Fremantle is special. Do you care?

 

FREMANTLE SOCIETY ANNOUNCEMENT

by Fremantle Society president, John Dowson

THE Fremantle Society committee has worked long and hard to put together the full page announcement in this week’s Fremantle Herald.

The full page advertisement in 50,000 newspapers seeks to engage the community in discussion about the direction Fremantle is going, given the tsunami of poor quality new buildings hitting our town.

The Fremantle Society is keen to see new developments and keen to see improved retail, commercial, and residential outcomes. But, not at the cost of the very thing that attracts people here in the first place.

Standards must rise. Council must take responsibility. Damage to Fremantle so far is severe.

The full page ad quotes Fremantle Herald owner Andrew Smith, who, in a front page article in 2011, predicted that Fremantle was facing ‘a nightmare future’ because council had altered the town planning scheme to allow high rise, despite majority community opposition to those changes.

Democracy lost out, and the Fremantle Society wants the nightmare to be replaced by good planning and quality development. And, in some cases, the cap should be put back on the town planning scheme.

Thanks in particular to committee members Adele Carles, Colin Nichol, Roger Garwood, Helen Cox, Don Whittington, Chris Williams, and Robert Bodkin.

November 23- Last Day to Nominate

Nominations close today for positions on the Fremantle Society executive. If you have any questions please call president John Dowson on 9335 2113

Notre Dame 5 Storey Building

Notre Dame University submitted its plans for a 5 storey building in the West End just before Christmas, similarly to Fremantle Council, which has just launched the biggest set of plans in their history (King’s Square), right at Christmas time when few have time to digest such detail, let alone write submissions.

You are looking at a ‘poorly conceived and disrespectful’ proposal pictured below

11453acd-7f28-4668-b16d-d410a3dd86b2

A top Perth architect Jean-mic Perrine wrote on Freo’s View:

“The proposal by Notre Dame University is inappropriate, poorly conceived and disrespectful of a heritage precinct. What is sadder is that it has little original architectural merit and reminds me of the lazy days of the 70’s when this sort of sketch allowed monstrosity to mushroom in our historic precincts”.

Notre Dame is seeking to build the 5 storey building on a corner with one, two, and three storied buildings on the other corners, and on a large footprint. Five stories are not allowed under the scheme.

Notre Dame have been discussing this with council for a year. It appears that council and the university have not learnt any lessons from the impact of the university’s monoculture in the West End.

The monoculture caused by this very successful university when it crowded out existing pubs and businesses should not continue. The new building should be located OUTSIDE the West End in the Westgate Mall area perhaps, so that students have to permeate through Fremantle,  and just maybe have to walk 4 minutes to one of their buildings – as happens in true university towns like Oxford and Cambridge.

Workers Club Development

ADC steps up to heritage challenge

Dan Wilkie, author

From: BUSINESS NEWS

Tuesday, 22 November, 2016

LOCAL developer Australian Development Capital is taking on one of the industry’s biggest challenges – redeveloping a historically significant property in Fremantle’s West End.

ADC, which delivered West Perth’s Sage Hotel last year and is midway through a $25 million apartment project in Cottesloe, has acquired the historic Fremantle Workers’ Social and Leisure Club and is planning a $16 million, 22-apartment development.

Built in the 1950s, the club is located on Henry Street in the heart of Fremantle’s historic West End, the entirety of which was added to the State Register of Heritage Places last week.

ADC executive director Adam Zorzi said the developer was mindful of the precinct’s heritage in developing the project’s design.

“We worked with the council and the JDAP on a solution whereby we retained the façade of the building to reflect the heritage significance of its previous use,” Mr Zorzi told Business News.

“When you’re in a heritage precinct like that, you’ve got to be sympathetic to the heritage precinct, but you can’t try and replicate it.

“Any heritage expert will tell you that you can’t replicate those old buildings, we just don’t have access to the trades to get the quality of the finishes, and they never look right.

“That’s why contrast is usually the best way to deal with heritage; but at the same time the building reads quite softly.”

01-facade-dusk-cropped

Mr Zorzi said a soft launch of the apartments had already resulted in eight of the 22 dwellings on offer being sold, with very little marketing taking place.

He said the project’s unique location had insulated it from the challenges present in Perth’s patchy apartments market.

“There are very few opportunities to get into that West End in Fremantle and that’s what appealed to us,” Mr Zorzi said.

“I love that precinct; if I could find another two or three sites down there I’d be on to them, because it’s one of the very few places in Perth where you can live a truly cosmopolitan lifestyle.

“You can walk out of your door and walk to 15 or 20-plus restaurants and bars within a few hundred metres, shops, supermarkets, the beach, train station, parks, fishing boat harbour, it’s all within walking distance.

“One of the problems that we’ve seen with our planning in Perth is a lot of the density is being built in the places where there isn’t a lot of amenity, rather than focusing on getting density where there is amenity.

“I think the market is recognising the opportunity, hence the amount of interest we’ve had on the pre-sales.”

(This present proposed building is the result of a challenge by the Fremantle Society over excessive height. The original five stories would have been disproportionate for the the West End. Public reaction to the design is another matter).   

 

Review of 8 Pakenham Street Fremantle Dr Linley Lutton

Quest Apartment Hotel Fremantle

untitled-04-jpg-jjjl

This brief report reviews the process and consequences of the City of Fremantle permitting a five-storey development at 8 Pakenham Street Fremantle. The author is an adjunct senior fellow at the University of Western Australia where he teaches and researchers urban planning. The report provides evidence of how Fremantle’s heritage rich West End precinct can so easily be compromised as the City of Fremantle focuses on facilitating development rather than protecting its greatest asset. New taller developments in Fremantle can be encouraged and there are many areas in the city other than the West End where this encouragement is appropriate.

THE West End precinct is arguably the most intact and much-visited heritage precinct in Western Australia, probably Australia. Its tourism value is well known as people from all over the world and the state come to visit an authentic port city. The addition of two floors to 8 Pakenham Street sets a dangerous precedent for others to follow which could see many five-storey buildings or higher, emerge in the West End.

It would appear that in Fremantle, developers need only to make a case that the current height limits in the precinct do not permit them to achieve an economically feasible development and the City willingly disregards most of its planning rules to appease them. The image below clearly shows the out-of-scale Pakenham Street development in comparison to the buildings on the other side of the street.

untitled-01-jpg-xxxThis redevelopment would potentially be regarded as unlawful if an objection based on an independent and objective assessment had been possible. However, in a state where third party rights of appeal do not exist, no provision for the public to pursue objections through the courts exist, therefore testing its lawfulness can never be made.

The planning regulations established for the West End precinct were devised to conserve its unique qualities for all to enjoy, not for developers to make a profit. Building height, particularly in relation to street width and adjoining buildings, is one of the most important qualities defining the visual character of heritage cities and towns and the City of Fremantle Local Planning Scheme 4 (LPS 4) recognises this through establishment of certain planning provisions.

The key relevant planning provision in LPS 4 is to limit all buildings within the West End precinct to three storeys or 11 metres. One additional floor can be added provided it cannot be seen from the adjoining streets and is consistent with the general height pattern of adjoining properties and does not exceed 14 metres. LPS 4 does have provision to allow building heights to be increased in order for a new building to be consistent with higher adjoining buildings however in this case there are no higher adjoining buildings.

The developer’s section below shows how the five storeys was constructed behind the existing street façade. The 11 metre maximum building height for the West End is shown as a red line. The section also notes on the far right a 14 metre overall height. This is the additional height permitted in the West End provided the additional height cannot be seen from adjoining streets and is consistent with the height pattern of adjoining properties and with the conservation objectives for the locality generally which are outlined later in this report.

untitled-02-zzz

So how is it possible that a five-storey building can be approved in the West End precinct.? This is where the City of Fremantle and/or the JDAP manipulate the City’s planning provisions. LPS 4 has one provision which allows the Council to vary any site or development requirement in order to facilitate the conservation of a heritage place and it is the misuse of this provision which provided the basis upon which 8 Pakenham Street was approved. In the case of 8 Pakenham Street, the only argument the developer could have mounted would have been that they were retaining the building’s existing façade.

While 8 Pakenham Street does not appear on the National Estate listing it does lie within the West End Conservation area therefore demolition of the façade would be highly unlikely in any event so to invoke a provision in LPS 4 on the basis that the developer was conserving a heritage place would appear to be an opportunistic interpretation of LPS 4. The City of Fremantle however went beyond merely varying specific site and development provisions; it also disregarded a raft of provisions written into the City’s legislative planning framework dealing with many important qualitative issues associated with good city planning.

Disregarding the City’s West End Conservation Area Policy (D.G. F14) is a notable example. The following is an extract from D.G. F14 with respect to Townscape and Amenity in the West End precinct:
The Council recognises the [West End] precinct as the major commercial asset of the city and recognises its present fabric as the city’s greatest long-term economic asset. The growing realisation of the value of this asset is being reflected in new uses, in considerable renovation activity, and in prices being paid for quality buildings.

To conserve this valuable asset, it is essential that existing buildings be protected through the promotion of evenly spread development consistent with what already exists; through preventing the pre-emption of potential by the over-development of single sites; and through ensuring that new development is sympathetic to (and subordinate to) the present townscape and traditional uses of the area.

D.G. F14 goes on to state the following with respect to height in particular:
The appropriate height is one which respects the scale and reinforces the integrity of the existing streetscape. The Council’s officers and advisers believe that in principle this is to be a maximum height of three storeys, on the street frontage. The height will be assessed by appropriately considering its relation to and effect on the existing landmarks, on recognised vistas, skyline and in particular on the heights of the adjacent buildings.

Note in the above the phrase in particular on the heights of the adjacent buildings. The relationship of buildings to each other is the fundamental building block which drives the character of historic streets. The developer provided this misleading and deceptive recession plane diagram which showed that the additional height would not be visible from the street.

untitled-01-mmmRecession plane diagrams are notoriously misleading and often used by planners to demonstrate the impact of building height at pedestrian level. The greatest weakness of recession diagrams is that they only apply to a fixed location directly in front of the building. Of course, this is just one view of a building so when a pedestrian moves along the street to view the building, which is how all pedestrians view a street, the recession plane no longer applies.

It can be seen in the images below that the additional floors are very clearly seen from the street. It would also seem that the setback used in the recession diagram has been reduced, adding to the significant impact of the development on the street.

untitled-04-jpg-sss

untitled-05jjjThe image below shows a further misleading height study used by the developer. It depicts the development in relation to a building horizon shown shaded behind their proposed development. The intent of this diagram is to show that the development is lower than the silhouette of sections of the city well eastward of their development.

What the developer has failed to understand is that it is the pedestrian-level experience which creates the sense of place so valued in Fremantle’s West End, not an abstracted view which only exists on an architect’s drawing board.

untitled-06-hhh

The abrupt change in height between the Terminus Hotel and the new development can clearly be observed in the above street elevation. This is an unsympathetic response and wholly disregards a range of statements in various Fremantle planning policies about building adjacency and height. It also paves the way for developers to use provisions in the City’s planning scheme to argue for similar height increases by virtue of the fact that they are permitted to match the height of adjoining properties.

In this case a developer can argue for a five-storey building on the Terminus Hotel site and the adjoining properties along Short Street. This is why the precedents set by permitting taller buildings in the West End are so dangerous; it starts with one building then, like a row of falling dominos, can sweep through the entire precinct.

Apart from the visual impact, there are also important environmental impacts associated with elevating buildings from three storeys to five storeys. Pakenham Street, like all other streets in the West End, is not a wide street so when buildings increase in height they can begin to overshadow the street.

In this case, the entire width of the street in front of 8 Pakenham Street and the Terminus Hotel will be in shade until noon during winter time. Allowing sun to enter the narrow streets of older precincts is a fundamental urban planning principle which this development ignores. This alone should have been sufficient grounds to reject the proposal. Wind too can become a factor particularly when a row of buildings of this height emerge.

By supporting this development, the City of Fremantle has proven itself to be an unfit custodian of Fremantle’s West End precinct. The great paradox here is that the City invokes a dangerously open ended clause in its planning scheme which enables all planning rules to be overruled in order to conserve heritage values, and in doing so it seriously compromises those same values.

The City will argue that this is a one-off occurrence and the concern that similar heights will occur in the West End is unfounded. It has however already demonstrated this not to be the case by supporting the extra height associated with the redevelopment of the Atwell building. The development at 8 Pakenham Street has compromised the heritage character of the street.

fourth storey could have been added and set well back from view however the City of Fremantle acquiesced to a demanding developer and they most likely will continue to do so. For the long-term protection of the West End, the City of Fremantle should not permit this height increase to occur again in the West End.

Fremantle’s World Famous West End Again Under Threat

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

Notes from the President

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

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

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

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

West End’s Ground Zero

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

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

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

Maximum height

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

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

“Safe”?

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

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

Heritage Listing of the ‘West End’

Fremantle’s heritage is a key economic asset that requires proper recognition that would facilitate adequate and ongoing investment in its protection.

The proposed listing of just the area west of Market Street to Little High Street by the State Heritage Office as a ‘place’ shows a failure of Fremantle Council to follow the advice of its own committee and $35,000 expert report. A committee was set up in 2009 to progress the State Heritage listing, thus protection, for the West End Conservation Area as defined in policies going back 26 years.

The West End Committee, a broad group representing business and council and community, recommended that the area to be listed be the whole of the West End Conservation Area which includes King’s Square, while omitting the already World Heritage listed Fremantle Prison, but adding the Railway Station. That agreement accepted the findings of the expert’s $35,000 report. At the time that recommendation had preliminary State Heritage Office support.

Fremantle Council have chopped that area in half and put at risk the future of what is Fremantle’s greatest economic asset — its heritage.

Listing only half of what the experts recommend is like putting half a roof on a house.

The Fremantle Society wants the proposed area to be expanded to cover the West End Conservation Area minus the Prison, along with the Railway Station (and Arthur Head), and thus have resolved to ask the State Heritage Office to review the current process.

Heritage Listing by the State Heritage Office gives recognition to places and allows more places to apply for a grant from a meagre pool of money available.

While heritage listing shows the importance of a place, it matters little if the State Heritage Office are weak and do not support the heritage values ascribed. State Heritage Office weakness was shown when they approved the overscaled ING proposal for Victoria Quay despite the area being listed by themas a heritage precinct since 1999. That development did not proceed for financial reasons. State Heritage Office weakness was also shown when they raised no objections to disastrously insensitive developments now going up at Atwell Arcade and 8 Packenhan Street in the West End Conservation Area.

The Fremantle Society will not stand by and see our future prosperity damaged by a lack of safeguards for the valuable heritage of our city centre.