Another Tsunami

The elections are over. Developers are rushing into council to lodge their plans. Some of the plans are distressingly crass and damaging to the heritage values of the town. A significant focus of the plans appears to be: more alcohol.

Members are asked to take note of the following, and to be involved in putting their opinions forward. The Fremantle Society is in the process of writing submissions.

Comments:

TO PLANNING DEPARTMENT: planning@fremantle.wa.gov.au

TO MAYOR AND COUNCILLORS: members@fremantle.wa.gov.au

TO LOCAL MEDIA: news@fremantleherald.com

TO FREMANTLE SOCIETY: john.dowson@yahoo.com

1) Warders’ Cottages 19-29 Henderson Street

11 room hotel and bar

COMMENTS CLOSE 14 NOVEMBER

The developer and architect of the Hougoumont Hotel in Bannister Street has submitted this application. While the Hougoumont gets great reviews, it is a very modern experience more akin to staying in a shipping container than a heritage building. It has been granted approval for 5 storeys for its next stage, possibly a technically illegal approval given the rules for the West End.

If members examine the plans submitted for these terrace cottages, which are of national significance and the ONLY properties in the whole of Western Australia outside the prison to be on the Federal Heritage list, they may find the plans swamping the original cottages and their backyards with the added infrastructure. A huge focus is alcohol – it’s an 11 room boutique hotel catering for up to 475 drinkers. No wonder there have been 15 submissions already from concerned residents who have just bought next door in the other 6 Henderson Street cottages, and others.

2) MHI Review

You are asked to comment on a review of the Municipal Heritage Inventory. See document online.

COMMENTS CLOSE 17 NOVEMBER

3) Mannings Buildings

The Fremantle Society broke the story that Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf was going to buy all 26 shops in the Manning Estate that wraps around from William Street, through the mall and into Market Street. He has now submitted plans to ‘revitalise’ them by turning them into: a brewery. He also wants to ‘modernise’ and open up the interiors and thus remove a reason people like coming to Fremantle – it has small individual shops with character.

10 metres away across the Mall lies the Atwell Arcade project done by Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf. The mayor granted him a special council meeting for this development on the basis that a) a new national chain would be brought to Fremantle (it wasn’t) b) 300 new workers would be brought to Fremantle (they weren’t) and c) the building and shopfronts would be restored (they haven’t been).

There will be a public information session on November 16 at 5.30pm at Council.

COMMENTS CLOSE 28 NOVEMBER

4) King’s Square Public Space Draft Concept Design

The Fremantle Society position is that King’s Square is important as the only town square in Western Australia and that it should be a dignified open civic space, not a cluttered entertainment zone.

COMMENTS CLOSE 8 DECEMBER

5) Woolstores Shopping Centre and Car Park

Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf has submitted plans so awful that even a council employee told the Fremantle Society “For the first time I will be making a submission.”

The proposed high rise soars 50% higher than the 10 storeyed Johnston Court, whose height in the middle of town we were promised would never be repeated. To achieve this height the design MUST show ‘exceptional quality’. Council will say that the determining authority is JDAP (Joint Development Assessment Panels) but the reality is that what council writes and thinks is crucial to getting a good outcome. When the initial plans for a new Queensgate also had to pass the test of demonstrating ‘exceptional quality’, the mayor argued that the view from the top would be so good that he would be voting that that was enough to demonstrate the requirement. Hopefully, council will debate this one a bit harder that that.

COMMENTS CLOSE 22 NOVEMBER

6) Court House and Warders Cottages 31-45 Henderson Street (see photo above)

Gerard O’Brien of Silverleaf has submitted plans for a 6 storey hotel and bars in one of the most significant heritage precincts in Western Australia. which covers the 7,700 sq m court house and police station complex and the adjacent warders’ cottages (the latter bought for the bargain price of $1.7 million).

The Fremantle Society will study the plans, which seem at first glance to be remarkably insensitive to what is a dignified and important set of colonial buildings, some (the terrace houses) being of national significance.

These buildings are in the buffer zone of the World Heritage Listed Fremantle Prison for good reason, and any development in the buffer zone must not impact negatively on the setting of the prison.

Public information session 30 November 5.30pm at Fremantle Council.

COMMENTS CLOSE 11 DECEMBER

Notre Dame Breaches its Own MOU

Notre Dame announced today it has purchased the massive Customs Buildings fronting Henry, Phillimore, and Pakenham Streets.

This is in direct breach of the 2012 MOU it has with Fremantle Council, where the MOU states that the university, having created a monoculture with its hugely successful business controlling 46 buildings in the West End, would in future build outside the West End:

“The City encourages UNDA to expand its academic activities to locations throughout the CBD and expresses the wish that any expansion should not be immediately adjacent to the area bounded by Little High Street, Phillimore Street, Henry Street, Marine Terrace.”

John Dowson
President
The Fremantle Society

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.

UNBALANCED THINKING ALLOWED

As a still wet behind the ears President of the Fremantle Society I thank Bryden Dalitz for his Thinking Allowed (Fremantle Herald 4-12-10) because it gives me a perfect opportunity to respond.  I make no apologies for the effectiveness of Fremantle’s peak heritage lobby group, the Fremantle Society, we are good at what we do; perhaps Bryden could look closer to home and lay some blame for “economic growth being severely lacking” at the feet of the business lobby group for whom he works and question why the Chamber of Commerce has not achieved similar success.  Bryden sends mixed messages berating the heritage lobby for their recent work but complimenting us by telling readers; “..citizens of Fremantle should be grateful to groups who went against the zeitgeist of decades past and prevented many wonderful and iconic buildings that characterise Fremantle from being destroyed.”  A case of wisdom in hindsight …..

Bryden sings the praises of ING’s Victoria Quay proposal, whilst criticising opposition to it.  I argue a large box shopping centre with multi-storey carpark is not the highest and best use for Victoria Quay, it would not “bring people to the West End“; they would drive past local businesses to park, shop and leave, as at Bondi Central in Sydney and Harbourtown in West Perth.  But of course ING did get planning approval, but then chose to do nothing until their approval is close to lapsing.

Similarly, Council recently granted a third 2 year approval for a heritage building in the West End which remains boarded up rather than adding to Fremantle’s vibrancy.  I must here mention Fremantle’s biggest disgrace, the Cantonment Street woolstores which Council granted development approval over 4 years ago, yet nothing has been done, effectively stifling that end of town.

Bryden, it’s not groups trying to protect our assets, our point of difference, our heritage, that holds Fremantle back, but owners of significant sites and buildings allowing them to disintegrate along with Fremantle by land-banking instead of developing, maintaining and even using these assets.

Enjoy your trip to Melbourne and when you are in hip Lygon or Acland Streets check out the buildings, you will find low rise heritage, like Fremantle’s West End.  Go to Sydney and check out Paddington, travel the world, I bet you come back to Fremantle.

Jon Strachan    9-12-2010