This is a fullpage advertisement placed in the Fremantle Herald 24 February 2018, page 5.
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.
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.
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.
The Fremantle Society
22 February 2018
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
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.
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):
(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
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 email@example.com) 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).