Dr Linley Lutton
It is with great sorrow and distress that the Fremantle Society informs its members that Dr Linley Lutton, who has helped the Society so much, is gravely ill.
Dr Lutton, while leading a busy life teaching at UWA and running Urbanix Design, has given his urban planning expertise freely to the community in Fremantle and elsewhere. He sums up his philosophy in his LinkedIn profile:
Dr Lutton’s Philosophy
My professional life started as an architect, however in the mid 1990’s I studied Urban Social Geography and so started my journey down the path of urban planning. It took some time for me to find my core philosophy but once found I now see all of my work and teaching with great clarity. To me, human ecology is at the centre of good urban planning. City planning in Western Australia is moving rapidly from ‘planning for the good of the people’ to ‘planning to facilitate property development’. The community has no ability to appeal or object to planning decisions no matter how poor they are. Our Government makes short-term planning decisions based on political whim rather than sound planning principles. Much of the rest of the developed world is embracing the process of co-production where the community is fully involved in planning decisions while Western Australia moves in a more autocratic direction. People have the right to demand better of their city planners and architects. They have the right to live in an environment which provides the essential elements required for them to lead healthy, contented lives. In recent times I have begun to publically challenge the ill-conceived city planning ideologies and projects emanating from our Government planning and redevelopment agencies. On one hand, this puts me at odds with professionals, bureaucrats and politicians however on the other hand it puts me in synchrony with most of the community who are the real owners of the city. Few professionals are prepared to speak up and challenge the system and there is no joy in doing so. I feel it is irresponsible to remain silent when I see my city being ruined through poor planning. My great dream is to see our cities and towns full of soul and authentic character reflecting the spirit of people.
Dr Lutton’s Help to the Fremantle Society
Dr Lutton was an inaugural member of Fremantle Council’s Design Advisory Committee and resigned when it was obvious the committee was being subverted, and after the 5 storey Quest Apartments in Pakenham Street were approved. He subsequently wrote a report on the project to assess its effectiveness, calling the approval ‘possibly technically illegal.’
Before the Atwell Arcade development was approved he wrote on behalf of the Fremantle Society a 12 page assessment for councillors and staff, which was ignored, resulting in the destruction of the best remaining arcade in Fremantle, the destruction of adjacent gold rush roofscapes with the large glass office box, further damage to shopfronts, and a failure to deliver what was promised by the developer.
A perfectly good Point Street development scheme approved unanimously by the previous council, was torn up by Cr Sullivan and the mayor, resulting in years of delay and a mediocre outcome: The city has embarked on a massive, arguably unrealistic redevelopment program, and I witnessed the preparedness on many occasions by certain elected members to override the advice of independent design experts to ensure this program could at least appear to be proceeding. Point Street is a perfect example (Dr Lutton to Roel Loopers 2014).
When Dr Lutton resigned from the DAC his comments were dismissed by the mayor and no effort was made to sit down with Dr Lutton and learn from his concerns.
Dr Lutton wrote a report for the Fremantle Society on the value of King’s Square. It was likewise ignored.
Dr Lutton’s Thinking Allowed Herald 19/9/2014
FREMANTLE city council is misusing its planning scheme to facilitiate poor development outcomes in Fremantle’s heritage-rich West End precinct.
The development industry argument that heritage hinders commercial progress is alive and well and people who try to voice their concerns are labelled “negative”.
Two over-height and poorly designed developments have now been approved in the West End because developers claimed extra height is needed in this height–restricted area in order to achieve commercially viable developments.
For years, in Perth’s CBD, cynical developers have shoe-horned characterless buildings behind heritage facades and this approach is now being applied in Fremantle where approving authorities are jumping to support their initiatives.
It was deplorable to hear that in Fremantle recently the council, at a specially convened meeting, listened to a conga line of commercially-focussed people speaking in support of the redevelopment of Atwell Arcade while one lone figure tried in vain to remind the council of its responsibility to heritage conservation.
What is glaringly obvious here is the powerful influence—both negative and positive—that sense-of-place has on urban dwellers is not understood. The unique sense-of-place associated with heritage environments is highly valued in most Australian capital cities because it offers respite from otherwise utilitarian intensity.
Sense-of-place triggers strong memories, attachments and behaviours at community and personal levels.
Our very identities are shaped by sense-of-place. Fremantle’s West End precinct, regarded as Perth’s most valuable tourism asset, exhibits a sense of place found nowhere else in the Perth metropolitan area. This is largely due to its scale, streetscape and evocative architecture. Alarmingly, a pattern may be emerging which threatens the overall integrity of this very special place.
Inappropriate developments are now being approved in the West End by misusing a clause in the town planning scheme intended to protect Fremantle’s heritage character. The clause gives the council the capacity to vary any site or development provision, without limitation, in order to preserve heritage values.
However, it does not give the council carte blanche to disregard other broader aims dealing with a variety of issues including preservation of Fremantle’s character. Paradoxically, this powerful clause aimed at heritage preservation is being cherry-picked from a planning framework to facilitate developments which compromise heritage values.
There are two critical points here. First, the capability of a property to return a development profit is never a criterion used to assess development applications. Only in major urban redevelopment areas is it considered relevant.
Developers always push the envelope and in localities anxious to see development occur they will try to convince gullible decision-makers to accommodate greater demands. Regardless of how compelling a developer’s commercial argument may be it has no place in any development assessment process. It was highly inappropriate for Fremantle’s design advisory committee (DAC) to cite commercial capability as a reason to support the Atwell Arcade development. This is an issue well outside this DAC’s formal terms of reference. Additionally, there is nothing in Fremantle’s planning scheme which allows variations to site or development provisions to satisfy commercial capability.
Second, Fremantle councillors, and the DAC cannot work outside the totality of Fremantle’s planning framework, which comprises many interrelated documents thick with phrases such as: developments are to achieve an exceptionally high standard in terms of appearance; developments are to be distinctive befitting their location; and, developments are to complement and contribute to the community’s desired identity and character for Fremantle.
Additionally, the DAC must satisfy itself that a development promotes character by responding to and reinforcing locally distinctive patterns of development and culture. A third party objective assessment of the two approved projects would most likely conclude that neither satisfies the broad intent of many sections in Fremantle’s planning framework including the overall stated aim to protect and conserve Fremantle’s unique cultural heritage. The approvals could be open to challenge because they so obviously ignore many pertinent sections of Fremantle’s planning framework.
Precedent is everything in planning and the precedent is now set for increased heights and characterless modern buildings in the West End. Preservation of the community’s desired character for Fremantle, a clearly stated aim of Fremantle’s planning scheme, has been ignored in order to satisfy development-driven commercial gain. Future developers can now expect height increases anywhere in the West End, even when the design outcomes are perfunctory and the results are clearly visible from the surrounding streets. All they need do is maintain the building’s façade, which they should be doing as a matter of course in this precinct, make a few internal heritage preservation gestures and then propose whatever they like behind and above. In the process the West End’s overall cohesive scale and unspoilt sense of place is eroded.
The Fremantle community should think long and hard about its attitude to the West End because your elected members and their advisory committee are beginning the process of erosion and the character of this special place is not replaceable.
Planning a city is serious business, and Dr Linley Lutton is seriously good at it. The Fremantle Society will continue to remind people of the work he has done, which is still relevant to where we are headed.
Voting for the elections finishes this week. The incumbents and the annointed few new look like getting four years on council, so energetic and co-ordinated has been their electioneering, and so helped have they been by hundreds of thousands of ratepayer dollars being expended promoting every council action under the sun.
The Fremantle Herald has seriously let down the community during this election, in order to protect the large advertising budget they receive from Fremantle Council. The Herald is well aware of the true financial figures that continue to cause alarm, they understand the poor quality decision making and waste of money, and the survey results which again show widespread dissatisfaction in the community which is not being addressed. And don’t even mention Australia Day.
There is no such thing as a ‘failed council candidate’.
Anyone who put their hand up to run at these elections deserves the gratitude of the community for ‘having a go.’
There has been enough angst and emotion in this election to prove that the status quo must change whoever wins. Things must be done better, more inclusively, and more economically responsibly. Will they?
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
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.
The Fremantle Society
Coming soon: Election analysis
Above : Bathers Beach – the Most Popular Place in Freo (Catalyse Survey)
The upcoming elections are upon us and the community is largely asleep and disengaged. Meanwhile the mayor and his team are hard at work spinning their message and attacking anybody with a contrary opinion.
Mark Taylor, who sits on the committee of the mayor’s re-election campaign, had a letter published this week in the Herald attacking the Fremantle Society for ‘bungled interference in local politics.’
Given that there is a possibility of 8 Fremantle Society members running for council, we are proud of our ‘bungling.’
These days it is very hard for ‘community’ candidates to do well in council elections due to the influence of political parties and factions. It is hard work. That is why the Fremantle Society asks again for volunteers to put their hands up to help with door knocking or to provide donations (please contact us through: 9335 2113 or 0409 223633).
Attack dogs like Mark Taylor will become more obvious in coming weeks. A group loosely known as “Fremantle Progressives” will be footsoldiers for the mayor while he keeps a distance.
Community Survey Results
The $30,000 Catalyse Community Survey results are out.
We know that Fremantle has great festivals, a great Arts Centre, and good rubbish collection. Council’s press release states that 95% of people think Fremantle is excellent, great, or OK to live in, but in reality the percentage of people who think it is ‘excellent’ is just 44%. This is how the survey is reported on the council website. Anyone quickly reading it would think the ‘excellent’ vote was 95%!
A community survey has confirmed local residents love living in Freo. When asked to rate the City of Fremantle as a place to live, 95 per cent of respondents rated living in Freo as either excellent…
Council has expended millions of dollars promoting itself, and that promotion has been partly successful. But, as Ra Stewart said at a community meeting tonight, the ‘council are the servants of the community,’ and are not there to indulge in self promotion.
There are areas where the council needs to do much better.
Economic Development (what the City is doing to attract investors, attract and retain businesses, grow tourism and create more job opportunities):
Community satisfaction has dropped each survey since Mayor Pettitt was elected, despite millions spent on consultants, and his support for poor quality developments.
Only 24% think the council has done a good or excellent job. 53% say council has done a poor or terrible job.
How the City Centre is being developed:
33% say good or excellent. 46% say poor or terrible.
Dissatisfaction with parking is still high. 46% rated the council as poor or terrible on this issue.
The survey overall shows strongest dissatisfaction with the over 55s, the ones who often own property and pay the rates.
Residents of Samson were particularly unhappy with council in their responses to a wide range of issues.
Stan Reilly Site
Years ago a report was done about the Stan Reilly site entitled The Future is in the Past, highlighting the huge importance and strategic location of that site. It sits alone and forgotten in the Local History Library.
In 2005, $50,000 was spent producing a development plan for the site, but it was thrown in the bin when it was realised the report was insensitive to the site’s heritage significance. Later, similar amounts were spent planning a joint development with the Dockers and Notre Dame which would have seen a community facility with gymnasium. Now all we are getting is a small car park.
The homeless people currently using the buildings there will be moved out and some $250,000 of our rates given to St Pats to take them elsewhere. The car park, given the poor business decision to sell Queensgate at a bargain price, is another example of poor business practice by the current council.
The Fremantle Society has asked council to allow sufficient time to do a thorough archaeological survey of the historic site before the tarmac tip trucks arrive.
Church of England and King’s Square
The Church of England owns half of King’s Square, along with important property nearby they have not developed. While the Catholics at the other end of town run a highly profitable business with the University of Notre Dame and the 47 properties they control, the Church of England are like mice in a hole, rarely venturing into the light, and providing little leadership in the city centre.
Given the importance of King’s Square as the only town square in Western Australia, and their ownership of half of it, the Fremantle Society wrote to them in February this year, and several times subsequently, without even receiving an acknowledgement. Since our letter was written, the tree in question has been unwrapped and attended to by experts.
Our letter is below.
to Mr Brian Dixon CEO Diocese of Perth and Brett Gibson Parish Council of Fremantle
Dear Brian and Brett
The Fremantle Society is concerned to hear about a proposal for a $500,000 ‘adventure playgound’ on church land in King’s Square.
The Fremantle Society appreciates that the church owns half the square and Fremantle Council the other half.
King’s Square is very valuable as the only town square in any town in Western Australia and the Fremantle Society has done extensive work to highlight the value of the square as a square now and for the future.
Please see the attached report by Dr Linley Lutton, which concludes:
“KIng’s Square was always intended to be Fremantle’s central public space and it is well within the capacity of the city council to return it to its rightful status.
The major challenge for this council will be to change its ethos from being development orientated to being community and civic minded.”
The Fremantle Society seeks to have council follow the recommendations of the $50,000 2006 Ruth Durack Urban Design study which concluded that the best option for King’s Square was indeed as Dr Lutton suggests: to remove the current council administration building and open the square up, not further build on it with a new and expanded administration building the community cannot afford.
Additionally, one of our members is currently working on a conservation plan for King’s Square, which remarkably, has never been done despite the work done by the church on its own building.
The concern of the Fremantle Society is that a large plastic and steel installation in the little that will remain of King’s Square after council build their extended administration building, will seriously erode the quality of what is left. It would be inconceivable in any European town square to have a significant proportion of it taken up with such a large installation.
Can we also raise the issue of the health of trees on church land in King’s Square? The trees are important for the character of the town centre and appear to be under stress. In particular the church has allowed one Moreton Bay tree east of the church to be wrapped for some years tightly in Christmas lights and the lights in our view should be immediately removed, given the obvious damage being caused to the tree.
The Fremantle Society would like to know the church’s opinion on the attached report. We believe the church should advocate for a proper and full town square, given the central role the church has played over the years in originally owning the whole square and being central to the civic life of the town.
Would you please pass this on to the current acting rector Rev. Ron Attley and property manager Mr Alan Gray.
The Fremantle Society
7 September 2017
The mayor Dr Pettitt will launch his election campaign today, though much has already been going on behind the scenes.
Four councillors sit on the mayor’s re-election committee – Greens councillor Pemberton, Socialist Alliance councillor Wainright, Labor councillor Fitzhardinge, and Cr Waltham. Councillor hopeful , Greens Liam Carter McGinty, who will run against ‘former’ Greens councillor Sullivan, is also a member of the committee.
These councillors and others are guiding the re-election campaign and will try to head off issues raised by challenger Ra Stewart by instructing the Fremantle Council CEO to prepare an audit of council’s finances, though of course councillors cannot instruct administrative staff.
“Worst financial health of any local government”
There is good reason to be alarmed about Fremantle Council’s finances under the current mayor. Recently the MyCouncil website said that Fremantle has ‘the worst financial health of any local government.’
Fremantle Council, rated a 42, is 12 points lower than the second worst council – the City of Canning, a council sacked twice in recent years.
Council Fake News Media Release on King’s Square
Council has issued a press release stating that the massive cost of the King’s Square project will not lead to rate rises above CPI.
But, ratepayers are already complaining of rate rises in some cases of 8% and more.
The press release states that the project will leave ‘debt and reserves able to be reinstated within 10 years’ – an impossibility given the current council has spent so much that the reserves have dropped from $60 million to $20 million since 2009.
The press release states that the King’s Square project is ‘sympathetic to the heritage values of the area,’ when it patently is not.
Former Government Minister- ‘Don’t Destroy King’s Square’
While Labor politicians rush to share the photo op, the reality is that it was the Liberals who gave the go ahead for government workers moving to Fremantle to cement the deal. Former Finance Minister Bill Marmion, who says he was the one who pushed the relocation of government workers to Fremantle through Cabinet, told the Fremantle Society recently he does not want to see King’s Square ruined with a large new administration centre.
What else should the council be judged on?
Mayor Pettit eight years ago promised revitalisation. But, at what cost, and when? Eight years later it is still not here. There have been some new buildings, but mostly of very mediocre quality. The dismal Atwell Arcade development, held up by council as a great step forward, and which promised 300 new workers to Fremantle, has destroyed the gold rush roofscapes of the area, has obliterated the best arcade in Fremantle, has not been completed as promised, and when a fire alarm went off recently, saw just 35 people exit the building on both sides.
Even the iconic Culleys Tea Rooms there (which will be 100 years old in 2025) has not survived intact. As one person wrote on Facebook yesterday:
Was SO disappointed to see the new Culley’s recently. Why would they strip it of all the charm that made you visit in the first place? Its reputation is in its history but it looks like any other cafe now.
Yes, there are some very large boxes in the pipeline that developers are pleased to have permission to build, but the relentless and ineffective spending by council has seen Fremantle’s assets crash from $60 million to $20 million.
Members – Questions Please
Please send commentary or questions or issues so that we can represent your views.
Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please see the excellent work Garry Gillard has done to get our blog going again:
fremantlesociety.org.au [this site]
Ra Stewart has challenged mayor Pettitt to a mayoral debate in each ward, but he has refused.
There will be a few debates, including one at Notre Dame.
The West Australian
The West Australian this week ran a full page article by Gareth Parker slamming Subiaco Council for the 16 storey Market Pavilion project not proceeding. Immediately, the Fremantle mayor’s mouthpiece blogger Roel Loopers wrote to the West stating that Fremantle can show other councils how to do their job, presumably by inflicting changes to the town planning scheme that ratepayers said they didnt want, and giving developers exactly what they want.
The West, which no longer balances its articles by giving different sides to a story, and which reads like a developer’s advertorial rag, omitted to mention that Subiaco Council has in fact given two approvals for the site, including the 16 storeys sought, and in 2016 even offered $750,000 or ratepayers’ money to help the project.
The problem for the community nowadays is to get fair and balanced reporting.
Congrats to Candidates!
The Fremantle Society announced last week that 6 of its members are running in the upcoming elections. In fact that may be 8, with one member announcing a possible tilt at mayor.
Further details later.
The Fremantle Society works long and hard to encourage good quality decision making by council and to promote the world class values of Fremantle. We are pleased to have possibly 8 members running, though of course all those candidates are independent thinkers who may or may not wish to push the strong heritage, planning, and environmental concerns of the Fremantle Society.
Some candidates have been out campaigning already for a long while. Chief of these is Fremantle Society member Claudia Green, running in City Ward, a fierce and devoted campaigner for better government and responsible finances, who led the Fremantle and Ratepayers Association for years before stepping down to run for council.
Claudia and Fremantle Society committee member Catherine Hammond both feature in today’s Herald.
The Fremantle Society wishes all candidates well and thanks them for running.
More details later, but each candidate needs door knockers and helpers, so please consider giving your time.