Last night’s vote by Fremantle Council not to approve Sunset Events’ plan for a brewery and larger concerts at J Shed represents a massive shift away from previous, virtually unanimous, support.
Sunset Events has stirred public animosity against the organiser’s attitude to local residents regarding noise and antisocial behaviour and lack of access by the public to Arthur Head. In the face of public opinion, Sunset increased their requests to include a brewery and increased patronage.
Three of Fremantle’s major organisations opposed these plans. The Fremantle Inner City Residents Association (FICRA), Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association (FRRA) and the Fremantle Society have continually lobbied councillors in relation to all aspects of the support offered by council to Sunset.
Council has, until now, steadfastly ignored the public’s wishes. At last night’s meeting (22nd June) the Mayor, Councillors Pemberton and Wainwright declared conflicts of interest. It was notable that Andrew Sullivan was one of two councillors to support Sunset Events. The other was Councillor Hume.
CYNICISM AND MANOEUVRING
One resident, who did not wish to be named, underlined public sentiment, commenting: “I assume … there will be more lobbying of the WAPC unless Sunset finally gives up, which attitude has not been characteristic of them so far”
He continued: “Perhaps it’s just my cynicism about everything to do with them, but I get a sense of lack of responsibility on the part of some elected members, of some sort of manoeuvring. They were so in favour for so long and dragged the community through all this for so long. Where’s the morality?”
CHANGES OF ATTITUDE MUST BE APPLAUDED
There have however, been noticeable shifts in council’s attitude recently and these have to be applauded and encouraged. There is no question that the strengths of FICRA, FRRA and the Fremantle Society are growing. It is likely these organisations will support candidates in next year’s council elections to ensure a change of direction related to many issues. These changes must include unequivocal support for heritage boundaries, higher quality architecture, and height restrictions. The Fremantle Society does not support high rise buildings in heritage precincts and glass block architecture.
At the recent election debate the Fremantle Society questioned candidates in relation to their support for heritage values asking:
“In 1980 the Federal Government listed the West End of Fremantle as a precinct on its heritage database, where it remains unchanged today. Fremantle Council has proposed a heritage listing of a smaller area it still calls the West End, removing Arthur Head, the Esplanade, the railway station, and King’s Square. Would candidates support the original area being listed?”
This did not seem relevant to the candidates. However, the question is pertinent as the Federal Government’s 1980 listing of boundaries HAS not changed. The Fremantle Society will be asking our elected federal member to endorse the 1980 boundaries. The current precinct listing has whittled down to the West End leaving important areas as satellites. They include Arthur Head, The Arts Centre, Railway Station. A larger precinct will protect the entire against low quality, high rise developments. Currently the area is being whittled away from the edges.