Another Tsunami

The elections are over. Developers are rushing into council to lodge their plans. Some of the plans are distressingly crass and damaging to the heritage values of the town. A significant focus of the plans appears to be: more alcohol.

Members are asked to take note of the following, and to be involved in putting their opinions forward. The Fremantle Society is in the process of writing submissions.

Comments:

TO PLANNING DEPARTMENT: planning@fremantle.wa.gov.au

TO MAYOR AND COUNCILLORS: members@fremantle.wa.gov.au

TO LOCAL MEDIA: news@fremantleherald.com

TO FREMANTLE SOCIETY: john.dowson@yahoo.com

1) Warders’ Cottages 19-29 Henderson Street

11 room hotel and bar

COMMENTS CLOSE 14 NOVEMBER

The developer and architect of the Hougoumont Hotel in Bannister Street has submitted this application. While the Hougoumont gets great reviews, it is a very modern experience more akin to staying in a shipping container than a heritage building. It has been granted approval for 5 storeys for its next stage, possibly a technically illegal approval given the rules for the West End.

If members examine the plans submitted for these terrace cottages, which are of national significance and the ONLY properties in the whole of Western Australia outside the prison to be on the Federal Heritage list, they may find the plans swamping the original cottages and their backyards with the added infrastructure. A huge focus is alcohol – it’s an 11 room boutique hotel catering for up to 475 drinkers. No wonder there have been 15 submissions already from concerned residents who have just bought next door in the other 6 Henderson Street cottages, and others.

2) MHI Review

You are asked to comment on a review of the Municipal Heritage Inventory. See document online.

COMMENTS CLOSE 17 NOVEMBER

3) Mannings Buildings

The Fremantle Society broke the story that Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf was going to buy all 26 shops in the Manning Estate that wraps around from William Street, through the mall and into Market Street. He has now submitted plans to ‘revitalise’ them by turning them into: a brewery. He also wants to ‘modernise’ and open up the interiors and thus remove a reason people like coming to Fremantle – it has small individual shops with character.

10 metres away across the Mall lies the Atwell Arcade project done by Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf. The mayor granted him a special council meeting for this development on the basis that a) a new national chain would be brought to Fremantle (it wasn’t) b) 300 new workers would be brought to Fremantle (they weren’t) and c) the building and shopfronts would be restored (they haven’t been).

There will be a public information session on November 16 at 5.30pm at Council.

COMMENTS CLOSE 28 NOVEMBER

4) King’s Square Public Space Draft Concept Design

The Fremantle Society position is that King’s Square is important as the only town square in Western Australia and that it should be a dignified open civic space, not a cluttered entertainment zone.

COMMENTS CLOSE 8 DECEMBER

5) Woolstores Shopping Centre and Car Park

Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf has submitted plans so awful that even a council employee told the Fremantle Society “For the first time I will be making a submission.”

The proposed high rise soars 50% higher than the 10 storeyed Johnston Court, whose height in the middle of town we were promised would never be repeated. To achieve this height the design MUST show ‘exceptional quality’. Council will say that the determining authority is JDAP (Joint Development Assessment Panels) but the reality is that what council writes and thinks is crucial to getting a good outcome. When the initial plans for a new Queensgate also had to pass the test of demonstrating ‘exceptional quality’, the mayor argued that the view from the top would be so good that he would be voting that that was enough to demonstrate the requirement. Hopefully, council will debate this one a bit harder that that.

COMMENTS CLOSE 22 NOVEMBER

6) Court House and Warders Cottages 31-45 Henderson Street (see photo above)

Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf has submitted plans for a 6 storey hotel and bars in one of the most significant heritage precincts in Western Australia. which covers the 7,700 sq m court house and police station complex and the adjacent warders’ cottages (the latter bought for the bargain price of $1.7 million).

The Fremantle Society will study the plans, which seem at first glance to be remarkably insensitive to what is a dignified and important set of colonial buildings, some (the terrace houses) being of national significance.

These buildings are in the buffer zone of the World Heritage Listed Fremantle Prison for good reason, and any development in the buffer zone must not impact negatively on the setting of the prison.

Public information session 30 November 5.30pm at Fremantle Council.

COMMENTS CLOSE 11 DECEMBER

Notre Dame Breaches its Own MOU

Notre Dame announced today it has purchased the massive Customs Buildings fronting Henry, Phillimore, and Pakenham Streets.

This is in direct breach of the 2012 MOU it has with Fremantle Council, where the MOU states that the university, having created a monoculture with its hugely successful business controlling 46 buildings in the West End, would in future build outside the West End:

“The City encourages UNDA to expand its academic activities to locations throughout the CBD and expresses the wish that any expansion should not be immediately adjacent to the area bounded by Little High Street, Phillimore Street, Henry Street, Marine Terrace.”

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society

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.
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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.