Complacency with Council Elections

With three uncontested seats in the upcoming Fremantle council elections, the Mayor was asked in this week’s Fremantle Gazette why he thought that was the case. He replied that this was a reflection of the community’s confidence in the council (I personally saw this as complacency in the community and perhaps worse, that there was a general disaffection with local politics).

So an obvious question is, how does the Mayor view 3 candidates vying for the City Ward? Is this a negative? Whichever way one looks at this question, I would have thought that more candidates means more choice, some healthy competition, a catalyst for debate on local issues, and most importantly independent voices rather than mayoral cronies. A cakewalk into council is not what we should be aiming for!

Lloyd Hammond

Fremantle revitalisation the hot topic at upcoming Leaders’ Luncheon

Interested in important Freo matters? RSVP by tomorrow (Fri 16 Sept) ! Source CoF website. cheers cathy hall

The City of Fremantle and the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce are pleased to announce details of the latest installment of the Fremantle ‘Leaders Luncheon’ series, a bi–monthly lunchtime event with presentations on significant Fremantle issues.

The fourth in the series of Leaders’ Luncheons, to take place on Thursday 22 September, will be addressed by Fremantle Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt and is entitled ‘Revitalisation of Fremantle, the City responds’.

Mayor Pettitt will provide a comprehensive report on the initiatives currently being implemented by the City to revitalise Fremantle. Many of these initiatives have been adopted as the results of recommendations from commissioned studies and reports – some of which have been the subject of previous Fremantle Leaders’ Luncheon presentations.

Some of the major topics covered will include:

Business Improvement Districts (BID’s) and how a Fremantle BID will benefit CBD businesses  the establishment and function of the Fremantle Union and how this joint planning agency initiative will assist Fremantle in achieving its vision of economic sustainability current status of the proposed planning scheme amendments covering strategic sites within City Central information about the Kings Square project – a potential major redevelopment opportunity in the centre of the city.  Members of the Fremantle business community and those with potential business interests in Fremantle are invited to attend. The topics covered at Fremantle Leaders’ Luncheons will always be significant to the Fremantle business community and guest speakers will be a mix of Fremantle and external business and civic leaders.

Date Thursday 22 September 2011

Time 11.45 am registration for 12.00pm sharp – concludes at 1.30 pm

Location The Esplanade Hotel Fremantle – Island Suite

Cost $45 (inc GST) Chamber members $40 (inc GST)

RSVP by Friday 16 September 2011
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T 08 9432 9528

Society Presidency

Dear Fremantle Society Members

As your official spokesperson for the Fremantle Society, under our constitution I would have preferred to have been the one who posted my intentions for my future with the Society (thank you Roel for doing that for me).   To clarify the situation, I have not resigned as your President, though I will not be contesting the position at our AGM.  So if you have any issues please feel free to contact me until then.

I have found the role of President both challenging and rewarding, I feel I have achieved  a considerable amount for the Society and importantly Fremantle in my term.   Do come along to the AGM to hear more.   At the moment we have pencilled in  Thursday 1st December with a very special guest speaker, details will be announced as soon as these are confirmed.

As Councillor in waiting for South Ward I decided it was inappropriate to maintain roles of President of the Society and Councillor simultaneously as there would be inevitable differences in  responsibilities to each organisation.  The Society is an important part of Fremantle and maintaining that role requires a President with a passion for Fremantle, plus the time and the capacity to perform the role of President. If that is you consider nominating.

Please do not forget, our Committee meetings are now held on the Second Monday of the month, the next one being tomorrow 12 September, at 11 Captain’s Lane @6pm.

Jon Strachan     President     0417901809



WITH at least fairly high-rise re-development looming for parts of Fremantle, the opportunity might be snatched to remember curious corners of the CBD. Not much is left; many are already long gone, some soon to go.

Rows of unromantic but essential public toilets were recently lost from the service laneway behind the Maya Restaurant in Higham Buildings, where Market Street meets the Terrace. They served customers of the 1914 indoor and outdoor continuous films of the Palladium Picture Palace, now site of a backpacker’s fronting Packenham Street. With them went an offbeat attraction of old brick structures, amusing plumbing and earliest examples of electrical wiring.

Paddy Troy Mall no longer exits onto William Street under the bridging upper floor of Manning’s Buildings, that private lane being closed off several years ago for a shop but Manning Arcade still gives access to it off the High Street Mall. The last old character shop-houses of that sector have long disappeared or been converted.

The narrow space between buildings that connects South Terrace with that mall alongside Soho Kitchen and Pizza Bella Roma is traversable, although partly absorbed by the exotic Kaza Bianca. Parallel with that at the beginning of South Terrace, it is still possible to sneak into the Newport, formerly Newcastle Club Hotel and whip quickly down its long atmospheric central passageway to the mall. A sidelong glimpse inside the toilets is a bonus – of sorts.

Soon for re-development, Wesley Arcade opposite the Post Office, despite from a much-criticised architectural era, has its own kind of secretive charm with its two levels and branching section toward the church wall. The cloistered mood is all the more accentuated now it is almost deserted.

In a similar way, the derided Westgate Mall offers a degree of sanctuary within its north-south orientation, screened from the activity of its aligned Cantonment and Adelaide Streets. The brutality of the architecture conveys a feeling of strength all the more felt amidst the swirling winds and rain of a winter’s day. All soon to go, with few regrets.

Little Tum Tum Tree Lane, home to the Beetroot Café and mostly empty bijou shops except for a florist almost hides, somewhat unloved, inside the elbow of the intersection of Queen Street and High, diagonally opposite Victoria Hall. Here is a gem of quaintness, giving on to such a rarity: open courtyard dining with old walls.

Its gated arch that once gave access to the Johnston Court building car park is now locked and a handy shortcut of less security-conscious times has been denied public thoroughfare. The single story deco-style former Walter T West building next door has character and historic interest, unlike adjacent shops.

The narrow lane alongside Victoria Hall has been built over to create its Hobbs’ Bar and so has sealed off pedestrians from the rear Phanos service lane and access to the end of Queen Street, once a handy disappearing trick detour to avoid bumping into someone you didn’t want to see.

That lane now ends in a large hidden space dominated by a spreading fig tree and might nearly be described as a shady inner courtyard with charming potential but for it being more dominated by essential parking than gardens.

Such surprises are examples of underused open areas and airspace in the very centre of the city. The area around Bodhi’s Bakery at the foot of Ellen Street is another of these; similarly for huge areas of ground-level parking around Johnston Court and adjacent buildings.

Taken in all, a surprising amount of the CBD is underused in this way and offers itself to imaginative and sensitive development to intensify activity in the heart of Fremantle.




RECENT reports referring to Rokeby Road Subiaco and Claremont Quarter taking business from Fremantle is surely another case of ‘passing the buck’, or blame-shifting. How does that relate to Fremantle’s trading woes?

Try tootling up to Claremont for a little disposable income splashing-out and you will find it’s not a journey you would want to make more than occasionally; it’s an excursion and the traffic situation is no encouragement. Subiaco is even further away.

Alternatively, the cause of the city’s woes, according to one source is the “Dowson Effect”. They may as well call it the (Les) “Lauder Effect” or the “Fremantle Society Effect” – the power of a lot of people. Suddenly, it’s all over the media that Fremantle is in trouble and everyone is deflecting responsibility and running for cover.

Warnings have been sounded for years; check back on local papers. But there may be a double dichotomy here, are we discussing sins of commission or of omission and is Fremantle losing businesses, or business (customers), or is it all of the above?

Perhaps that explains why Claremont and Subiaco are being brought into the argument; that is, the claim they may be taking customers from Fremantle. Unlikely. At the risk of trivializing a serious matter, that’s a chicken and egg situation. That they may be taking some businesses away is possible, but ‘why’ is the core of the matter.

The answer has to be that fewer customers are being attracted to central Fremantle for dry goods while the flagship food and beverage areas are holding in, but are close to the line and there have been significant closures recently.

While customer numbers for them still look good superficially, the average spend is way down – as much as half. A new take-away is likely to add to the pressure. Many businesses are cutting back while putting their hopes on the forthcoming Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships.

Back to Subiaco and Claremont. Their woes have been publicly expressed in newspaper spreads in recent weeks. A raw expression of this is in their shop windows. The red ‘sale’ signs are everywhere: 50% off is common and in some cases, as much as 70%. Not much to envy there. Yes, new Claremont quarter, that glamorous concourse is still fully tenanted, but wait ’til rent review time.

Meanwhile, on Bay View Terrace itself, there are seven vacant street-level premises and twelve nearby. Rokeby Road has five, with ten adjacent, not including the long-closed Subiaco Pavilion or the rows upon rows, at very least 30, ‘for lease’ signs in immediate surrounding buildings. Subiaco’s parking situation has always been a problem and has to be controlled with metering, but there is little problem at Claremont where a vast concourse of free parking provides up to three hours at the Quarter, with more provided by private operators and council. That council is to spend $3.5 million on upgrading the shopping strip. Perhaps, instead of blaming, Fremantle should copy them?


Fremantle’s Strategic Sites.

The Fremantle Society Committee is very concerned regarding the Strategic Sites Working Group (SSWG) report that was adopted at Council in July, with only Cr Dowson speaking and voting against it.

Chair of the Society’s Heritage & Planning Committee, Don Whittington represented the Society on the SSWG and then Society President Ian Alexander was a community rep. Both Don and Ian did not support the SSWG report, so along with Cr Dowson put in a dissenting Report that was tabled at a SSWG meeting. The Society Committee supports that dissenting report.

Of Particular concern to the Committee is the proposal to amend the Town Planning Scheme to remove any statutory height limits on the Woolstores shopping centre site on Cantonment Street, the Gas and Coke Site on Queen Street and Westgate Site on Adelaide Street. We know of no other Council in WA that has taken such a step to effectively remove control of building bulk, scale and height on specific sites. This has the potential to make the size of the proposed ING development seem small by comparison with what could end up on those sites. While Council may believe they can control bulk and scale through the Design Review Committee, we can not share that confidence. Mandating maximum heights in the Planning Scheme is the only way to ensure Bulk, Scale & Height are able to be controlled. This is especially relevant as Development Assessment Panels (DAP) are set to take planning decisions out of Council’s control for developments over $7 million. DAP will use the Council’s Planning Scheme to determine an application; if no height limit is nominated in the Scheme they are at liberty to approve any sized development they wish.

Full-page advertisements in the Western Australian, Fremantle Herald and Fremantle Gazette do not mention the lack of height controls, or the two extra storeys available to the other sites under consideration, if certain design guidelines are met. The map and text only refer to “As of Right” heights.

While there is a process to go through in adopting a Scheme Amendment which includes full Community Consultation, this first step was crucially important in setting the scope of the Scheme Amendment and bodes badly for the final outcome.

The Fremantle Society Committee is working to retain height limits the Fremantle Scheme and lobby for human scale development, but will need the support of members and the community in this.