“Thinking Allowed” 19 November 2016
Herald Newspapers, Fremantle

SASHA IVANOVICH is a Fremantle architect. With the shine wearing off WA’s apartment market amid talk of a national glut, he says the time’s ripe for rethinking the local council’s approach to densifying the city’s CBD.

WITH pressure for high rise apartment planning approvals easing, there’s an opportunity to review Fremantle’s high rise planning policy and consider if it can be improved, particularly in the CBD.

Fremantle remains not just a nationally, but a globally unique destination because of its geographic features; the confluence of river and ocean, rich ethnic mix and diversity of cultures, its harbours, beaches and working port, but also for its fresh, well-preserved ‘prints’ of Australian history, its cultural monuments (including Fremantle Prison) and its architecture.

If Fremantle is reinventing itself to safeguard its commercial prosperity, planning guidelines should include mechanisms that continue to enhance these assets.

Planning guidelines

The guidelines should protect its urban character and streetscape, and give respect to the existing culturally valuable heritage context. In assessing developments, particularly five- to eight-storey proposals, the first question should be about how they positively affect the city’s character, which in Freo’s centre is strongly defined by its two- to four-storey urban form.

Other issues such as overshadowing, overlooking, scale and general amenity shouldn’t be overlooked either.

Mixing the new with the old has been common practice in revitalising historical centres around the world. It works, providing expert knowledge is applied to ensure the heritage fabric is not diminished, and is indeed enhanced by infill.

It is often that the setting of heritage buildings needs to be preserved, extending beyond a building to a street, precinct or whole city centre.

Human scale

In overseas examples, such as central Paris, a height limit of about five to six storeys is uniformly applied. In Barcelona, a uniformity of scale is strongly defined by a six-storey height limit relative to street width, reinforced by a boulevard which is often lined with trees. Together they define the strength of the city’s urban character and a sense of comfort relative to human scale.

Perth’s planning policy, several decades old, calls for tall buildings to be set back from the street above two- to three-storeys. Vincent council, subject to extensive densification and redevelopment recently, resulting in four- to five-storey (and taller) buildings in a two- to three-storey context, has equally demanded response to context – setting back tall buildings when required.

On small city lots such setbacks can be difficult to achieve. Then a change of building fabric can be applied, to clearly demonstrate and distinguish what is below four storeys and what is above. Similar criteria should be applied to central Fremantle.

Set backs

So far, as is evidenced by a recent pending approval for a new eight-storey proposal at 52 Adelaide Street, setbacks to upper storeys and controls in relation to street/height limits have not been adequately addressed. The problem of assessing these types of proposals is often confounded by a lack of information about context – either from developers or the council.

This is surprising when, new digital technology makes modelling of a cityscape has become relatively easy .

52 Adelaide Street (still under review) and future similar applications should well heed the forthcoming WA design guidelines for ‘multiple – dwellings (apartments):

“Good design provides development with massing and height that is appropriate to its setting and successfully negotiates between existing built form and the intended future character of the local area. Good design achieves an appropriate built form by responding to its site, as well as surrounding built fabric, in a considered manner, mitigating negative impacts on the amenity of neighbouring properties and public realm.”

{(WA) Planning Policy No. 7.3 ‘Residential Design Codes – Guidance for multiple-dwelling and mixed-use developments’}


Dates for Your Diary

  • 22 November, Fremantle History Society

Invitation to Fremantle Society members from Fremantle History Society

THE committee and members of the Fremantle History Society have great pleasure inviting members of the Fremantle Society to join us at our Christmas meeting at Fremantle Arts Centre on 22 November at 6.00 p.m. This year we will be celebrating Fremantle’s history and heritage with a special viewing and tour of Frank Norton: Painter and Collector conducted by Andre Lipscombe, the City of Fremantle’s Art Curator. This will be followed by delightful Christmas refreshments in the beautiful Arts Centre courtyard.

Where: Fremantle Arts Centre, Fremantle
When: Tuesday 22 November 2016 at 6pm
Cost: $10.00 per head
The tour will be followed by drinks and a delicious
Christmas supper.
Email secretary.fhs@gmail.com ;
Ph: 0408092100 or 94336639 by Thursday 17-11-2016

  • 25 November: Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers’ Association (FRRA)

It’s that time of the year and FRRA invites you to their AGM Tuesday 29 November, 2016 at 6pm in Fremantle Council Recepton room (upstairs using rear staircase). RSVP  Friday 25 November. We encourage, in fact, urge, all members to attend and participate in the AGM and, share a drink for the season.

It is so tempting at such a ‘time poor’ period of the year, to stay home instead of heading out again, after a busy day at work, or to feel that participation won’t make a difference.

Please come and help keep FRRA move forward.

The Agenda for the evening will include:

6-6.30pm Drinks and nibbles for members to mix and chat.

6.30 – 6.45pm Election of office holders, Chair’s address, Treasurer’s Report

Constitution changes  (to be sent)

[NB only current members will vote].

7.15pm FRRA Web launch!!

[A presentation from the FRRA web developer, Lorenz Wuthrich, and Web subcommittee member Martin Lee, to demonstrate the web’s capacity, structure and how it works].

  • An invitation has been extended to the new Minister of Local Government to introduce himself. To this point he has not responded.
  • Open discussion

Important information

Current membership renewals can take place on the night, or members can renew prior to the evening through online banking.

This option will mean that names can simply be checked off on the night to save time and your receipt will be ready.

AC Name: Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association INC.
BSB: 306-048
Account Number: 085991-8

Reference: Subscription 2017 + your name OR a Donation+ your name

New fees are $25 per person or $40 per couple.

RSVP frra@gmail.com Friday 25 November and please indicate whether your preference is for red wine, white wine, beer or non-alcoholic.

If you would like to nominate for a position, please let us know: Chair, Deputy Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, 5 Committee,

Evening agenda purpose

Effective communications are the key to success, and we have been busy behind the scenes, trying to improve these, revising our Vison and Strategy, and aiming to improve our communications through the development of our very own website.

We have tested a newsletter Fremantle Matters, and gained traction in the blogger sphere, with up to 1,000+ readers or clicks, but more help is needed to enhance this progress.

Such is the problem of few people on the ground.

FRRA has worked hard at reinventing itself, with our Fremantle Matters logo and intent of purpose, and development of a professional ‘comms’ profile.

What ‘matters’ to FRRA is to progress Fremantle and preserve the important meaningful reasons for which we all chose and bought into the area, to make Fremantle our home, and to see the expenditure of our rates spent on meaningful projects that enhance all our amenity, and not simply a narrow demographic and program.

It has been a mixed year and one that has demonstrated more than ever, that there is a need for a whole of Fremantle community watch dog, to monitor and lobby group for those with the greatest investment in their community, the rate payer and resident, and to assist and work with other community groups, to achieve their specific objectives.

Please come and hear how the year has gone, and help determine FRRA’s relevance, and presence.

 FRRA Editorial from the Chair

FRRA is still a young community activist group, and striving to ensure that local governance and the elected officers ‘represent’ its constituents, is open, accountable and transparent. At the same time, our membership is healthy, and we have now more people becoming actively involved, which is exciting.

Since our inception over the controversial development of The Esplanade, there have been a series of serious governance, accountability, transparency and amenity issues that have affected us all, and demonstrated that the interests of the major shareholder, the Fremantle resident and rate payers’ voice is not being heard or even acknowledged, and that progress is determined by a minority, for a minority.

Notable amongst a string of issues include:

  • the unnecessary expenditure of $55 million on the Council building as part of the activation of King’s Square
  • the complex and disadvantageous contractual arrangement with Sirona Capital,
  • the sale of the major assets at fire sale prices,
  • the disastrous and entirely predictable waste of rate payers’ money and citizen amenity on the Sunset Events’ development at Arthur’s Head and J Shed
  • the indiscriminate waiving of fees, rates and costs to the City.
  • the apparent movement of an estimated $55 million from the Investment Account to the Municipal account since 2012.
  • extraordinary development decisions in heritage areas.
  • the exponential increase in size and composition of the City of Fremantle administration and staff
  • and, recently the banning of the public to the important and extremely relevant Strategic and Project Development Committee, where major projects such as King’s Square are discussed and recommendations made.

And, so many more instances too numerous to include.

Critical amongst all the issues faced by rate payers/ residents:

  • the lack of critical diversity on Council,
  • the impact on local government voting of Party political interests, or vested interests, other than ratepayer or resident concerns.
  • non-compulsory voting,
  • the ‘first past the post’ system,
  • the irrelevance of the Ward in local government and therefore, lack of the notion of “representation” of local interest, in fact, representation,
  • and postal voting.

All these factors mitigate against independent local area representation, the entire reason for a third tier of government, and have a profound affect on the decision making process.

FRRA must become a voice for all concerned Fremantle residents to ensure a diversity of opinion and, most critically, local representation in local governance

Kings Square Project planning moves into new phase

From: City of Fremantle media release 13 October 2016

Kings Square Project planning moves into new phase  

City developing masterplan to connect Kings Square with key areas of the city centre ~ to be released for public comment in early 2017.

The City of Fremantle is progressing with detailed planning work for the   $220m Kings Square project to transform the heart of Fremantle into a vibrant civic, retail, commercial and community hub.


The current focus for the City is the development of a coordinated masterplan to link public spaces in Kings Square with other key parts of the city centre.

The masterplan will include upgrades to the Kings Square public spaces as well as enhancements to connecting areas including Queen, Adelaide and Point streets and the development of a new public square at the Fremantle Train Station.


“The Kings Square project is a catalyst project with a far greater flow-on benefit for Fremantle than just the development of buildings in the Kings Square precinct itself,” said acting Mayor Dave Coggin.

“The project has always been seen by council as a way to reconnect public spaces in central Fremantle which have become disconnected from the city centre over several decades.

“The current work is focused on how best to upgrade surrounding areas which flow towards Kings Square to ensure the entire city centre is well-connected and a more attractive place for visitors, workers and businesses.

“Sirona Capital has entered commercial negotiations with the Department of Finance, which is the next stage in the state government’s Fremantle office accommodation process and this is very positive and encouraging for the project’s future delivery.

“The current master planning work being undertaken will enable us to deliver what will be a game changing project for Fremantle as soon as possible after these commercial discussions are finalised,” Mr Coggin said.

Kings Square and City Centre Masterplan

As part of ongoing work, the City will develop an over-arching masterplan for the public realm in key city centre precincts. This masterplan will guide the detailed design and sequencing of the individual projects which will see parts of the city upgraded with better roads and footpaths, new street furniture, bike lanes, hard and soft landscaping, public art, lighting and CCTV.


The focus areas in the Kings Square and City Centre Masterplan are:

  • Kings Square public realm upgrade
  • a new city square at Fremantle Station Precinct
  • Queen, Adelaide and Point street upgrades
  • City Centre Northern Gateway: Proclamation Tree, Queen Victoria and Parry Street intersection upgrades.

It will also deliver new civic buildings including City of Fremantle administration offices and library, enhanced public spaces, commercial and retail offerings and a new visitor centre.

The masterplan also recognises two important public open spaces: Pioneer Park and Princess May Park. It is anticipated the draft will be developed over coming months and presented to council prior to being released for public comment in early 2017.

The project will create a civic, retail, commercial and community hub that is a vibrant, active and safe place which reflects Kings Square’s unique position in the heart of Fremantle.

Breaking News – O’Brien Empire Expands

Major new project

THE whole of the Manning Estate in High Street Mall and Market Street Fremantle, comprising 26 shops, is to be bought by Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf Investments for approximately $31 million.

The map above shows the O’Brien empire, with the Manning Estate coloured in black, and his other properties outlined in black. They comprise the 7,700 sqm site of the former police buildings and courthouse in Henderson Street, the Coles supermarket site, Target, the banks along Queen Street and the Atwell Buildings and Atwell Arcade.

O’Brien’s developments have drawn strong criticism for what is perceived to be mediocre quality architecture, damaging to the scale and heritage values of Fremantle.

When his new Commonwealth Bank building on the corner of Queen and Cantonment Streets was opened by Minister for Planning and Infrastructure  Alannah MacTiernan, she arrived with the comment: “When is the scaffolding coming down?’

“Crass design”

When the new adjacent buildings (the Q&A Centre on the corner of Queen and Adelaide opposite St John’s Church where Mr O’Brien has an office) were built, outrage was expressed at the crassness of the design.

When the current Atwell Arcade glass box development rose above the world famous gold rush architecture surrounding it, former councillor Bll Massie said: “it sticks out like dogs’ balls.”

Bill Massie, the most pro-development of councillors on Fremantle Council, was the only councillor in 2014 to vote against the Gerard O’Brien Atwell Arcade development when it came to council at a special meeting called by the mayor for  this developer. Bill Massie said it would damage the heritage of Fremantle.
Why Does this Damage to Fremantle’s Heritage Keep Happening?

Besides former councillor Massie, others have condemned the quality of the new project and the Fremantle Society is seeking answers to a series of questions. Architect Sasha Ivanovich, who was on the approving Design Advisory Committee for the development, said that the project went “off the rails”. His full report is published below.

History will show that the halving of the West End Heritage area by council which the Fremantle Society objected to was a deliberate ploy to aid developers. The approval for Atwell Arcade came just after the mayor was installed on the Heritage Council, an organisation which has done little to protect Fremantle since.

At the special 2014 meeting of council to approve Atwell Arcade the following voted to approve the project:  Mayor Pettitt, councillors Sullivan, Strachan, Pemberton, Nabor, Wilson, Hume, Waltham, Wainright, and Fittock.

The community should remember those names at the next election.

Large apartment building planned

Gerard O’Brien is said to have plans to construct a large building of apartments behind the Manning Estate facades. He currently has plans before council for a 12 storey building on the Coles supermarket site.

The Fremantle Society is concerned at the current tsunami of poor quality development damaging to the world class heritage values of Fremantle.

The Fremantle Society is pro-development and wants progress, but it wants better quality results.

Among other things it calls for a revamp of council’s Design Advisory Committee (DAC), which clearly is not working. It still has the same chairman, nominated by the mayor, since its inception. The review should include a rotating chairman and ideas as expressed in the report below.

Professional Assessment of Atwell Arcade Development by Architect Sasha Ivanovich

The Atwell Arcade Development now nearing completion began with cautious optimism. It was hoped that a sensitively thought out design solution would, on one hand contribute to the restoration of  culturally valued, heritage listed shop‐ front of  commercial premises on Adelaide, Market St and High Street Mall and on the other, re-vitalise  a precinct in central Fremantle with new retail and office tenancies. The commercial viability of the proposed new office building to be built in the middle of the site, occupied by low value sheds, justified the cost of redevelopment.

As initially presented, and as reviewed by Council Planning and guided by Fremantle DAC, the new office development, with its simple lines of continuous patterned glass screen on four sides, would conceal the new building façade and provide a plain seamless backdrop to the more ornate historical facades of the shop­‐fronts at ground and first floors, highlighting the original heritage architecture.

There would also have been advice given by Council officers to the Developer for the arcade itself to be restored close to its original character. With the Developer employing their own heritage consultants, Council would have received assurances of that kind.

It is of concern that the finished building deviates from such clear requests from Council and DAC advice, recoded conditions of Planning Approval:

•    Instead of a simple glass box of uniform patterned glass forming the envelope and backdrop to the street level heritage frontages, the screens of the new office building have been angled, other various façade features have been introduced -­‐  spandrels and canopies added and the patterning on the glass removed, amplifying a clash of presentation between the new building and the original..
•    Though there has been some restoration of original glass shop-­fronts, new contemporary style materials have been introduced.
•    Substantial restoration has been performed on the street facades but intermixed with a modern look fascia to the street canopies
•    There would have been an argument from the Developer and their consultants against restoration of the Arcade to its original, ‘for lack of original detail’ -­ the arcade has gone through several refurbishments since its inception. When construction began however, unique timber mouldings that adorned the steel structures of the original arcade were exposed. These have been ignored. Instead of a continuing reference to the ornate design of the original, the new arcade, stripped of its historical references, shares its impersonal and generalist design with shopping centre malls anywhere.

There is a lesson to be learn’t here about implementation of planning approvals. If conditions imposed at planning approval are to be performed, a follow up process is needed – to monitor a developer’s progress from planning approval to construction, before and during construction:

a.    Once the project progresses to Building License, review of design documentation would need to be thoroughly performed to ensure that building license drawings conform to what has been approved and negotiated at planning approval.

b.    The construction process would need to be more vigorously monitored, to ensure that what has been approved at planning stage and in building license drawings and specifications, is carried through in the finished work.

The Design Advisory Committee is best suited to review final construction documents. They would be most sensitive to design issues and be alert to the carefully worded conditions of an original planning approval. Whilst Council remains shy of enforcing in every detail planning approvals, there can be only more breaches in a planning approval process that is considerably invested in time and professional resources.

Sasha Ivanovich FRAIA Fremantle practicing Architect
(past DAC member City of Fremantle DAC,  Town of Vincent DAC  and DAP State DAP sitting member) September 2016.

Fremantle Society Congratulates MSC

October 12,  originally posted by: Charles Pauka

MSC spends $14.5m on new home in Fremantle

The Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), one of the world’s largest container shipping lines, has recently unveiled its new Australia and New Zealand headquarters in one of Fremantle’s most significant heritage buildings.

After a meticulous four-year, $14.5 million renovation and addition, 11 Cliff Street, Fremantle has been returned to its former glory and will once again house a busy shipping line.


The Fremantle Society acknowledges MSC for their great contribution to the heritage of Fremantle  (Photo: Transport and Logistics News)

Managing director of MSC Australia and New Zealand Kevin Clarke said the investment demonstrated the company’s interest in the region.

Mr Clarke noted the Fremantle headquarters provided a strategic gateway to Asia and MSC’s wider global network and the company had enjoyed strong growth in its cargo import and export business during the past decade.

“The volume of goods imported into Western Australia via MSC’s cargo services has increased by 24.3 per cent in the past decade, whilst exports have risen by 37.6 per cent, giving a total growth of 30.5 per cent.

“Overall, imports into Australia and New Zealand have increased by 30.2 per cent whilst exports have grown by 39.3 per cent, giving a total growth of 34 per cent.”

128 Staff

Mr Clarke said when looking for premises to provide a suitable new headquarters for MSC’s growing operations, the company was excited by the opportunity to restore a building that had played a significant role in the history of the Fremantle port.

“In order to provide our 128 Perth-based staff with a high-quality working environment, we commissioned experienced heritage architect Murray Slavin to restore 11 Cliff Street and build a new 1082sqm adjoining annexe,” Mr Clarke said.

The building was designed by leading Western Australian architect and WWI General Sir Joseph J. Talbot Hobbs, who also designed the Weld Club, the Savoy Hotel and the Perth Masonic Lodge. It was built 114 years ago as the home of another successful export and import company – Dalgety & Co.

Colourful history

“The building has had a colourful and interesting history – always at the heart of the Fremantle business community,” Mr Clarke said.

Dalgety & Co ran its shipping and early rural enterprises from the building until 1927 when Elders bought the property and it became known as Elders House. During its history it has also been known as Barwil House, and the Wilhelmsen Building.

Australian Navy intelligence occupied the building during World War II and it has also housed media bureaus for The West Australian newspaper and the ABC.

16-year WA association

MSC has headquartered its Australia and New Zealand operations in WA for the past 16 years, with the time zone enabling staff to communicate effectively with MSC’s international headquarters in Geneva.

“Our business is all about trust and the relationships we build with our customers,” Mr Clarke said. “I am very proud of our team in Fremantle, and those based throughout Australia and New Zealand.

“MSC established itself in Australia 27 years ago and many of our customers have worked with us since those early years.”