B RA D

The mayor Dr Pettitt will launch his election campaign today, though much has already been going on behind the scenes.

Four councillors sit on the mayor’s re-election committee – Greens councillor Pemberton, Socialist Alliance councillor Wainright, Labor councillor Fitzhardinge, and Cr Waltham. Councillor hopeful , Greens Liam Carter McGinty, who will run against ‘former’ Greens councillor Sullivan, is also a member of the committee.

These councillors and others are guiding the re-election campaign and will try to head off issues raised by challenger Ra Stewart by instructing the Fremantle Council CEO to prepare an audit of council’s finances, though of course councillors cannot instruct administrative staff.

“Worst financial health of any local government”

There is good reason to be alarmed about Fremantle Council’s finances under the current mayor. Recently the MyCouncil website said that Fremantle has ‘the worst financial health of any local government.’

Fremantle Council, rated a 42, is 12 points lower than the second worst council – the City of Canning, a council sacked twice in recent years.

Council Fake News Media Release on King’s Square

Council has issued a press release stating that the massive cost of the King’s Square project will not lead to rate rises above CPI.

But, ratepayers are already complaining of rate rises in some cases of 8% and more.

The press release states that the project will leave ‘debt and reserves able to be reinstated within 10 years’ – an impossibility given the current council has spent so much that the reserves have dropped from $60 million to $20 million since 2009.

The press release states that the King’s Square project is ‘sympathetic to the heritage values of the area,’ when it patently is not.

Former Government Minister- ‘Don’t Destroy King’s Square’

While Labor politicians rush to share the photo op, the reality is that it was the Liberals who gave the go ahead for government workers moving to Fremantle to cement the deal. Former Finance Minister Bill Marmion, who says he was the one who pushed the relocation of government workers to Fremantle through Cabinet, told the Fremantle Society recently he does not want to see King’s Square ruined with a large new administration centre.

What else should the council be judged on?

Mayor Pettit eight years ago promised revitalisation. But, at what cost, and when? Eight years later it is still not here. There have been some new buildings, but mostly of very mediocre quality. The dismal Atwell Arcade development, held up by council as a great step forward, and which promised 300 new workers to Fremantle, has destroyed the gold rush roofscapes of the area, has obliterated the best arcade in Fremantle, has not been completed as promised, and when a fire alarm went off recently, saw just 35 people exit the building on both sides.

Even the iconic Culleys Tea Rooms there (which will be 100 years old in 2025) has not survived intact. As one person wrote on Facebook yesterday:

Was SO disappointed to see the new Culley’s recently. Why would they strip it of all the charm that made you visit in the first place? Its reputation is in its history but it looks like any other cafe now.

Yes, there are some very large boxes in the pipeline that developers are pleased to have permission to build, but the relentless and ineffective spending by council has seen Fremantle’s assets crash from $60 million to $20 million.

Members – Questions Please

Please send commentary or questions or issues so that we can represent your views.

Send to: john.dowson@yahoo.com

Please see the excellent work Garry Gillard has done to get our blog going again:

fremantlesociety.org.au [this site]

Mayoral Debates

Ra Stewart has challenged mayor Pettitt to a mayoral debate in each ward, but he has refused.

There will be a few debates, including one at Notre Dame.

The West Australian

The West Australian this week ran a full page article by Gareth Parker slamming Subiaco Council for the 16 storey Market Pavilion project not proceeding. Immediately, the Fremantle mayor’s mouthpiece blogger Roel Loopers wrote to the West stating that Fremantle can show other councils how to do their job, presumably by inflicting changes to the town planning scheme that ratepayers said they didnt want, and giving developers exactly what they want.

The West, which no longer balances its articles by giving different sides to a story, and which reads like a developer’s advertorial rag, omitted to mention that Subiaco Council has in fact given two approvals for the site, including the 16 storeys sought, and in 2016 even offered $750,000 or ratepayers’ money to help the project.

The problem for the community nowadays is to get fair and balanced reporting.

Congrats to Candidates!

The Fremantle Society announced last week that 6 of its members are running in the upcoming elections. In fact that may be 8, with one member announcing a possible tilt at mayor.

Further details later.

The Fremantle Society works long and hard to encourage good quality decision making by council and to promote the world class values of Fremantle. We are pleased to have possibly 8 members running, though of course all those candidates are independent thinkers who may or may not wish to push the strong heritage, planning, and environmental concerns of the Fremantle Society.

Some candidates have been out campaigning already for a long while. Chief of these is Fremantle Society member Claudia Green, running in City Ward, a fierce and devoted campaigner for better government and responsible finances, who led the Fremantle and Ratepayers Association for years before stepping down to run for council.

Claudia and Fremantle Society committee member Catherine Hammond both feature in today’s Herald.

The Fremantle Society wishes all candidates well and thanks them for running.

More details later, but each candidate needs door knockers and helpers, so please consider giving your time.

John Dowson
President
0409223622

john.dowson@yahoo.com

You and Your Council

Six Fremantle Society Candidates

With the withdrawal of Mike Finn from the October election race, there are now six candidates who are currently members of the Fremantle Society, and a further five who are former members. A new candidate joined the race today, who is not a member of the Fremantle Society, Adin Lang for City Ward, as predicted by the Fremantle Society.

Whether the candidates support the ideals and objectives and issues of the Fremantle Society is largely up to members. We need members to be informed, active, and engaged. The Fremantle Society continues to work to encourage people to run and continues to provide issues for discussion.

While Fremantle has a commendable percentage of eligible voters filling out their postal votes, 65% of eligible voters do not vote.

Fremantle Herald

With just weeks to go, the Fremantle Herald again this week had not one letter about the elections. Last week’s paper featured the mayor Dr Pettitt over the whole of the front page. This week we get the mayor’s photo again, along with the Labor candidate for Beaconsfield, Hannah Fitzhardinge. Over the page is the Greens candidate for South Ward, Liam Carter, and an article having a dig at the Fremantle Society (which is trying to focus on the big issues).

This bias has nothing to do with the full page ads the council runs each week in the Herald. Today’s full page ad from Fremantle Council features verge mowing, strangely just reintroduced weeks before an election with a personalised and expensive mail out to every resident, along with a reminder about the upcoming spraying by council of poison all over our parks.

What did you think?

The Fremantle Society wants to see the results of the 2017 Catalyse Fremantle Community Survey well before the election, because the 2015 results were alarming enough. In 2015 the following survey categories showed a DECLINE compared with 10 years earlier when Peter Tagliaferri was mayor and Cr Pettitt first joined council.

– council leadership (down)

– open and transparent council (down)

– how community is consulted (down)

– how community is informed (down)

– control of anti social behaviour (down)

– how heritage is preserved (down)

– streetscapes (down from 83% satisfaction to 69%)

– parks and green spaces (down)

– care for seniors (down)

– disability access (down)

– footpaths and cycleways (down)

– rubbish and recycling (down)

– planning and approvals (down)

– economic development (down from 72% satisfied to 40%)

– parking in city centre (down)

Among positive results were youth facilities and festivals.

King’s Triangle

The two images above represent the proposed $50 million administration centre. Fremantle’s senior architect Rob Campbell has written to the Fremantle Society after examining the latest plans. Kerry Hill architects are getting $1.2 million for their drawings, and major problems raised when the plans were first released still exist, Rob believes.

Rob Campbell says the only reason for an underground library, which the staff don’t want, was the initial demand for upper floor office space. But that demand has gone, and the whole building could be pushed up to avoid the unpleasant and expensive to build underground library, leaving off the top floor which council want to keep as a speculative investment (costing $5.4 million to build).

Rob Campbell told the Fremantle Society: “Whoever is pushing the design is making it more expensive and less of a civic building.”

Rob Campbell is concerned with the sharp angular nature of the building, especially when viewed from the corner of High and Newman Streets (near the crosswalk next to Myer). He said the sharp angular turn of the building at such an acute angle is “architecturally awful and not in the Fremantle tradition. It is a terrible mistake which undermines the architectural presentation.” He said it was council playing developer and not creating a civic space, because that awkward corner retail space would be difficult to rent and would compete with the adjacent Sirona development.

Rob Campbell also believes that the new building should pay greater respect to the historic Town Hall, with greater separation from it.

The full text of Rob Campbell’s analysis will be made available.

Contracts for this unnecessary council headquarters will not be signed until next year and the Fremantle Society still believes its vision for a true town square without this building is a better long term option.

John Dowson
President
john.dowson@yahoo.com

Rob Campbell on the new $52 million Administration Building

Very few Fremantle architects are providing commentary on current plans for Fremantle. The Fremantle Society is thrilled that developers want to spend money in Fremantle, but we want good planning. Thank goodness, Fremantle’s senior architect Rob Campbell, active in Fremantle for half a century, is still involved. He has provided the Fremantle Society with the following comments to inform members ahead of their meeting with the Mayor next Tuesday [25 July]  at 7pm at the Meeting Place to ask questions about the King’s Square Project.

The latest development of the proposed new administration building conforms to the old story of the Committee set up to design a horse.

Remember this? The architects describing their prize-winning design − “Materially, the building is conceived as a series of sandstone formations rising up to support a delicate glass prism. White planar elements hover above the streets and define a large verandah. The architecture is clear and coherent… the sandstone references the key historical buildings of Fremantle, the white planar massing alludes to the colour of the ocean liners that frequent the Port City…” Over the top?
Sandstone is not typical of Fremantle; the key reference here is the St. John’s Church limestone.

However, the architects had successfully used the white planar elements to pull together the difficulties presented them by the competition brief that demanded too big a footprint on the awkward triangular site. Clear and coherent? Not any more. I hear that Councillors decided that it began to look too much like the Myer building, so now we have a collection of awkward and unrelated spaces and an attempt to disguise this behind a metal curtain. A little old lady’s hat and veil trick, which may improve the wearer’s self-esteem but doesn’t fool anyone else.

This façade treatment is at its worst where it abuts and shows no courtesy to the Town Hall.
Perhaps Councillors should acquaint themselves with the public outcry that accompanied the arrival of the Queensgate building on William Street in 1989, particularly its streetscape relationship to the Town Hall. The Daily News headlined −
“Freo stands by its $10m. ugly duckling, doesn’t know if it will turn into a swan or a turkey”.
The Councillors and Officers who then thought that they were clever enough to produce a swan will now be breathing a sigh of relief and giving thanks to know that the turkey is soon to be gobbled up. The current crop of officials should prepare themselves for similar criticism of the present proposal.

The site is still being over-developed, but we now find that the top floor is surplus to Council’s requirements and will be leased out commercially. (The top floor is higher than the Federal Hotel in William Street that has always been the maximum height marker for the Square) Also, that ground floor space on William and Newman Streets will be leased out, leaving no civic function at street level, and ignoring the opportunity to locate the Library at Kings Square ground level. It begins to look as though Council is abusing its own Town Planning scheme to profit as a developer rather than to set civic standards in this sensitive area of the Town.

While there are several, the most awkward space in the whole scheme is the birdsbeak at the corner of Newman and High. At ground floor level, it is an acute triangle, with approximately seven metre sides and four metre base, behind the entrance doors to a restaurant. Imagine yourself − and the furniture − in this space. .Similarly, in the office spaces on levels one and two above. Useless floor space, and so un-Freo where corners are traditionally comfortably rounded. Worse, the metal curtain oversails the ground floor and leaves an unfriendly canyon of public space below.

It is difficult to imagine the thinking behind the two sunken pools on either side of the basement library, except perhaps that the current officials are too young to remember the pools that stood alongside the Town Hall in the 1970s − and what happened to them on most week-ends.

And where there should be some free space to allow the Town Hall to stand alone in its architectural strength, there is now none.”

(ii) Flawed Heritage Impact Statement

New Council Building gets Heritage Tick of Approval − Herald 1/7/17.

“This headline is based on a Heritage Impact Statement prepared for the City of Fremantle in April.

I am not sure what a Heritage Impact Statement (HIS) is for. It certainly is not a substitute for a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) which is the nationally and internationally recognised structure for assessing and managing the impact of new development on places of cultural significance. (ref.UNESCO; ICOMOS; AICOMOS etc.)

In my submission on the Kings Square development project in January, I pointed out this omission
and included a prototype CMP. Council staff thought so little of this idea that they did not bother to pass it on to Councillors.

This lack of a rigorously argued and structured overall conservation plan and policies for Kings Square is acknowledged in this HIS; instead, the conclusions are a series of straw-man questions or statements on the impact that the new building will have on the existing Statements of Significance listed in the Municipal Inventory for the Town Hall, St. Johns Church, and Kings Square. eg. −

The Town Hall.
Q: Aesthetic value?The building is a fine example of Victorian Free Classical style civic architecture
demonstrating the civic pride and confidence of the Fremantle Community.
A: There will be no adverse impact.
The new proposal is probably not going to change the style category as defined by Irving&Apperly.
The real question is − will it enhance or diminish the way we see ‘this fine example’ on the ground?

Q: Streetscape contribution?The building occupies a strategic position at the intersection of William
and High Streets making a major contribution to the streetscape of the West End of the City.
A: No adverse impact.
The view of the Town Hall from the West End is its most important contribution to the streetscape,
and brevity required in the documentation of the Inventory leaves it at that. But it is not the only value it has to offer. It also demonstrates the Fremantle habit of comfortably turning around corners using curved facades, towers or turrets. This fundamental principle is flatly contradicted at the new building intersection of High and Newman where a most adverse impact on the townscape occurs. That question is not raised in the Heritage Impact Statement.

Q: The Clock Tower?The Town Hall Clock Tower is a well established landmark in Fremantle,
identifying the civic centre of the city.
A: The prominence of the clock will not be diminished.
Perhaps we will still be able to check the time, but in particular, the top floor of the new building will intrude on the architectural view of the tower as a whole on the approaches to the City, and in the closer perspectives from William, Adelaide and Queen Streets, as is well-illustrated in the drawings included in the Heritage Impact Statement.

On the impact of the new building on the townscape of the Square the HIS has not much to say. The latest set of perspective sketches are showing an entirely new and different character to the Square, but this question is not asked in the HIS. However, there is a positive contribution in the statement that − Reopening of Newman Court to traffic will also enhance the urban form of the original square. The reopened street should return to its original name − Newman Street. Yes.

In general, the HIS seems to examine the impact of the new development on the existing paper-work, not the reality of its physical and visual impact on the existing cultural landscape that is Kings Square.”

R.McK.Campbell. July, 2017.

Notes for Wednesday 26: Council Meeting 6pm

(i) 2 Henry Street 5 Storey Proposal: The key issue is 2 Henry Street, a massive and insane 5 storey proposal for the old Customs Buildings in the West End.

If Council had rented those buildings to house its administration instead of renting a football club’s facilities, this project may not have been spawned.

It is depressing that so much time and effort has to go into countering appalling architecture and proposals like this one, rather than supporting those who want to spend their money following the rules. The report recommendation is for refusal, but remember that the mayor and other councillors have recently damaged the West End with 5 storey proposals being supported at 8 Pakenham Street (Quest Apartments) and in Bannister Street (Hougomont Hotel).

In fact one of those councillors, Ingrid Waltham, said at a planning meeting she had no problem with 5 storeys in the West End, contrary to her own council’s policies.

A key issue about the West End is that new works should not project up above the old. The mayor and some councillors are trying to redefine heritage and to rewrite the heritage rules to allow new works which do significantly project up above the old. Thankfully, the council report on 2 Henry Street makes it clear:

- the proposed new building, where it projects above the parapet height of the existing heritage facades, is not supportable.

Please send your views before Wednesday to: members@fremantle.wa.gov.au

(ii) There are many other important issues in the agenda. One is the tentative officer support for a look into third party appeal rights, an issue put to the council recently by the Fremantle Society.

Another is the dismal budget allocation to the urgent and pressing need for a greater tree canopy cover in Fremantle, the second worst cover of any council in WA. While council has spent millions on projects and consultants in other areas, it has only allocated $130,000 to try and meet its promise for a 20% tree canopy cover by 2020, a promise which has now been greatly watered down and which will be impossible to achieve.

Also see the discussion on sustainable cities (an important discussion on ‘doing density’ effectively), and new planning schemes for Beaconsfield and White Gum Valley.

John Dowson, President, The Fremantle Society

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.

High Rise Not Needed – Herald • Letters 17 September 2016

HISTORY will show that mayor Pettitt and councillors Hume, Nabor, McDonald, Waltham, and Jones are happy to see new developments in the heart of Fremantle as high as the detested 1970 Johnston Court block of flats.

38letters-1They are the ones who voted to allow an eight-storey, plus basement, plus rooftop clutter, development to go through council’s planning committee to the development assessment panel, despite a legal opinion by council’s own lawyers that council could not approve the eighth storey.
The mayor and councillors danced around the legal advice and decided to let the DAP decide. On this former Spotlight site (originally Coles) adjacent to Westgate Mall, 72 residences, 7 commercial tenancies and 97 cars will somehow be jammed into the 1390sqm site.

38letters-2

On this block bounded by Adelaide, Queen and Cantonment streets, on 15 December 1965, Charles Court opened council’s Westgate “Super Centre”, a transit orientated development with Bairds, Coles, and Walsh’s as key tenants. It was promoted as the ‘shopping mecca of the western and southern suburbs.’ It wasn’t long before Myer came to town and wanted something bigger and so within seven years the centre of gravity shifted to King’s Square and Westgate Mall went into decline with Myer (which opened 1 August 1972) and the adjacent Queensgate (1987) becoming the latest salvation of retail in Fremantle.
The photograph showing all the paving leading into Westgate Mall was taken in 1968 from council’s Point Street car park (the first split level car park in WA)  soon after Westgate Mall opened. In the background stands the handsome Johnston Church, weeks before it was demolished to make way for the Johnston Court flats seen in the second (1971) photograph, which also shows the new Crane House at the rear.
Soon after Johnston Court was built in 1970, the mayor and some councillors were aghast at its negative impact, and promised that something like it would never be built again. But here we are 46 years later and neither the mayor nor any councillor blinked when the developer for 52 Adelaide Street argued that Johnston Court was ‘adjacent’ and could be ‘built up to.’ Once 52 Adelaide Street goes through the DAP next Monday (9.30am in Fremantle Council Chamber) the rest of the area could well be blighted with such heights.

The mayor said that nothing ‘but a bomb’ could improve the Westgate Mall area, hardly a considered planning argument for that small part of Fremantle which sits between the important heritage areas of King’s Square and Princess May Park. It may be run down and lacking investment but at  least it has a human scale that suits Fremantle.
The solution for Fremantle’s regeneration is not high rise nor super high density housing creating the slums of the future.
Rather, we need the high quality new buidings we were promised by this council, and some ‘bomb proof’ sensitivity to whatever site the mayor and councillors next lay their eyes on.
John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society

 

The Past Should Inform the Future

But for a Few Major Planning Errors Like Johnston Court and Myer We Could Still Have a Homogenous Historic Town Centre 

This aerial view c1980 is helpful in understanding the evolution of the town centre.

a9fb1173-dd44-412d-865b-952aa00b46b8High Street runs up the middle to King’s Square where council installed large water fountains can be seen and blocked off through traffic.The massive bulk of Myer on the east side of the square dominates with the car park behind. Next to Myer is Woolworths, a few years before the council built Queensgate on that site. Woolworths and Coles moved around to different Fremantle locations over the years, generally doing damage to heritage properties in the process. A point in case is the new Coles at the top left of the photo next to the basilica. Coles replaced the beautiful convent.

On the very left with the striped roof is part of Fremantle’s greatest wool store (now Coles), which council allowed to be demolished soon after this image was taken. It could have provided office space for 100 years. To the right of it sits council’s 1965 Westgate Mall project (see today’s Herald page 5). This £2 million refurbishment with Boans and 26 other retail tenancies was hailed as a cost effective project for ratepayers, supposedly only costing them £80,000 after lot sales. The next Council project, Queensgate, by the time it is sold at a bargain basement price to Sirona, will have cost ratepayers many millions.

Dominating the picture is the 1970 Johnston Court block of flats. Unlike the current 52 Adelaide Street proposed block of flats, the same height as Johnston Court,  that council sent to the Monday 19 September DAP meeting, Johnston Court at least has a court, or areas of open space, and its face to Adelaide Street is narrow. However, it is currently the single biggest blight in the whole area. Without it and Myer, the scale of the original historic town would be largely intact. Unfortunately council now regard Johnston Court heights as being OK in that area, an area immediately adjacent to King’s Square, one of the few town squares anywhere in Australia.

Council decided in 2006 that tall buildings were supposed to be built in the east end of Fremantle, not in its heart. And, with the future relocation of container traffic to Cockburn and the opening up of North Quay land for development, much greater heights there could take the pressure off Fremantle’s sensitive town centre scale. That scale is a valuable economic asset which should not be damaged.