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

Warders Cottages/AGM/Kings Square Urban Space

Warders Cottages Disgrace

(Above: important inner city gardens of Warders Cottages now destroyed)

Last night at Fremantle Council’s planning meeting, councillors voted through the proposal for a hotel and bar for up to 500 people in the rear gardens of the Warders Cottages, despite officers admitting they did not know of the existence of the 2016 Conservation Management Plan which clearly states that two storey tavern proposals like the one put forward are not allowed. Only Cr McDonald voted against the proposal.

The Fremantle Society presented relevant excerpts from the conservation plan to all councillors, but no councillor made any reference to the heritage of the cottages (except Cr Lang in a passing reference) in their deliberations, focussing on the alcohol issue and how many patrons could fit in the small space in the rear (former) gardens. And, these cottages are of NATIONAL importance.

The lack of interest in heritage and the gardens and  the lack of due process was astonishing, and a disgrace.

A boutique hotel may well be a good fit for the site, but again councillors were falling over themselves to do favours for a developer, one who already has a 5 storey approval in the West End, where 5 storeys are not allowed, and who has not yet committed to buy the cottages.

The issue will go to JDAP next week.

AGM

Reminder that the AGM is today Thursday 7 December 6.30 at the Fremantle Tennis Club.

Contact: 9335 2113 or 0409 22 36 22. Bring your friends.

Submissions due Thursday 8 December on Kings Square Urban Space

To help you with your submission, conservation architect Dr Bremen has kindly provided the following notes:

Notes on Kings Square: urban play space

Where is the up-to-date conservation plan for Kings Square that sets out what is significant and what should be protected in any changes made to the place? I do not mean the conservation plan for the Town Hall, or the Heritage Impact Statement for the new Council buildings, but a comprehensive conservation assessment and protection of the Square as a whole place, its definitions, its key buildings, its boundaries (streets and surrounding buildings), its landscape features and its open spaces. We all know it has been left out of the West End listing in the Heritage Council assessment, and we know perhaps why, to remove constraints from development in the area including Kings Square.

Such a conservation plan would include consultation with all stakeholders, including primary schoolers, and would lead to policies for change that protect and enhance the cultural values that the place already has, while planning for changes that are seen to be necessary, not just fashionable and suited to a small proportion of the users of the Square. No changes should be made to the Square without first testing them against the requirements for the retention of significance; a section always included in a good conservation plan for that purpose. (See Australia ICOMOS Burra charter, conservation planning processes and JS Kerr The Conservation Plan 2013).

Notes for a draft conservation management plan were prepared for Kings Square by Rob Campbell in 2015 and further developed for the use of students of conservation architecture as part of their course in 2016 and 2017. On the basis of that draft I can offer the following:

1.  The key to the children’s responses appears to be the mature shade trees; I presume they mean the Moreton Bay figs. These are highly significant items in Kings Square, with historic, aesthetic and social value. There are at least three that look sick. I hear that Council has sought advice on their care, and they should be saved. If they cannot be saved, they should be replaced with similar species, but it will take at least 20 years for any replantings of this species to become as large and attractive climbing and shady trees. Surely all efforts should go into the health of these significant trees first, rather than any new play space or elements. Similarly it is important that if they do become more actively used for children’s play, that this is carefully considered by horticulturalists to ensure that the trees are not damaged in the process.

2. Water play is fine in a private secured back yards, but ponds and play spouts in a public area are a known health problem (see Betty’s Jetty experience), not respected by people who do not have children playing in them, and they become filled with debris by accident or on purpose. This is going to happen to the ponds in the new basement library. Any water should be used to keep the trees and lawn alive, not for public playground amusement. Open water bodies are not part of this traditional town square, even though fountains were tried in the 1970s, these were always a problem and were removed. The only water play types that might be suitable would be temporary water points, more like drinking fountains with secure taps. Perhaps a horse trough for multiple users, doubling as a memorial, and removable if it does not work. What about pop-up water plays?

3.  The Square is bounded by four streets and contains two historic structures and six historic Moreton Bay fig trees. It is already full of statues and memorials, which add something to the social value and interpretation of people and place in the Square, perhaps they could become play structures if necessary. There is no room for new play structures.
The only open space left in the Square after the new Council buildings are erected will be in the St John’s Triangle, which is also their churchyard. Any new structures will crowd it still further and may not be appropriate for their uses of their land. I presume they are being consulted on all of this. If they are not comfortable with these developments, in the end, they will move out of the Square and leave the Square and the building for the rest of us to look after, and the significance of the Square will be reduced by the loss of its earliest and longest continuous user. It should be remembered that the church can also redevelop their land if they want to, having been given a marvellous precedent by the Council.

4. Play types that require safety or security fencing are not appropriate in this now confined public space; it further segregates and limits the people who can use the space as well as being visually intrusive. This is the only civic square of its type in WA. It should not be a suburban playground. Fremantle already has transformed the Esplanade Park into a playground. Council’s new design has swallowed up the playground they had in Kings Square, and given it back as a so-called civic lawn. Consider this as a children’s playground, as it has fences on three sides already, and does not look like it will be any good for anything else.

5.  For the conservation of the cultural values of Kings Square, the landscape should be opened up, not closed in. If it must host children’s playtimes, these must be carefully scheduled into the uses of Kings Square with only temporary equipment housed elsewhere when not in use, and with close and organised parental supervision onsite, with their take-a-way coffee in their hands, and not from inside a cafe nearby, and not with fencing or other forms of policing.

Dr Ingrid van Bremen 4/12/17

Dr Linley Lutton/ Council Elections

Dr Linley Lutton

It is with great sorrow and distress that the Fremantle Society informs its members that Dr Linley Lutton, who has helped the Society so much, is gravely ill.

Dr Lutton, while leading a busy life teaching at UWA and running Urbanix Design, has given his urban planning expertise freely to the community in Fremantle and elsewhere. He sums up his philosophy in his LinkedIn profile:

Dr Lutton’s Philosophy

My professional life started as an architect, however in the mid 1990’s I studied Urban Social Geography and so started my journey down the path of urban planning. It took some time for me to find my core philosophy but once found I now see all of my work and teaching with great clarity. To me, human ecology is at the centre of good urban planning. City planning in Western Australia is moving rapidly from ‘planning for the good of the people’ to ‘planning to facilitate property development’. The community has no ability to appeal or object to planning decisions no matter how poor they are. Our Government makes short-term planning decisions based on political whim rather than sound planning principles. Much of the rest of the developed world is embracing the process of co-production where the community is fully involved in planning decisions while Western Australia moves in a more autocratic direction. People have the right to demand better of their city planners and architects. They have the right to live in an environment which provides the essential elements required for them to lead healthy, contented lives. In recent times I have begun to publically challenge the ill-conceived city planning ideologies and projects emanating from our Government planning and redevelopment agencies. On one hand, this puts me at odds with professionals, bureaucrats and politicians however on the other hand it puts me in synchrony with most of the community who are the real owners of the city. Few professionals are prepared to speak up and challenge the system and there is no joy in doing so. I feel it is irresponsible to remain silent when I see my city being ruined through poor planning. My great dream is to see our cities and towns full of soul and authentic character reflecting the spirit of people.

Dr Lutton’s Help to the Fremantle Society

Dr Lutton was an inaugural member of Fremantle Council’s Design Advisory Committee and resigned when it was obvious the committee was being subverted, and after the 5 storey Quest Apartments in Pakenham Street were approved. He subsequently wrote a report on the project to assess its effectiveness, calling the approval ‘possibly technically illegal.’

Before the Atwell Arcade development was approved he wrote on behalf of the Fremantle Society a 12 page assessment for councillors and staff, which was ignored, resulting in the destruction of the best remaining arcade in Fremantle, the destruction of adjacent gold rush roofscapes with the large glass office box, further damage to shopfronts, and a failure to deliver what was promised by the developer.

A perfectly good Point Street development scheme approved unanimously by the previous council, was torn up by Cr Sullivan and the mayor, resulting in years of delay and a mediocre outcome: The city has embarked on a massive, arguably unrealistic redevelopment program, and I witnessed the preparedness on many occasions by certain elected members to override the advice of independent design experts to ensure this program could at least appear to be proceeding. Point Street is a perfect example (Dr Lutton to Roel Loopers 2014).

When Dr Lutton resigned from the DAC his comments were dismissed by the mayor and no effort was made to sit down with Dr Lutton and learn from his concerns.

Dr Lutton wrote a report for the Fremantle Society on the value of King’s Square. It was likewise ignored.

Dr Lutton’s Thinking Allowed Herald 19/9/2014

FREMANTLE city council is misusing its planning scheme to facilitiate poor development outcomes in Fremantle’s heritage-rich West End precinct.

The development industry argument that heritage hinders commercial progress is alive and well and people who try to voice their concerns are labelled “negative”.

Two over-height and poorly designed developments have now been approved in the West End because developers claimed extra height is needed in this height–restricted area in order to achieve commercially viable developments.

For years, in Perth’s CBD, cynical developers have shoe-horned characterless buildings behind heritage facades and this approach is now being applied in Fremantle where approving authorities are jumping to support their initiatives.

It was deplorable to hear that in Fremantle recently the council, at a specially convened meeting, listened to a conga line of commercially-focussed people speaking in support of the redevelopment of Atwell Arcade while one lone figure tried in vain to remind the council of its responsibility to heritage conservation.

What is glaringly obvious here is the powerful influence—both negative and positive—that sense-of-place has on urban dwellers is not understood. The unique sense-of-place associated with heritage environments is highly valued in most Australian capital cities because it offers respite from otherwise utilitarian intensity.
Sense-of-place triggers strong memories, attachments and behaviours at community and personal levels.

Our very identities are shaped by sense-of-place. Fremantle’s West End precinct, regarded as Perth’s most valuable tourism asset, exhibits a sense of place found nowhere else in the Perth metropolitan area. This is largely due to its scale, streetscape and evocative architecture. Alarmingly, a pattern may be emerging which threatens the overall integrity of this very special place.

Inappropriate developments are now being approved in the West End by misusing a clause in the town planning scheme intended to protect Fremantle’s heritage character. The clause gives the council the capacity to vary any site or development provision, without limitation, in order to preserve heritage values.

However, it does not give the council carte blanche to disregard other broader aims dealing with a variety of issues including preservation of Fremantle’s character. Paradoxically, this powerful clause aimed at heritage preservation is being cherry-picked from a planning framework to facilitate developments which compromise heritage values.

There are two critical points here. First, the capability of a property to return a development profit is never a criterion used to assess development applications. Only in major urban redevelopment areas is it considered relevant.

Developers always push the envelope and in localities anxious to see development occur they will try to convince gullible decision-makers to accommodate greater demands. Regardless of how compelling a developer’s commercial argument may be it has no place in any development assessment process. It was highly inappropriate for Fremantle’s design advisory committee (DAC) to cite commercial capability as a reason to support the Atwell Arcade development. This is an issue well outside this DAC’s formal terms of reference. Additionally, there is nothing in Fremantle’s planning scheme which allows variations to site or development provisions to satisfy commercial capability.

Second, Fremantle councillors, and the DAC cannot work outside the totality of Fremantle’s planning framework, which comprises many interrelated documents thick with phrases such as: developments are to achieve an exceptionally high standard in terms of appearance; developments are to be distinctive befitting their location; and, developments are to complement and contribute to the community’s desired identity and character for Fremantle.

Additionally, the DAC must satisfy itself that a development promotes character by responding to and reinforcing locally distinctive patterns of development and culture. A third party objective assessment of the two approved projects would most likely conclude that neither satisfies the broad intent of many sections in Fremantle’s planning framework including the overall stated aim to protect and conserve Fremantle’s unique cultural heritage. The approvals could be open to challenge because they so obviously ignore many pertinent sections of Fremantle’s planning framework.

Precedent is everything in planning and the precedent is now set for increased heights and characterless modern buildings in the West End. Preservation of the community’s desired character for Fremantle, a clearly stated aim of Fremantle’s planning scheme, has been ignored in order to satisfy development-driven commercial gain. Future developers can now expect height increases anywhere in the West End, even when the design outcomes are perfunctory and the results are clearly visible from the surrounding streets. All they need do is maintain the building’s façade, which they should be doing as a matter of course in this precinct, make a few internal heritage preservation gestures and then propose whatever they like behind and above. In the process the West End’s overall cohesive scale and unspoilt sense of place is eroded.

The Fremantle community should think long and hard about its attitude to the West End because your elected members and their advisory committee are beginning the process of erosion and the character of this special place is not replaceable.

Planning a city is serious business, and Dr Linley Lutton is seriously good at it. The Fremantle Society will continue to remind people of the work he has done, which is still relevant to where we are headed.

Council Elections

Voting for the elections finishes this week. The incumbents and the annointed few new look like getting four years on council, so energetic and co-ordinated has been their electioneering, and so helped have they been by hundreds of thousands of ratepayer dollars being expended promoting every council action under the sun.

The Fremantle Herald has seriously let down the community during this election, in order to protect the large advertising budget they receive from Fremantle Council. The Herald is well aware of the true financial figures that continue to cause alarm, they understand the poor quality decision making and waste of money, and the survey results which again show widespread dissatisfaction in the community which is not being addressed. And don’t even mention Australia Day.

There is no such thing as a ‘failed council candidate’.

Anyone who put their hand up to run at these elections deserves the gratitude of the community for ‘having a go.’

There has been enough angst and emotion in this election to prove that the status quo must change whoever wins. Things must be done better, more inclusively, and more economically responsibly. Will they?

 

Subway on Steroids

 

Sorry to Show this Again

The image above needs to be shown again, because it represents what the current election should be largely about – the damage to Fremantle from insensitive developments.

Mayor Pettitt and Cr Sullivan have both been on social media this week extolling the virtues of this proposal for the Coles Woolstore development before it has even reached the planning committee. The mayor claims this development and others like the 8 storey approval for 22 Adelaide Street opposite Johnston Court are “well away from the heritage areas” when of course they are not. This building will forever be an inappropriate blockage to the linkage between the station and the Town Hall, and a visual eyesore no tourist will ever pay money to come and see. Visitors arriving at Fremantle Railway Station, a facility beautifully restored inside and out by the government, and others driving along Beach Street, will be jarred by the incongruity of this supsersized Subway sandwich and its offspring.

In Paris, there is one large modern building at Montparnasse Station which impacts the remarkable congruity of the scale of Paris and should never have been allowed. But Paris is huge in comparison to Fremantle and the building proposed here – 50 metres from our railway station, and 200 metres from King’s Square – will forever blight the human scale of the town.

On the far left, looking positively tiny despite being given approval for a 6 storey development, is Marilyn New’s wool store. She will no doubt apply for the same height bonuses as the Coles site.

The Fremantle Society would like to hear from members their thoughts about the project pictured. The Fremantle Society is keen to see developers spend their money, but wonders why we can’t get something that will be the “heritage of the future” we keep being promised.

The Fremantle Society did receive a brief assessment from Ian Molyneux, the inaugural chair of the Heritage Council of Western Australia, who labelled it “moronic”.

When the election is out of the way, this proposal, and other bad news like the financially inept Fremantle Depot decision reported to you on September 20, will come to Council.

Secrets of our Cities

Tonight, Tuesday 10 October at 7.30pm SBS will air their program on Fremantle entitled Secrets of Our Cities. It will be a lively look at some of the colourful characters of Fremantle from Bon Scott to the Rajneeshees.

The Fremantle Society was pleased to help producers, free of any fee, in the making of the program.

The interest shown by the producers in listening to the Fremantle Society and others in town, is in marked contrast to Fremantle Council, who do not attend Fremantle Society events when invited, do not include the Fremantle Society in any heritage discussions, ignore detailed and professional submissions made, and do not invite the Fremantle Society to any events regarding heritage, such as the opening of the Town Hall or the Fremantle Boys School projects.

One of the producers, with a BBC background, commented that Australian towns are generally linear – you drive in one end and drive out the other, but that Fremantle was different – it had a town centre. It is probably the only town in WA to have a town square. It was pointed out that this rarity of having a town square was unfortunately not considered important by the local council who intend to build over their half of the square with a new $50 million administration building as part of a large King’s Square development.

Public Art

The Fremantle Society has received a response from the council to our letter of early September in which we wrote:

The Fremantle Society keen to see high quality public art and high quality restoration projects, but is concerned with the effectiveness of the Percent for Art Program.

The intention of the program was to provide money for heritage or public art. Developers have to spend 1% of the value of their project either on public art or heritage works.

This is an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the public realm with art that is loved and appreciated and which enhances the urban streetscape on a permanent basis, or heritage improvements that add to the authenticity of Fremantle.

It would appear that what the public have received so far has in most cases been very poor quality art installations, often affixed to the property of the developer.

While the Fremantle Society appreciates the detailed response received below, the main issues remain – the poor quality of the public art and the failure of council to do archaeological investigations on all heritage sites as required by their own policy.

Dear John,

Further to my holding reply to you regarding your email dated 13 September, I now have the information you have requested. I apologise for the time taken to respond.

a & b) 8 and 50 Pakenham Street. I have noted your comments. In both cases the commissioning and approval of the artwork was carried out in accordance with the City’s Percent for Art Guidelines, which provides for the Chief Executive Officer to approve the works under delegated authority based on a report by the City’s Public Art Coordinator and a recommendation from the Public Art Advisory Group. This group includes independent professional representatives from the fields of urban design and art.

c) Atwell Arcade/120 High Street. A condition of planning approval required a percent for public art contribution of $69,950. This was expended in conjunction with some of the City’s own public art budget allocation on a joint public art project in High Street Mall. This is the installation of poles with weathervanes at the top which you refer to. The artwork, titled Windcatchers, is by Tom Muller and Arianne Palassis. A plaque is scheduled to be installed to explain the artwork to the public. Its elements are intended to reference Fremantle’s port and maritime and colonial history, with the design of the weathervanes referencing maritime instruments and signs.

d) King’s Square project. The City’s percent for public art and/or heritage policy is applied to developments requiring development approval, and therefore only directly applies to the Sirona development on the former Myer/Queensgate sites and not to the King’s Square redevelopment project as a whole. Therefore the project value you have quoted is not the basis for calculating the amount to be spent on public art. The condition of planning approval on the Sirona development requiring a public art/heritage contribution must be complied with prior to occupation of the development. I understand that Sirona are considering the manner in which they will procure public art to comply with the condition but have not made any firm decision yet. The City’s Percent for Art Guidelines referred to above will apply to Sirona’s public art proposals, which in due course will need to be submitted for consideration by the Public Art Advisory Group as part of the process set out in the Guidelines.

The redevelopment of the City of Fremantle’s administration building is a public work which does not require development approval. Nevertheless, an evaluation of the schematic design of the new civic building against the City’s local planning scheme and policies has been carried out. I refer you to the minutes of the Ordinary Meetings of Council on 26 April and 28 June this year which dealt with this matter. Opportunities for public art are being considered as part of the design process for the new building and for the King’s Square public realm. On 27 September the council approved the release of the draft King’s Square Public Realm Concept Plan for public consultation. The draft Concept Plan includes a section dealing specifically with public art. Community consultation on the draft Concept Plan will be commencing shortly, and the City would welcome the Fremantle Society’s participation in this process. In the meantime, if you would like to see a copy of the draft Concept Plan it is available in the agenda attachments section of the City’s website at the following link:

e) LIV apartments development, 51 Queen Victoria Street. The estimated construction cost of the development as stated in the application for development approval, which is the basis for calculation of the percent for art contribution, is $30 million. Accordingly the planning condition requiring a public art/heritage works contribution attached to the approval of this development specifies a contribution to the value of $300,000. The artwork commissioned by the developers is a collaboration by artists Rick Vermey (a Fremantle resident) and Felix Laboratories. The artwork is to be integrated into the soffit and columns of the pedestrian link through the development from Queen Victoria Street to Quarry Street, and is a geometric sculptural form with illumination. The inspiration for the work is based on coastal weather systems and oceanic currents in the vicinity of Fremantle. I understand that the actual value of the artwork commission is significantly greater than the $300,000 amount specified in the condition of planning approval.

With regard to archaeological investigation, the site of 51 Queen Victoria Street is not included on the Heritage List or within a Heritage Area under the City’s Local Planning Scheme 4, and consequently the requirement to undertake an archaeological investigation under the City’s local planning policy LPP2.7 as a condition of planning approval did not apply to this development. Therefore there is no study which I can provide to you.

I trust this response covers all the points raised in your email.

More Mediocrity on the Way


Election Analysis

In recent months the Fremantle Society has covered many issues as it sought to engage the community and promote better quality outcomes. There have been the results of the community satisfaction surveys, the vexed design and financial aspects of King’s Square, the poor quality of many of the new developments, the continual selling off of income-producing assets at often bargain prices, and the dumb deals like buying the Dockers out, and wasting millions on a depot site that isn’t being used. Etc. Etc.

But here we are in the week when the ballot papers start coming out, and all we have seen is the press giving the mayor endless photo opportunities, with little scrutiny. The mayoral debate tonight will be but a blip in the radar unless the media report the differing points of view in detail and give Ra a chance to get her message across. It has been tough for the sole contender against the incumbent to get traction when every time she explains why she is running she gets accused of being ‘negative’. That tactic is used by the mayor and his coterie of councillors all the time.

Failure to Tap into Fremantle’s Expertise

The single biggest failure of the mayor and his acolytes has been the dismissal of those who are not part of the ‘team Brad’. In the past 8 years, as he has energetically gone about his mantra of ‘revitalisation’, the mayor has ignored the very people who have the expertise to nurture and navigate change, without damaging the very thing that brings people to Fremantle in the first place – its heritage and character. Instead he has allied himself closely with developers, and those who think loud music and alcohol are planning tools.

The spin and party politics have been so pervasive in this election that some Fremantle Society members who contemplated getting involved, simply walked away. There are still five Fremantle Society members contesting the elections, and five former members.

In City Ward, while there is no doubt Adin Lang is charismatic and genuinely useful on green issues, Lynda Wayman seriously well qualified but seen as the mayor’s candidate, and Roel Loopers well intentioned but a total ‘flip flop’ on issues, the candidate who would best scrutinise council and who has done the hard yards in preparation is Claudia Green. There is another candidate Julie Morgan, who did so much modernisation to the heritage facade of her building (Bairds Buildings between P&O and Orient in High Street), that she should not be eligible to run, except perhaps out of town.

In North and East Ward there is no real contest. Talented and experienced former Fremantle Society President Jenny Archibald is running in East Ward with the support of the mayor and should win easily. In Beaconsfield the popular Fedele Camarda is up against the Labor Party machinery, and in South Ward Marija Vujcic offers reality and hope for some level-headedness against Cr Sullivan, who has done more damage than most councillors in recent years, and the young and determined Greens candidate Liam Carter. In Hilton the quietly talented and sensible Catherine Hammond is up against the Socialist Alliance incumbent Cr Wainwright.

What You Will Get After the Election

Finally, when the election is over and you wake up to what is hiding around the corner, take a good long look at the next monstrosity (at the top of this page) to be inflicted on Fremantle thanks to Dr Pettitt and Andrew Sullivan and their scheme amendment 49 in particular.

The plans are currently before the Design Advisory Committee (photo Roel Loopers blog).

Remember – Mayoral Debate Tuesday (tonight) 6.30 at Notre Dame

Council Elections

bathers beach

Above : Bathers Beach – the Most Popular Place in Freo (Catalyse Survey)

The upcoming elections are upon us and the community is largely asleep and disengaged. Meanwhile the mayor and his team are hard at work spinning their message and attacking anybody with a contrary opinion.

Mark Taylor, who sits on the committee of the mayor’s re-election campaign, had a letter published this week in the Herald attacking the Fremantle Society for ‘bungled interference in local politics.’

Given that there is a possibility of 8 Fremantle Society members running for council, we are proud of our ‘bungling.’

These days it is very hard for ‘community’ candidates to do well in council elections due to the influence of political parties and factions. It is hard work. That is why the Fremantle Society asks again for volunteers to put their hands up to help with door knocking or to provide donations (please contact us through: 9335 2113 or 0409 223633).

Attack dogs like Mark Taylor will become more obvious in coming weeks. A group loosely known as “Fremantle Progressives”  will be footsoldiers for the mayor while he keeps a distance.

Community Survey Results

The $30,000 Catalyse Community Survey results are out.

We know that Fremantle has great festivals, a great Arts Centre, and good rubbish collection. Council’s press release states that 95% of people think Fremantle is excellent, great, or OK to live in, but in reality the percentage of people who think it is ‘excellent’ is just 44%. This is how the survey is reported on the council website. Anyone quickly reading it would think the ‘excellent’ vote was 95%!

A community survey has confirmed local residents love living in Freo. When asked to rate the City of Fremantle as a place to live, 95 per cent of respondents rated living in Freo as either excellent…

Council has expended millions of dollars promoting itself, and that promotion has been partly successful. But, as Ra Stewart said at a community meeting tonight, the ‘council are the servants of the community,’ and are not there to indulge in self promotion.

There are areas where the council needs to do much better.

Economic Development (what the City is doing to attract investors, attract and retain businesses, grow tourism and create more job opportunities):

Community satisfaction has dropped each survey since Mayor Pettitt was elected, despite millions spent on consultants, and his support for poor quality developments.

Only 24% think the council has done a good or excellent job. 53% say council has done a poor or terrible job.

How the City Centre is being developed:

33% say good or excellent. 46% say poor or terrible.

Parking:

Dissatisfaction with parking is still high. 46% rated the council as poor or terrible on this issue.

The survey overall shows strongest dissatisfaction with the over 55s, the ones who often own property and pay the rates.

Residents of Samson were particularly unhappy with council in their responses to a wide range of issues.

Stan Reilly Site

Years ago a report was done about the Stan Reilly site entitled The Future is in the Past, highlighting the huge importance and strategic location of that site. It sits alone and forgotten in the Local History Library.

In 2005, $50,000 was spent producing a development plan for the site, but it was thrown in the bin when it was realised the report was insensitive to the site’s heritage significance. Later, similar amounts were spent planning a joint development with the Dockers and Notre Dame which would have seen a community facility with gymnasium. Now all we are getting is a small car park.

The homeless people currently using the buildings there will be moved out and some $250,000 of our rates given to St Pats to take them elsewhere. The car park, given the poor business decision to sell Queensgate at a bargain price, is another example of poor business practice by the current council.

The Fremantle Society has asked council to allow sufficient time to do a thorough archaeological survey of the historic site before the tarmac tip trucks arrive.

Church of England and King’s Square

The Church of England owns half of King’s Square, along with important property nearby they have not developed. While the Catholics at the other end of town run a highly profitable business with the University of Notre Dame and the 47 properties they control, the Church of England are like mice in a hole, rarely venturing into the light, and providing little leadership in the city centre.

Given the importance of King’s Square as the only town square in Western Australia, and their ownership of half of it, the Fremantle Society wrote to them in February this year, and several times subsequently, without even receiving an acknowledgement. Since our letter was written, the tree in question has been unwrapped and attended to by experts.

Our letter is below.

to  Mr Brian Dixon CEO  Diocese of Perth and Brett Gibson Parish Council of Fremantle

Dear Brian and Brett

The Fremantle Society is concerned to hear about a proposal for a $500,000 ‘adventure playgound’ on church land in King’s Square.

The Fremantle Society appreciates that the church owns half the square and Fremantle Council the other half.

King’s Square is very valuable as the only town square in any town in Western Australia and the Fremantle Society has done extensive work to highlight the value of the square as a square now and for the future.

Please see the attached report by Dr Linley Lutton, which concludes:

“KIng’s Square was always intended to be Fremantle’s central public space and it is well within the capacity of the city council to return it to its rightful status.

The major challenge for this council will be to change its ethos from being development orientated to being community and civic minded.”

The Fremantle Society seeks to  have council follow the recommendations of the $50,000 2006 Ruth Durack Urban Design study which concluded that the best option for King’s Square was indeed as Dr Lutton suggests: to remove the current council administration building and open the square up, not further build on it with a new and expanded administration building the community cannot afford.

Additionally, one of our members is currently working on a conservation plan for King’s Square, which remarkably, has never been done despite the work done by the church on its own building.

The concern of the Fremantle Society is that a large plastic and steel installation in the little that will remain of King’s Square after council build their extended administration building, will seriously erode the quality of what is left. It would be inconceivable in any European town square to have a significant proportion of it taken up with such a large installation.

Can we also raise the issue of the health of trees on church land in King’s Square?  The trees are  important for the character of the town centre and appear to be under stress. In particular the church has allowed one Moreton Bay tree east of the church to be wrapped for some years tightly in Christmas lights and the lights in our view should be immediately removed, given the obvious damage being caused to the tree.

The Fremantle Society would like to know the church’s opinion on the attached report. We believe the church should advocate for a proper and full town square, given the central role the church has played over the years in originally owning the whole square and being central to the civic life of the town.

Would you please pass this on to the current acting rector Rev. Ron Attley and property manager Mr Alan Gray.

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society
7 September 2017