FREMANTLE SOCIETY SUBMISSION ON VICTORIA QUAY DEVELOPMENT
Fremantle Ports is to be congratulated for the thorough public consultation workshops and the excellent work by Kieran Wong and associates of CODA architects.
The Fremantle Society is excited about the opportunities the planned development of Victoria Quay (VQ) offer. This is a great chance to acknowledge the historic significance of the port and celebrate the importance of C.Y.O’Connor as one of Western Australia’s outstanding achievers for his role in building the harbour and the Perth to Kalgoorlie water pipeline.
A modern Victoria Quay gives us the opportunity to interact with the local Wadjuk indigenous people through a cultural centre where visitors can experience the culture and history of the traditional custodians, take part in story telling and music events, purchase art and sample bush tucker.
VQ should showcase the significance of the wharfs and the labour movement and should also show the extensive photographic historic collection Fremantle Ports has. A Migrant Museum telling the stories of the thousands who arrived on ships would also become an important attraction for any new development.
The Fremantle Society believes VQ should become a 24 hour destination for locals and visitors alike, so it is essential that the mix of office, leisure, retail, entertainment, tourism, parking facilities is carefully balanced and managed. A day time ‘village’ that becomes a night time ghost town is not acceptable and neither is a shopping centre like precinct.
Better and increased connectivity between VQ and the Fremantle CBD is a priority as is the connectivity between VQ and Bathers Beach/Fishing Boat Harbour.
VQ should not compete with what inner city Fremantle already offers, and what it will offer more off once Planning Scheme Amendment 49 becomes active, instead VQ should become exemplary in its difference, while blending in with the human scale Fremantle is loved for by tourists and residents. The quality of the space and its use need to be authentic. The tenancies need to be for real commercial purpose and any retail needs to be of a very high standard.
As a destination and attraction Fremantle Ports needs to encourage operators such as the people behind Little Creatures to develop unique, quality and authentic offerings on the wharf.
Buildings of different shapes that are reflective of the elements of the area, and of different heights are essential to make the area attractive, as are public open spaces, public roof gardens with harbour views, green spaces and ‘activity pockets’ for children.
Existing historic buildings need to be carefully integrated in any development and while relocation might be the easy option more creative solutions need to be encouraged to allow the buildings to remain as an historic cluster.
The lack of significant public green spaces in the inner city and in the vicinity of the port means that erecting buildings on historic Pioneer Park should not be considered, instead the park should become one of the major attractions of the area. The park has been under utilised predominantly because it is not very attractive. This can and should be improved as part of the VQ development.
The Fremantle Society believes an ‘Urban Scale’ approach to development at VQ is the best way forward to develop Fremantle. Building heights need to be varied so bland sameness is avoided. It would be prudent to vary building heights from 15 metres to 25 metres at maximum heights just below that of the Maritime Museum, which is 29 metres high. It is important not to ‘dwarf’ the heritage Railway Station with huge buildings overshadowing it.
The railway forecourt needs to be improved and become far more attractive than it is at present. This will require relocation of the bus port to the East and remodelling to improve the passenger to bus interface and the efficiency of the overall intermodal exchange. With this movement to the East the forecourt can become a meeting and relaxation place and present a proper entrance to Fremantle.
VQ has got it all; a working port is highly attractive. People love watching ships arrive and depart and they love watching sunsets. The close vicinity to the CBD and public transport makes it even more attractive to developers and retailers and those in the hospitality and tourism industries.
It is not hard to envisage VQ as a highly attractive very Freo destination with a great mix of culture, art, heritage, entertainment, retail and offices. It does however require creativity and restraint. There needs to be recognition in the lot layout and alignment, in building design and utilisation that the development is integrated into the CBD, and although new and to some extent an extension of the West End, it has the elements of Fremantle’s bold building design, albeit circa 2020, not 1880.
Fremantle Ports should resist the temptation of over development for financial gain. It is essential that development in the area absolutely acknowledges and embraces the sense of place of Fremantle and its unique character and lifestyle.
The Fremantle Society is keen to see outstanding development of great architectural merit on Victoria Quay in the near future and we are offering Fremantle Ports to be part of the consultative process.