EAST END AMENDMENT — a submission from the Fremantle Society
1. INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS
The Fremantle Society supports the concept of redeveloping the East End of the City, with residential development being the dominant use. This would help boost the City’s population and provide spin-off economic benefits to the city’s business and services.
The current renovation of the Fort Knox heritage former woolstores building for residential apartments — an extension of a now well-established Fremantle conversion process — is a promising indication of the potential of the area. The Society, as an advocate of affordable and low-income housing in Fremantle, is particularly pleased to note that the Government has recently committed to providing some Homeswest units as part of the fort Knox development. We believe that there is more room for affordable housing – through the involvement of organisations such as Foundation Housing – in the East End redevelopment area.
The East End area is one of the main entrances to the City and currently creates a poor impression. Parts of the area are run down, there are vacant lots, and there is clearly the potential for more appropriate development that would provide a more impressive entrance to the city. The current mixture of activities, many auto-oriented, interspersed with some marginal and predominately low-density development, has a very run-down and tired feeling to it.
2. SPECIFIC CONCERNS
The Society has specific concerns that are detailed separately below. In outline, our main concerns cover the proposed height and bulk of development envisaged for some parts of the East End. We would like to see ‘human scale’ retained in new development, and are of the opinion that proposed building heights of up to seven stories are excessive in this regard.
We question the ability of the proposed Amendment to adequately protect the visual and cultural integrity of the area’s important heritage buildings. The question of whether there is sufficient infrastructure to cater for the proposed population influx allowed for in new residential development needs attention.
We also consider that the Amendment should address traffic flow through and in the area, and transport requirements, matters that are currently overlooked.
3. GENERAL CONCERN : AMENDMENT AS PRECEDENT
The Fremantle Society also has a general concern over the effective ‘up-zoning’ of the East End, i.e. only one part of the City Central Area zone as defined under the Metropolitan Regional Planning Scheme. This concern is the precedent the Amendment may set for other parts of the City centre. There is a danger that this amendment, proposing — for specific reasons of encouraging a high-density ‘urban village’ — to change the scheme to allow buildings of greater height than in the Scheme, may lead to pressure for similar increases in other parts of the city’s central area where redevelopment is likely.
LPS 4 was only adopted and gazetted in recent years, after extensive public consultation. The timing of the current Amendment may be taken to imply that the overall city centre Scheme provisions are in need of review, without LPS 4 having been allowed to run its course.
We believe that the current amendment should not be used as a precedent for Scheme amendments in others parts of the City’s central area. We are of the opinion that the current provisions of LPS 4 are generally adequate. Their maximum height limits help ensure that city centre development is of a scale and intensity suitable to harmonise with the long-developed and relatively low-rise character of the Fremantle City centre, and to protect its important heritage assets.
4. BUILDING HEIGHTS
In general, we submit that the height profile of the East End should be in the form of an apex from west to east, such that heights should reach a maximum on the ‘central spine’ of Queen Victoria Street, with diminishing heights to the east towards Quarry Street and to the west towards Beach Street.
Area 2 – Beach Street north
We submit that the proposed maximum height in Area 2 should be confined to 5, rather than 7 stories (18 rather than 24.5 metres).
In line with the desired height profile above, this change is also proposed so that views though to the Harbour – an iconic part of Fremantle’s amenity — from areas to the east of Beach Street, are maintained. Even with the fall in ground level from Queen Victoria St to Beach St, the current proposal – a maximum of 7 on Beach St and 5 on Queen Victoria – would see maximum heights of buildings close to the harbour greater than those along Queen Victoria Street. This threatens views through to the Harbour beyond, particularly from the Burt St heritage precinct.
Areas 7 & 8 – Block bounded by Beach, James, Queen Victoria and Parry Streets.
The Society submits that the maximum height of buildings in these two areas should be changed from 5 to 4 stories (18 to 15.5 metres)
We are particularly concerned to protect the visual and cultural integrity of the former Woolstores building, Fort Knox. The current proposal would allow buildings in the block to match the height of fort Knox, subject to certain conditions. The proposed conditions refer to the need for buildings to be consistent with ‘conservation objectives for the site locally and generally’, a standard central area policy/condition.
However, we consider that buildings adjacent to and in the vicinity of the Fort Knox building, the only remaining intact Woolstores building in Fremantle, should be mandated to be at least one-storey lower than Fort Knox. In this way the existing visual prominence of Fort Knox, and particularly views of its distinctive saw-tooth roofline will be maintained.
The lowering of proposed building heights will also lessen the risk of this portion of Victoria Street becoming beyond ‘human scale’ and becoming canyon-like in appearance, thus creating an uncomfortable wind tunnel effect for pedestrians.
Part of Area 4 – along Quarry Street
The Fremantle Society submits that the maximum height of buildings in this area be lowered from 5 to 3 stories (18 metres to 11 metres with a possible fourth level to 15 metres set back), consistent with proposals for adjacent parts of Quarry Street and consistent with current provisions of LPS 4.
We are very concerned to minimise the impact of redevelopment on the adjacent residential precinct in Quarry and Shuffrey streets, so as to maintain their valuable historic integrity and their amenity.
The current proposal for the part of Area 4 along Quarry Street – altered from the officer’s recommendations that went to Council – would allow 5 storey buildings in an area of predominately one and two-storey residential buildings. The proposal would allow buildings that could literally overshadow, especially in mid-winter, houses in Quarry Street.
Should the Leisure Centre Car Park (not included in this Amendment) be developed in the future in accord with the provisions of LPS4, it would also likely be to one and two storey residential development.
Higher buildings in this section of Quarry Street would detract from its amenity as a residential precinct and would also prejudice views through to the important heritage-listed Arts Centre complex.
The current scheme TPS4 designates a maximum of 3-4 stories in this strip, a height that residents have fought hard for in order to protect their amenity. For this reason, we consider that the current limit should be maintained.
5. TRANSPORT AND TRAFFIC FLOW
The Fremantle Society believes that much greater use should be made of Beach Street for traffic entering and leaving Fremantle. Some benefits of directing more traffic to Beach Street are:
- Improved access to Fremantle railways
- The opportunity to greatly improve the Queen Victoria St environment
- To make greater use of Fremantle Harbour as a significant ‘entry statement’
Queen Victoria St
The Fremantle Society supports improving the streetscape amenity of Queen Victoria St especially South of James St. Road narrowing, footpath widening, tree planting, cycle paths, reduced traffic will all help. Creating a successful precinct is much more likely if greater use is made of Beach St.
Traffic Management Study
An increase in the population of the East End of 2000 to 2500 is significant. We urge Council to conduct a thorough Traffic Management Study. The impact of increased vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic should be considered.
Submitted on behalf of the Fremantle Society