Architect Carl Payne Slams Councillors over Manning Buildings

Carl Payne graduated as an architect in 1974; travelled overseas; and moved to Fremantle in 1977. He was active in the Fremantle Society through the late seventies and eighties; and was acting President for a while. Carl worked in private practice in Fremantle during this period. Like others, his Society contributions were pro-bono.  He sent us this essay.

Here is the COMPLETE essay. The Fremantle Herald have now published this, but have omitted 300 words.

I thank Cr Ingrid Waltham for assisting me in previous Council dealings, when feedback from officers was less than ideal. But I was alarmed to read her reported statements regarding the FCC Planning Committee approval of the Manning Buildings redevelopment. She said: “There’s still a lot of work to be done”. I took this to mean a satisfactory result would be achieved. She then said “she’s a bit torn by the verandah issue”; that “she loves to see heritage protected”, but “doesn’t believe it should be imposed if it affected a building’s functionality.

Her comments took me back to the ‘70s and ‘80s, before a kind of truce was achieved. Wholesale heritage loss was averted. It’s now supported by legislation; and improved planning schemes. This is a good thing, but it leads to complacency; to a notion that the war was won. The current Manning Building redevelopment proposal proves that it wasn’t.

“An elected official – is making statements which literally mean that heritage protection should not be imposed if this affects the building’s owner”

The Manning Building shows that we pay lip-service to heritage conservation. It’s rare for heritage architect to do a large redevelopment, because the game in Fremantle – all of WA – is to get around the heritage issues. An elected official – part of a process to protect what makes Fremantle what it is – is making statements which literally mean that heritage protection should not be imposed if this affects the building’s owner. This approach is counter the proper and orderly conservation of Fremantle for the whole community.

I hear the “Damn leftie, it’s my private property.“ response. If Ingrid and the rest of the planning committee are in full support of this private-property ideal, let them say so. I doubt they all are. Knowing some, my feeling is they genuinely want the best for the Fremantle community; for the City itself.
My guess is they don’t fully relate to how a creative and positive conservation approach can be consistent with the best heritage results; and good for ALL property owners.

Good heritage legislation provides a stable foundation; and defends the essence of a place. It offers generous tax-concessions, grants and bonuses to property owners when they develop with strong conservation values. There are examples, in similar cities all over the capitalist world, of creative responses that could apply to Fremantle. Private owners are not dictated to. They are part of a unified approach, with real advantages for them as well. We need to be truly progressive; and not simply rely on an outdated development model.

Manning Buildings are the most dominant example in Fremantle, of a building of this style and importance. They occupy extensive frontages to Market, High and William Streets, with presence on Paddy Troy Lane. They are a vital, substantial piece of inter-connected Fremantle property. They are opposite the Town Hall; and form a partial boundary to the south of the Kings Square development.

“This is no way to run one of the most important and intact 19thC streetscape cities in Australia.”

It may be true for Council to say, “we have achieved a better result than we started with.” But with developers just trying to get away with all they can, the community must continually fight for more. This silly system places total reliance on the skill, judgement, experience, and preferences of councillors who happen to occupy council at the time of any development proposal. This is no way to run one of the most important and intact 19thC streetscape cities in Australia. Councillors need to be supported and informed by legislative certainty and muscle.

Good restoration demands as little change as possible. The Planning Committee heritage report makes relevant points. But actions of councillors are not consistent with the Burra Charter ideals expressed in the report. I’ve heard Cr Waltham’s statement many times, but mostly from those who, unlike Ingrid, don’t especially “love to see heritage protected”. It’s galling to hear them from one who professes to love heritage. Strong heritage legislation is educational too, another huge plus.

The Council minutes say: “Detailed drawings of the decorative posts should be provided.” Architect John Kirkness has researched details for accurate reconstruction of the verandahs. Council should demand these details be part of the approval; and John should receive reward for his work. Is heritage not worth paying for?

“The approach is totally arse-about.”

The minutes say this about the internal timber stairs: “There are a small number of authentic staircases in original condition and it is proposed to retain one or two of them if possible.” One or two, if possible? Developer’s response? “Sorry, wasn’t possible. Computer says No……….” The internal staircases are part of period detailing; the language; the story of the buildings. The staircases should influence the planning; and not be discarded so that the planning can proceed without them. The approach is totally arse-about.

The buildings represent 100% of the current story. The heritage report mentions single-storey add-ons. Retaining these may not be justifiable, but they DO represent aspects of the total history of the buildings. Their loss means a lesser figure, say 96% of the total. Then we lose other stuff. Sure, we get a heritage report. Not much better than nothing really, let’s be realistic. Reports sitting in a drawer don’t have much effect on the urban streetscape.

We lose staircases; internal walls and ceilings; fireplaces; a whole collection of rooms and spaces, for a beer barn. Now I love a good beer barn. I’m in one now, as I write these words. Sea breeze coming off the Fishing Boat Harbour. But the 96% falls further with the loss of these elements. It’s 80% now.

The verandah job may achieve the correct detailing accuracy. But no guarantees. What is our percentage if this re-constructed verandah is a cliché approximation? A major streetscape failure drops the figure to say 65%.

“No well-managed historic city anywhere in the world would allow this to happen”

We find a large section of the courtyard is taken by a new basement carpark road. No well-managed historic city anywhere in the world would allow this to happen. The best experiences in old towns are finding tucked-away courtyards, back-lanes. We are filling these up in Fremantle with over-development. This is not valid urban consolidation. Some recent examples in central Fremantle are so poor, they qualify only as urban exploitation. We can easily hit 50% at this point. A bare pass.

50% makes it easy for a future Manning Buildings owner to say: “These buildings have already lost their 3D-heritage value. They are a façade only. We should bowl ’em over; build something really good!!” “You make a good point” says Council. Don’t laugh, it’s happened before.

Finally, consider this excerpt from the Minutes: “The applicant is encouraged to consider carefully removing acrylic paint and any cement render from the building to allow the walls to breathe. This practice is not only an aesthetic recommendation but will reduce the rate of deterioration of the wall and improve the longevity of the original building fabric.” This type of essential detail should be mandatory for a heritage building; written into the conditions as a requirement, not as an encouragement. 

The Planning Committee approval, with its compromises which miss the importance of achievable, proper and well-considered heritage conservation, was unanimous. Committee members were as follows: Cr Jon Strachan; Cr Bryn Jones; Cr Ingrid Waltham; Cr Jeff McDonald; Cr Dave Hume; Cr Rachel Pemberton.

“We are talking about arming and educating Councillors.”

We can do far better than this. A constructive strategic approach can build a strong heritage policy. Sure, this requires lots of work. But the officers’ report to Council is already a lot of hard work. There are many examples we can use to build this better and stronger Council policy. We are talking about the future of Fremantle after all. We are talking about arming and educating Councillors.

Regards
Carl Payne
1 Bostock Street
White Gum Valley
0408 900 446

Fremantle Society Vision

The Fremantle Society has put forward its progressive and sustainable vision in a full page advertisement in the Herald which will appear this week in over 50,000 copies. Many thanks to former Fremantle Council City Heritage Architect Agnieshka Kiera and others for their valuable input.

Fremantle Society Committee

The Fremantle Society welcomes Pat Baker, former senior photographer for the WA Museum onto the committee and as Membership Secretary.

Peter Scott of Fremantle is also a welcome addition to the committee. To cover for committee members who are travelling or unavailable, we are asking for members to consider being an “Emergency Committee Member” for occasional meetings. We are pleased to have two former Presidents, Don Whittington and Ian Alexander volunteering last week for this position. Please contact us if you are interested. In some cases we need representation on important committees, and Professor David Hawks has kindly undertaken for some time now to represent us on the Inner Harbour Community Liaison Committee of Fremantle Ports.

South Ward Election

South Ward voters have received their ballot papers for a rerun of last year’s election.

Maria Vujcic and Chris Williams, both members of the Society, are running against the former incumbent Andrew Sullivan.

There has been some ill informed comment on social media that the Fremantle Society are running two good people against each other in order to split the vote and allow Andrew Sullivan, who voted for all the recent poor quality developments around town, to win. The Fremantle Society did not speak to either candidate before they nominated and is not funding either of them.

We encourage everyone to be active in local government elections, and congratulate Maria and Chris for putting their hands up, and working to be elected.

Precinct Review

There is currently a review of the Precinct system, closing 12 March. The Fremantle Society helped initiate the Precinct System over 20 years ago, and is now being left out of the system, along with FICRA (Fremantle Inner City Residents’ Association). We ask members to go to Have My Say on council’s website and fill out a submission insisting that the Fremantle Society and FICRA stay as precincts.

Precincts in recent years have often been used by incumbent councillors to promote themselves and have often not been functioning as intended.

One reason for having precincts is to give the community a heads up on upcoming events and developments, but there has been little from council staff to make that work optimally. For example, submissions for this year’s Heritage Festival have closed but the Fremantle Society, a heritage group, was not even informed.

It is extremely time consuming writing detailed submissions on complex issues, and the Fremantle Society and others need as much advance notice as possible, and need to stay within the precinct system for that reason alone.

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society
22 February 2018

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.
RSVP
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.

new-admin

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.

“Catalyst”

“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.

kings_inset

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.
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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.

DAPs tweaked for more transparency

Extract – BUSINESS NEWS, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
Author: Dan Wilkie
Thursday, 13 October, 2016

THE state government has moved to make the development assessment process more transparent, unveiling a raft of changes to the system in response to feedback from local governments and resident groups.

Development Assessment Panels have been in place in Western Australia since 2011, with the system designed to add an additional level of technical expertise to the planning process.

Changes announced today include publishing DAP agendas earlier, providing opportunities for developers to opt out if their project does not significantly impact local amenity, and more information to be provided in regard to why decisions are made.

Other changes include local governments being required to contact all those who provided written submissions to DAP applications to inform them of the meeting, and allowing developers to choose between local councils and DAPs when seeking minor amendments to existing approvals.
Planning Minister Donna Faragher  –faragher

– said the changes would ensure the decision-making process is better communicated and understood. Ms Faragher said the system had been reviewed twice to provide the best planning outcomes for the state.

All of the amendments can be seen below:

  • Provide an option to opt-out of a DAP in favour of a local government for developments, such as industrial warehouses, that will not significantly impact local amenity.
  • DAP agendas will be published at least seven days before a meeting – instead of the current five days – to provide greater advance notice to the public.
  • Local governments will be required to proactively contact each person who has provided a written submission in relation to a DAP application, to inform them of when the meeting will take place.
  • Responsible authority reports to include more information about why decisions can be made, to ensure that the decision-making process is clearly communicated and can be better understood.
  • DAP members and local governments to be provided with more governance support, where required.
  • DAP presiding members will be able to intervene in the ‘stop-the-clock’ process if parties disagree about the level of information that has been provided for an application.
  • Provide proponents with the option to choose between a local government or a DAP when requesting an amendment to a minor aspect of an existing development approval (Form 2).
  • Empower the Minister for Planning to remove DAP members who do not undertake the appropriate DAP training.
  • The maximum term of office for DAP members can be extended if a vacancy is waiting to be filled.
  • Add a reference to the DAP regulations that all Form 2 minor amendment meetings should be open to the public.
  • Changes to the DAP fee structure.

Fremantle’s World Famous West End Again Under Threat

5 Storeys Proposed in West End (which has a 4 storey limit)

Notes from the President

THE University of Notre Dame has refurbished many buildings in the historic West End of Fremantle and have mostly done a good job.

In the past when they  sought to build something new they have largely respected the scale of the West End, and their two new buildings in Cliff and Henry Streets are three storeys in height.

Now they propose 5 storeys on the corner of High and Cliff Streets, and excuse that unwarranted height by saying the flats on top of the old Tramways Building at 1 High Street next door are also high. But the flats were an aberration built during the rush of the America’s Cup, a mistake that should not be copied; not a precedent.

a42bd1f6-f05c-44c3-8bac-60fbe86ec427Site of proposed building on right, adjacent the tall apartments

West End’s Ground Zero

The vacant site on the corner of Cliff and High Streets needs to be built on. We have waited decades for a decent building there after the former mayor’s two storey house was demolished.

But the site is so important, it is Fremantle’s Ground Zero. Whatever goes there should be high quality and fit in with the one, two, and three storey buildings on the other three corners of the  intersection.

If Notre Dame really needs a big building, they should consider building out of the West End, to distribute their student numbers throughout Fremantle instead of adding to the monoculture they have already created in the West End.

Maximum height

Notre Dame knows that 5 storeys in the West End is NOT allowed under the town planning scheme. The MAXIMUM allowed is three storeys plus possibly a 4th storey if well set back.

The rules are there for everyone to obey and Notre Dame should obey the rules. The fact that Fremantle Council has allowed other inappropriate and overscaled developments does not mean Notre Dame should join in with the developers whose only interest is money. Fremantle Council have been discussing these plans for a year with the university and they have been several times in front of the $1,000 an hour DAC (Design Advisory Committee) committee, so the fact that a year later we see a 5 storey proposal coming to the community is greatly disturbing, and simply not good enough.

“Safe”?

The proposed design is another matter altogether and a detailed discussion can be held when the plans are published online.  An initial impression is, that like the other two new Notre Dame buildings by the same architect, the design is too ‘boxy’ and features too much glass. We are told there will be a theatre included which may be a public asset.

The Mayor keeps saying the “West End is safe.” This is another example of where it is not.