Dr Linley Lutton/ Council Elections

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.

Council Elections

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?

 

CONCERNS OVER PORT SMALL BAR – FREMANTLE HERALD

October 7 2016, by Your Herald, in News

 

weighbridge-035

Photo: Colin Nichol

FREMANTLE council has approved plans to turn the old weighbridge at Fremantle port into a small bar, despite Public Transport Authority concerns over pedestrian safety.

The heritage-listed building is positioned on the notoriously confusing Cliff/Phillimore Street intersection and is close to a railway level crossing, but council voted to approve the micro boozer.

“People cross the railway line to get to Little Creatures and there are countless pubs positioned near busy roads and intersections,” Cr Hannah Fitzhardinge said.

“The weighbridge is laying empty and we need to activate empty heritage buildings in creative ways—inaccessible heritage is heritage lost.

“One of the big selling points of Fremantle is its quirky experiences—having a small bar in the old weighbridge fits that ethos.”

During council question time a member of the Fremantle Society argued against the bar, saying that the explosion of boozers in the city was turning Fremantle into “Northbridge by the sea.”

Applicant David Anthony said he wouldn’t make a big profit from the venue and that it would be a cute “speak easy” for locals.

Cr Dave Hume said the Fremantle Society opposed any progress in the city and that the weighbridge had been gathering dust since Scoot Freo closed.

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

 

In response to Don Whittington’s “Jon’s a Gem”

I submitted a letter to the Herald earlier this week, but as with a letter I wrote raising concerns on the Sirona development, it was not published. Since Don Whittington’s letter was published in this week’s Herald, I thought it fair to submit my letter as a blog to the Society’s website in order to clarify what was said. The media doesn’t always report accurately. My letter read:

The Fremantle Society has an enviable track record of achievement, particularly with respect to protecting heritage from substandard development. However, the sports cliché that you’re only as good as your last game is apt, whether in respect to business or politics. Last week’s Herald’s “Impolite Society” gives the impression that I don’t think the Society is doing a good job. My gripe with the Society is its apparent reluctance to publically engage and debate some of the big issues confronting Fremantle. I would have expected the Society to have at least made their position clear by now on the Strategic Sites Plan and even more pressing, the Kings Square Precinct MOU with Sirona Capital. I had hoped that a group with the status of the Fremantle Society and with the ear of council would engage its members, let alone its committee, to flesh out what it thinks is a reasonable position on such issues. Are the members happy with what they know of the Strategic Sites Plan? Do they have any concerns about building heights, open spaces, infrastructure, parking, etc.?

Although the Chook’s article suggests the contrary, this is not about personalities but a wish for the Society to engage both its committee and its membership. Some egos would like to believe otherwise, as indicated in the article. I’m concerned about actions not about personalities. And in that regard, there has been little in the way of engagement of membership this year. As I said to Jenny D’Anger, I have heard that a lot of hard work is being done by the Society behind the scenes (unfortunately that’s not worth reporting). Well why not let the membership know? In the same way that we expect the Council to be transparent, consultative and engaging, the Society membership, of which I am no longer a member, also expects such behaviour from the Society’s committee. A lack of communication leads to distrust.

For all the Society membership knows, the committee may be sitting around discussing whether we should be called the “People’s Front of Fremantle” or the “Fremantle People’s Front” (for Python fans).

Lloyd Hammond

With respect to Don’s letter in today’s Herald, his praise for Jon Strachan is admirable. However, I’m not sure why he felt the need to write the letter. I have never suggested that Jon or anyone else in the Society is not hard working. I think Don completely missed the point of my single criticism; that being purely about poor communication. A different matter entirely. Since the letter, the City of Freo’s MOU with Sirona has been passed by council, and not a peep from the Fremantle Society. As Brad Pettitt says in this morning’s Fin. Review, “Sirona Capital are now in the ‘box seat’” [with respect to developing the site]. I can only assume that the Society supports the City of Fremantle’s position.

Joint letter to Editor

Dear Editor

We write in response to “Reece a lone voice against festival plan” (Herald12-2-11) as the Presidents of Fremantle’s community based history and heritage organisations. We represent members with a wide range of ages and professional expertise that have strong connections to the city’s past and who are committed to its sustainable future. Both organisations believe that, through a knowledge and understanding of and commitment to our past, our cultural capital is enhanced and enriched.

We therefore believe it is vital to maintain an independent Heritage Festival that increases understanding of the past and engages in a broader debate that focuses on the future. A well-run heritage festival allows the Fremantle community and visitors to be part of that process.

We dispute the proposition that the Heritage Festival is untenable and believe that it is not only sustainable but, by reviewing its charter and including events that allow opportunities for participants to engage in a broader dialogue, we will enhance its current profile and ensure the Heritage Festival is a highlight of Fremantle’s rich calendar of events.  In retaining and enlivening the Heritage Festival we contribute to the economic, social and environmental benefits enjoyed by our port city.

Bigger is not better. Bigger means one voice is diminished at best, lost at worst. We encourage the council to review and refine the Heritage Festival and to ensure that the international reputation Fremantle enjoys continues to engage and challenge locals and visitors alike.

Sincerely

Jon Strachan, President Fremantle Society and Anne Brake, President, Fremantle History Society