Architect Carl Payne Slams Councillors over Manning Buildings

Carl Payne graduated as an architect in 1974; travelled overseas; and moved to Fremantle in 1977. He was active in the Fremantle Society through the late seventies and eighties; and was acting President for a while. Carl worked in private practice in Fremantle during this period. Like others, his Society contributions were pro-bono.  He sent us this essay.

Here is the COMPLETE essay. The Fremantle Herald have now published this, but have omitted 300 words.

I thank Cr Ingrid Waltham for assisting me in previous Council dealings, when feedback from officers was less than ideal. But I was alarmed to read her reported statements regarding the FCC Planning Committee approval of the Manning Buildings redevelopment. She said: “There’s still a lot of work to be done”. I took this to mean a satisfactory result would be achieved. She then said “she’s a bit torn by the verandah issue”; that “she loves to see heritage protected”, but “doesn’t believe it should be imposed if it affected a building’s functionality.

Her comments took me back to the ‘70s and ‘80s, before a kind of truce was achieved. Wholesale heritage loss was averted. It’s now supported by legislation; and improved planning schemes. This is a good thing, but it leads to complacency; to a notion that the war was won. The current Manning Building redevelopment proposal proves that it wasn’t.

“An elected official – is making statements which literally mean that heritage protection should not be imposed if this affects the building’s owner”

The Manning Building shows that we pay lip-service to heritage conservation. It’s rare for heritage architect to do a large redevelopment, because the game in Fremantle – all of WA – is to get around the heritage issues. An elected official – part of a process to protect what makes Fremantle what it is – is making statements which literally mean that heritage protection should not be imposed if this affects the building’s owner. This approach is counter the proper and orderly conservation of Fremantle for the whole community.

I hear the “Damn leftie, it’s my private property.“ response. If Ingrid and the rest of the planning committee are in full support of this private-property ideal, let them say so. I doubt they all are. Knowing some, my feeling is they genuinely want the best for the Fremantle community; for the City itself.
My guess is they don’t fully relate to how a creative and positive conservation approach can be consistent with the best heritage results; and good for ALL property owners.

Good heritage legislation provides a stable foundation; and defends the essence of a place. It offers generous tax-concessions, grants and bonuses to property owners when they develop with strong conservation values. There are examples, in similar cities all over the capitalist world, of creative responses that could apply to Fremantle. Private owners are not dictated to. They are part of a unified approach, with real advantages for them as well. We need to be truly progressive; and not simply rely on an outdated development model.

Manning Buildings are the most dominant example in Fremantle, of a building of this style and importance. They occupy extensive frontages to Market, High and William Streets, with presence on Paddy Troy Lane. They are a vital, substantial piece of inter-connected Fremantle property. They are opposite the Town Hall; and form a partial boundary to the south of the Kings Square development.

“This is no way to run one of the most important and intact 19thC streetscape cities in Australia.”

It may be true for Council to say, “we have achieved a better result than we started with.” But with developers just trying to get away with all they can, the community must continually fight for more. This silly system places total reliance on the skill, judgement, experience, and preferences of councillors who happen to occupy council at the time of any development proposal. This is no way to run one of the most important and intact 19thC streetscape cities in Australia. Councillors need to be supported and informed by legislative certainty and muscle.

Good restoration demands as little change as possible. The Planning Committee heritage report makes relevant points. But actions of councillors are not consistent with the Burra Charter ideals expressed in the report. I’ve heard Cr Waltham’s statement many times, but mostly from those who, unlike Ingrid, don’t especially “love to see heritage protected”. It’s galling to hear them from one who professes to love heritage. Strong heritage legislation is educational too, another huge plus.

The Council minutes say: “Detailed drawings of the decorative posts should be provided.” Architect John Kirkness has researched details for accurate reconstruction of the verandahs. Council should demand these details be part of the approval; and John should receive reward for his work. Is heritage not worth paying for?

“The approach is totally arse-about.”

The minutes say this about the internal timber stairs: “There are a small number of authentic staircases in original condition and it is proposed to retain one or two of them if possible.” One or two, if possible? Developer’s response? “Sorry, wasn’t possible. Computer says No……….” The internal staircases are part of period detailing; the language; the story of the buildings. The staircases should influence the planning; and not be discarded so that the planning can proceed without them. The approach is totally arse-about.

The buildings represent 100% of the current story. The heritage report mentions single-storey add-ons. Retaining these may not be justifiable, but they DO represent aspects of the total history of the buildings. Their loss means a lesser figure, say 96% of the total. Then we lose other stuff. Sure, we get a heritage report. Not much better than nothing really, let’s be realistic. Reports sitting in a drawer don’t have much effect on the urban streetscape.

We lose staircases; internal walls and ceilings; fireplaces; a whole collection of rooms and spaces, for a beer barn. Now I love a good beer barn. I’m in one now, as I write these words. Sea breeze coming off the Fishing Boat Harbour. But the 96% falls further with the loss of these elements. It’s 80% now.

The verandah job may achieve the correct detailing accuracy. But no guarantees. What is our percentage if this re-constructed verandah is a cliché approximation? A major streetscape failure drops the figure to say 65%.

“No well-managed historic city anywhere in the world would allow this to happen”

We find a large section of the courtyard is taken by a new basement carpark road. No well-managed historic city anywhere in the world would allow this to happen. The best experiences in old towns are finding tucked-away courtyards, back-lanes. We are filling these up in Fremantle with over-development. This is not valid urban consolidation. Some recent examples in central Fremantle are so poor, they qualify only as urban exploitation. We can easily hit 50% at this point. A bare pass.

50% makes it easy for a future Manning Buildings owner to say: “These buildings have already lost their 3D-heritage value. They are a façade only. We should bowl ’em over; build something really good!!” “You make a good point” says Council. Don’t laugh, it’s happened before.

Finally, consider this excerpt from the Minutes: “The applicant is encouraged to consider carefully removing acrylic paint and any cement render from the building to allow the walls to breathe. This practice is not only an aesthetic recommendation but will reduce the rate of deterioration of the wall and improve the longevity of the original building fabric.” This type of essential detail should be mandatory for a heritage building; written into the conditions as a requirement, not as an encouragement. 

The Planning Committee approval, with its compromises which miss the importance of achievable, proper and well-considered heritage conservation, was unanimous. Committee members were as follows: Cr Jon Strachan; Cr Bryn Jones; Cr Ingrid Waltham; Cr Jeff McDonald; Cr Dave Hume; Cr Rachel Pemberton.

“We are talking about arming and educating Councillors.”

We can do far better than this. A constructive strategic approach can build a strong heritage policy. Sure, this requires lots of work. But the officers’ report to Council is already a lot of hard work. There are many examples we can use to build this better and stronger Council policy. We are talking about the future of Fremantle after all. We are talking about arming and educating Councillors.

Carl Payne
1 Bostock Street
White Gum Valley
0408 900 446

Fremantle Society Vision

The Fremantle Society has put forward its progressive and sustainable vision in a full page advertisement in the Herald which will appear this week in over 50,000 copies. Many thanks to former Fremantle Council City Heritage Architect Agnieshka Kiera and others for their valuable input.

Fremantle Society Committee

The Fremantle Society welcomes Pat Baker, former senior photographer for the WA Museum onto the committee and as Membership Secretary.

Peter Scott of Fremantle is also a welcome addition to the committee. To cover for committee members who are travelling or unavailable, we are asking for members to consider being an “Emergency Committee Member” for occasional meetings. We are pleased to have two former Presidents, Don Whittington and Ian Alexander volunteering last week for this position. Please contact us if you are interested. In some cases we need representation on important committees, and Professor David Hawks has kindly undertaken for some time now to represent us on the Inner Harbour Community Liaison Committee of Fremantle Ports.

South Ward Election

South Ward voters have received their ballot papers for a rerun of last year’s election.

Maria Vujcic and Chris Williams, both members of the Society, are running against the former incumbent Andrew Sullivan.

There has been some ill informed comment on social media that the Fremantle Society are running two good people against each other in order to split the vote and allow Andrew Sullivan, who voted for all the recent poor quality developments around town, to win. The Fremantle Society did not speak to either candidate before they nominated and is not funding either of them.

We encourage everyone to be active in local government elections, and congratulate Maria and Chris for putting their hands up, and working to be elected.

Precinct Review

There is currently a review of the Precinct system, closing 12 March. The Fremantle Society helped initiate the Precinct System over 20 years ago, and is now being left out of the system, along with FICRA (Fremantle Inner City Residents’ Association). We ask members to go to Have My Say on council’s website and fill out a submission insisting that the Fremantle Society and FICRA stay as precincts.

Precincts in recent years have often been used by incumbent councillors to promote themselves and have often not been functioning as intended.

One reason for having precincts is to give the community a heads up on upcoming events and developments, but there has been little from council staff to make that work optimally. For example, submissions for this year’s Heritage Festival have closed but the Fremantle Society, a heritage group, was not even informed.

It is extremely time consuming writing detailed submissions on complex issues, and the Fremantle Society and others need as much advance notice as possible, and need to stay within the precinct system for that reason alone.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
22 February 2018

Eulogy for Linley Lutton

Linley Lutton Funeral Monday 15 January 2018
My name is John Dowson, President of the Fremantle Society. I first met Linley when I was deputy mayor of Fremantle and we both attended the inaugural meeting of the Fremantle Design Advisory Committee.  At that meeting he was, as he wrote, in ‘a minority chorus when I challenged the Woolstores proposal for 18 storey buildings.’ I saw Linley in action speaking common sense, something which unfortunately is not very common.
Later he resigned from that committee because of the way Fremantle Council was handling major developments. At a subsequent large public meeting he pleaded for the community to be more engaged with the planning process, especially as they are the largest landowners and stakeholders in the city. He said if the community disengages,  ‘the vacuum is filled by others who treat the city as their personal fiefdom.’
Linley helped with a range of issues and provided reports on major developments. He led the City Gate Keeper campaign to try and get better quality outcomes at Elizabeth Quay.
Linley was particularly concerned at the relentless push for higher density developments while at the same time concerned at Australians obsession with larger and larger houses with insufficient outdoor living space, trees or landscape. He always argued his case like the gentleman he was. Lana Turner may have said “a gentleman is simply a patient wolf’ but Linley was rational and kind, imbued with the philosophy of ‘sense of place’ that epitomised George Seddon’s work.
In terms of density: ‘The fundamental flaw in our planner’s thinking is their belief that, through density, cities become livelier and more connected. What they fail to grasp is that it is the intensely rich sensory experience and diverse mix of human activity, not density, which makes cities so liveable. Simply increasing residential densities does not in itself improve the quality of city life. ‘
It has been very hard for people like Linley to be heard and to be effective when developers in this state have so much power and influence at state and local government level, and when bodies like the Heritage Council are basically now a developers’ club, and the National Trust focus on education and not advocacy. There is a great deal of stress working pro bono work in a hostile environment.
Still, he achieved a great deal and inspired many people. The clear signposts he has given us point to a better future. Linley’s philosophy is neatly summed up by the headline in the Post: Linley dreamt of cities full of soul. He wants ‘cities and towns full of soul and authentic character, reflecting the spirit of people.’
I hope Linley’s students carry his philosophy with them through their lives, and I hope Linley’s friends celebrate this wonderful unselfish man, by helping to promote the values he so lovingly put forward.
John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

D Day for Fremantle

Coles Woolstores Development

Members are urgently requested to be involved in what is one of the biggest developments in years – the proposed 38.9 metres high Coles Woolstore development which we have reported regularly on (38.9 metres is 50% higher than the 10 storey Johnston Court box from the 1960s).

The plans are from Silverleaf, who have already built the dismal banks and Target buildings in Queen Street and who did the damage to Fremantle’s heritage with the Atwell Project and have just received permission for massive changes and demolition to the 28 shops of the Mannings Buildings.

It is obvious what council’s intent is- to facilitate ‘revitalisation’ in the town regardless of quality, and recent developments all over Fremantle attest to council’s keenness to help developers regardless of quality.

The proposal has been in front of the Design Advisory committee who have NOT signed off on the plans as being of ‘exceptional’ design quality, but worryingly, just two members of that committee have now provided advice which is guiding the final design criteria to be decided next Wednesday at planning committee (6pm at North Fremantle Community Centre).

One planning expert wrote to the Fremantle Society this week:   “As far as I’m aware, it’s the only design review panel that does not have members from a range of other disciplines (urban design, landscape, planning, etc). It also has a reputation for a dogmatic chair. As such, some of its advice has been questionable, lacks an urban design perspective and tends to look at projects through a one-eyed lens of modernist dogma. If it had more of an urban design focus, the proposal may have been different, or not supported.”

The agenda for next Wednesday states:

The proposal is subject to the provisions of Scheme Amendment no. 49 which included specific requirements in relation to the design quality of the development. Given the size and complexity of the proposed development it is considered appropriate for Planning Committee to provide a view on a number of the key design and planning principles of the development, prior to the applicant further refining the design and an officer report being finalised for determination of the application by the Joint Development Assessment Panel.
It is recommended that the Planning Committee advises the applicant that in principle it supports the architectural direction of the proposal and subject to specific modifications it has the potential to be of an exceptional design quality. 

If it achieves ‘exceptional design significance’ it is eligible for the 38.9 metre height. There is no doubt council is doing everything it can to push this development through. If it had merit, the Fremantle Society would wholeheartedly support the plans for the revitalisation of this run down city centre block (which is NOT away from the heritage areas of Fremantle as the mayor keeps saying). But, please read the two reports we have commissioned from two of Western Australia’s experts. To provide expert and independent views apart form those of the Fremantle Society we commissioned well  known architect Ken Adam and Malcolm Mackay (who worked for the state government for years as a planner and who currently sits on SEVEN urban design review panels).

Please see if you agree with the two reports below we commissioned and send comments to us ( and council (members You do NOT need to make a submission. Just wrote to council and others to say if you support these expert reports (and we did not direct the two experts).

Ken Adam’s report concludes: If the application were approved, in my opinion the game, for the future of Fremantle, will have been lost, and the detail hardly matters.

We sent these reports to the mayor and all councillors and have only received acknowledgement from one councillor.

SUBMISSIONS & COMMENTARY                        prepared  by KEN ADAM LFAIA, LFPIA, LFAIUS

This document is in two parts. The first part comprises a set of succinct submissions in relation to the proposed development. The second comprises support and justification for those submissions.
These submissions and commentary represent solely the professional assessments and opinions of Ken Adam. They have been prepared both personally and for the Fremantle Society, for submission to the City of Fremantle and the Joint Development Assessment Panel charged with considering the proposed development on its merits.

Submission 1:
The comprehensive redevelopment of the Woolstores Centre site is extremely welcome as an important contribution to the future of Fremantle.
Submission 2:
In general the mix of uses proposed for the site is appropriate.
Submission 3:
The most important benchmark for the height, scale and massing of the development is set by the adjoining Woolstores building and, to a lesser extent, the newer building at the SE corner of Cantonment and Queen Streets.
Submission 3:
The appropriate benchmark for the height of the development is the level set by the adjacent Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building, and that level should best be maintained consistently over the whole site. No protrusions above this level, other than minor necessary protrusions, should be accepted. It is accepted that the 21m height limit approximates this level.
Submission 4:
This level should not be exceeded, even were the architectural design to be judged “distinctive” and of “exceptional design quality” or representing “excellence” in design. Even at the highest level of design quality any extensions of the kind proposed, above this level, visible from the public realm, would not be acceptable.
Submission 5:
Regardless of any other considerations, it is my professional opinion, based on a lifetime experience of architecture, urban design and planning, that the proposed development, while unquestionably of an acceptable design standard, falls well short of either distinction or exceptional design quality.
Submission 6:
For the reasons given here, it is my professional opinion that the development application should be refused.

Ken Adam is an architect (retired), planning consultant and urban designer. He has directed a practice in those disciplines since 1974. He is a recipient of the prestigious Architects Board Award. Prior to private practice he had headed the Urban Design Section of the Town Planning Department. He was a founding member of CityVision in 1987 and has been Chairman since 2001. He has taught urban design at Curtin University.
Ken Adam has acted regularly as an expert witness in the Supreme Court and the State Administrative Tribunal and its predecessors, in relation to matters of architecture, urban design and planning, for both private clients and local government authorities.
He is a fourth-generation Fremantle person, and lives in North Fremantle. He is a member of the Fremantle Society. He was the consultant responsible for the most comprehensive study of Fremantle, carried out in 1979-80 for the purposes of establishing a comprehensive strategy for the City and the preparation of TPS3.

This submission is necessarily brief and does not pretend to be fully comprehensive. It focuses on the major urban design issues of scale, form and character of the proposed development, in relation to its surroundings and the city centre as a whole. It should not be read as necessarily agreeing with those aspects of the proposed development not specifically covered here.
In preparing this document I have studied the report and drawings accompanying the application and held brief discussions with the officers responsible for reporting on the application. I have revisited the site and its surroundings. I have not had access to the applicant’s Design Report (Appendix A to the applicant’s report).
This document tries to go to the heart of what really matters for the future of Fremantle. It is not just a simplistic exercise in checking whether all the boxes have been ticked.

Total Redevelopment of the Site is Welcome and offers a Great Opportunity
It should be clear that, in my opinion, a total redevelopment of the site is not merely welcome; it is well overdue. The replacement of the original woolstores building by the existing banal shopping centre, car parking and open servicing areas was, in urban design and other terms, a complete and unrelieved disaster. The decision to redevelop the entire site offers a wonderful opportunity to undo that mistake and create a very positive development that will serve and greatly enhance the city centre. The opportunity must not be missed, nor should it in any way be compromised by confusing what may be permitted with what is best for Fremantle

The Issues
The issues dealt with here are:

  • whether the general character, including proposed use , scale and form, is appropriate;
  • whether the building heights proposed are appropriate and whether the development meets the criteria for design excellence; and
  • whether the more detailed architectural design aspects are appropriate.

Context is Everything
The site occupies a pivotal position in the city’s townscape and activities, mediating between the major woolstore buildings (now converting, appropriately, to residential use) and the central business (essentially retail, entertainment and office) district.
Both the uses and character of development proposed for the subject site must recognise this pivotal position.
There are two buildings that, in my opinion, set the benchmark for the height and scale of what should occur on the site. These are: firstly and most critically, the superb Goldsborough Mort and Company Woolstores building immediately north of the site, which, like the subject site, spans between Cantonment Street and Elder Place and extends for a long distance along Cantonment Street and Elder Place. The second is the relatively recent and modern building on the SE corner of Queen and Goldsborough Streets. Whatever happens on the site must recognise both the scale and character of these two buildings.
None of the other adjacent sites – the obsolete Point Street car parking building and the tired shops on the east side of Cantonment Street and the Wilson’s Car Park on Queen Street – is determinant of what should occur on the subject site, but what is built on the site will inevitably influence their future development.

General Character and Form of the Development
It seems to me that a mixed use development of the site is most appropriate, because the site does mediate between the essentially business and essentially residential precincts of the city.
For that reason, I support, in general terms, the mix proposed, including the replacement of the major supermarket, market hall, offices, significant active-frontage retail and other uses and housing for both active young adults and predominantly retired people.
Provision of active uses at the street frontages of Cantonment and Queen Streets is especially important, and supported. Goldsborough Street, currently a pedestrian desert, also offers the opportunity to become an active and very attractive street in future, especially with a future re-use of the Goldsborough Mort Woolstore building.
In general terms the most appropriate precedents for the overall scale and form of the redevelopment of this pivotal site lie with the adjacent Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building and in the memory of the site, itself a former wool store building of similar scale and mass to the Goldsborough Mort building and the other woolstores along Elder Place and Beach Street – the so-called “March of the Giants”. These suggest a strong, perhaps even monolithic, well-defined mass. The proposed development largely achieves this, were it not for the superimposition of the two tower elements, one at either end, and the excessive size of gaps in the facades, compromising the continuity of the facades.
The unusually large size of the site also strongly suggests the provision of at least one public pedestrian accessway through the site, in line with either the Westgate Mall entry, as proposed, or Point Street, or both. This access way, however, should be completely permeable at ground level, ie it should provide a clear view through between Cantonment Street and Elder Place.

Building Height and Design Excellence
In my opinion the most beneficial height for development over the site would be set precisely at the level of the very fine Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building, creating a  beautifully proportioned streetscape in Goldsborough Street. This level would appear to be close to the level that would generally result from the 21m height limit.
At the southern end of the site a benchmark, but not such a precise one, is set by the building on the SE corner of Queen and Cantonment Streets. This building, of four tall storeys, may be a little short of the 21m mark, but development to the 21m level on the subject site would produce an acceptable outcome. The discrepancy would not be material.
Further to that, in my opinion the buildings on the site should maintain a consistent level, as the adjacent Woolstores building does.
The key issue is whether the additional heights proposed at the north and south ends of the development would be acceptable. This should be looked at from both a straightforwardly urban design perspective and from the more legalistic perspective of compliance with the provisions of the planning scheme.
From an urban design perspective the most desirable streetscape outcome is unquestionably to maintain a consistent building height/level based on the level of the Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building. The 21m height level appears to be a good approximation of this. No extension of height above this visible from the adjacent streets would improve the appearance of the building.
Even one additional floor would be detrimental. It is instructive, in this regard, to consider the outcome of a single additional floor, set back from the facade, on the Marilyn New building at the northern end of Cantonment Street, at and adjacent to Parry Street. The extra floor is both highly visible and destroys the otherwise clean lines of the facades. Go and look at it.
The two proposed blocks of additional height, one at each end of the development, almost doubling the height of the development at those places, create an awkwardly balanced and poorly proportioned architectural composition. Despite the (relatively minor) setting back of these blocks, and the conscious facade design effort to distinguish them from the main building mass (the so-called podium/floating tower effect) they remain simply obtrusive elements. Far from being a beneficial element, as claimed by the applicant’s report, they are significantly detrimental to the urban design outcome. That’s from a purely urban design perspective.
From the perspective of compliance with the provisions of the town planning scheme and other instruments, my conclusion is no different. In order to gain approval for the additional height it is necessary for the applicant to demonstrate that the outcome would represent “Distinctive Architectural Design and Exceptional Design Quality”. The architectural design of the complex as a whole, and of the additional floors, is competent, but no more so than must be expected of any architect. Architects are rightly expected, at the very least, to produce buildings that not only function well, are solid and don’t leak, respectful of their neighbours and compliant with the rules, but also are visually attractive and fitting to their setting. That is as a minimum. “Good”, even “High” quality design is expected of all buildings, especially those designed by architects.
“Distinctive” and “Exceptional Design Quality”, by definition, are terms that cannot be applied to any but a relative handful of buildings. It is frequently claimed that the practical application of those terms is (merely) a matter of subjective opinion, and one opinion is as good as another. That is not so. As in all fields requiring the exercise of judgement it is a matter of professional/expert opinion, based upon professional knowledge and experience. That is why the Council has an (expert) Design Advisory Committee. And that is why my opinion has been sought.
It is rare, and difficult, for a development such as this that is driven, quite properly and essentially, by financial imperatives, to achieve distinction (positive or otherwise) and exceptional design quality or design excellence. To gain some idea of what is required to reach these heights, one needs to look at examples of highly regarded contemporary buildings, notably those that have achieved awards of excellence. In the City of Perth Council House and the new City Library come to mind, as do 40 William Street and the Central Park development. In Fremantle perhaps the proposed Kings Square redevelopment might meet the test. Could anyone seriously argue that the proposed Woolstores redevelopment would stand proudly alongside these?
Competent and attractive as the proposed development may be claimed to be it is neither “distinctive” nor of “exceptional design quality”, and hence does not pass the bar for the additional height concession.

Detailed Architectural Design
Had time permitted, I would have prepared comments on some of the more detailed aspects of the architectural design, including the materials and articulation of the facades, the treatment of the corners, the entry points into the development, and so on. However,  I have necessarily focussed on the critical  issues of the height and form of the development.
In a sense the detailed architectural and design treatment can wait: in my opinion the application should be refused, for the reasons given. If the application were approved in my opinion the game, for the future of Fremantle, will have been lost, and the detail hardly matters.

Ken Adam       22 November 2017

mackay urbandesign
Making places … better

John Dowson

By email:
26 January 2018

Dear John

Re: Woolstores redevelopment, Fremantle

Thank you for your request for some comments in regard to the proposal for the Woolstores redevelopment. As I mentioned when we met, I sit on seven design review panels across the metropolitan area and provide regular dependant design review advice to several other local governments. I also spent four years as a DAP member. As such, I am well placed to provide an informed opinion.

My comments on the proposal, based on a preliminary review of the plans attached to the agenda for the January 31st Council meeting, are as follows:

  • The redevelopment of the site is supported in principle.
  • The mix and general disposition of uses on the site is supported.
  • The general use of brick to the ‘podium’ levels is supported.
  • The degree of ground floor pedestrian permeability is supported.
  • The design of the first six storeys (the five-storey podium level and the glazed and set back sixth floor) is generally supported other than:

o Thelackofgroundflooractivationofthepedestriancross-linkadjacentto the vehicle ramps.

o ThelackofactivesleevingtothecarparkalongElderPlace.

o Thewidthofthevehiclecrossovers.

o Thelackofcontinuitytopedestrianshadeandshelteralongtheadjacent footpaths.

o Thehighdegreeofarchitecturalrepetitionandlackofvisualinteresttothe two longer street elevations (Cantonment and Elder), given the length of the street block.

The design of the proposal above the sixth level is wholly inappropriate for the

following reasons:

  • The location of the taller elements. Additional height could be supported if it was sufficiently set back so as to not be visible from the adjacent streets. To this end, any taller elements should be located above the central parking structure. The height of any taller elements should be determined through a process of visual analysis, of which there is no evidence in the agenda attachment.
  • The massing of the taller element is visually intrusive and overly competes with the architectural detail of the podium level.
  • The architectural treatment of the hotel component is of a scale that overwhelms the architecture below and is inconsistent with the architectural grain and character of Fremantle.
  • The horizontality of the apartment component is inconsistent with the architectural grain and character of Fremantle.

    In view of the above, the proposed design cannot be construed as being of ‘design excellence’ and does not warrant approval in its present form. Given the shortcomings identified above, the design needs to be substantially modified rather than ‘tweaked’.

    Kind regards

    Malcolm Mackay

    Director Mackay Urbandesign

Manning Buildings/Brackson Construction/Precinct System/Coles Woolstore Development

Photographic Negative – Glass

Membership Dues


Membership fees are still low. But your renewal is crucial in keeping us active.

We are paying for expert reports to back our submissions up. We are spending many hours working with Society members, architects, property owners, councillors, staff and others to get the best possible commentary on important local issues. Some of the reports the Fremantle Society has done recently have taken dozens and dozens of hours to formulate. That costs you nothing, but when we need to get experts to add to our expertise, we are paying modest fees for that help. Your membership fees are due and we ask that you pay today if you have not done so already.

Our bank details: Bendigo Bank BSB 633 000
Account:  143193530

or, cheque please to PO Box 828 Fremantle WA 6160

Our vision for 2018 is to enable the community and council to achieve the best possible results through informed commentary.

Manning Buildings

Following our Letter to the Editor this week to the Herald about the Manning Building development, we contacted the two Fremantle Council members of JDAP who decided on the issue yesterday. This is what the president wrote:

Hi Rachel and Jon,

I understand you both will be on JDAP next Tuesday.

I cannot attend JDAP as I will be overseas on a lecture tour promoting Fremantle.

You have a copy already of the attached report done by the Fremantle Society. We have also printed colour copies and posted them to JDAP.

The report took a great deal of time and involved meetings with architects, tenants, councillors, and considerable research.

The more we look into the plans the more issues we find. We ask that you seek to have this deferred until there has been a site visit including all members of JDAP. JDAP should  not be making decisions on complex and important heritage sites without a site visit.

I realise you may not agree with our concerns, but there if the major issues such as reinstatement of original verandahs and original shopfronts are not going to be nailed down clearly, there are a few additional minor things we ask that you consider getting amendments for:

a) Archaeology: it is extraordinary that there is no requirement for an archaeological study for the demolition sites. There needs to be one.

b) Visibility of plant on the roof: Normal condition says ‘cannot be visible’ but the condition in this report said ‘cannot be highly visible’. The ‘highly’ should be removed.

c) the condition for documentation of demolition says ‘digital photographs‘ when in fact it should read ‘professional photographs’.

d) Social heritage of Shepherds and Norm Wrightsons: It doesn’t appear that the social heritage of Norm Wrightsons – in that location since 1933, or Shephers Newsagency – in that building for over 100 years – is appreciated or protected. No council officer visited either tenancy.

e) the tuck painting should be ‘tuck pointing’ as we point out in our report. In fact we received this this morning from a heritage construction company (who worked for example on the Commissariat and Elder Building):

HI John

(Re: Manning Buildings)

I have read over this report and you are bang on with respect to the Tuck pointing,

Tuck Painting should only be done when there is an interpretation of what has been lost forever,

ie, new wall that was damaged but reinstated, tuck painted to look original as much as practical…

Or an extension to a Heritage building, the extension should be tuck painted to “blend” however still show a point of difference with interpretation.

I am also upset at of the painting at the rear of of 7-9 William st

Especially if there were previous paintings or indicators of previous signage for the area

Sometimes the old signage itself can be the most significant part of the building.

While I support the art and décor of what some of the councils do, it is upsetting to assume that the paint that has been used is likely to be detrimental to the building fabric and cause an expedited breakdown of the wall fabric if the paint seals over Lime mortar

Old walls are lime based and need to breath or they decay rapidly

Perhaps it is as the tenants suggest, to hide/destroy the significance of the heritage

I like the art, Just not there…

especially if there were indicators or historical advertising that should have been restored not painted over

I also question if the Heritage council were aware of the walls being painted?

I know the local council are intrusted to look after some of these buildings, however if the persons in charge are not aware of what is needed to work on these buildings or the parameters they should be working too, then it is likely they will have someone who is the cheapest quote using the wrong materials in the name of saving a dollar for the council to make them look good.

(JDAP passed the plans with minor amendments, including requiring an archaeological study)

Brackson Construction Pty Ltd

It was Brackson Construction who provided the above comments. They are new members of the Fremantle Society, with a great deal of valuable experience in important heritage projects around Fremantle such as the Commissariat, Elder Building, and the Town Hall, to name just a few.

The Fremantle Society is keen to see good quality maintenance and restoration to heritage buildings and suggests contacting Bracksons for any queries:

Primary phone number      0484 763 077
Secondary phone number  0423 102 900


Precinct System

The Precinct system is up for review over the next few weeks. Given that it was the Fremantle Society who introduced the idea of a precinct system to Fremantle by getting Ted Mack from North Sydney over here to explain it, it is galling to see the council deliberately leave the Fremantle Society (and FICRA) off the list of precincts. Most precincts have been moribund or operating often to support the incumbent councillors, while the Fremantle Society (and FICRA) have been very active in engaging widely in the community.

Please consider making a submission which keeps the Fremantle Society and FICRA as part of the precinct system.

Coles Woolstores – Your Comments Urgently Requested

The dismal and dominating 38.9 metre high plans for the Coles Woolstores were put out for public comment at the end of last year and we sent you a copy of a report we commissioned from architect Ken Adam.

We urgently seek feedback (to from members about Ken’s report or the one the Fremantle Society submitted as well because there will be a special planning meeting of council next Wednesday at 6pm (North Fremantle Community Centre) to discuss the design criteria (not to assess the actual plans).

Linley Lutton/Hampton Road/ Manning Buildings

Vale Linley Lutton

The Fremantle Society extends its deepest condolences to Sue, Matthew, and Simon. Linley was not just a lovely person, but he had the rare ability to understand how urban design and planning should work, and to articulate clearly how to achieve good results. Linley will live on through his work.

Linley ran his own business as Urbanix Director of Urban Planning, was Adjunct Research Fellow, School of Earth and Environment, UWA, Unit Coordinator/lecturer, Urban Design for Planners, School of Earth and Environment, UWA, and Chair, City Gatekeepers – Advocates for Better Urban Planning.

Linley wrote reports for the Fremantle Society on King’s Square, Atwell Arcade Development, and 8 Pakenham Street Quest apartments, all ignored by the mayor and councillors.

Linley resigned as a member of the Fremantle Council’s Design Advisory Committee in December 2013 in dismay at how council handled major developments. This is a paragraph from his resignation letter:

Fremantle projects such as 8 Packenham St, Point St and 85 Queen Victoria St are examples where I (and other DAC members) have been consistently expressing significant concerns about the projects from the initial presentation – to little avail. These projects simply advance through the system until they reach a crisis point. Another emerging example, which further confirms my sense of futility about the DAC process, is the Spicer site redevelopment. I and one other DAC member expressed concerns during the architect’s presentation about the poor relationship between the applicant’s proposal and the neighbouring Warders’ Cottages. Scale, materials and relationship with the public realm are the primary concerns. I notice in the most recent information sent to DAC members that the applicant makes no attempt at any level to address these critical issues. The applicant is going down the same path of ignoring DAC concerns.

Linley stated in another letter: There are three significant projects I will attest to where the DAC had very serious reservations and these projects have continued to go through the system at COF. At Victoria Park, projects causing major concern to the Design Review Committee would mostly be rejected. I sent this email in August 2013 regarding two projects. I have no idea if my concerns were properly recorded. The views are strongly expressed in this email but are consistent with the DAC committee discussions on both projects:

8 Pakenham Street (Quest apartments) and 81 Queen Victoria Street

These two projects are among the worst I have evaluated in many years. Each suffers from gross over development of their respective sites. In both cases the proponents have been uncooperative and have attempted to chip away with minor revisions without attempting to resolve the major problems.

What concerns me most is why both proponents felt it appropriate in the first instance to present such overdeveloped solutions. What message are they being given when they start the process? Why would a proponent think five storeys on the corner of Pakenham and Short Street would even be a possibility?

Both projects set poor precedents and if approved there will be no stopping others.

Unlike the DAPs, our role goes well beyond simply facilitating development. I understand the push to get development happening but not at any cost, surely!

I am not able to support either project in their current form.

Mediation with the mayor was sought and Linley wrote about that:

——– kindly arranged a mediation meeting between myself and Brad Petit a few weeks ago during which I was candid and open, as was —-, about many issues including the problems associated with Amendment 49.

Brad said he would set up a meeting with myself, himself, Andrew Sullivan and Phil St John to discuss the problems and I have never heard since.

I suspect he has met strong resistance to such a meeting.

Attached are my diagrams which show the impact of shadows on Point Street for at least two full months during winter. This applies equally to Queen Street or any street with a similar alignment.

Any good urban planner would never allow this to happen in an existing small-scale city centre.

My diagram showing how the situation is partly resolved by setting the buildings back is also attached.

Andrew Sullivan was the major driver of the building height changes and he misunderstood the serious shadow impacts caused by taller buildings.

Following my public comments on this issue he has tried to justify his work in several social media statements but he simply reinforces his ignorance and lack of experience with every utterance.

Following his resignation Linley continued his interest and involvement with Fremantle, speaking at public meetings and writing reports for the Fremantle Society. It was stressful for him and his supporters to see the lack of respect shown by council for his well articulated and sensible views.

Photograph copied from Linley Lutton’s Facebook site.

Notice of Planning Proposal 16 Hampton Rd

The Fremantle Society has received the following letter from Keith O’Brian asking Fremantle Society members to be aware of this issue and to make a submission to protect the buffer zone fo the World Heritage listed  Fremantle Prison.

DA0568/17- Submissions close 12 January

I am writing to advise Fremantle Society that the above planning proposal has been lodged with Fremantle council with a deadline for responses on or before 12/1/2018.

This submission is for a massive new 3 story building plus basement that takes up most of the block to effectively replace an existing interwar cottage that is part of a group of 4 such cottages opposite the world heritage listed prison. The only remaining part of the cottage appears to be the front facades as a token nod to the heritage of this building.

The same owner previously applied for a demolition order for this cottage in 2010 and after a protracted process that included three separate heritage reports that found the cottage had some heritage value and contributed to the street scape and a SAT appeal, the council rejected the demolition order. Significant quotes from the heritage reports are copied in italics below. Note that the Harkness report was actually commissioned by the applicant at the time to support his demolition application.

A Heritage Assessment was required under Local Planning Policy 1.6 – Preparing Heritage Assessments and was prepared by Palassis – Architecture and Heritage (the full heritage assessment is available as Attachment 2) and concluded:

16 Hampton Road is a representative example of single-storey residential dwelling in Federation bungalow style.

16 Hampton Road has a high degree of integrity as a dwelling in a substantially intact street of domestic buildings.

From external inspection the dwelling at 16 Hampton Road appears to have a moderate degree of authenticity, with some changes to the street-facing elevation and probable later rear enclosures having little effect on the form of the original building.

By Harkness:

It has some significance as a generally intact residential dwelling loosely reflective of its era of construction, although of relatively low significance in terms of its specificarchitectural quality, authenticity and representativeness.

It has some significance in its contribution to the generally intact and variegated residential streetscape of Hampton Road.

It has more specific significance in its contribution to the group of Inter/Post War houses within which it is immediately located.

The Fremantle Society at that time also opposed the demolition and made a submission to thecouncil which helped preserve this building. The third heritage report agreed with the original report and found that the Harkness report commissioned by the applicant was biased towards demolition even though it acknowledged the heritage value.

The new application calls for discretionary assessments on the following points:

• Side and rear setbacks

• Building height (external wall and roof ridge)

• Visual privacy (North/South/East)

• Vehicle sightlines

• Site works

• Fencing (primary)

I would strongly urge members of The Fremantle Society to view the plans at the City of Fremantle and make submissions that the proposed building would significantly alter this important street scape opposite the prison and is extreme in its size and bulk, greatly exceeding the R4 building codes. It will also reduce the heritage value of the adjacent cottages from the same period.

Unfortunately the timing of the submission just before the Christmas/New Year break will ensure the least exposure to the residents of the City as council is closed between Christmas and New Year. The electronic file size is approx 29 MB and is quite difficult to read in .pdf form so I am not attaching it to this document, however if you contact you can request a copy quoting DA0568/17. Alternatively go to the administration building and view the paper copy when they re-open.

I would copy pictures of the proposal however the document is password protected to prevent snapshots being taken, possibly to minimise discussion on this proposal?

I have copied the submission form for this application on the next page so if you do wish to make a

submission you can print it out.

Thanking you in advance for your consideration of this application.

Kind regards,

Keith O’Brian

9/1 Bellevue Tce.


Manning Buildings Redevelopment

The gorgeous building shown at the top of this post is part of the Manning Buildings (7 William Street) before it became Norm Wrightson’s Hairdressing in 1933. Until then, for over 30 years it was home to the famous Fremantle photographer Charles Nixon. The attractive verandahs are long gone, but should be reinstated. Instead of Silverleaf spending the required 1% for art for this project ($100,000) on more dismal public art like the three poles in the Mall which represent the public art for the Atwell Arcade development, the money should go for a proper restoration job on these beautiful verandahs and shop fronts.

This $10 million redevelopment comes to planning committee this Wednesday (6pm at North Fremantle Community Centre) with a recommendation for approval, with few changes following a huge number of concerned submissions.  The plans didnt even go to the Design Advisory Committee. The Fremantle Society submission is summarised below. Apologies for the lack of images and maps.

Executive Summary

The proposal for the Mannings Buildings at 135 High Street in the Mall seeks partial demolition of the Mannings Buildings, the separation of first and second floors, which have been united for over 100 years, the removal of all existing staircases, works to shopfronts and awnings, removal of various existing walls, and provision of a 1500 sqm brewery.

This is a once in a generation opportunity to revitalise a critically important central city building and in particular to make better use of the underutilised upper storey. This opportunity to get an excellent outcome must not be missed.

Unfortunately, the proposal is brutal in its treatment of heritage elements such as the rear structures, dismissive of the social history of shops like Norm Wrightsons’ Hairdresser, whose business has existed in the same shop since 1933, silent on the 1995 council recommended reinstatement of original verandahs, and does not seek to restore and reuse the former existing Majestic Theatre still in existence there.

This is a major development of a level 1b building, designated as being of ‘exceptional significance’ to the city.  Under council’s town planning scheme, nothing of heritage significance can be allowed to be demolished. A very detailed and careful assessment of this proposal is essential to prevent any loss of original heritage fabric.

The Fremantle Society believes this project should deliver a carefully refurbished heritage building where internal and external heritage elements are respected and kept, where the original verandahs and shopfronts are reinstated, and where important social history like Norm Wrightson’s is celebrated and encouraged to continue in its current location.

The Manning Buildings

Designed by renowned architects Cavanagh and Cavanagh in 1902 in Federation Free Classical style, the collective group of buildings make a bold, confident, and significant contribution to the streetscape. The three shops in William Street (7, 9, and 11) were constructed earlier and had a two storeyed open verandah, rare in Fremantle (see next page). The Majestic Theatre was not opened until 1916 and closed in 1938, becoming the location of the first Coles to operate outside the Perth CBD,  The buildings have housed many and varied tenants over the years, including the famous photographers Izzy Orloff and Charles Nixon.

It is unfortunate that the original verandahs were removed in the 1950s as with many Fremantle properties and that the original shopfronts in most cases have been unattractively altered.

However, the building is listed as being overall of ‘exceptional significance’ to Fremantle and there are many individual original elements remaining on the facade, at the rear, and inside some of the shops.


Given the recent highly controversial Atwell Arcade development by the same developer (Silverleaf’s Gerard O’Brien) just 10 metres from this proposal, extreme caution and care should be taken with this development to ensure that mistakes made there are not repeated here.
One Fremantle architect described the completed Atwell Project as ‘such a tragedy’ with ‘a gigantic loss of original fabric’. The damage to the world famous gold rush roofscapes of Fremantle with the new glass office block, the alterations to the arcade, the lack of restoration of verandahs and shopfronts,  the failure to complete the building as approved, and the failure to complete restoration as promised, are clear warnings.

1) Restoration of verandahs

The developer is not proposing to restore the verandahs of the shops, as he should, yet council spent several years between 1994 and 1999 discussing the issue, and paying for plans to be drawn up with all the detail necessary to encourage the Manning Estate. The detailed plans and files are in the council archives.
As one architect stated: ‘The Mannings Buildings are naked without their verandahs and awnings.’ In particular, the double storeyed verandah originally on 7-9 William Street as shown below, should be reinstated.

2) Norm Wrightson’s – Important Social History

Plans submitted show the relocation of this business to Market Street, and the demolition of much of the shop, to facilitate a brewery.

The tenant does not want to relocate. There is enormous social history with this business having being been there since 1933. Only Warren’s Menswear is an older business (1931) in the Manning Buildings, but they are not been asked to relocate and their shop is not being demolished.

The developer wishes to make this shop, which is directly opposite the entrance to the town hall, the entry to his brewery.  Such proximity to the town’s most important civic building is an inappropriate location for such a business. The shop should stay.

The social history of the various shops in the Manning Buildings is highly significant and should form part of the assessment to ensure that any relevant significant fabric is preserved and the story of those businesses told. Such story telling would add significantly to the marketing advantage of the refurbished premises. For example, Swansea Cycles and Motor Co factory was originally at 9 William Street adjacent to Norm Wrightson’s and significant original fabric may still exist at the rear (see image below). Given the current interest in cycling, this heritage is relevant today.

As the WA Historical Cycle Club notes: They started business at 9 William Street, Fremantle, with a small annex at the rear of the shop where they began making their own bicycles using components imported from England. In the first year of trading Swansea made and sold all of 70 cycles. The great Wall Street crash of 1929, followed by the disastrous Depression years actually helped Swansea Cycles, as many people found bikes a great means of cheap transport that was healthy as well By 1939 Swansea Cycles had expanded to larger factory premises in Newman Street Fremantle, with 5000 square feet of floor space, a staff of 33, and a turnover of more than 1500 cycles a year, as well as trotting spiders and children’s tricycles. There were also branches at Barrack Street, Perth and in Kalgoorlie and Bunbury, with agents throughout the state. 1939 saw the introduction of the top end 4 and 5 Swan models.

3) Facade Works and Shopfronts

a)  Shopfronts: Most of the existing shopfronts have been altered and do not match the significant heritage values of the rest of the building above. This is a once in a generation opportunity to create a high quality
shopping environment that will be an attractor for the businesses with distinctive high quality shop fronts which match the heritage values above by recreating the original shopfront configurations.
Some shops currently have roller shutters, which should not be permitted because of the detrimental effect on both the building and the street scene.
In terms of security it should be remembered that smaller paned glass, transoms, mullions and stallrisers are more difficult to break into than large areas of glazing as recently installed by this developer nearby at the Atwell Arcade buildings. They are also cheaper to repair.

b) Cinema Facade: The developer proposes to ‘tuck paint’ the former cinema’s facade  on High Street. The paint should be stripped and a proper tuck pointing restoration carried out.

c)  Electronic Security: all security systems should form an integral part of the design and be located unobtrusively in order not to interfere with any architectural detail.

d) Lighting: Internally illuminated letters or fascias can conflict with the design of historic shopfronts, are incongruous in heritage areas and must be resisted by council. Full details of the fitting, method of fixing and luminance should be provided by the applicant. Moving signage, as currently existing on one Manning Building shop (tobacco shop) is not allowed under council bylaws.

e) Materials: Traditional materials should be used. Timber is appropriate as is wrought and cast iron.

f) Corporate colours and styles: Corporate housestyles can seek to have shopfronts and advertisements inappropriate for historic buildings, and may have to be adapted to fit in with the age and character of the building.

g) Original detail: Where possible, original detail should be preserved. The photos below show how the original pediments on the left of the Manning Buildings have been covered over and need to be revealed again.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
9335 2113

9 January 2018