Merry Christmas

The Fremantle Society Committee extends its warmest Christmas greetings to you all.  May the holiday period see you in the company of good friends.

We are looking forward to the Society going from strength to strength in 2011 and welcome member’s involvement; our strength is in our bonds, so please get in touch and become an active member, your time and skills will be very much appreciated.

For those who have not yet joined, 2011 will be a great year to make the move to help support Fremantle’s Cultural, Social and Built Heritage.  Membership forms are available on the website or from any Committee member.

A Very Merry Christmas from Jon Strachan and the Fremantle Society Committee!

Heritage matters #1

Home Straight.

The Fremantle Society is about to get a new home; the Committee is very excited about the prospects of moving into Fremantle’s premiere heritage precinct.  Once the lease is signed I will let you know where it is and invite all Society members past, present and future to join the Committee in giving the place a much needed spruce up.  Make it a new year’s resolution to get out the marigolds and become an active member of the Society, enjoying the view from the balcony over a drink and sausage sizzle after a day’s work will be the highlight of your social calendar!

Grand National.

Last week I was lucky enough to attend the ICOMOS Christmas dinner.  The evening was tinged with sadness due to empty the chairs of those attending David Dolan’s funeral in South Australia.  David was described in a eulogy as a “much loved and respected heritage champion”.  I remember David as one of nature’s gentlemen with great enthusiasm for cultural heritage, he will be sadly missed.  A meal was enjoyed at Villa Roma with good humour and good company.  The highlight of the evening was a tour of the National Hotel.  Owner Sean Butler and Architect Gerard McCann lead the tour.  Internally there is still a lot of work to do, but the phoenix is rising.  The always positive Gerard said the fire had allowed them to remove many of the previous unsympathetic additions and work.  Sean is a professional developer who should be congratulated for showing leadership in taking on what was a difficult project, clearly he is very enthusiastic about the Hotel and I look forward to buying him a beer when the hotel opens for business.  Share our tour with the photos below.


As a still wet behind the ears President of the Fremantle Society I thank Bryden Dalitz for his Thinking Allowed (Fremantle Herald 4-12-10) because it gives me a perfect opportunity to respond.  I make no apologies for the effectiveness of Fremantle’s peak heritage lobby group, the Fremantle Society, we are good at what we do; perhaps Bryden could look closer to home and lay some blame for “economic growth being severely lacking” at the feet of the business lobby group for whom he works and question why the Chamber of Commerce has not achieved similar success.  Bryden sends mixed messages berating the heritage lobby for their recent work but complimenting us by telling readers; “..citizens of Fremantle should be grateful to groups who went against the zeitgeist of decades past and prevented many wonderful and iconic buildings that characterise Fremantle from being destroyed.”  A case of wisdom in hindsight …..

Bryden sings the praises of ING’s Victoria Quay proposal, whilst criticising opposition to it.  I argue a large box shopping centre with multi-storey carpark is not the highest and best use for Victoria Quay, it would not “bring people to the West End“; they would drive past local businesses to park, shop and leave, as at Bondi Central in Sydney and Harbourtown in West Perth.  But of course ING did get planning approval, but then chose to do nothing until their approval is close to lapsing.

Similarly, Council recently granted a third 2 year approval for a heritage building in the West End which remains boarded up rather than adding to Fremantle’s vibrancy.  I must here mention Fremantle’s biggest disgrace, the Cantonment Street woolstores which Council granted development approval over 4 years ago, yet nothing has been done, effectively stifling that end of town.

Bryden, it’s not groups trying to protect our assets, our point of difference, our heritage, that holds Fremantle back, but owners of significant sites and buildings allowing them to disintegrate along with Fremantle by land-banking instead of developing, maintaining and even using these assets.

Enjoy your trip to Melbourne and when you are in hip Lygon or Acland Streets check out the buildings, you will find low rise heritage, like Fremantle’s West End.  Go to Sydney and check out Paddington, travel the world, I bet you come back to Fremantle.

Jon Strachan    9-12-2010

Fremantle Society Election for President

At close of nominations on November 22nd, there were two nominees for President of the Fremantle Society for 2011.

They are Society members Lloyd Hammond and Jon Strachan.  Having previously feared there would be NO nominations, the Society’s Committee resolved not to ‘endorse’ either candidate : it is now up to the Members to vote for their favoured candidate at the upcoming AGM on Monday December 6th.

In the meantime, candidates will be conducting their ‘campaigns’ among the Society’s membership. They will be given 5 minutes each to address the AGM and permitted to distribute one-page statements there. All currently financial members of the Society who come to the AGM (which is at Notre Dame’s Santa Maria Lecture Theatre in Mouat Street, 7 for 730pm) are entitled to vote.

The AGM will commence with an address by Dr Carmen Lawrence in her new role as Chair of the Australian Heritage Council. She will address the timely topic of “Why list the West Kimberley?”

Ian Alexander, President of the Society (well for 10 more days anyhow!)

Tougher stance on heritage heretics

Bringing the bulldozers in at the dead of night to knock over heritage homes in WA suburbs – a recent demolition on a restored home in Claremont springs to mind – has become just that bit tougher, thanks to heftier penalties introduced on Wednesday in State Parliament.   Until recently the previous maximum penalty was a paltry $5,000, although in 2005 an additional penalty of $50,000 was imposed by the Planning and Development Act.  Considering many new developments cost several millions and more, even $55,000 is a small added expense to pay for demolition.

John Castrilli, Minister for Heritage (among other portfolios) has just introduced legislation to the Legislative Assembly to increase penalties by up to $1million for illegally demolishing or damaging State-registered heritage properties.  The legislation, which was approved by the Assembly, now only requires approval from the Legislative Council to be enacted.

In a recent ministerial media release (24/11) Mr Castrilli said, “the amendments would ensure meaningful protection for heritage properties ensuring their retention for current and future generations of West Australians.”

Great news!!

ING Property Group’s Failing Finances

There is some encouraging news in Thurday’s (11/11/2010) “Australian” newspapers “Prime Space Section (Page 33) regarding the financial fragility of the ING Property Trusts, which may compromise their continuance of their Victoria Quay involvement.

Nevertheless, there may well be other “suitors” waiting in the wings to take over the proposal, and the  people of Fremantle need to continue to be alert and ever mindful as to the possibility of other property developers taking over the development (most likely at a discounted price) and continue their efforts to debase and erode Fremantle’s Victoria Quay-side heritage.

Nicolas Gurr