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

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.

Examples:

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?

Regards

____________________________

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society
0409 22 36 22

Your Town. Your Issues?

What are the Issues?

Council Elections

The Fremantle Society has a range of issues and concerns it hopes will be addressed by candidates in the upcoming council election. Here are some. There will be MORE!

1) Heritage Grants

Funding for the Fremantle Heritage Conservation Grants Policy: This policy of giving grants to owners of heritage properties sits on the council website (see above), but there is no money available, and has been none since 2011. With over 3,000 heritage listed properties in Fremantle, there needs to be incentives to get people to restore their property for the common good. A businessman in High Street may be tempted to reinstate his original shopfront layout, which would be a dramatic improvement to the authenticity of the important shopping street, but a quote of $200,000 would quickly quash any interest. However, a council grant of even $20,000 might be enough to make him consider the project.

Subiaco and Perth, with far fewer heritage properties, are two councils that give generously to owners. $100,000 a year minimum is asked for this fund, the same amount as 2010.

2) Community Satisfaction

Firstly, to obtain objective data, the Fremantle Society is seeking the results of the Catalyse 2107 Community Survey so it can be compared with earlier surveys -to understand what the community feels about the council. Council already has the results. Previously such results were released in July, and the 2017 results should be released well before the election.

3) Environmental concerns

The Fremantle Society believes that environmental issues are not being treated seriously or effectively enough. Examples:

(i) Fremantle has the second worst tree coverage of any council in the state. Council promised a significantly improved tree coverage from 10% to 20% by 2020 but has not committed the funds to achieve any real progress in the next few years. Next year council will be planting FEWER tress than it did in 2009. Council apparently has committed no money to underground power, an important step towards a greater tree canopy. Plus, Council has not progressed the Significant Tree Register, and there are only 11 listings on it. This lack of attention to such an important issue is disappointing.

(ii) Despite spending over $300,000 to join One Planet, basic things are not being done. For example, there in NO air quality monitoring in Fremantle. The nearest air quality monitors are in Swanbourne and North Rockingham. There should be air quality monitoring in a port city with at times noxious cargoes. Clean air is a basic right and residents have the right to know that their council is monitoring their air quality.

4) Better Quality Buildings

Fremantle has suffered a tsunami of poor quality development detrimental to its heritage, undermining the very reason people come here in the first place. The community deserves a higher quality urban fabric, not a lower quality one. We want a review of the Design Advisory Committee and a review and implementation of the Local Identity and Design Codes which council spent over $100,000 on. These would be a positive guide to improved sustainable and compatible development.

5) Council finances

The Fremantle Society and FRRA have long raised the issue of the sustainability of council finances and the selling off of ratepayer issues. The Fremantle Society believes it has a better plan for King’s Square, and even at this late stage wants the square saved to become a true open town centre. The contract for the proposed administration centre will not be signed until next year. The ratepayers cannot afford a $50 million administration building, one that requires the sale of further assets like the Leisure Centre car park and Samson Rec Centre, and higher rates.

Fremantle Society Committee Statement Concerning Claudia Green

From August 15 Committee meeting: “President John Dowson’s statement in the most recent email to members relating to Claudia Green was based on Ms Green’s resignation from the Committee last year which was disruptive (around the time of the Beaconsfield by-election). ”

Committee Member Statement

Mike Finn says he is withdrawing from the council election race for City Ward due to the negativity and hostility of social media towards those who volunteer their time.

He believes his withdrawal will help fellow Fremantle Society member Claudia Green in her run for City Ward.

Mike says he will continue as a committee member of the Fremantle Society, and strongly supports the Fremantle Society’s determination to seek better quality development in Fremantle that builds on its special and valuable character rather than undermining it.

Fremantle History Society

The hard working committee at our sister society the Fremantle History Society produces wonderful newsletters, organise interesting events, and can be joined by sending $25 to the Membership Coordinator, PO Box 1305, Fremantle 6959. Or secretary.fhs@gmail.com

They have two important upcoming events:

a) Tour of the recently restored Dalgety Building on the corner of Cliff and Phillimore Streets 16 September at 10.30am. This large and magnificent building has been there since 1902. It would be worth joining the Society just to do this tour. The restoration there is first class, though incomplete. The 6 flagpoles and the chimneys have not been replaced. The cupola is still missing. The sectioning of upper windows on the north side has unfortunately disappeared, and the marble floor has lost its 100 year old patina by being ground into a shiny flat surface. But, what a building.

b) Studies Day: Sunday 22 October at the Fremantle Army Museum at 1pm.

Thanks Garry

Garry Gillard has resurrected our blog. Check it out (fremantlesociety.org.au). Amazing work. He has his own websites and a wonderful coverage of Fremantle history on one called Fremantle Stuff.

High Rise Deferred by DAP

52 Adelaide Street (former Spotlight/Coles site)

fremantle-society-14f1c10f-cac5-4d59-bb5f-70da20f93dd3

The 8 storey proposal shown above for 72 flats, 6 commercial tenancies and 98 car bays was deferred at the state government’s Development Assessment Panel (DAP) meeting yesterday (Monday 19 September).

Two Fremantle councillors, Crs Sullivan and Pemberton, voted with one other DAP member to have the matter deferred so the developer could bring back revised plans showing parts of the building above 21 metres being set back as per council policy. Councillor Sullivan proposed the deferral and it passed with a narrow 3-2 vote.

The developer is seeking 8 storeys straight up from the street with no set backs. Council’s lawyer insisted that it could not be approved, but the applicant’s lawyer cleverly shredded the council officer’s report to argue otherwise.

The Fremantle Society has invested a great deal of time on this issue because of its importance, and the fact that any variations to the current scheme that are approved will set a precedent for future developments in this city centre area.

For the Fremantle Society, four architects scrutinised the plans and the officer’s report,  and all were scathing at the quality of the report written.

The council report recommended refusal on grounds of:
a) height
b) detriment to amenity under clause 67.
(though nowhere in the officer’s report are the arguments presented to support that refusal)

Despite the officer’s recommendation, Mayor Pettitt, and councillors Nabor, Hume, McDonald, Walthan, and Jones all voted to send the item to the DAP to let them decide on the legal advice. By the time it got to the DAP, somehow the officer’s recommendation for refusal had turned into a glowing approval. The applicant’s lawyer said she had  been at the planning meeting and that there had been ‘a unanimous decision to approve.’ The applicant said that council staff ‘are clearly supportive of this plan’. The chair of DAP Ian Birch said that ‘the alternative recommendation (for approval) had been adopted by the planning committee.’ Remarkable stuff.

The Fremantle Society presented their case and a Fremantle lawyer was brought in to present for the Fremantle Society as well. This is a very complex case with many facets and issues to be dealt with, but the focus from DAP was mainly on how could the developer have the extra storey he was seeking.

The applicant’s aerial view of the 52 Adelaide Street proposal as shown is dishonest and should not have been allowed to go forward by council officers. The drawing shows Johnston Court as being significantly higher, whereas both are almost the same height. The applicant has shown his building bathed in light on the facing side, whereas the same side of Johnston Court is ominously dark. Also there are no lift overruns or rooftop clutter shown on 52 Adelaide Street, clutter which always ends up adding considerably to how buildings are viewed around town.

Claudia Green from FRRA was there and supported the Fremantle Society case, as did Julie Matheson from Scrap the DAPs.

Further details will be provided of the expert analysis from Fremantle Society architects.