to the area bounded by Little High Street, Phillimore Street, Henry Street, Marine Terrace.”

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society

Vale Fremantle Friend

Rob Campbell’s Funeral Today 4.30pm

Coming on top of the distressing news of Dr Linley Lutton’s health, the death of Fremantle’s senior architect is a serious blow to the cultural landscape of Fremantle and its built heritage. No architect knew Fremantle better or studied it more assiduously and wisely.

His funeral will be at Fremantle Cemetery this afternoon at 4.30pm.

The photograph above shows Rob (on the right) leading a group through the former Fremantle Lunatic Asylum, the buildings he restored almost 50 years ago.

The Fremantle History Society noted a year ago that in his career : “Rob Campbell had architectural practices in South Africa, Rhodesia, England, Melbourne and WA. He worked with 0ldham, Boas, Ednie-Brown & Partners, coming to Fremantle in 1965 to help manage a development for the Fremantle City Council. Work became focussed on conservation in Fremantle, Perth, New Norcia. He retired from practice in 2012 and is now an Honorary Research Fellow still engaged with students in the conservation units of the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts at UWA. ”

Fremantle’s Senior Architect Repeatedly Ignored by Council

Fremantle Council is doing a ‘ $270 million’ development project in and around historic King’s Square without doing a conservation plan first.

Rob Campbell did one. Like much of his work, it has been ignored by Fremantle Council.

The Fremantle Society is determined that the wisdom of experts like Rob Campbell and Linley Lutton will not be ignored, forgotten or left hidden from view, but will be made available, and disseminated.

Given the unnecessary $50 million administration building about to commence it is worth repeating Rob Campbell’s comments about it, which have been ignored:

“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.

Dr Linley Lutton/ Council Elections

Dr Linley Lutton

It is with great sorrow and distress that the Fremantle Society informs its members that Dr Linley Lutton, who has helped the Society so much, is gravely ill.

Dr Lutton, while leading a busy life teaching at UWA and running Urbanix Design, has given his urban planning expertise freely to the community in Fremantle and elsewhere. He sums up his philosophy in his LinkedIn profile:

Dr Lutton’s Philosophy

My professional life started as an architect, however in the mid 1990’s I studied Urban Social Geography and so started my journey down the path of urban planning. It took some time for me to find my core philosophy but once found I now see all of my work and teaching with great clarity. To me, human ecology is at the centre of good urban planning. City planning in Western Australia is moving rapidly from ‘planning for the good of the people’ to ‘planning to facilitate property development’. The community has no ability to appeal or object to planning decisions no matter how poor they are. Our Government makes short-term planning decisions based on political whim rather than sound planning principles. Much of the rest of the developed world is embracing the process of co-production where the community is fully involved in planning decisions while Western Australia moves in a more autocratic direction. People have the right to demand better of their city planners and architects. They have the right to live in an environment which provides the essential elements required for them to lead healthy, contented lives. In recent times I have begun to publically challenge the ill-conceived city planning ideologies and projects emanating from our Government planning and redevelopment agencies. On one hand, this puts me at odds with professionals, bureaucrats and politicians however on the other hand it puts me in synchrony with most of the community who are the real owners of the city. Few professionals are prepared to speak up and challenge the system and there is no joy in doing so. I feel it is irresponsible to remain silent when I see my city being ruined through poor planning. My great dream is to see our cities and towns full of soul and authentic character reflecting the spirit of people.

Dr Lutton’s Help to the Fremantle Society

Dr Lutton was an inaugural member of Fremantle Council’s Design Advisory Committee and resigned when it was obvious the committee was being subverted, and after the 5 storey Quest Apartments in Pakenham Street were approved. He subsequently wrote a report on the project to assess its effectiveness, calling the approval ‘possibly technically illegal.’

Before the Atwell Arcade development was approved he wrote on behalf of the Fremantle Society a 12 page assessment for councillors and staff, which was ignored, resulting in the destruction of the best remaining arcade in Fremantle, the destruction of adjacent gold rush roofscapes with the large glass office box, further damage to shopfronts, and a failure to deliver what was promised by the developer.

A perfectly good Point Street development scheme approved unanimously by the previous council, was torn up by Cr Sullivan and the mayor, resulting in years of delay and a mediocre outcome: The city has embarked on a massive, arguably unrealistic redevelopment program, and I witnessed the preparedness on many occasions by certain elected members to override the advice of independent design experts to ensure this program could at least appear to be proceeding. Point Street is a perfect example (Dr Lutton to Roel Loopers 2014).

When Dr Lutton resigned from the DAC his comments were dismissed by the mayor and no effort was made to sit down with Dr Lutton and learn from his concerns.

Dr Lutton wrote a report for the Fremantle Society on the value of King’s Square. It was likewise ignored.

Dr Lutton’s Thinking Allowed Herald 19/9/2014

FREMANTLE city council is misusing its planning scheme to facilitiate poor development outcomes in Fremantle’s heritage-rich West End precinct.

The development industry argument that heritage hinders commercial progress is alive and well and people who try to voice their concerns are labelled “negative”.

Two over-height and poorly designed developments have now been approved in the West End because developers claimed extra height is needed in this height–restricted area in order to achieve commercially viable developments.

For years, in Perth’s CBD, cynical developers have shoe-horned characterless buildings behind heritage facades and this approach is now being applied in Fremantle where approving authorities are jumping to support their initiatives.

It was deplorable to hear that in Fremantle recently the council, at a specially convened meeting, listened to a conga line of commercially-focussed people speaking in support of the redevelopment of Atwell Arcade while one lone figure tried in vain to remind the council of its responsibility to heritage conservation.

What is glaringly obvious here is the powerful influence—both negative and positive—that sense-of-place has on urban dwellers is not understood. The unique sense-of-place associated with heritage environments is highly valued in most Australian capital cities because it offers respite from otherwise utilitarian intensity.
Sense-of-place triggers strong memories, attachments and behaviours at community and personal levels.

Our very identities are shaped by sense-of-place. Fremantle’s West End precinct, regarded as Perth’s most valuable tourism asset, exhibits a sense of place found nowhere else in the Perth metropolitan area. This is largely due to its scale, streetscape and evocative architecture. Alarmingly, a pattern may be emerging which threatens the overall integrity of this very special place.

Inappropriate developments are now being approved in the West End by misusing a clause in the town planning scheme intended to protect Fremantle’s heritage character. The clause gives the council the capacity to vary any site or development provision, without limitation, in order to preserve heritage values.

However, it does not give the council carte blanche to disregard other broader aims dealing with a variety of issues including preservation of Fremantle’s character. Paradoxically, this powerful clause aimed at heritage preservation is being cherry-picked from a planning framework to facilitate developments which compromise heritage values.

There are two critical points here. First, the capability of a property to return a development profit is never a criterion used to assess development applications. Only in major urban redevelopment areas is it considered relevant.

Developers always push the envelope and in localities anxious to see development occur they will try to convince gullible decision-makers to accommodate greater demands. Regardless of how compelling a developer’s commercial argument may be it has no place in any development assessment process. It was highly inappropriate for Fremantle’s design advisory committee (DAC) to cite commercial capability as a reason to support the Atwell Arcade development. This is an issue well outside this DAC’s formal terms of reference. Additionally, there is nothing in Fremantle’s planning scheme which allows variations to site or development provisions to satisfy commercial capability.

Second, Fremantle councillors, and the DAC cannot work outside the totality of Fremantle’s planning framework, which comprises many interrelated documents thick with phrases such as: developments are to achieve an exceptionally high standard in terms of appearance; developments are to be distinctive befitting their location; and, developments are to complement and contribute to the community’s desired identity and character for Fremantle.

Additionally, the DAC must satisfy itself that a development promotes character by responding to and reinforcing locally distinctive patterns of development and culture. A third party objective assessment of the two approved projects would most likely conclude that neither satisfies the broad intent of many sections in Fremantle’s planning framework including the overall stated aim to protect and conserve Fremantle’s unique cultural heritage. The approvals could be open to challenge because they so obviously ignore many pertinent sections of Fremantle’s planning framework.

Precedent is everything in planning and the precedent is now set for increased heights and characterless modern buildings in the West End. Preservation of the community’s desired character for Fremantle, a clearly stated aim of Fremantle’s planning scheme, has been ignored in order to satisfy development-driven commercial gain. Future developers can now expect height increases anywhere in the West End, even when the design outcomes are perfunctory and the results are clearly visible from the surrounding streets. All they need do is maintain the building’s façade, which they should be doing as a matter of course in this precinct, make a few internal heritage preservation gestures and then propose whatever they like behind and above. In the process the West End’s overall cohesive scale and unspoilt sense of place is eroded.

The Fremantle community should think long and hard about its attitude to the West End because your elected members and their advisory committee are beginning the process of erosion and the character of this special place is not replaceable.

Planning a city is serious business, and Dr Linley Lutton is seriously good at it. The Fremantle Society will continue to remind people of the work he has done, which is still relevant to where we are headed.

Council Elections

Voting for the elections finishes this week. The incumbents and the annointed few new look like getting four years on council, so energetic and co-ordinated has been their electioneering, and so helped have they been by hundreds of thousands of ratepayer dollars being expended promoting every council action under the sun.

The Fremantle Herald has seriously let down the community during this election, in order to protect the large advertising budget they receive from Fremantle Council. The Herald is well aware of the true financial figures that continue to cause alarm, they understand the poor quality decision making and waste of money, and the survey results which again show widespread dissatisfaction in the community which is not being addressed. And don’t even mention Australia Day.

There is no such thing as a ‘failed council candidate’.

Anyone who put their hand up to run at these elections deserves the gratitude of the community for ‘having a go.’

There has been enough angst and emotion in this election to prove that the status quo must change whoever wins. Things must be done better, more inclusively, and more economically responsibly. Will they?

 

The Election Season Final Act

Fremantle Architect Shows Quality is Possible

Quality is Possible

Hilton architect Don Zivkovic lives and works in skyscraper city New York, and this is some of his award winning work in the heart of that City.

Don has accepted an invitation from the Fremantle Society to give a presentation of his ideas when he next visits Fremantle. He will be too late to save much of Fremantle’s heritage character, but his ideas will make a good Thinking Allowed column in the Herald for the faithful few who still read such things.

Car Parks Not Needed?

Fremantle Council is selling yet another car park (corner of Josephson and High Streets -see next article) and you can buy it, and stick a 21 metre high building on the site to overshadow the little gem – Victoria Hall – across the way.

Fremantle Council’s advanced thinking is that driverless cars and driverless bicycles will soon replace the need for any parking spaces. The progressive Fremantle Council is years ahead of other councils who still believe that business needs support, and that car parks are strategically located in order to assist customers of those businesses.

Progressive Investigation Needed

There are a lot of people wanting Fremantle to be progressive. But you need money for that. An investigation is needed into the questionable property dealings of Fremantle Council so that we can get better value with our money. Since Dr Pettitt was elected as mayor 8 years ago, the council’s property portfolio has fallen in value from $57 million to $23 million.

The two most recent worrying examples are:

a) New Fremantle Depot Site: Council paid $7.8 million in 2014 for the contaminated site which the previous owner bought just 9 years earlier for $1.88 million. In the three years since 2014, the property, worth $640,000 a year in rent, has lain empty, losing ratepayers a possible $2 million in revenue.

b) Josephson Street Car Park: Adding to the sale of Queensgate Car Park, Point Street Car Park, Spicer Site Car Park, Bannister Street Car Park, and Phillimore Street Weighbridge Car Park, now comes the sale of the Josephson Street Car Park. The sale of so many car parks is alarming enough, but the conditions of sale, which include that the new owner must lease back the car park to the council until at least 2020 at $1 a year, mean that the price realised for the site will be much less than if it was sold as vacant possession. In fact, condition 2 ( As a condition of sale of the Property the Buyer must grant to the Seller an option to lease the Property (Option to Lease) for use as a car park for a peppercorn rent ($1.00 per annum) until development of the Property is commenced) means that the owner must allow the council to continue leasing the site for $1 a year until it is built on.

These onerous conditions could lose ratepayers at least $1 million for the sale of their asset.

The loss to ratepayers on these two issues alone could be in excess of $3 million. As the mayor of one major city told The Fremantle Society: “If I screw up on financial issues, I will man up and accept the blame.” It is hoped Dr Pettitt will do the same.

It is time for an independent investigation of all ratepayer asset sales in the past 8 years.

Election – Final Act

The local elections are almost over and the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent by council in publicising themselves in lavish advertisements and publications, will greatly help incumbents to be reelected.

Also helping incumbents are the ‘jobs for the boys (and girls)’ that the hangers on have received and are receiving for aligning themselves closely with the council.

The energetic Roe 8 protestors who moved from that issue to supporting the current Fremantle Council, do not seem to have transferred any interest from Roe 8 environmental issues to Fremantle ones. Otherwise they would have picked up on some of the unsustainable council projects (how much money was wasted with solar panels at the Leisure Centre?), the cut back in the number of trees being planted in Fremantle, the failure to seriously tackle the lack of tree canopy cover, the lack of any air quality monitoring in Fremantle, the unsatisfactory health of the great Moreton Bay fig trees in Kings Square and so on.

The False Accusation

During the election, it was put about that until Dr Pettitt arrived as mayor, ‘nothing happened’ and, in Dr Pettitt’s own words, ‘the previous council was ineffectual.’

These falsities overlook the many things that occurred prior to his 8 years, which in contrast to the current council, involved consensual and high quality decision making, and high quality outcomes, particularly in the area of heritage. Much of the good work done by previous councils has been undone by the current council.

The previous Fremantle Council Heritage Architect Agnieshka Kiera has kindly put together her recollections of what was achieved by previous councils from a largely heritage point of view. It is long, but worth reading, and stands as testimony against the false accusations of the election. See the previous post, below.