Fremantle – Major achievements prior to 2010

Agnieshka Kiera

Establishing Fremantle as the heritage and cultural capital of WA took roots with the major overhaul of the Perth Metropolitan Region Scheme 1971 and the Town Planning Scheme no.2 which for the first time stopped the planned massive demolitions in Fremantle. But it was the post-America’s Cup period (1987 ->) and the Town Planning Scheme no.3 when the heritage of Fremantle was accepted as the important social and economic asset to the city. Interestingly enough at the time, Western Australia didn’t have legislative means to consider heritage, so the recognition came from the community. It was the group of professionals, artists and history lovers that established the Fremantle Society in 1972 and in 1979 produced the list of Fremantle’s heritage places. The City took this list as a base and, over the next 20 years, has revised, expanded and threaded it through the various material and legislative processes, including the much, later introduces Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990, to finally formalise it under the Planning and Development Act 2005 and adopt it as the Heritage List under the Local Planning Scheme no.4. Simultaneously with the process of identifying and expanding the legal recognition of Fremantle’s heritage, the successive Councils of the 1990s-2010’s period gradually developed the planning framework to manage heritage protection and conservation as well as the strategies for sustainable growth and revitalization of the Fremantle with heritage as the main driver of development. The culmination of establishing Fremantle as heritage and cultural capital of WA was the physical transformation of the declining 19th-century port city into the prime tourist destination of WA. The evidence of this introductory statement can be summarised as follows:


3600 individual places and 18 heritage areas on the Heritage List under Local Planning Scheme no.4. The next closest heritage list in terms of heritage wealth is Perth and Subiaco with some 300 listed places each;
Fremantle Prison inscribed on the World Heritage Register. On 31 July 2010
the Australian Convict Sites became Australia’s 18th World Heritage listed place, including the most intact surviving convict establishment in Australia in Fremantle. It has been a culmination of some 20 years long process for the local, State and National Governments, and ultimately, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to accomplish what the Fremantle City Council initiated by commissioning the first Australia ICOMOS World Heritage Evaluation Report on Fremantle in 1990; 
the State Heritage listed area (the West End). The process of State heritage listing for Fremantle historic core was initiated in the early 2000 and involved a lot of preparatory work required by the Act such as heritage research, evaluation of significance, preparation of expert report, staged community consultation, numerous revisions and discussions with the senior officers of the WA Heritage Office and, in 2010, submission of the area called Fremantle Historic Town to Heritage Council of WA for inscription on the State Heritage Register. However the newly elected 2010 Council took over the process and immediately reduced the originally proposed whole of the historic city centre down to the 1/3 of the area, which has ultimately been accepted by the Heritage Council and inscribed on the State Heritage Register as the West End of Fremantle;
• the Fremantle Society put numerous submission objecting to the reduction of the area and when the objections were ignored the Society nominated Fremantle Historic Town to the National Heritage Commission for inscription on the National Heritage Register. While this process has not yet been resolved, it’s worth noting that to date only Broken Hill in Victoria is listed on the National Register as the whole historic town.

Heritage Places Reserve Fund – the fund was established in 1987 and periodically amended until in 2006 the Council’s adopted the Capital Conservation Works Strategy, which identified 10 years worth of capital conservation projects for staged implementation. The final revised Heritage Fund, still in operation, allocates a proportion of income from the selected, incrementally restored properties together with the 1% of rates to the fund. During the 25 year period, this fund was available to the City for implementation of the capital conservation works. The selection of projects for implementation was decided annually in accordance with the Capital Conservation Works Strategy as part of the Council’s budget process and availability of the external funding. Over the years the City became successful in obtaining funding from external sources due to the quality, depth, and professionalism of its submissions and success in delivering the outstanding outcomes. Supplemented by the external grants, the Heritage Fund has facilitated implementation of the ambitious strategic program of conservation projects, outlined further below.

Heritage grants – in 2008-2010 Fremantle adopted the heritage grants budget as the financial incentive to conserve Fremantle heritage. The owners of heritage listed properties may apply for funding assistance for up to $10,000 for conservation works, which are in public view and can reveal the significance of a heritage place. Examples of eligible works include restoration of original verandahs and repointing and restoration of masonry facades. While the grants’ policy is still in place, there is no evidence of these grants being used since the 2010 elections.

Heritage Regime – It was pre 2010 Councils that, over time, have established the wholistic heritage regime, involving combination of the relevant expert skills, heritage listing, the local planning scheme provisions, policies, guidelines, plans and strategies, practical models, incentives and an active role in building conservation projects that encourage the heritage driven revitalisation and redevelopment of Fremantle in the 25 years period post America’s Cup to the early 2010s i.e. before the Council elected in 2010 has changed the priorities and introduced corresponding amendments to TPS4.


The pre 2010 Council commissioned the production of the Local Identity and Design Code for Central Fremantle with the view, like with the first World Heritage Evaluation Report in 1990, that it could be used as a planning tool by the City, owners, architects, and developers, to guide the harmonious and sustainable development, consistent with the city character as opposed to demolitions and replacement with much bigger scale buildings. While ensuring the protection of the city’s heritage the Codes promote using it as the inspiration and driver of development. The Codes represent the innovative planning and design approach to the development of the city and provide means for advancing and fostering the locally specific urban architecture. In the established cities around the world, the similar codes are used to manage change by reducing the negative impact of new development on the urban fabric of the historic cities and the social heritage of their communities. In addition to the Local Identity and Design Code for Central Fremantle, the commissioned consultants also prepared the specific Design Codes for the Spicers site and Point Street site, which were to be redeveloped at the time. Yet the 2010 Council resolved to adopt the Codes only as a study and the community resources as it was then considered as potentially a hindrance to much more aggressive transformation and large-scale developments favoured by the City’s elected body at the time. Both, the Spicers and Point Streets sites remain undeveloped.


During some 15 years of implementing the Capital Conservation Works Strategy, the City assisted revitalisation of Fremantle by undertaking the heritage driven the development of its then extensive property portfolio and leading by example. This has proven to be a very successful strategy. The City’s award-winning projects involving the combined, straight conservation and restoration/adaptations projects worked as a model for private developments and together have added thousands of the new residents to Fremantle (the precise number is yet to be determined) and attracted equally large numbers of state, national and international visitors to the city. In addition to strict conservation, the Council’s developments involved a creative modernisation of the heritage buildings, inserting new uses and extending their economic life. At the same time Council’s projects celebrated the design excellence across a range of building types and public spaces. Among the most successful were the State award- winning adaptions and redevelopment of Moores Buildings, the 1988 restoration/ adaptation of the Town Hall and Kings Square upgrade, Union Stores and Victoria Hall. Other successfully implemented projects involved Victoria Pavilion, Arts Centre (former Asylum), Fremantle Markets, Fairbairn Street upgrade, Gilbert Street Reserve, Fremantle Park and the Pioneer Park Archeological Project. The most successful of them and appreciated by the community and visitors alike according to the latest Catalyse Survey has been the most transformative Arthur Head Project. It has taken some 20 years for Council to accomplish and involved the complete transformation of the former Fremantle Port depot and the only reconstruction of the beach in Australia into the A Class Reserve – the significant to Western Australia historic site, the settlement place of Swan River Colony. It also involved extending the A Class Reserve’s boundaries to include the underwater area of Bathers Bay. In terms of physical transformation the project involved the staged and progressive reconstruction of the 1870s shoreline, Bathers Beach, the dunes and coastal vegetation, restoration of the Round House, Pilots cottages, Fort Arthur, J- Shed, former Kerosene Store (now Kidogo gallery), stabilisation of the cliffs and the Whalers Tunnel, restoration of the Whalers Station, culminating in the most successful of them all, the Old Port Project. The latterly involved construction of the boardwalks, steps and decks, shade structure (formerly Mortuary) and public facilities including the seating, paths, extensive heritage interpretation, the wooden structure of the Long Jetty, the rails and rail carriages and (constructed previously on the headland), public toilets and the Round House bakery. The Old Port Project served as a catalyst to a very successful revitalisation of the former Co-op building on the Reserve’s southern boundary.

The 1990-2010 Councils were also involved in a provision of the community services involving, among other things, the construction of low-income housing and the women refuge. These projects aimed at making Fremantle more inclusive and liveable for the city’s mixed community thus hindering its gentrification. They represented the then Council’s true commitment to Fremantle community. The particularly successful was the Small Housing Scheme involving the construction of the Council’s designed and constructed medium density housing complexes in Jenkin, Sydney and Wardie Streets and the Women Refuge in Knutsford Street. The then Councils were also involved in the successful negotiations, active cooperation and design of the Steven Street redevelopment (former quarry) for a mixture of public and private medium density housing and the public park. Another successful example was the joint preparation with the State Government of the Fremantle Prison Management Plan and retrofitting the Council owned property in the corner of Tydeman and John Streets in North Fremantle for the then State Housing Commission’s tenants.
The friendly cooperation of the former Councils with the State Government has resulted also in the State implemented developments that positively contributed to solving the housing shortage prevailing within the city’s low-income groups at the time. Most notably the medium density housing complex in Queen Victoria Street that incorporated the heritage buildings and the retrofitting and adaptation of the former Newspaper buildings in Leach Highway. The State Government funded exemplary restorations/ adaptation included Fremantle Prison’s complex, the Courthouse complex and Warders Cottages on Henderson Street, the former Girls School in Princess May Park, the former Drill Hall, and Fremantle Railway Station.


It was the Councils of the 1990 – 2000s that have established a very effective heritage regime and planning framework to manage Fremantle’s development, much of which is still in place. Over the years the combination of regulations, policies, and incentives not only encouraged the heritage driven revitalisation and redevelopment of Fremantle but saved the economy of the city from collapsing in the decade post-America’s Cup. The development pressure during the America’s Cup had resulted in some rather unfortunate developments (almost complete demolition and replacement of the Tram Barn in High Street, gutting and upwards extensions of the Navy Club in corner of High and Pakenham Street, the façadism of the Custom House complex in Pakenham/Phillimore/Henry Streets), so the Council’s learned lesson from that period was to adopt the Town Planning Scheme no.3 that included at the time innovative heritage provisions, measures, planning controls, and incentives – all aiming at protection of Fremantle’s heritage and encouraging sympathetic redevelopment of the city. It has proven absolutely essential when following the America’s Cup temporary spur of economic activity, the WA experienced economic downturn-a that set the real economic setback for the city.

It was in the late 1980s that most wholesalers, shipping companies, woolstores and factories closed down and departed from Fremantle en masse, leaving behind large number of big, empty industrial buildings and raising fears of the bankruptcy of the local economy. The massive departure of the vital industry was followed by the commercial businesses, including the famous Pellews, furniture shops, garden and equipment suppliers and number of other wholesalers. The Western Australia’s economy was in recession and the future of Fremantle looked doomed. Yet the City, in cooperation with all other tiers of government and the supportive community, took the lead by providing tangible planning incentives i.e. using the heritage provisions of the then TPS3 to induce developers of all kinds to invest in Fremantle. The Council decided to use the TPS3’s clause 9 (?) that permitted relaxation of all provisions of the scheme for developments that involved a retrofit/reuse/revitalisation of a historic building. So instead of enforcing the then planning scheme’s low density, the owners and developers of empty buildings were able to design and built as many residential units within the existing building shell, as the particular old building would physically accommodate. It was the Notre Dame University that first took advantage of these incentives when in 1988, after the withdrawal of the promised private funding for their planned country campus in Broome, the then vice-chancellor David T. Link looked for opportunities to establish the Australian campus elsewhere and came across Fremantle. At the time Fremantle represented an unprecedented market opportunity created by the oversupply of empty buildings and the enthusiastically supportive Council. It was the positive negotiations and cooperation between David T. Link, the Council and the State Government that saved the West End at the time. By their willingness to adopt heritage buildings rather than demolish and replace them, the University quickly established itself in the beautifully restored and adapted buildings acquiring the timeless and respectable quality of an old institution afforded by the Victorian character of the area. And the City, by assisting the University, had facilitated the urgently needed salvation for the ailing Fremantle economy. The City’s support wasn’t only restricted to the planning incentives. The senior officers of the City cooperated with the State Government agencies in order to come up with the alternatives to the then strict building regulations to allow the old timber structure to remain and be restored instead of being replaced by the concrete slabs and walls. The then converted old warehouses remain to this date the University’s exemplary and most creative adaptations. These include the Batemans complex of buildings in Henry and Mouat Streets (now the lecture rooms, chapel, library, and offices), the Old Furniture Factory (now the school of medicine) and the former Courthouse in Marine Terrace (now the public lecture room). The early success of Notre Dame University in the late 1980s/early 1990s was followed by the rapid succession of the privately funded developments involving reuse of the vacated heritage buildings. In a span of some three years, all the vacated industrial buildings in Fremantle were restored and converted into the alternative uses including the medium to high density residential units, restaurants, cafes, breweries, art studios and galleries. These privately funded and heritage driven developments include, in the West End alone, the former Bag factory and Saddlers warehouse in Pakenham Street, the Samson Warehouse in Little High Street, the Trade Union building and Esplanade Hotel on the corner of Marine Terrace and Collie Street, the Kakulas Sisters shops in the former Princess Theatre, the superbly restored and adapted National Hotel in Market Street, the B&B in the former German Consulate in Mouat Street and a number of residential adaptations of the heritage buildings in Cliff, Bannister and Phillimore Streets. In the late 1990s and the first decade of 2000, the planning framework provided by the TPS3 also facilitated a range of the new infill developments in the West End. The planning scheme aimed at protecting the heritage and character of Fremantle by restricting the height and scale of new developments to max three stories with an option for the strictly controlled extension of a fourth story. Thus Notre Damme conversions were followed by, to date harmoniously inserted, new infill buildings such as the corner of Cliff and Croke Streets or corner of Henry and Phillimore Streets. In addition, the new sympathetic, award- winning infill buildings were also privately constructed in Henry Street, Pakenham Street, Market, Collie and Leake Streets.

However, the greatest injection of new residents/activities and investment in Fremantle was achieved by the heritage driven developments outside the West End. A lot of them involved conversion of the old buildings combined with construction of the new, sympathetic infill development. These included but were not confined to the former Flour Mill in Essex Street, Ellen Street Factory, the Cold Stores in Marine Terrace, the Primaries in South Terrace, the warehouses in Price, King William and Ada Streets, the former Biscuit Factory in South Terrace, followed by the medium density housing developments in Jenkin and Wardie Streets, the redevelopment and upgrade of the old fishing sheds in the Fishing Harbour as the restaurant and art precinct; the conversion and redevelopment of the former boat sheds into the Little Creatures; the numerous private developments in Marine Terrace, South and North Fremantle and, in particular Hilton Park. In fact Hilton Park was discovered and generated a lot of interest as one of the most thought after residential areas in the 1990s only after the Council declared it to be the heritage area – the only surviving garden suburb in Fremantle. Finally it was then that the concept of restoring the Elders Woolstores in Queen Victoria Street and adapt them as the New York apartments, was born and actively encouraged by the Council. It was in the first decade of 2000s that Council actively negotiated with the then developers to retain the building instead of the initially proposed demolition and replacement. It was also the Council of the early 2000s, in cooperation with the State Government, who successfully negotiated the design of retrofitting and reuse of the existing Woolstores and approved the first proposal based on the requested Heritage Assessment Report and the Conservation Plan. These were the protracted and complex negotiations as even when the developer has agreed to reuse the existing building, he still pushed for the extra upward extension and demolition of the saw tooth roof. Currently known as the Heirloom, the development gives the testimony to the 2000 Council’s commitment to the heritage driven development.


It was the two decades between the 1990s – 2010 that Fremantle successfully achieved the steady and sustainable growth and has undergone a sympathetic transformation from the struggling, largely ignored as an investment opportunity and crumbling port town into a vibrant and attractive residential area for the ethnically and income mixed population of its residents. This was achieved by the active involvement of the Fremantle City Council in a provision of the affordable housing as well as ample opportunities and a wide range of options for private development. These options ranged from the opportunities for compatible infill development, from single houses to medium and high-density unit developments, to the creative reuse of the existing buildings and conservation of Fremantle’s heritage. These opportunities were largely created by the heritage regime and the planning framework adopted by the 1990-2000 Councils that was conducive to the development of the city by the mix of individual private and public investments in the city existing resources and its community.

From the hindsight and as demonstrated on the evidence outlined above, it can be said that the strategies and initiatives of the City prior to 2010 have proven to be successful and produced the tangible long-term benefits to the city. Mainly the proactive use of the Town Planning Scheme no.3 to manage the change, combined with the creative and leading role of the Council in the local development industry by undertaking its own, award-winning, developments that served the community and worked as a model for private owners and developers to follow. Thus the City has provided the successful model of sustainable urban development for Fremantle, added thousands of new residents, and established the city’s reputation as the most attractive West Australia’s international, national and state tourist destination. On the other hand, it looks like the urban development model adopted in the last 8 years of facilitating large-scale, conventional, and the developer’s driven urban development model has resulted in the visible stunt of the previous harmoniously incremental and sustainable growth. With no much of visible achievements to date, it appears to be a retrogressive step in managing change, sustainable development or inducement for the local economy. The time will tell if this change can benefit the city in the long term.


Council records and the summary of the former City Heritage Architect account of the Council’s and Fremantle achievements during the 25 years with the City of Fremantle.

Subway on Steroids


Sorry to Show this Again

The image above needs to be shown again, because it represents what the current election should be largely about – the damage to Fremantle from insensitive developments.

Mayor Pettitt and Cr Sullivan have both been on social media this week extolling the virtues of this proposal for the Coles Woolstore development before it has even reached the planning committee. The mayor claims this development and others like the 8 storey approval for 22 Adelaide Street opposite Johnston Court are “well away from the heritage areas” when of course they are not. This building will forever be an inappropriate blockage to the linkage between the station and the Town Hall, and a visual eyesore no tourist will ever pay money to come and see. Visitors arriving at Fremantle Railway Station, a facility beautifully restored inside and out by the government, and others driving along Beach Street, will be jarred by the incongruity of this supsersized Subway sandwich and its offspring.

In Paris, there is one large modern building at Montparnasse Station which impacts the remarkable congruity of the scale of Paris and should never have been allowed. But Paris is huge in comparison to Fremantle and the building proposed here – 50 metres from our railway station, and 200 metres from King’s Square – will forever blight the human scale of the town.

On the far left, looking positively tiny despite being given approval for a 6 storey development, is Marilyn New’s wool store. She will no doubt apply for the same height bonuses as the Coles site.

The Fremantle Society would like to hear from members their thoughts about the project pictured. The Fremantle Society is keen to see developers spend their money, but wonders why we can’t get something that will be the “heritage of the future” we keep being promised.

The Fremantle Society did receive a brief assessment from Ian Molyneux, the inaugural chair of the Heritage Council of Western Australia, who labelled it “moronic”.

When the election is out of the way, this proposal, and other bad news like the financially inept Fremantle Depot decision reported to you on September 20, will come to Council.

Secrets of our Cities

Tonight, Tuesday 10 October at 7.30pm SBS will air their program on Fremantle entitled Secrets of Our Cities. It will be a lively look at some of the colourful characters of Fremantle from Bon Scott to the Rajneeshees.

The Fremantle Society was pleased to help producers, free of any fee, in the making of the program.

The interest shown by the producers in listening to the Fremantle Society and others in town, is in marked contrast to Fremantle Council, who do not attend Fremantle Society events when invited, do not include the Fremantle Society in any heritage discussions, ignore detailed and professional submissions made, and do not invite the Fremantle Society to any events regarding heritage, such as the opening of the Town Hall or the Fremantle Boys School projects.

One of the producers, with a BBC background, commented that Australian towns are generally linear – you drive in one end and drive out the other, but that Fremantle was different – it had a town centre. It is probably the only town in WA to have a town square. It was pointed out that this rarity of having a town square was unfortunately not considered important by the local council who intend to build over their half of the square with a new $50 million administration building as part of a large King’s Square development.

Public Art

The Fremantle Society has received a response from the council to our letter of early September in which we wrote:

The Fremantle Society keen to see high quality public art and high quality restoration projects, but is concerned with the effectiveness of the Percent for Art Program.

The intention of the program was to provide money for heritage or public art. Developers have to spend 1% of the value of their project either on public art or heritage works.

This is an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the public realm with art that is loved and appreciated and which enhances the urban streetscape on a permanent basis, or heritage improvements that add to the authenticity of Fremantle.

It would appear that what the public have received so far has in most cases been very poor quality art installations, often affixed to the property of the developer.

While the Fremantle Society appreciates the detailed response received below, the main issues remain – the poor quality of the public art and the failure of council to do archaeological investigations on all heritage sites as required by their own policy.

Dear John,

Further to my holding reply to you regarding your email dated 13 September, I now have the information you have requested. I apologise for the time taken to respond.

a & b) 8 and 50 Pakenham Street. I have noted your comments. In both cases the commissioning and approval of the artwork was carried out in accordance with the City’s Percent for Art Guidelines, which provides for the Chief Executive Officer to approve the works under delegated authority based on a report by the City’s Public Art Coordinator and a recommendation from the Public Art Advisory Group. This group includes independent professional representatives from the fields of urban design and art.

c) Atwell Arcade/120 High Street. A condition of planning approval required a percent for public art contribution of $69,950. This was expended in conjunction with some of the City’s own public art budget allocation on a joint public art project in High Street Mall. This is the installation of poles with weathervanes at the top which you refer to. The artwork, titled Windcatchers, is by Tom Muller and Arianne Palassis. A plaque is scheduled to be installed to explain the artwork to the public. Its elements are intended to reference Fremantle’s port and maritime and colonial history, with the design of the weathervanes referencing maritime instruments and signs.

d) King’s Square project. The City’s percent for public art and/or heritage policy is applied to developments requiring development approval, and therefore only directly applies to the Sirona development on the former Myer/Queensgate sites and not to the King’s Square redevelopment project as a whole. Therefore the project value you have quoted is not the basis for calculating the amount to be spent on public art. The condition of planning approval on the Sirona development requiring a public art/heritage contribution must be complied with prior to occupation of the development. I understand that Sirona are considering the manner in which they will procure public art to comply with the condition but have not made any firm decision yet. The City’s Percent for Art Guidelines referred to above will apply to Sirona’s public art proposals, which in due course will need to be submitted for consideration by the Public Art Advisory Group as part of the process set out in the Guidelines.

The redevelopment of the City of Fremantle’s administration building is a public work which does not require development approval. Nevertheless, an evaluation of the schematic design of the new civic building against the City’s local planning scheme and policies has been carried out. I refer you to the minutes of the Ordinary Meetings of Council on 26 April and 28 June this year which dealt with this matter. Opportunities for public art are being considered as part of the design process for the new building and for the King’s Square public realm. On 27 September the council approved the release of the draft King’s Square Public Realm Concept Plan for public consultation. The draft Concept Plan includes a section dealing specifically with public art. Community consultation on the draft Concept Plan will be commencing shortly, and the City would welcome the Fremantle Society’s participation in this process. In the meantime, if you would like to see a copy of the draft Concept Plan it is available in the agenda attachments section of the City’s website at the following link:

e) LIV apartments development, 51 Queen Victoria Street. The estimated construction cost of the development as stated in the application for development approval, which is the basis for calculation of the percent for art contribution, is $30 million. Accordingly the planning condition requiring a public art/heritage works contribution attached to the approval of this development specifies a contribution to the value of $300,000. The artwork commissioned by the developers is a collaboration by artists Rick Vermey (a Fremantle resident) and Felix Laboratories. The artwork is to be integrated into the soffit and columns of the pedestrian link through the development from Queen Victoria Street to Quarry Street, and is a geometric sculptural form with illumination. The inspiration for the work is based on coastal weather systems and oceanic currents in the vicinity of Fremantle. I understand that the actual value of the artwork commission is significantly greater than the $300,000 amount specified in the condition of planning approval.

With regard to archaeological investigation, the site of 51 Queen Victoria Street is not included on the Heritage List or within a Heritage Area under the City’s Local Planning Scheme 4, and consequently the requirement to undertake an archaeological investigation under the City’s local planning policy LPP2.7 as a condition of planning approval did not apply to this development. Therefore there is no study which I can provide to you.

I trust this response covers all the points raised in your email.

More Mediocrity on the Way

Election Analysis

In recent months the Fremantle Society has covered many issues as it sought to engage the community and promote better quality outcomes. There have been the results of the community satisfaction surveys, the vexed design and financial aspects of King’s Square, the poor quality of many of the new developments, the continual selling off of income-producing assets at often bargain prices, and the dumb deals like buying the Dockers out, and wasting millions on a depot site that isn’t being used. Etc. Etc.

But here we are in the week when the ballot papers start coming out, and all we have seen is the press giving the mayor endless photo opportunities, with little scrutiny. The mayoral debate tonight will be but a blip in the radar unless the media report the differing points of view in detail and give Ra a chance to get her message across. It has been tough for the sole contender against the incumbent to get traction when every time she explains why she is running she gets accused of being ‘negative’. That tactic is used by the mayor and his coterie of councillors all the time.

Failure to Tap into Fremantle’s Expertise

The single biggest failure of the mayor and his acolytes has been the dismissal of those who are not part of the ‘team Brad’. In the past 8 years, as he has energetically gone about his mantra of ‘revitalisation’, the mayor has ignored the very people who have the expertise to nurture and navigate change, without damaging the very thing that brings people to Fremantle in the first place – its heritage and character. Instead he has allied himself closely with developers, and those who think loud music and alcohol are planning tools.

The spin and party politics have been so pervasive in this election that some Fremantle Society members who contemplated getting involved, simply walked away. There are still five Fremantle Society members contesting the elections, and five former members.

In City Ward, while there is no doubt Adin Lang is charismatic and genuinely useful on green issues, Lynda Wayman seriously well qualified but seen as the mayor’s candidate, and Roel Loopers well intentioned but a total ‘flip flop’ on issues, the candidate who would best scrutinise council and who has done the hard yards in preparation is Claudia Green. There is another candidate Julie Morgan, who did so much modernisation to the heritage facade of her building (Bairds Buildings between P&O and Orient in High Street), that she should not be eligible to run, except perhaps out of town.

In North and East Ward there is no real contest. Talented and experienced former Fremantle Society President Jenny Archibald is running in East Ward with the support of the mayor and should win easily. In Beaconsfield the popular Fedele Camarda is up against the Labor Party machinery, and in South Ward Marija Vujcic offers reality and hope for some level-headedness against Cr Sullivan, who has done more damage than most councillors in recent years, and the young and determined Greens candidate Liam Carter. In Hilton the quietly talented and sensible Catherine Hammond is up against the Socialist Alliance incumbent Cr Wainwright.

What You Will Get After the Election

Finally, when the election is over and you wake up to what is hiding around the corner, take a good long look at the next monstrosity (at the top of this page) to be inflicted on Fremantle thanks to Dr Pettitt and Andrew Sullivan and their scheme amendment 49 in particular.

The plans are currently before the Design Advisory Committee (photo Roel Loopers blog).

Remember – Mayoral Debate Tuesday (tonight) 6.30 at Notre Dame

The Fremantle Society wants a Bigger (and better) Fremantle

Reminder: Mayoral Debate Tuesday
3 October Tannock Hall Cliff Street 6.30pm

This important community event is sponsored by the Fremantle Society and is your chance to hear from both mayoral candidates, incumbent Dr Brad Pettitt, and challenger Ra Stewart.


To be sustainable Fremantle Council needs to grow its population and its land area, not annoy people so much they don’t want to be part of us.

There is currently another push from North Fremantle residents to secede from Fremantle.  A previous effort to secede just a small area near Mosman Park failed, but now there is a much more ambitious plan, which seeks to take all of North Fremantle except Fremantle Ports land into an amalgamation with Mosman Park.

The mayor of Mosman Park Ron Norris had a meeting with seven of the group a couple of weeks ago. Mosman Park has accepted the idea in principle, and the Fremantle Society has been told by the mayor and the secessionist side that the concern from locals revolves around dissatisfaction with Fremantle Council in general and specific concerns about foreshore and insurance issues.

East Fremantle made it very clear they did not want a voluntary amalgamation with Fremantle when they had the chance.

Hamilton Hill residents next door to Fremantle booed the amalgamation idea so much at a public meeting last year, Fremantle councillors Coggin and Hume slunk out of the hall.

When the amalgamation of Fremantle and Melville was mooted by the Liberal government, Melville Council told the Fremantle Society they thought the Fremantle finances were so suspect, they would not be interested.

Cockburn has refused to give an inch of its northern suburbs, even though the South Fremantle power station is not in Fremantle but Cockburn.

The North Fremantle group have not made the secession an election issue, because they want nothing to do with Fremantle Council. Their chances of success may be slim, but the totality of rejection of Fremantle Council by so many people, should be a wakeup call to the council. This is especially true during the current mayoral election where Dr Pettitt is seeking a third term.

This issue should motivate the mayor and council to do a better job, to cut the spin and fake news, and to represent the whole community – not just small segments of it.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

Coming soon: Election analysis

When Fremantle had a REAL Heart

Photographic Negative – Glass

Smoke and Mirrors

For the last two years the Fremantle Society has been warning the community that the important ratepayer assets of the city have been flogged off, at often hugely discounted rates, to developers. The relentless sale of car parks alone has been jaw dropping:

Queensgate Car Park SOLD
Spicer Site Car Park SOLD
Point Street Car Park SOLD
Pakenham Street Car Park SOLD
Phillimore Street Weighbridge Car Park SOLD
And, to be sold: Fremantle Leisure Centre Car Park.

Fremantle ratepayer property assets were worth $60 million when Dr Pettitt first became mayor in 2009.

They are now worth $20 million.

Backing up Fremantle Society concerns of poor financial management, Fremantle Council was recently rated by the State Government as the worst performing metropolitan council .

Today, Fremantle Council issued a press release ‘clarifying’ that the Local Government Minister has stated: ‘the Minister said he accepted information from the City’s auditors that, subject to final audit, the City of Fremantle’s 2016/17 FHI score will restore to approximately 85.’

But, why is the Minister relying on the council auditors instead of asking the people in Treasury who wrote the original report?

Political Interference in Local Elections?

Is this yet another example of political interference in local government elections?

People are sick and tired, not only of the mayor parachuting people into positions on council, but of political party machinery meddling in local ward elections and the mayoralty.

Depot another Dumb Deal?

The Fremantle Society wants to see ratepayers get good value from their assets, and has been unimpressed with the financial acumen shown by the mayor and councillors, time after time after time.

Let’s look at the recent expensive purchase by council of a new depot site at 2 Jones Street, O’Connor.

Council said it wanted to move its depot, and gave $7.8 million to Crossgold Pty Ltd for the 1.88 hectare site in 2014, a company who had purchased it for $1.9 million less than 9 years earlier. The price council paid represents a 295% profit for the seller at a time of stalled property prices.

Over three years have passed by, and council has not moved its depot. So, what is the real cost, when rates, water, insurance, consultants and interest are added? Interest alone would be over $700,000.

The Fremantle Society wants to know:

a) Is it true that the site is now worth considerably less than what was paid for it?

b) Is it true that a report will be brought to council about the depot, but not till after the local government elections?

c) Is it true that the site is a contaminated site?

Sensational Photo!

We leave you today with an utterly sensational photograph of the heart of Fremantle c1906, kindly provided to us by Fremantle Ports from the Battye Library collection, seen here at the top of this message.

The image shows Fremantle when it had a real beating heart of successful and diverse commerce, fancy shops, well dressed people, a light rail system threaded through the middle of the town, and a human scale unmolested by the greedy incongruity of what the current council is allowing to be built.

Note the tram on its way to Beaconsfield, and the well dressed children hanging off the Town Hall verandah post. (That verandah should have been reinstated when council restored the building recently. They paid $10,000 for a set of plans to reinstate the verandahs, but they still haven’t been put back).

Yes, there is a proliferation of untidy poles and wires, and blatantly excessive advertising in parts, but this is one of the truly great images of early Fremantle that hasn’t been circulated widely before.

Council’s current plans to reinvigorate the heart of Fremantle are being done without regard to heritage issues, and that is the tragedy.


(i) Please volunteer and donate. The council elections will be over very soon and community candidates need support.

(ii) Fremantle Society AGM: We are delighted to announce that the indestructible legend Vyonne Geneve, who still runs our associate society the Art Deco Society, has agreed to speak at our December AGM about Art Deco, and the book she and her husband recently published Picture Palaces of the West.

(iii) Ann Frank Exhibition: This important exhibition needs volunteers to help run it at the Woolstores.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

This Election Should be About Quality

The two pictures here are indicative of the problems the community faces when developers not only push the boundaries as to what is allowed to be built, but then inflict on their communities a quality of architecture that is utterly inappropriate, unloveable, and NOT the ‘heritage of the future,’ Dr Pettitt keeps promising us.

The first photograph here is from Bayswater, showing plans from the Fremantle based Yolk Property Group for something that has locals seething. The second image is from the Yolk website showing the new 4 storey building they have inflicted on the West End, described by one long term resident as ‘the worst building in the West End.’

This election should be about getting not only value for money (our council property assets have crashed from $60 million to $20 million under Dr Pettitt) but BETTER QUALITY.

The Fremantle Society has repeatedly asked for a proper review of the Design Advisory Committee of Fremantle Council, which costs $1,000 an hour in fees to run. The Chairman is still Professor Geoffrey London, who was nominated for the committee by the mayor 8 years ago, and who, at the very first meeting of the committee, rejoiced at plans revealed for 18 storeys on the Coles Woolstore site opposite the railway station. The committee, and mayor and council, have failed to prevent poor quality developments in Fremantle, damaging to the value of Fremantle as a special place.

Nominations Have Closed

Nominations for council elections closed at 4pm today.

Some candidates have been scared off by the juggernaut of Labor politics and its influence in these local elections, and by the hostile social media campaigns attacking anyone as being negative who dares question Fremantle Council.

For the mayoral position, only Ra Stewart has put her hand up to take on the incumbent Dr Pettitt. The mayor Dr Pettitt, on his nomination form, states that he delivers ‘sound financial governance’ when the reality is that the government website MyCouncil rated Fremantle as having the WORST financial management of any metropolitan council. A score of 70 represents sound financial health. Fremantle Council is rated a 42. By comparison, our neighbours, Melville, have a rating of 98.

The alarm bells should be ringing. The community cannot afford another four years of this.

Dr Pettitt also says there has been ‘better community consultation’, whereas the latest community satisfaction survey shows in the How the Community is Consulted section, that satisfaction has DROPPED since the last survey. 31% think consultation is excellent or good, but 41% think it is terrible or poor.

Given that Dr Pettitt has received around $1 million of ratepayers’ money since elected, he should tell the truth about the actual results so far after 8 years as mayor, and deliver what he keeps promising.

For North Ward, high rise advocate Michele Corbo will run against incumbent Doug Thompson.

In South Ward, Greens candidate Liam Carter will run against incumbent ‘ex Green’ candidate Cr Sullivan, who advertises himself as a ‘recognised leader’ and a ‘heritage expert’. No comment needed. Jennifer Suffling, Maria Vujcic, and Ben Moodie round off an interesting group.

For Hilton, Catherine Hammond is standing against incumbent Socialist Cr Wainright.

In Beaconsfield, Fedele Camarda will run against the Labor Party’s Hannah Fitzhardinge.

In East Ward, Michelle Cunningham will run against Jenny Archibald.

In City Ward, Roel Loopers, Adin Lang, Claudia Green, Lynda Wayman, and Julie Morgan will contest that seat.

What Happened in 2009?

An interesting book entitled To the Beach lies on the shelf of New Editions. It posits that the North Port Quay issue of 2009 was a defining issue that shaped politics in Fremantle since.

It is not often that a whole book is devoted to one local Fremantle issue. One reviewer wrote:

Ever since Rats in the Ranks we have known that local politics can be fascinating. Thor Kerr provides a heady analysis of the volatile swirl of sentiment, advertising, politics, activism and sheer opportunism that determined the outcome of a key development in Fremantle in 2009. Kerr has a keen eye for capturing public personalities with a telling detail, and brings the tools of cultural analysis to bear on media stories, images, policy documents and popular discourses. Both as a Fremantle local and a cultural theorist I learned a lot about the mechanics and machinations by which conflicts of development, environmentalism, heritage and local politics played out on this particular ground – and indeed continue to reverberate through the city. PROFESSOR SUVENDRINI PERERA, CURTIN UNIVERSITY

Mayoral Debate

The Fremantle Society has for a long time been a co-sponsor of political debates in Fremantle.

Cr Pemberton and the Chamber of Commerce, also co-sponsors, tried to get rid of the Fremantle Society this time, by having us excluded.

But, we are back, at the insistence of the university, and would like to invite you all to the next mayoral debate at Tannock Hall (University of Notre Dame), Cliff Street, on Tuesday 3rd October at 6pm. More details later.

Public Art – What are we Getting?

The Fremantle Society is keen to see high quality urban art to to ensure high quality streetscapes. This is the letter we wrote this week to the Director of Planning:

to: The Director of Planning Mr Paul Garbett

Dear Paul,

The Fremantle Society keen to see high quality public art and high quality restoration projects, but is concerned with the effectiveness of the Percent for Art Program.

The intention of the program was to provide money for heritage or public art. Developers have to spend 1% of the value of their project either on public art or heritage works.

This is an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the public realm with art that is loved and appreciated and which enhances the urban streetscape on a permanent basis, or heritage improvements that add to the authenticity of Fremantle.

It would appear that what the public have received so far has in most cases been very poor quality art installations, often affixed to the property of the developer.


a) The Fremantle Society wrote to council about the unattractive sheets of blue plastic on the Quest apartments at 8 Pakenham Street and were told that council was satisfied that those few sheets constituted the developers requirement for $140,000 worth of public art.

The developer was also required to produce an archeological report. The Fremantle Society has read the detailed and excellent report, but is dismayed to see that such an important site, where the largest private house in the State once stood, is not interpreted in any meaningful way for residents or tourists. Council should have insisted that the archaeological report form part of the brief for interpretive work carried out and then monitor the outcomes of the program.

b) 50 Pakenham Street: This dismal four storey development has a metal disc stuck on the side of the building which appears to represent the required percent for art.

c) Atwell Arcade Project: The Fremantle Society asks what was the percent for art requirement for this project? There are a series of metal poles recently installed in the High Street Mall which many people find offensive, intrusive, and interfering with views of the Town Hall and High Street. Do those poles constitute the required public art from Silverleaf?

d) The King’s Square project is a $270 million project, meaning that $2.7 million needs to be spent on public art of heritage. Can we have details of what is proposed there please?

e) The LIV apartment complex currently being built in Queen Victoria Street is a $61 million project, meaning that $610,000 is required to be spent on art or heritage, a sizeable sum.

We ask (i) What works are projected to be created with that $610,000? (ii) Can we please have a copy of the archaeological study done for that important historic site?



John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 22 36 22