Vale Fremantle Friend

Rob Campbell’s Funeral Today 4.30pm

Coming on top of the distressing news of Dr Linley Lutton’s health, the death of Fremantle’s senior architect is a serious blow to the cultural landscape of Fremantle and its built heritage. No architect knew Fremantle better or studied it more assiduously and wisely.

His funeral will be at Fremantle Cemetery this afternoon at 4.30pm.

The photograph above shows Rob (on the right) leading a group through the former Fremantle Lunatic Asylum, the buildings he restored almost 50 years ago.

The Fremantle History Society noted a year ago that in his career : “Rob Campbell had architectural practices in South Africa, Rhodesia, England, Melbourne and WA. He worked with 0ldham, Boas, Ednie-Brown & Partners, coming to Fremantle in 1965 to help manage a development for the Fremantle City Council. Work became focussed on conservation in Fremantle, Perth, New Norcia. He retired from practice in 2012 and is now an Honorary Research Fellow still engaged with students in the conservation units of the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Visual Arts at UWA. ”

Fremantle’s Senior Architect Repeatedly Ignored by Council

Fremantle Council is doing a ‘ $270 million’ development project in and around historic King’s Square without doing a conservation plan first.

Rob Campbell did one. Like much of his work, it has been ignored by Fremantle Council.

The Fremantle Society is determined that the wisdom of experts like Rob Campbell and Linley Lutton will not be ignored, forgotten or left hidden from view, but will be made available, and disseminated.

Given the unnecessary $50 million administration building about to commence it is worth repeating Rob Campbell’s comments about it, which have been ignored:

“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.

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