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Fremantle Society Emails

This is the web log of the bulk emails sent to members and other who subscribed to the email list. Most of the posts between 2016 and 2020 are not here. They were on the site at and are probably still in the relevant MailChimp archive, but they are impossible to locate and so retrieve.
Many of the older posts here are text only. The date of the earlier emails below may in some cases be a link to the MailChimp website with the original email itself.
(The Society ceased sending out printed newsletters in 2014, starting to send bulk emails instead, from 2016, continuing to the present day.)

6 January 2021

Pioneer Park - The Fremantle Society Vision

Puppet Parents and Pioneer Park

"Puppet Parent" McGurk Not Pulling Any Strings In Pioneer Park

The Member for Fremantle Simone McGurk, seen above, describes on her website a $400,000 project generating "17 jobs" by adding an "exo skeleton" to the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre building in Pioneer Park.

She describes herself as a "puppet parent" fan of the theatre.

The ugly metal "exo skeleton" is now installed, but, the jobs have long gone, and the theatre is now surrounded by a Tent City of 100 homeless people, which is around 10% of the State's homeless.

The $400,000 metal brace for the building was a necessary temporary repair because Ms McGurk's government failed to look after the State owned puppet theatre heritage building, just like it has neglected its other heritage assets in Fremantle, in particular the Fremantle Traffic Bridge, which it wants to demolish.

The "puppet parent" is pulling few strings to get government heritage assets in Fremantle properly looked after, and seems invisible in pulling strings to solve the Tent City crisis in Pioneer Park.

Congratulations go to those who have raised the issue of homelessness and done something about it.

Congratulations to those exhausted volunteers trying to help.

Now it is time for Ms McGurk to find a genuine long-term solution. The Perth Tent City advocacy run by people like Fremantle's Jesse Noakes, got $3.8 million in promises from the State Government for a partial modest solution.

But CEO of Shelter WA, Fremantle's Michelle Mackenzie, told the Fremantle Society the problem needs $1 billion a year.

There are 9,000 homeless people, of whom 1,000 are sleeping on the streets. There are 15,000 on housing wait lists. 40 homeless people died on the streets in 2020.

The Victorian Government has allocated $5.3 billion in its budget over the next 4 years for 12,000 new homes - 9,000 of which will be for social housing and 2,000 for mental health needs.

Pioneer Park as a park has been for too long neglected, and has never reached its potential. The Fremantle Society puts forward a vision for its future below. The park should be a welcome mat for Fremantle. The business community have suffered Covid, and the Water Corporation, and need the Tent City issue resolved. Among the many community members helping with solutions have been Mia Kriznic and Mark Woodcock, who have, among others, Fremantle Society connections.

Fremantle Society Vision

The Fremantle Society has a vision for Pioneer Park that:

a) enhances its status as a welcoming place for all people as the gateway into Fremantle from the train station.

b) acts as a real local park with an emphasis on green spaces and not basketball courts as shown in the Phillimore Street Masterplan.

c) sees the Spare Parts Theatre properly repaired and the unsightly "exo skeleton" removed.

d) sees the planned $2.3 million archaeological centre at Pioneer Park go ahead. $150,000 was spent on plans for this heritage project and when reminded that it is a Covid-ready project eligible for government funds, the Fremantle Council said last month they were not interested.

e) remove the incongruous animal statue and replace it with appropriate public art, including a refurbished wishing well.

Do You Have $8 Million Spare?

Tomorrow is the last day you can bid for the huge and valuable Quarry Street site that Fremantle Council is selling quietly over Christmas when people are on holidays. The whole process has been a disgrace, and yet again the handling of ratepayer assets are a reason for an enquiry into Fremantle Council.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223 622

photo: Ms McGurk's website

25 November 2020

Fremantle Society Questions to Council

CY O'Connor's home demolished by Fremantle Council- you can now buy the land in a hushed up auction

The pretty home pictured, Park Bungalow, where CY O'Connor lived, was demolished by Fremantle Council long ago, and the land will be sold next week. You cannot see the home any more, but you can go to Parliament House where this painting is, and reminisce about a lost opportunity to have a museum for CY O'Connor. Next week you can buy the land, being sold by Council in a process called "indefensible" by the former head of REIWA.

The Fremantle Society went to Council tonight along with several committee members to ask the following questions, which included one about the auction. We will get answers, after the auction.

Fremantle Council Meeting 25 November, 2020

Questions from Fremantle Society (President John Dowson)

Income producing assets of Fremantle Council: In 1997 Fremantle Council owned $97 million of income producing assets. When questioned about the total now, a council officer on 9 November 2020 informed the Fremantle Society that the figure was “about $48 million before depreciation”.

Q1: Given that your own council documents on 31 October 2020 (p263 attachments part 3) state that the figure is $22.6 million, and an earlier figure given in June 2020 was $21.6m, what is the true and accurate figure in this alarmingly rapid decline in rate payer assets?

Q2: Due to the number of ratepayer properties sold off by Council, and the need to maximise returns for ratepayers given recent sales by Council at less than market value, why has Council not postponed the sale of 7-15 Quarry Street given the eruption of concern since the proposed 2 December auction was discovered by the community?

Given the lack of publicity council has given to the sale and the refusal to even put a sign on the site, former head of REIWA Hayden Groves has labelled the sale ‘indefensible’, especially given that in a rising market, a deferral to next year would maximise the return and allow more time for people to hear of the auction. This morning, just 7 days before the auction, an advertisement was published in the West, without even giving the time of the auction. Council’s actions in this matter are not good enough and lead to conjecture as to why Council has acted so poorly. The Fremantle Society supports Cr Vujcic’s motion before you tonight.

Q3: On p8 of tonight’s agenda, in response to why Fremantle Council has not vigorously campaigned to save the heritage listed traffic bridge, the longest wooden structure of its kind in the State, the answer is that the Council does not see the point in commissioning heritage and engineering reports for a project Council does not control.

The Fremantle Society is very disappointed in this answer- the lack of allocation of a single budget dollar towards the campaign to save the bridge shows a lack of real will.

The Fremantle Society asks again that Fremantle Council does what the community cannot afford – get expert reports to back up the retention of the level 1a heritage listed bridge.

Q4: In relation to SPT2001-3 the new West End Policy Heritage Area, the Fremantle Society is not satisfied that officers have taken on board the serious concerns raised by the community to make the policy clearer, better, and more able to protect the importance of the heritage of the area. The Fremantle Society spent dozens of hours studying the new policy and making recommendations and positive suggestions, all ignored. Given that it has taken 30 years for this review and that there is no urgency, we ask that you defer the new policy until it has been peer reviewed and that officers demonstrate for example that problems with extra storeys being allowed on top of existing buildings as in clause 5 are not allowed.

Q5: Will Council explain specifically, given the concerns raised especially about vague terminology in the new policy, how the new West End policy is stronger and better than the previous one?

Dr Carmen Lawrence Talk

Tickets are going fast for this free event Wednesday 2 December 6pm at Arts Centre

Contact to book your tickets.

John Dowson

23 November 2020

Density with Dr Lutton: "We need cities and towns full of soul and authentic character."

Dr Lawrence and her version of Density

Above is Dr Lutton and his version of density. We quoted last week Professor Patrick Troy and his version.

We invite you to hear Dr Lawrence's views on this engrossing subject.

You MUST email or phone to book.

Tickets are going fast.

You MUST be a member, but can join at the door.

Limited seats due to Covid.

Email: or phone 0409 223622

Arts Centre is keeping the new DesignFreo Exhibition put on by Pippa Hurst open for you between 5 and 6pm.

Wednesday December 2 at 6pm Fremantle Pavlich Room, Fremantle Arts Centre, Society AGM with Guest Speaker Dr Carmen Lawrence
(preceded by Pippa Hurst's Design Freo Exhibition)

21 November 2020

Dr Carmen Lawrence: Doing Density Differently + Design Freo Exhibition

The Fremantle Society invites you to hear Dr Carmen Lawrence speak on how to design for the future without destroying amenity and heritage.

Wednesday 2 December 6pm Arts Centre

Dr Lawrence, whose many roles over the years included that of Chair of the Australian Heritage Commission, gave this talk some years ago, and it is even more pertinent now. It was the talk that warned: "The Council's Kings Square project will blight Fremantle for 100 years." It was the talk that could have saved King's Square if people had acted and if Council had listened.

But Council followed the path of Mayor Pettitt's adviser and mentor Peter Newman, who once falsely asserted: "The planning system is obsessed with heritage to the exclusion of all else."

Fremantle son Patrick Troy, dubbed "Australia’s greatest champion for seeking social justice through planning for better cities." (Sydney Morning Herald obituary 17/8/2018), repeatedly took Peter Newman on, in 2014 writing: "There is an ineffable sadness in reading the most recent illustration of Peter’s inability to understand the way buildings' form and structure affect the lives of those who live in cities. He has never recovered from the failure of his superficial exploration of some of the world’s cities in which he did not understand that correlation did not necessarily imply causation. He has been on a pro high density jag ever since.

"It is sad to see someone so wedded to physical determinism singing to the developers’ mantra without exploring the research into the comparative per capita energy and water consumption of different forms of accommodation. Research which gives the lie to those who claim that high density of accommodation leads to lower consumption. He carefully avoids reference to the evidence that high density – especially high rise high density – accommodation is massively more expensive in terms of its per capita embodied energy consumption compared with traditional forms of accommodation. We do not need to refer to empty notions “based on first principles of architectural design”- a simple reading of the studies of the consumption behaviour of households in different forms of housing will suffice.

"It is also sad to see someone who sets out to demonstrate his understanding of the health issues affected by households in different forms of accommodation with no apparent familiarity with the contemporary research into that issue – let alone the vast amount of historical research evidence into the effect of high density on the health of children which underlay the housing reform of post-war Australia."

Dr Carmen Lawrence has her own well articulated and sensitive views on how we can develop Fremantle with better quality density.

Before attending the talk by Dr Lawrence, which is immediately following the Fremantle Society AGM at 6pm, members are invited to a private viewing of the new exhibition Design Freo, put on by one time Fremantle Society committee member architect Michael Patroni of Space Agency.

Free event. Members only event. Numbers are strictly limited due to Covid.

Book your seats now by calling John Dowson on 0409 223622 or emailing:

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

19 November 2020

Why a New Port May Not Occur

The Fremantle Society attended the Inner Harbour Community Liaison Group meeting this week and the main topic was the new port in Cockburn Sound, the one being pushed down our throats by the Labor Party and Alannah MacTiernan.

The Fremantle Society and the Fremantle Council and most Fremantle people want the working port to continue inside the mouth of the Swan River, but we have not been given that option.

Westport Taskforce, with a seemingly predetermined outcome, recommend a new port for Cockburn by 2032, just 12 years away.

Two of the key issues are environmental and defence.

The health of Cockburn Sound has suffered for decades, especially from the destruction of seagrass by private companies like Cockburn Cement. When the Fremantle Society representatives at the meeting asked what the environmental impacts would be of a new port, the Taskforce member said they don't know. But Westport Taskforce do have a budget of $100 million and we were told that that money will ensure extensive research is done. They agree it is a huge issue and it will take some 6 years for the research. One wonders what will happen if the environmental impacts are found to be highly significant.

The other issue, not talked about anywhere, is that of defence.

Some weeks ago ex-Premier Colin Barnett told the Fremantle Society that a new port would not be allowed in Cockburn Sound because the Navy won't want Chinese container ships near their submarines. That prediction was checked with Nicole Lockwood, in charge of the Westport taskforce, who said that in fact the Navy welcomed the second channel that would be built. The Fremantle Society also checked with sources inside the Navy and they agreed. The Fremantle Society met again with Colin Barnett about this feedback, and he is adamant that his source much higher up has said a new port will not happen.

So, the Fremantle Society wrote to fellow Western Australian Linda Reynolds, the Minister for Defence. In a letter received today she says:

"As you may be aware, HMAS Stirling, located on Garden Island, is the homeport for the Royal Australian Navy's warships and submarines on the west coast of Australia. As an enduring base and the west coast foundation of Australia's Two Ocean Naval Basing Policy, Stirling underpins our ability to project national maritime power into the Indian Ocean Region and beyond.

"On 1 July 2020 I announced that the Australian Government will make a $2.5 billion investment over the coming decade to support the redevelopment of Defence facilities in Western Australia through the 2020 Force Structure Plan. This investment will include significant redevelopment and expansion of Stirling in direct support of the Collins Class and Attack Class submarine programs, Hunter Class frigates, and Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels. There will also be investment in facilities in the Henderson Marine Precinct to support the introduction of these new maritime capabilities.

"Defence has not formed any specific view about the Western Australian Government's intention in relation to the Westport Taskforce and the Port of Fremantle. However, I understand the Navy is supportive of consideration being given to establishing a permanent second navigation channel through Cockburn Sound, which would be beneficial to all stakeholders."

So, that does not rule out what Colin Barnett has said.

Defence is a major issue, and ironically it was at Stirling Naval base some years ago that a very senior politician, one of the very few getting full security briefings, said privately that "Australia is at war, and Australians don't know it."

This meeting of the Inner Harbour Committee was the last for CEO Chris Leatt Hayter, who is sadly leaving after 12 years as CEO. He and the staff, unlike Fremantle Council, have taken an interest in the recent report done by the Fremantle Society "The Wooden Streets of Fremantle" and have promised to see if they can do a display of wooden blocks on the port.

The genuine community consultation of Fremantle Ports is in wild contrast to the sham consultation carried out by Fremantle Council, who think so little of their community they have actually cancelled the biannual Community Satisfaction Catalyse Survey.

At the end of the community meeting the Labor councillor for Beaconsfield Hannah Fitzhardinge, running for mayor in 2021, attacked Fremantle Ports for not opening up a Leighton car park to help " children and Nippers", and said Council didn't have enough money to macadamise it as required by the Port. One of the community members present interjected loudly: "That's because you waste all our money on your stupid projects."

Date for Your Diary

Wednesday 2 December
Fremantle Society AGM at Fremantle Arts Centre
5-6pm Exhibition Design Freo
6pm AGM Pavlich Room
6.30pm Dr Carmen Lawrence "Doing Density Differently"
Book your seat (only 50 allowed): 0409 223622

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

17 November 2020

Postpone the Sale - and Put up a Damn Sign!

The scandalous handling of the sale of an $8 - $10 million ratepayer asset by Fremantle Council was brought to the public's attention last week by the Fremantle Society and caused a furore on social media, and again in the Herald, which has been dutifully covering the scandal since 2013 when: "In December 2013 the council offered to sell the site to a developer friend of mayor Brad Pettitt, pushing through a quick deal so he could apply for tax credits of affordable housing- so quick its publicly released business plan contained misleading information." (Herald October 24, 2020).

But, despite the furore, Council has still not even erected a sign on the property to be sold, and nor has it postponed the sale in order to employ a local or major real estate agent to make sure there is enough publicity to get a decent sale price. That is simply not good enough.

The Fremantle Society contacted many people, among them Hayden Groves, the former State President of REIWA, who replied:

I was astonished to see this property come up for sale using a ‘sale by owner’ platform several  ......Not only is the decision not to use a professional at arms’ length agent a poor governance decision from a local authority, it risks determination of fair market value for an important asset.

Hayden reiterated his concerns today, calling Council's actions "indefensible."

Site was home to CY O'Connor

In the meantime, thanks to Garry Gillard and his amazing treasure trove of Fremantle material,, which covers Fremantle Society records and articles in detail, a fascinating history of the Quarry Street site is emerging.

The site once housed Park Bungalow, the home of Colonial Surgeon Barnett. It was a large 16 room house with verandahs and stables. The very year he moved out, sold his furniture, and leased the property to CY O'Connor, he held a lavish party as described below in January 1891:
"On Wednesday the 14th, Mr. and Mrs. Barnett gave a musical " At Home " at their residence, Park Bungalow, Fremantle. About 100 guests were present, including His Excellency the Governor, the Premier and Mrs. Forrest, the Commissioner of Crown Lands and Mr. Marmion, Mr. Justice Stone and Mrs. Stone, the Commandant and Mrs. Phillips, the Archdeacon of Perth and Mrs. Watkins, the Resident Magistrate and Mrs. Fairbairn, and a large number of the ieadisg residents of Perth and Fremantle. An extremely good musical programme had been arranged........ The spacious verandahs were complètely enclosed with canvass and flags and decorated with bamboos, shrubs and flowers, the whole being lighted up with numerous Japanese lanterns."

Garry Gillard quotes Tony Evans:

"For the first year in Fremantle, the (O'Connor) family leased 'Park Bungalow', 7 Quarry Street, then owned by the Colonial Surgeon, Dr H.C. Barnett. When Dr Barnett returned to occupy his house in January 1893, the O'Connors rented, for a few months only, 'Yeldam [Yeldham] House', Lot 300 in Cantonment Street. Afterwards they leased 'Plympton House', a short distance away in Beach Street, overlooking the Swan River (now the harbour). The family would move back into 'Park Bungalow' in 1896 for four years, then return to 'Plympton House' in 1900. ... 'Park Bungalow', dating from the early 1870s, was built of local limestone on raised ground overlooking Fremantle Park and within sight of the present-day Fremantle Arts Centre (then the asylum). It had high ceilings, a library, dining room, music room and drawing room, bedrooms and a wine cellar. A housekeeper's quarters were located on a lower level. What would have been an important consideration for O'Connor was the provision of stabling for horses, a feature also of 'Plympton House'. Both 'Park Bungalow' and 'Plympton House' would have been substantial residences for those times, fitting homes for someone in O'Connor's position.

"Sadly, 'Park Bungalow', which could have become a Fremantle museum to C.Y. O'Connor, was demolished in the early 1960s. A good impression of the style and atmosphere of the interior of 'Park Bungalow' can be gained from a visit to 'Samson House' in Ellen Street, diagonally opposite across the park. Owned by National Trust and open to the public on Sunday, it was built around the same period. The O'Connors were frequent guests of the then owners, Michael and Mary Samson." (Evans, A.G. 2001, C. Y. O'Connor: His Life and Times, UWAP.)

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

11 November 2020

7-15 Quarry Street Major Land Sale by Fremantle Council

Major Land Sale: Who Benefits from this Incompetence?

The Fremantle Society for years has warned of bad deals done by Fremantle Council and poor financial management - immature and reckless financial wastage of precious ratepayer assets leading to poor quality outcomes.

Just last week, former Treasurer Mike Nahan, at Parliament House, said the biggest of them all, the King's Square deal, was a "dud."

Years of warnings should have led to more care and due diligence by Mayor and Council. But now we find that one of the biggest ratepayer assets, the 4,133 square metre site at 7 to15 Quarry Street, is inexplicably being sold quietly with very few people knowing of the sale.

The Fremantle Herald reported on October 24th: "In December 2013 the council offered to sell the site to a developer friend of mayor Brad Pettitt, pushing through a quick deal so he could apply for tax credits of affordable housing- so quick its publicly released business plan contained misleading information." 

Two councillors and the mayor declared a friendship interest with the developer Bruce Moriaty. The mayor left the room, but Crs Pemberton and Coggin stayed and voted for the proposal while declaring an impartiality interest.

At that stage the site was 1477 sqm and the deal with the developer, though passed 8-0 by Council, didn't end up going through. The new larger site of 4,133 sim came about by demolishing a useful functioning child care centre and amalgamating three blocks. 

The site is listed on a Victorian forsalebyowner page and due for auction on December 2nd. Contact details take you to the voice mail of a Fremantle Council officer who is away on holidays. Phone calls to substitute staff go to voicemail.  When asked why there are no signs on the property advertising the sale, a local was told by Council that "there is a lot of anti social behaviour in the area and the signs would get damaged."

Two councillors were contacted and neither knew anything about the sale. Two real estate agents were contacted and neither- one with 40 years experience in Fremantle and the other a large national brand, know nothing of the sale.

This is an extraordinary situation 3 weeks from an auction.

The photos above show what a glorious site this is, directly and remarkably abutting the large expanses of Fremantle Park. It is a rare cleared site near the centre of Fremantle. It should be worth around $10 million, but not if Council is keeping the sale quiet for unknown reasons.

At the very least this auction must be postponed, and a local or major agent appointed to maximise the interest and return on this valuable ratepayer asset for the ratepayers. 

Its also time for a government enquiry into the continual dumb deals of Council.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622
11 November, 2020

5 November 2020

Fremantle: 10 Year Turnaround or Turndown?

The Tale of Two Cities is an ancient tale which begins:
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way..."

The Tale of Three Cities is a modern tale, with Fremantle, Merredin, and Esperance shown in the three images above.

The key point to be made here is that in terms of wealth, both Merredin ($455million) and Esperance ($498 million) have more assets than Fremantle ($454 million) - how on earth is that possible? Is that the sort of 'turnaround' that Mayor Pettitt promised more than 10 years ago? A city that has not grown its boundaries because all its neighbours refuse to amalgamate? A city whose population growth in the last recorded year was negative? A city whose income producing assets have crashed from $89 million 20 years ago to just north of $24 million today?

The 'turnaround' will be highlighted in a new comedy film to be screened Thursday 5 November, entitled "Freo's 10 Year Turnaround."

After the comic laughs,  Dr Pettitt and his mentor Peter Newman will be on hand to receive plaudits for how Fremantle is today. The developers, who have made so much money from the endless dumb deals struck by Dr Pettitt, will probably be at Wildflower or Bar Lafayette in Perth instead.

There is not room here to list all the 'dumb' deals which have left the ratepayers to pick up the pieces over the next few decades. The sale of $40 million worth of ratepayer assets for $29 million is a key one, especially when the properties could have been leased for a long period instead of sold, and remembering Sirona sold the Spicer site for a quick $1 million profit without developing it as intended. There is the $2 million loss paying out the Dockers when they were going anyway, the $7.8 million new depot site, etc etc.

The film will no doubt point to the large investments made in Fremantle by developers, and that would be good news if the end result was an improvement in the product (ie Fremantle and its heritage) and the perception of the quality of its brand.

But the product, the wonderful heritage place we have, has not been focussed on, and basics that affect the presentation of the product, like cleanliness and anti social behaviour, have not been addressed.

The drug crazed idiot screaming at parishioners in the Basilica during a recent Sunday service, and grabbing the altar cross while abusing parishioners with "F--- you! F--- you!" shows just how far we have to go.

Ideology and a hatred for Fremantle's history has seen heritage budgets slashed, and a King's Square which will be unrecognisable with its best trees gone, the building of an admin building which shouldn't be there, the removal of the statue of Australia's most decorated soldier, no archaeological interpretation, the removal of the Sportsmen's Walk of Fame, and the renaming of the historic square. 

The product and thus its brand, have been seriously damaged, and no number of government workers in a new shiny box adjoining King's Square will fix that problem. Those government workers are not there due to any clever deal negotiated by Council - in fact Mayor and Council failed in the number one imperative of the King's Square Business Plan- to keep Myer in Fremantle.

No, the government workers are here because two Liberal politicians - Barnett and Marmion - pushed the idea through Cabinet.

So desperate is Council to get King's Square working, they are considering offering 10 years free rent to a Fremantle business, contrary to their own policy, to house a tavern in their admin building. Yes, 10 year's free rent. A super dumb deal.

In 10 years, Fremantle Council has not tapped into the free wisdom available from local experts to improve the product that is Fremantle, or to enhance its brand.  It has never accepted any recommendation from the Fremantle Society and its experts. It has gone out of its way to ignore local expertise, but has paid millions $ to consultants and ideological mates.

The turndown of the past 10 years, obvious to anyone walking the grubby streets, will only be reversed by those willing to protect and enhance the product (Fremantle and its heritage) and promote that brand.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
4 November, 2020

with thanks to Colin Nichol

3 November 2020

Two Key Issues: The Bridge and King's Square

Questions Asked at Council

The Fremantle Society wants to see a good community-led win with the river crossings issue.

The Fremantle Society wants to salvage what can be saved from the train wreck that is King's Square.

Last Wednesday at the monthly Council meeting the Fremantle Society tabled the following questions:

1) River Crossing: In September, in relation to C2009-5 River Crossings, Rebecca Clarkson asked: "How will Council show leadership on this issue, and how can you support the community and work in parallel with us?" Andrew Luobikis asked a similar question. The Fremantle Society is concerned that the answers provided by Council do not reflect serious intent from Council to fight the issues involved in a meaningful way or counter the arguments of Main Roads, especially given that no budget has been allocated. The Fremantle Society asks: "Will Fremantle Council commission their own engineering report into ways of keeping the existing heritage-listed bridge, along with a heritage report highlighting why it should be kept, especially given it is listed as being a structure of "Exceptional" significance?

2) King's Square: It appears that Council is not only destroying the only town square in Western Australia with its new Administration Building the community doesn't want and cannot afford, but also destroying its history and character. The Fremantle Society asks:

a) Why is Council going against their own policy in seeking tenders for the hospitality area of the new Admin building which prohibits existing Fremantle businesses like Clancy's from applying ?

b) Why is Council even considering a non-conforming proposal which undermines other businesses in the area through its proposed overly generous lease terms?

c) Why is Council spending an extraordinary amount of $666,000 for a children's playground, while ignoring the heritage of King's Square?

(i) Why isn't the promised archaeological revealing of the former church proceeding?

(ii) Why is Council dividing the community by seeking to change the name of King's Square, which along with Queen's Square, is part of the Regency planning for the town and which for almost 200 years has provided way finding for people?

(iii) Why is Council seeking to remove the statue of Australia's most highly decorated soldier from King's Square?

The "Public consultation" by Council regarding renaming King's Square is another example of fraudulent anti-democratic practice by Fremantle Council. They did it with the skate park in the Esplanade when there was no opportunity to comment on the LOCATION of the skate park (many supported the skate park in the car park as the Masterplan demanded, but didn't want it on the grassed area of the Esplanade Park). Now, Council have already DECIDED to change the name of King's Square (see the Mayor's blog and its factual errors) and the recent "Public consultation" did NOT allow you to support the existing name, but only to suggest new ones.

Deputy Mayor Sullivan has already referred to King's Square as "formerly known as King's Square."

With the Australia Day issue, Council did not ASK the community, they just went ahead and changed it.

This repeated fraudulent behaviour should not be tolerated.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
3 November, 2020

31 October 2020

The Post and Heritage

The two letters above are from the remarkable Post newspaper, a friend of the people, and a newspaper that reports local issues in detail.

The letter on the left was published last week following the Heritage Council's inexplicable failure to protect the Art Deco Windsor Theatre on Stirling Highway, Nedlands.

The letter on the right was published today.

It should be of concern to all, that not only does the Heritage Council fail to do its job, and fails to adequately fund heritage, but that the Property Council have four members on the Heritage Council, one of them being Mayor Pettitt.The mayor's damage to Fremantle's key economic attractor - its heritage, has been well documented for years, and his membership of the Property Council is revealing.

King's Square

The Fremantle Society has worked for years to get a great town square and a thriving town centre, but the train wreck that is now King's Square continues week after week.

a) The design and financials are wrong, leading former Premier Carmen Lawrence to state that what is being built "will blight Fremantle for the next 100 years."

Former Premier Colin Barnett told the Fremantle Society that King's Square should not have been destroyed with the current admin building, and given the parlous finances of Fremantle "If I were still Premier, I would sack the whole Council."

b) Council this week agreed to allow the CEO to negotiate a contract with Clancy's for a 520 sqm tavern in the new admin building, contrary to the requirement that the proponent be from outside Fremantle, with astonishingly, up to 10 years free rent.

c) There is little money in the budget for heritage, but $660,000 will be spent on a new playground in King's Square.

d) the promised archaeological heritage interpretation of the original church in King's Square will not go ahead.

e) in a woke anti white male move, the statue of Australia's most highly decorated soldier Hughie Edwards, born in Fremantle, will be removed from King's Square.

f) in another anti-history move, the Sportsmen's Walk of Fame in King's Square will disappear.

g) having destroyed so much of King's Square, with one councillor now calling it "King's Triangle" and Deputy Mayor Sullivan referring to it as "formerly known as King's Square", Council is seeking to change the name in a highly divisive move.

King's Square is part of the Regency planning for Fremantle, which along with Queen's Square nearby, has provided way-finding and design for the town since 1833. There are ample opportunities for Aboriginal naming, but they should not be at the expense of important historical associations for white history.

h) in another move showing the desperation of Council to get something happening in King's Square, Council is planning to put $400,000 into a visitor centre inside the Sirona FOMO building (formerly Myer), the one just sold for $250 million by Sirona.

Public consultation closes Sunday I November (today) for comments on the proposal under "Have My Say."

Round House Conservation Plan

Public comment closes next week on 8th November.

The Fremantle Society is studying the document, which is available on Council's website under "Have My Say."

The Conservation Plan is supposed to guide the maintenance and restoration of the oldest public building in Western Australia, but it will be useless if its recommendations are not funded by Council.

Time and time again expensive conservation plans are done for our iconic places, but the current council will not provide adequate funds to implement them.

The Fremantle Prison needs $28 million, but gets almost nothing from Fremantle Council.

Fremantle Markets need $5.6 million, but only $200,000 has been allocated.

The conservation plan for the Round House has many sensible suggestions, but disabled access and 'smooth" paths around the Round House are not two of them. Some buildings like the Round House would be irreversibly damaged by disabled access, no matter how important the idea of disabled access is.

Former Fremantle Council heritage officer Agnieshka Kiera has commented:

Disabled access would ruin the Round House. When X was pushing for this we explored some options but it wasn't just the matter of additional opening. The whole infrastructure associated with such access (mainly ramp, rails, dimensions of openings) is likely to overwhelm this small building, ruin its significance and completely distort its context.

The same thing with the capstone - we went through this before. The path created behind the RH and around the Pilots cottages - it is part of the heritage trail - in addition to the capstone, it includes historic elements of the former structures and interpretation signs. And the capstone itself is an inherent aspect of the Roundhouse and the promontory's significance. They cannot destroy the evidence supporting the significance of the site. They will be destroying it for the disabled people as well

Public comment closes 8 November.


Notice is given that the AGM of the Fremantle Society will be held at the end of November and details will be given next week.

We encourage members to nominate for committee and help us with our work.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
31 October, 2020
0409 223622

26 October 2020

Get out your pencil and design a new bridge

Design Your New Bridge

The top image was sought by the Fremantle Society from local architect Matt Wallwork, and shows a retained heritage listed wooden bridge converted to pedestrian and cyclist use featuring market stalls, and on the right a combined new road and rail bridge with the rail running underneath. This design is not the offical position of the Fremantle Society. It is just an idea by a clever local architect, and we all need to be involved in this process of getting the best bridge possible. Some of the world's best bridges like the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge were built in the depths of the Depression of the 1930s when people came together and worked together to get the funds and the impetus to build iconic structures.

The second image is one of the most highly rated bridges in the world, by Juscelino Kubitschek. Its cost when built 17 years ago was $75 million, much less than the $230 million allocated for the new Fremantle bridge. AND the Kubitschek bridge is 6 TIMES as long as the proposed new Fremantle one.

The design of the Kubitschek bridge is relevant to Fremantle for those interested in representing Aboriginal history, as the design can be seen to reflect the mythical Waugal, said to have created the Swan River.

Why can't we have a world class new bridge? A fitting entry statement to Fremantle is possible if the government stops rushing this project, and if the community step up.

Members may be interested to know about the all day stakeholder meeting held last Friday by Main Roads concerning the proposed new Fremantle traffic and rail bridge.

Initially scheduled for the Tradewinds Hotel, until the Fremantle Society pointed out that the hotel was a quarantine centre for Covid, it was transferred to the Esplanade Hotel, though that didn't stop one community member coughing over her neighbours all day in a crowded non socially distancing room.

There were only a few, unpaid, community members. The room was full mainly of $500 a day mayors like Dr Pettitt and engineers, and staffers from politicians. It was very well run by Nicole Lockwood from the Port Taskforce.

There was confusion in the room even at the end of the day about what the $230 million would cover and what it couldn't, and whether a new rail bridge was needed at all given we are told the port will be moving to Cockburn as soon as 2032.

But the Fremantle Society has a major news story exclusively for you later this week about why the new port CANNOT be moved to Cockburn Sound.

Main Roads want to demolish the heritage listed traffic bridge and build a boring concrete one 4 metres from the Northbank apartments. They say the lovely current bridge costs $400,000 a year to maintain (a not unreasonable sum for a bridge that carries 24,000 vehicles a day, strangely down from the 28,000 a day in 2005). 

Main Roads want to build a new bridge upstream of the current one as they say there is not enough room on the downstream side, but by the end of the day it seemed the message from the community was loud and clear about the need to build downstream. Attendees were asked to put little post it notes on the various options on the tables - the Main Roads option, along with highly selective options from their 2006 public consultation, omitting the option to save the existing bridge, Council's option for a downstream new bridge and possible saving of existing, and Andrew Sullivan's very downstream solution wiping out berths but solving various North Fremantle traffic problems, while saving only some of the existing bridge. There was a sense that the Sullivan model, while worthy, was too much of a big picture solution that would take years and years of planning.

If enough political pressure can be put on Labor politicians, it is possible the new bridge could be built downstream instead of upstream, and even our current bridge could have a future for pedestrians and cyclists. Fremantle Council were previously told the alignment positions were fixed, but on Friday Main Roads agreed to put other options to the Minister. 

The Fremantle Society will continue to push for the retention of the fabulous heritage bridge which has served us so well, and for a high quality new bridge.

The key person is Rita Saffioti, Planning Minister.

13 October 2020

Bombshell One and Bombshell Two in King's Square

King's Square Bombshells

In the map above the land in red is what Fremantle Council put into the King's Square Business Plan deal with Sirona. Lot 1 is what Sirona put into the deal. Fremantle Council put in 80% of the land.

Sirona put in most of the money, buying lots 2, 3 , 375, and 376 at bargain prices from Fremantle Council. Sirona put $220 million into the project, $190 million borrowed from First State Super, while Fremantle Council put $50 million.

Bombshell One

Reportedly Sirona has sold 75% of their stake for $250 million, which values their part of the project in the current difficult times, even though unfinished, at $330 million, for a profit of over 50%, or $113 million, while Fremantle ratepayers will be left with a debt of around $40 million.

Added to that profit is the Spicer site in Henderson Street where Sirona was supposed to build a hotel like the one above. But Sirona couldn't be bothered, and sold the ratepayer asset for a quick $1 million profit for themselves, to Twiggy Forrest.

The King's Square project promised to give Fremantle, in the former Myer building, a shopping and retail experience the likes of which Australia has never seen. But the ground floors are unfinished and empty, with the only tenant reportedly signed up being yet another bar, a US themed varsity bar. Another alcohol outlet -just what Fremantle needs!

Bombshell Two

The other unfinished building is the new administration building which the community didn't ask for and cannot afford.

In January the Fremantle Society fought against a proposed 828 sq metre alcohol outlet in the new administration centre, an inappropriate use of a civic building, but Council by a vote of 7-5 voted to allow it. Those who voted for it:

Mayor Pettitt and Crs Graham, Fitzhardinge, Wainright, Mofflin, Sullivan, and Pemberton.

Against: Crs Archibald, Groome, Thompson, Vujcic, and Lang.

The deal was a shocker, with council giving years of free rent and $500,000 free towards the fit out.

But in March the applicant walked.

Today, Wednesday 14th, at 6pm, council will vote to support another dumb deal, giving this time TEN YEARS' FREE RENT. The applicants run the very successful Clancy's at Princess May Park, so Fremantle will not be getting fresh blood from out of town, one of the original requirements for an applicant, but more of the same.

The cost to the ratepayers for this crazy deal is over $2 million.

Instead of a town square to be proud of, as the Fremantle Society campaigned for, we now have a financial train wreck, and endless fiascos like the proposed woke removal of the statue of Australia's most highly decorated soldier, the refusal to celebrate colonial history as originally planned with an archaeological revealing of the original church footings, the death of iconic Moreton Bay trees, and the planned renaming of King's Square, which, along with Queen's Square, have been internationally known way finding beacons for 187 years.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622
14 October, 2020

10 October 2020

Funeral of Ron Davidson

Ron's funeral will be held next week on Tuesday 20 October at 2pm at Fremantle Cemetery with attendees asked to congregate at 1.45pm.

The 1994 Fremantle Herald photograph above, shows Jenny Archibald, former President of the Fremantle Society and then Mayor of Fremantle, Fremantle Society Patron Gough Whitlam, Fremantle Society President Ralph Hoare, and Fremantle Society Vice-President Ron with his cheeky grin, on the right.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
12 October, 2020

9 October 2020

New Conservation Management Plan Needs Comments

Please Comment on the Arts Centre Conservation Plan by Sunday Evening

The former lunatic asylum, now Fremantle Arts Centre, is many people's favourite Fremantle building.

Like any building it needs maintenance, an adequate budget for the building as well as the staff, sympathetic use, some restoration, and a dose of love.

Lobbying by the Fremantle Society and work by Council heritage architect Agnieshka Kiera saw the first Arts Centre conservation plan done some 20 years ago, the finials put back on the top of the building, and efforts to have the building World Heritage Listed as part of the serial listing of convict sites around Australia. The listing was unsuccessful as Council dropped the idea when Dr Pettitt became mayor.

But interestingly, the very first recommendation of the new conservation plan is to seek the World Heritage Listing again.

Public comment closes this Sunday afternoon on the new plan. The Fremantle Society hopes you will go to the Fremantle Council website, look under Have My Say, and make comment. We have some ideas for you below, but could not get them to you any earlier because we have to consult various experts, and do site visits and pull together our own final report which is still being written.

Conservation Management Plans are extremely expensive and comprehensive documents which are designed to guide the preservation, restoration, and enhancement of significant buildings and places.

Too often they end up sitting on a shelf, unread and unfunded.

When then Cr Pettitt and others gave the Fremantle Markets to the Murdoch family instead of putting them out for public tender, there was a Conservation Plan instigated by Cr Dowson outlining that the Markets needed $4.5 million of works. Twelve years later, with some $20 million lost in possible revenue for ratepayers, only $900,000 has been spent, and now $5.6 million is needed.

The Arts Centre plan needs a clear set of guidelines that get costed and funded.

It is an enormously significant place, but the plan does not yet adequately reflect that. As one expert view we received stated: 

There was an opportunity to improve on the assessment of architectural character, but it relies instead on style labels instead of description. This leaves it poor in its assessment of aesthetic value and in understanding the social value that comes from people's use and enjoyment of the spaces and the place. It means there is no real policy for retaining that significance.

There is a lack of description of the building construction and structure perhaps because it is not obvious on site, but which can be accessed through drawings and people with long experience of the place and the two key phases of its construction. I refer to the details of the stonework, and the roofs and the floors. There is good evidence in this place of building construction and design history that deserves to be described and made available as an educational resource (contributes to Scientific value).

Conservation Plans can be treasure troves of information and the new one has hundreds of pages of fascinating material, but if improved could also be a manual for looking after other properties as well.

Members do not have to be experts to comment. Community views are very important, but when sought by Council only resulted in two responses. Even reflections on personal use can be valuable in ascribing significance to the place.

The photo at the top shows a new totally inappropriate tin roof beginning to be put on the Arts Centre on the right, which the Fremantle Society tried to prevent. The original roof was sheoak shingles and if they are too expensive then facsimile ones should be used. The current brown roofing was installed by Rob Campbell in 1972 and is due for replacement. But it should not be sheets of tin which were not used when the building was built. The Conservation plan should be changed as it recommends new roofing to be "consistent with current re-roofing program."

The second photo shows poor current maintenance, with water running down the walls, and at the bottom it cannot get away from the building because the area is clogged with debris. The downpipes were copper but were stolen, and replaced with plastic. No heritage building of high significance should have plastic pipes visible on the outside, but they are appearing more and more in Fremantle. The insurance money council received for the stolen copper could have paid for their replacement.

Other ideas to focus on include protecting views to and from the place (and thus not selling the Leisure Centre Car Park as in council's own 10 year plan), ridding the west wall  of its damaging ivy, repairing boundary walls, stone conservation needed in many areas, particularly the columns of the front arcade, damp repairs, considering relocating the cafe away from the walls, and even reinstalling part of the front entrance on the west by getting rid of the free car parking bays and extending the lawn over them.

Go to it please!

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

3 October 2020

SOB SOB (Save our Bridge) and SOS SOS (Save our Square)


Above is from the latest Fremantle Herald.

Sob sob, the news is not good, but thank goodness next week Fremantle Council will hold a meeting with Main Roads and others to discuss the bridge issue.

A key person at the meeting will be retired Main Roads engineer Lloyd Margetts, who had 35 years experience with the Fremantle Traffic Bridge and knows more about wooden bridges in Western Australia than probably anyone else.

The Fremantle Society has spoken to Mr Margetts and other engineers, and there is no doubt the issues around the bridge are complex, but solvable.

It didn't help when the Liberal Party under Richard Court got rid of much of the Main Roads expertise and in house ability to fix and maintain wooden structures. The privatisation of so much Main Roads work has led to a massive blow out in maintenance costs with one engineer claiming that outside companies are at times charging "ten times" what the in house cost would have been. This is impacting the ability of Main Roads to organise for the orderly maintenance of our bridge and other timber bridges. The Fremantle Society heard yesterday that the Guildford Association is alarmed to find that Main Roads are trying to claim that the Guildford wooden heritage bridge, even older than ours, is only heritage listed up to the waterline.

The other thing that doesn't help the Fremantle Traffic Bridge is that the rail bridge was put in the wrong place. Thinking that the traffic bridge would soon be demolished, the rail bridge was built without careful regard to lining up the spans for navigation.


Save Our Square - just when you thought the dramas and tragedies and wastefulness of King's Square was coming to an end, the council is advertising in this weeks Herald to change the name of the Square.

King's Square and Queen's Square were named in 1833 as part of the Regency planning for our town. Those names should not be messed with because of political ideology seeking to wipe out our "shameful past" as some councillors see it. 

When suggestions were made months ago by councillors that King's Square should be renamed Midgegooroo Square in honour of a man who murdered four people in cold blood, Cr Pemberton said "Well Captain Fremantle was a child rapist" - a false claim that has deeply offended the Fremantle family and many others.

Please go to Have My Say on Fremantle Council's website and have your say on this sickening ideology in a world famous heritage town.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

Please call John Dowson on 0409 223622 if you want copies of any of our reports or if you wish to volunteer or donate to our work.

1 October 2020

The Port, the Quay and the Bridge

SOP, SOQ, and SOB, again

Huge issues for Fremantle don't loom on the horizon - they are here now.

As reported recently, three of the big issues are - the future of the port, the future of Victoria Quay, and the future of the historic Fremantle traffic bridge.

Hence SOP (Save our Port), SOQ (Save our Quay), and SOB (Save our Bridge).

The front page of the Herald this week tells the story of what is proposed for historic Victoria Quay - buildings of at least 25 metres height for a private film business, when privatisation is the last thing a public heritage asset like Victoria Quay needs. While one of the politicians deeply involved is Alannah MacTiernan as Minister for Ports, the other is shown above singing away in Parliament, the clown David Templeman, who as Minister for Local Government has pursued a vendetta against Liberal leaning councils, as Heritage Minister has failed to inject money into heritage or look after government heritage properties, and as Arts Minister has overseen the destruction of the Premier's Book Awards as part of his revisionist ideology.

With the community cowered with Covid, and developers cosing up to government far too closely, to help spend the billions to be spent for "revitalisation" (something Fremantle has just suffered 10 years of under the developer friendly Fremantle Council), a crisis of accountability looms.

As Dr Honey, the Member for Cottesloe, told the Fremantle Society recently: "WA Inc 2 is on the cards".

The Fremantle Society wants development in Fremantle, but for it to follow good planning policy.

The Fremantle Society received a letter today from the special advisor for the Planning Minister Hon Rita Saffioti stating why the heritage listed traffic bridge will be demolished, despite millions spent on it recently.

If there was leadership at Fremantle Council to save the bridge, we would have a chance to save it, as the community does not have the money to employ an engineer for an independent report. The bridge also needs an independent heritage report. The Planning Minister proudly announces in her letter that Element WA is being employed by Main Roads to "develop the concept design and develop the heritage interpretation strategy." That is the same group who, as TPG, were involved in controversial proposals in Fremantle, and are setting off alarm bells in other suburbs.

Please remind Fremantle Council to do something:

Fremantle Society committee member Agnieshka Kiera was so incensed at the Minister's letter she penned the following response, which is quoted verbatim:

So Main Roads is considering retaining the useless 19m long stump of the existing bridge (maintenance of which will cost money) as a token gesture towards heritage. And to provide pedestrian and cyclist facilities on the new bridge (which would add considerably to the cost of the new bridge), instead of doing the right thing by the government's own heritage act and well-defined conservation standards i.e. to restore the existing bridge for pedestrian and cyclists and build the new bridge for vehicular traffic only! The latter permitting not only to reduce the cost of the new bridge but allowing its visual presence to be less impacting in the already crowded with bridges river crossing. It's such a typical WA ignorant approach to heritage! Treated heritage like a burden and creating these ridiculous situations where the facade of a historic building is retained as a dummy screen to 'hide' the 20 stories hideous development behind - the norm of heritage treatment in Perth. For Godsake, is there anyone in WA, who reads and acts in accordance with the Government's own heritage legislation and policies, let alone the Burra Charter???? Anyone who treats heritage as an asset, including good economic sense and with the dignity and respect it deserves?

We have done it in Fremantle with the Old Port, where the heritage added another dimension and interest to the former Port's dump! And we have created a unique public reserve that would serve the community in the years to come as a valuable public space the city so desperately needed! And provided a stimulus to the economic development of the former Co-op building and added to the economic viability of the Fishing Boat Harbour and the Little Creatures! We have restored the former ruin that was the Moores building! Not only we saved its heritage we have also created a viable and tenable, income-generating property that also serves as the community asset and which has acted as the catalyst for others to follow in setting up eateries and other businesses in the West End with heritage as a driver! Not only Bread in Common but also other new businesses in Bannister, Nairn, Pakenham Streets and High Streets! We used heritage as a market advantage to add interest and attract other businesses to the area!

For godsake, it's so exasperating ..... this wall of heritage ignorance and economic irresponsibility in Perth!

Great to see some passion. Time for members to show some passion also. There is more to life than Covid and Covid.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
1 October, 2020
0409 223622

17 September 2020

SOB (Save Our Bridge), SOP (Save Our Port), SOQ (Save Our Victoria Quay)

C.Y. O'Connor - where are you when we need you?

With State Government politicians on steroids, having saved us from Covid, and wanting to urgently spend billions of dollars they don't have, they have rolled through parliament the Planning and Development Amendment Bill 2020, giving them power to push ahead very quickly with pet projects.

This will be evident in the heart and soul of our heritage town with the moving of our port, pushing high rise development of Victoria Quay, and the proposed demolition of the much loved timber traffic bridge.

The raison d'être for Fremantle, its port, is moving in just 12 short years, in a move that has no large scale visible support, led by a Minister (Alannah MacTiernan) who over a decade ago was trying to shovel high rise ING buildings all over Victoria Quay as Planning Minister. The capable CEO of the Port is suddenly leaving, and the community is left to fight on three fronts - to SOB (Save our Bridge), SOP (Save Our Port) and SOQ (Save our Victoria Quay).

The Fremantle Society wants our port to stay and continue to thrive, wants Victoria Quay to be developed as a low rise maritime related commercial precinct as detailed in the Fremantle Waterfront Masterplan, and wants the historic timber traffic bridge to stay, whether a new bridge is built or not.

Breaking News

Another news story being broken by the Fremantle Society is the intention to build 25 metre high boxes on Victoria Quay for film studios. This idea arose some weeks ago, but wandered off to Jones Street, O'Connor, where the Mayor kindly offered to give away a $7.4 million ratepayer asset for nothing for years to the film industry. But apparently the developers (_ _ _ _) want ocean views and they are back at the port looking at Victoria Quay.

The idea doesn't work for two reasons:

a) Victoria Quay is a highly important heritage area twinned with its immediate neighbour the West End, where new development should be no higher than the existing iconic goods sheds.

b) Allowing large sheds for a film industry would be a privatisation of public space, the whole business being high security with little to no public access.

C.Y. O'Connor needs to get off his high pedestal, and chase Alannah out of town.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
17 September 2020

10 September 2020

Deep Concern for River Crossing Shown by Attendees at Town Hall Meeting

Bridge Open and Should Stay Open

The photo above is opening day for our heritage bridge, a survivor from 1939. Large crowds turned up.

Tonight, a large crowd turned up at the Town Hall to discuss the Main Roads proposal to demolish the heritage bridge and replace it with a dreary, standard, unattractive one.

The meeting was not a real town hall meeting encouraging discussion and input from the audience. The speakers were not allowed to be asked questions, and microphone owner Kavi Guppta shut down questions from the audience after a few minutes at 7pm, for a meeting that was supposed to run till 7.30pm.

The Fremantle Society has the following points to make which it couldn't make tonight:

a) The very large turnout tonight shows the extent of community concern at the way Main Roads is handling this project.

b) Main Roads has admitted to the Fremantle Society that the heritage wooden bridge can be maintained and kept, but they dishonestly keep claiming it was only ever built as a "temporary bridge."

It was built with an estimated life span of 40 years because Main Roads expected Fremantle Ports to push further up the river with a larger port, necessitating a new bridge. But, now that the port is heading south west to pollute the waters of Cockburn Sound, there is no need for extra room in the river.

c) When Main Roads demolished the wooden bridge in Mandurah a few years ago, they promised locals things that didn't eventuate, but that bridge was only two lanes wide compared with the Fremantle four lane one, and it was only listed as a level two heritage structure, whereas the Fremantle one is listed at the highest category possible: 1a.

The Mandurah mayor put $30,000 towards bridge events there. When will the Fremantle mayor commit serious funds to saving Fremantle's heritage bridge? After it is demolished? He has known about this issue for years and our wooden bridge is worth saving from being turned into firewood.

d) There are broader issues - dealing with Curtin Avenue traffic and traffic impacts on residents in North Fremantle, which give further reasons to pause the project and get it right - perhaps making the whole issue a Bicentennial project as suggested earlier.

e) What to focus on NOW: Urgently needed is an independent engineer's report showing the current state of the bridge, along with a conservation plan that looks at options for conserving it.

Main Roads are already in discussions with the Heritage Council to get demolition approval of the wooden bridge, and refuse to release their report to the public. Time is of the essence.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 22 3622

6 September 2020

Urgent: West End Submissions Due 5pm tomorrow Monday 7 September

West End Needs Better Protection

(Photo above top shows the 'technically illegal' 5 storey Quest Hotel with all the roof clutter in Pakenham Street, which required the demolition of 90% of the heritage building on the site in order to build the non-conforming development for council's Kings Square partner Sirona. The photo underneath that shows a new building by architect Michael Patroni referencing the scale and heritage of the area but not damaging it. Third photo shows Fremantle hero Agnieshka Kiera, who has put so much time and expertise into Fremantle over the past 25 years)

Local Planning Policy LPP3.21 West End Heritage Area

Today is Fathers Day and many are distracted. But the Fremantle Society has been working very hard to get to grips with the new 32 page proposed West End policy and the proposed scheme amendment to remove the requirement for a 4th storey to be set back.

The policy being renewed is one of council's oldest and most important. Luckily, the author of the original policy has been willing to put many hours into analysing the proposed new policy for us. You can find the new policy out for public comment by going to the council website, clicking "Have My Say" and clicking on the policy. You can fill out the survey or make your own submission to:

The Fremantle Society also commissioned the previous State Architect Geoffrey Warn to comment on the policy and our comments.

Apologies for the short notice, but we are providing you here with comments you are welcome to use in your own submission. Below are some comments from the Fremantle Society submission that goes through the various sections of the proposed policy, followed by comments from Agnieshka Kiera, the author of the original policy.

As an Executive Summary we state:

The proposed new policy is generally worded well with laudable aims, but it is weaker than the policy it replaces and will not result in better quality or more sensitive development.

The past 10 years of mediocre and often damaging developments in the West End show that even the current policy being replaced is not specific enough and does not protect the height and scale of the West End.

The vague wording in the new policy seems to encourage added storeys on top of exisiting ones, which should not be allowed.

The new policy is a disaster in the making, allowing developers too much discretion and damaging extra height and rooftop clutter. It requires a significant edit and strengthening, and should closely reference the Local Identity Codes council spent $140,000 obtaining from overseas experts to guide development.

Finally, the Fremantle Society does not support a scheme amendment to remove the need for 4th storeys to be set back, as they should rarely be allowed anyway.

The policy itself:

The introduction begins by stating that the heritage values are complex and many layered, which they are. The first paragraph ends by stating that the West End has "exceptional heritage significance." It would be preferable to begin with that statement to make the value of the area immediately clear.

The third paragraph repeats the error of the State Listing document by mentioning the Gold Rush as being 1880-1910, whereas in fact it was 1890s to 1910s.

Policy Area: It is indeed unfortunate that the listed area is much smaller than the original recommended area put forward by the committee tasked with the listing process, and by the independent expert report, due to political interference by Mayor Pettitt and Cr Sullivan.

If the current area is not able to be expanded, then the line of the current boundary should be reviewed where it is, as the area should include the buildings on both sides of the current listed area boundary as well as the whole street. Inexplicably, it currently includes the whole of Phillimore Street and Little High Street, but not the others.

Statement of Significance: The statement that the area "incorporates a high number of individually listed places of heritage significance" is untrue. High Street for example only has two and Pakenham Street only one. There needs to be a significant effort from council and the Heritage Council to get more properties individually listed with the Heritage Council, with funding allocated to encourage conservation plans for individual buildings. The reason is obvious - there is actually little known about many of the properties in the West End. It is understandable that owners may be reluctant, firstly because a conservation plan might easily cost $6,000, and may be seen as an impediment to future alterations rather than as a compliment to the value of the property.

Nowhere in the policy are the interiors of buildings mentioned, and neither is value ascribed to increasingly rare backyard open spaces and areas where stables for example may have existed. The West End policy needs to cover these areas. 20 years ago The Fremantle Society produced an Interiors Project report covering the interiors of more than a dozen West End properties and gave it to council.

Policy Objectives: The presence of Notre Dame University and the fact that they inhabit 46 buildings is completely ignored. The university is a welcome addition to the West End and a very successful and profitable business, but a monopoly by any type of use is not good for diversity and "conservation of heritage attributes." Notre Dame has created a monoculture and recently broke the MOU they have with council that states that any future building occupancy should be outside the West End area.

This sections states: "Specific objectives.. are to ensure that.. individual places.. that contribute to the significance of the West End are recognised and conserved." But HOW will these places be recognised if no money or staff are allocated to achieve that and so few have had detailed research done on them, and there is so little interpretation obvious to passersby and so little recognition in the public art produced from the millions of dollars spent as part of the percent for art scheme, which has been an abject failure? In terms of conservation, how will that happen when there is so little incentive to carry out conservation, with Fremantle Council cancelling ALL funding for their Conservation Grants Program and the Heritage Minister cancelling ALL individual grants last year for the whole State?

The policy objectives are all worthy, but specificity in how they will be implemented is needed. One way would be to incorporate the Local Identity codes, or at least the most relevant sections, which were prepared at a cost of $140,000 for the very purpose of guiding development in the West End and nearby.

1. Urban Structure:

The Urban Structure element should protect the linearity of the streets, and vistas down the various streets.

Elements such as trees, plantings, pop ups, public art, and street furniture need to be dealt with as the current standards are low. Trees are not historically appropriate in the West End and in some areas obliterate major facades in summer.

Dividing the West End into precincts may not be very helpful unless it results in further protection rather than more flexibility for developers. As it is the current area of the West End is smaller than it should be and its relationship with the port is not well articulated. The port and the West End go together like members of the same family and the future quality of the West End is partly contingent on what happens on Victoria Quay. That is why the Fremantle Society spent 8 years successfully campaigning to get a conservation plan for Victoria Quay to hopefully protect it and thus the immediately adjacent West End.

The policy should protect the remaining 600 x 600mm concrete slabs, apparently made in Fremantle Prison. The slabs were ubiquitous throughout Fremantle but have gradually been replaced by dreary concrete or a mixture of unappealing bricks. The slabs are not as interesting as original flagstaff blocks seen at the front of St John's Church or outside the Commissariat, but they are the perfect size for a human stride, traditional in appearance, cheap, and with an interesting connection to Fremantle Prison. The area of slabs remaining in the West End is under threat because it is not being maintained and is not clearly listed in policies, despite an agreement reached circa 2005 when raised by Cr Dowson and council officers agreed to retain existing slabs.

In describing High Street, the policy makes no mention of the residential elements of many upper floors where for example the Bank of New South Wales manager on the corner of High and Mouat Streets had a full height full floor to himself for a large residence replete with marble fireplaces, shopkeepers sometimes lived above their shops, or rear elements and even rooftops where caretakers used to live.

2. Land Mix Use and Density

The monoculture caused by Notre Dame University is not acknowledged, nor the failure of council to spread the university more widely throughout the town rather than the occupancy of 46 buildings concentrated togethe in the West End.

The statements about the desirability of residential uses is ironic given the high council rates paid to live in the inner city, and the refusal of council to fund the inner city residents' association, purely on political grounds.

3. Massing and Height

This section begins with an inaccurate statement that the built form in the West End is "generally simple" when it is not. The former State Architect Geoffrey Warn, commissioned by the Fremantle Society to help our submission, states: This is not a very accurate or helpful description of the built form. The attention to some corners is an excellent device for identity and wayfinding, the rectangular full block developments are skilfully detailed at an individual building level, and also demonstrating an understanding and respect for the articulation of adjoining buildings, et cetera, et cetera. Which amasses into a distinctive architectural language.

This is far from "simple"

Comments on height omit the requirement for any proposed 4th storey to be set back. Given that the policy emphasises that the West End is predominantly 2 storeys, any 4th storey is in most locations an anomaly and it should not be allowed if it can be seen from the street.

Protecting the height of the West End is critical because it is a harmonious low rise area. In the long term, if futurists like Richard Weller in his book Booktown, which proposes 170,000 people living in high rise towers in North Fremantle is correct, the small West End area gets to become incredibly more precious as the years go by.

3.2.2 "Upper storey additions should be designed to read as part of a coherent whole" is alarming because there should be no upper storey addition that can be seen from the streets, as they diminish the "exceptional significance" of the heritage listing and the integrity of the existing building.

3.2.5 "Variations to height". There should be no variations to height that are visible from the streets adjacent.

4. Roofscape, Views and Skyline:

The protection of streetscapes, roofscapes and skylines should not just include views from nearby streets but also vantage points like Arthur Head which is not mentioned, and other key sites within the West End. It is not just the facades of buildings which are important - there are many utilitarian traditional elements behind facades which help make up the historic character of listed properties.

5. Facades:

Element objectives here are alarming as they suggest approval for additions on top of heritage buildings. There have been some disastrous ones such as the addition to the Navy Club in High Street during the America's Cup. There should be no additions to heritage properties that are visible from adjacent streets.

6. Building Types:

The development objectives are motherhood statements that will not protect the West End from poor quality and oversized new development.

Council should do an assessment of approvals over the past 10 years in the West End because they have in general been a succession of mediocre or disastrous approvals. Council must learn from its mistakes because it is not currently protecting the West End or enhancing it. There are many examples both large and small and council from now on should clearly indicate that the mistakes from the past are not to be taken as precedents for the future.

The emphasis on reinstating verandahs and original traditional shopfronts is laudable, but what incentives are council offering to achieve those expensive outcomes?

Developers rarely want their building to "fit in" and often seek to have approval for something that dominates its neighbour. The most glaring example of that is opposite the majestic Fort Knox wool stores recently renovated as apartments, where the LIV apartment block has been allowed to dominate what was accepted as the "Giant" of Fremantle, the Fort Knox woolstore.

The worst example in the West End is the 5 storey Quest apartment hotel in Pakenham Street which urban designer Linley Lutton described as "technically illegal."

7. Details and Materials

Suggestions here are laudable, but once again there are no incentives to carry them out. For example 7.2.6 states: "Removal of acrylic paint from original face brickwork is strongly encouraged." Faced with the cost of $30,000 to remove paint as against say $10,000 to paint a facade again, what incentive is there for a property owner to remove the paint? The former Customs Building on Phillimore Street looks splendid now that paint has been removed from the face brickwork, but that project cost over $400,000.

It is not only brickwork from which plastic paint should be removed - there are limestone buildings like the Fremantle Hotel and 1 Mouat Street owned by the university which look diminished because the limestone is heavily covered in paint.

Agnieshka Kiera comments:

Finally, I have been able to find some time to provide comments on the proposed draft West End Conservation Policy. In this email, I have included the bullet point comments, the details of which I have explained in the body of the draft policy, attached, with my comments marked in red.

• Generally speaking, this is a well-worded policy outlining the objectives and principles already universally accepted and published using reputable sources such as the Burra Charter and CABE. The best part of the draft policy is the outline of its philosophical approach and the set of objectives and principles. However, the explanatory examples diagrams included at its end, attempting to explain and guide the practical application of the policy’s general provisions are grossly inadequate. So as a whole the draft policy is rather an ineffective combination and is unlikely to act as an improvement on the existing, outdated policy DGF14 as a planning tool. In this respect the draft policy is not a real improvement on the existing, equally generic policy and cannot effectively work as an aid to the planning scheme provision i.e. an important planning tool to guide conservation and compatible development in the West End;
• For the planning policy to be useful as an improvement on what the City already has in place i.e. DGF14 FREMANTLE WEST END CONSERVATION AREA POLICY adopted in the 1980s, it should be more concise, direct and area/places specific. Despite the fact that the existing policy is outdated and its provisions too generic, it is more specific in the crucial issues. For example, it specifies the compatible height of new development to max three storeys at the street level and while the scheme permits only one additional, fourth storey, the policy requires it to be set back. On the other hand, the current draft policy is vague on the issue of compatible height. For example, what does it mean: “new development, at all scales, minimises conflict with heritage values and contributes to the West End’s identity by complementing the streetscapes and buildings with a recognisable consistency and long-term perspective”??? or “ the proposal is consistent with the predominant height patterns of adjoining properties and the locality generally” or “it would not be detrimental to the amenity … etc”? Firstly these specific provisions negatively and unnecessarily introduce the concept of ‘conflict’ between the old and new. Secondly its appropriateness or otherwise depends entirely on the discretion of both, owners and developers as well as the decision-makers, who both rarely have adequate knowledge, training, skills or talents to interpret such generic provisions in a professional way and in accordance with the objective criteria to measure the desired compatibility.
•The success or otherwise of the planning policy depends on its clarity and the specificity of its provisions in relation to the area/place it applies to. The policy provisions should be either written as the specific, contextual and clear guide or, if it is limited only to the generic statement of objectives and principles, it should include the equally clearly explained procedures what and how to apply the specific measures in order to ensure that any new development proposals comply. Or better still, it should be accompanied by a practical design manual explaining how these generic principles are to be applied to the specific development proposals as well as the West End in general. The desired clarity of planning provisions is largely dependent on the degree of applicability. A good procedure requires that each development case is dealt with by its specific circumstances. The criteria applied to assess it, need to be relevant to its specific circumstances. The vague and/or generic provisions are open to misinterpretation. In addition to the universally accepted principles and the specific design guide, the policy provisions should also represent the local tradition.
• the draft policy includes a number of incorrect or even contradictory statements and omissions, marked by my specific comments in the body of the draft policy. For example, it describes the West End as the traditional city centre and recommends it is developed as a vibrant part of the city centre. At the same time, it omits to identify Notre Dame University as the 1/3 owner and occupier of the West End. While the area is essential to the students, interesting to the visitors and essential to a relatively small group of residents, it is largely irrelevant to the community as a viable part of the city centre. As a result of this omission, the draft policy fails to address reality as an important strategic issue that needs to be dealt with in a constructive way. As a result, the draft policy reads more as the wishful thinking than a practical and helpful planning tool. Such definitions as the 'diversity of uses' and 'comfortable place to live, work and visit" are at best only partially relevant, and at the worst, misleading;
• the draft policy identifies the Design Advisory Committee as an appropriate authority to interpret and apply its provisions to assessing development proposals and advise the decision making authority if it complies or otherwise. Yet it is a well-known fact that unless an advisory committee is correctly resourced and independent of its ‘employer', it can be ineffective or even precarious as an adjudicator. As the recent experience of WA demonstrates the membership of Design Advisory Committee is more likely to include the mix of politically correct representatives of bureaucratic or political bodies and officials, instead of the renowned experts in the field of urban architecture, heritage conservation and compatible development with a proven record of achievements in these fields. As a result the committee tends to be primarily a political body in service of the relevant authority, who set it up instead of the expert advisor. When combined with the too generic policy provisions, the committee's interpretation and advice vary greatly from application to application and its membership. The advice is instead provided in accordance with the individual views, tastes, and political affiliation of its members instead of the policy objectives. This often incites uncertainty and erratic judgments rather than expert advice. For example, the most incompatible, non-complying glass ‘cap’ on top of the Atwell Arcade and the heritage-listed building, doesn't comply with the current policy provisions. Yet the developer was able to successfully argue that it does, even citing the Burra Charter as his guide to come up with the proposal. In this respect, the draft conservation policy is not an improvement on the current one. Instead, it is even more vagueand genericthus likely to fail instead of being applied successfully as a planning instrument and regulatory tool to ensure that the policy objectives are achieved;
• the current policy includes Arthur Head and part of both the Esplanade and Victoria Quay in its provisions, thus it is more relevant and protective of the historic core of Fremantle, including its relevance to recommended uses, functional relationships, views, and vistas. On the other hand, the draft policy's defined six character precincts are based solely on the architectural character of the commercial part of the former historic port town. This is a significant failure of both, limitation of the conservation area's boundaries, defined only by the historic style of architecture, and renders the draft policy less effective in fulfilling its objectives of protecting the area’s function, ensuring the claimed range and vibrancy of the desirable uses, or even protection of the views and vistas beyond its boundaries. In addition, the policy fails to even identify all of the significant views that need to protected. For example the ephemeral yet significant vistas from all the side streets towards Victoria Quay, which are an essential aspect of the area's significance, worthy of protection and enhancement. So the draft policy is bound to fail in achieving its objectives as an effective planning tool of protecting views unless it is accompanied by the relevant, area-specific control measures. Like preventing the out of scale development, that potentially can block the side streets’ views with large scale development on the eastern side of Phillimore street;
• For this policy to work, it needs to be associated with the relevant, area-specific design guide interpreting its generic provisions with the design guide on how these should be applied on the ground. The few diagrams and photos at the end of the draft policy are inadequate. Say, the classical proportions diagram. The diagram might be understood by an appropriately skilled architect, but few owners or their designers, not mentioning an average developer and/or the political decision-makers, would fully appreciate, let alone know how to apply and use as a criterion, it to an application proposal. It is more likely that the few examples at the end of the draft policy would act as, say, prerecorded messages of Telstra or the ‘questions and answers’ link of an internet provider. The automated generic referrals are, generally speaking, useless as a specific guide or an answer to the specific issue that one needs. The suggested design manual is essential to aid this policy. It can be written from the scratch thus reinventing the wheel. At the same time, the Council already has its own well researched and area-specific policy guide for central Fremantle, the Local Identity and Design Code (LI&DC), adopted by the Council in the late 2000s as a 'community resource'.

The Identity Code is based on an in-depth survey and study of what makes Fremantle, Fremantle. The unique, significant and relatively intact 19th-century colonial port city. The LI&DC not only provides the accurate survey of the West End's architectural styles, but it also identifies and records its urban architecture i.e. the original urban design plan, the street layout, the landmark sites, gaps between buildings, views and vistas, the unique features and the architectural details. Area by area, the street by street. The subsequently prepared Design Code flows from the Identity Code and also offers the area/site-specific, street by street, site by site, guide to compatible development. The important aspect of it is that the Design Code is as objective as possible, ensuring that any new development contributes to the overall harmony and balance between the old and new. Equally important is the fact that the Design Code identifies the 'margin' of variation within which owners, their architects, designers and developers, can explore their individual objectives, creativity, and desire to individual expression while at the same time matching the existing quality and character of the area. The community also could use LI&DC to help them identify what it is they like about the city. Thus the committed community members can become much more informed and constructive in providing comments on new development.

So it is therefore disappointing to note that this draft policy completely ignores the Council's own document that would make it a more effective planning tool leaving its current generic provisions wide open to all sorts of politically and commercially motivated interpretations by both, potential developers and the approval authorities. This is likely to perpetuate inefficiencies of the current policy, create uncertainty, and be potentially open to abuse.

The, to date, rare successful urban design achievement by the City, its own Old Port Project on Arthur Head Reserve, provides a model of the successful application of both, the existing Conservation Policy DGF14 and the LI&DC. So it is a rare achievement of not only successfully conserving the heritage significance of the site but also reviving the Old Port and the whole reserve as a successful public space. The LI&DC was used by the architect, Donaldson and Warn, as a guide to design the tangible and historically relevant urban relationship of the reserve to the city. While this is not a place to explain it in detail, it is important to acknowledge that the Code guidelines gave the creative architect a tool - the site-specific tool, that the draft policy lacks. And it also provides proof that both, the existing conservation policy combined with the Design Guide, works. And although visitors to the area are not aware of this, they feel the urban harmony of the precinct and respond to it with much-improved patronage, emotional attachment, and affection.

In summary, the draft policy, although well worded with the universally accepted objectives and principles alone, is likely to be an ineffective planning tool to guide conservation and compatible redevelopment of the West End and not an improvement on the current, outdated policy. Mainly because despite the universally accepted objectives and the right principles, the draft policy's too generic, fragmented, and non-precinct specific provisions render themselves open to wide interpretation and, potentially abuse. In particular, it fails to demonstrate how its principles should be applied to the West End despite the attempt to provide limited examples and diagrams at the end of it.

The policy has also significant omissions and includes several conflicting provisions. I suggest that what needs to be done to make this draft policy more relevant and effective includes, to start with:
• a substantial edit. Possibly as a set of objectives and principles only, choosing the ones that are relevant and specific to the West End, and deletion of the few, generic examples and diagrams at the end;
• for the Council to adopt the Local Identity & Design Code as the design manual to the policy. The manual that would translate its generic provisions into the site-specific contextual set of guidelines on how to apply these provisions to the specific development proposals. Only then the combined policy and LI&DC together could be used effectively as a planning control tool to guide/assess planning applications in accordance with the policy objectives. In addition, the LI&DC could serve as a community resource to explain, educate and guide the community, the owners, developers, their architects, and all the decision-makers on how to protect, conserve and re-develop the West End in a compatible and sustainable way, well into the future.
• Alternatively and at the very least, the draft policy’s objectives and generic provisions should refer to the corresponding specific guidelines in the Local Identity & Design Code replacing its fragmented and largely irrelevant examples.

I hope these are helpful and I am happy to submit these comments together with the edited copy of the attached draft policy. Agnieshka Kiera.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

26 August 2020

Save the West End - Again!

Public Consultation on Now

One of the key policies of Council, the 1992 West End Conservation plan, originally drafted by Fremantle Society committee member Agnieshka Kiera, is out for public comment until 7 September.

If you have time TODAY, there is an information session run by council at the Moores Building 4 till 6pm.

Alarming Trend by Developers: Developers are seeking to have weaker council policies for obvious reasons, and the Fremantle Society has heard disturbing examples of how developers have so much influence within councils, and formerly respected institutions like the Heritage Council. One council is paying a consultancy, with a poor track record of protecting heritage,  $150,000 to review its policies to allow 'more flexibility' and room for 'architects to express themselves.'

The Fremantle Society is speaking with experts, both within Western Australia and outside it, to formulate a considered professional response to what is a critically important document for the future of the West End.

Our view so far is that the proposed new policy WEAKENS heritage protection rather than strengthens it, is promoting unacceptable new storeys on top of heritage buildings, is not protecting roofscapes, and is not dealing with the litany of disasters we have seen in recent years in the West End where anythings seems to be permissible, and where the Heritage Council is delegating its responsibility to the council instead of doing its job of scrutinising applications.

Key issues include protecting existing form, height, quality, bulk and scale, roofscapes, authentic shopfronts, reinstating verandahs, removing paint where advisable, and getting Notre Dame and its 47 buildings to be part of the solutions.

Please see the Have My Say section on council's website and wait a week for further analysis from the Fremantle Society before making a submission by 7 September.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
26 August, 2020

20 August 2020

The Fremantle Bridge is One of Many Urgent Issues

Time for You to Do Some Work

If Fremantle Council and its councillors did their job, there would be no need for the Fremantle Society to spend hundreds and hundreds of hours researching issues and campaigning to get good quality outcomes for Fremantle. They, especially the mayor, (who will by the time he leaves, have received over $1.5million of ratepayers' money) are not negotiating good deals, not looking after heritage, and not improving Fremantle's finances.

At the moment there are numerous major issues, from the moving of the port, giving away a $7 million ratepayer asset for a film studio, Markets Lease, Arthur Head, and the Bridge issue to name a few.

Fremantle Society members need to do some of the work.

We need volunteers to deliver pamphlets next week.

We need donations.

We need you to DO something. A letter/email is still a valuable contribution.

Below is what we submitted to the community group fighting the bridge issue with us.

Three things from the Fremantle Society:

1) Old Bridge: Main Roads are saying the current bridge was only a 'temporary one.' They have provided no evidence of that.

Too many people are giving up on saving the current bridge, when:

a) It is heritage listed at the highest level.

b) It is a handsome bridge that has, and continues to, serve the community very well.

c) It is the longest wooden bridge in the state and has decades of life left if heavy vehicles are removed. It is a tourist asset telling the story, like the wooden wharves of the port, of the vast amounts of WA jarrah promoted for building.

d) It is not dangerous and has not caused a fatality. In fact, it protects Northbank from serious erosion.

e) There are other wooden bridges in the metro area that are OLDER than ours, and Main Roads isn't seeking to demolish them

f) When Main Roads demolished the Mandurah wooden bridge they conned the community with promises that werent fulfilled.

g) The Federal Government, donating half the money for the project, should not be party to the demolition of a heritage listed asset.

2) New Bridge: We need a visual of a new bridge we would accept- above is a poor copy of the iconic bridge printed in the Herald as part of a Thinking Allowed on 4/11/2006. I have asked the Herald for a better copy. Main Roads propose a dreary flat concrete structure.

3) Council: The council urgently needs to tell us what their action plan is, which should include 10,000 public submission forms printed and delivered by council to counter the predetermined position of the Main Roads one.

The council submission form should:

a) point out that the current bridge, under the Burra Charter, cannot be demolished until it has reached the end of its life, which is decades away.

b) seek to keep the current bridge while having a new iconic bridge near it (as happened in the top image above 100 years ago when there were two bridges)

c) slow the whole process downs so North Fremantle concerns can be incorporated.

d) understand, with the Bicentennial only 8 years away, an iconic bridge, a protected heritage one, a rejuvenated North Fremantle town centre, and genuine traffic solutions for Fremantle, would make this whole issue a great Bicentennial Project, planning and funding for which should start now.

Where is the huge banner on the Naval Stores we agreed on? It needs to go up yesterday. A huge banner covering most of the building. Suggested: "Hands off our Bridge!"

Finally, a small point, but one not mentioned, is that the original ferry capstan base, which is heritage listed along with the bridge, has been neglected by the government for decades, and is part of the wonderful story of the river crossings in this area.

The Fremantle Society seeks an inspiring outcome to these issues, minus more mendacious Main Roads mediocrity.


John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

15 August 2020

No Time for Archaeology

More Heritage Gone

The top picture shows Water Corporation smashing through historic wooden blocks in Mouat Street just 10 metres from where extensive sections of the blocks were discovered two weeks ago, while a workwoman stands guard eating noodles.

The discovery of the wooden blocks two weeks ago led to research by the Fremantle Society that of the 300,000 wooden blocks paving the streets of High, half of Cliff, and Mouat, put down between 1898 and 1903, the Mouat Street ones may be the only decent section of wooden streets left anywhere in Fremantle.

Instead of that being a cause for excitement and care, Fremantle Council gave permission for the street to be dug up just metres from the original finds, with no council staff or archaeologists to supervise.

By law, since the West End is now heritage listed, the listing includes the streets, and the Heritage Council are supposed to be notified as with the Pipes for Fremantle Project. The Pipes for Fremantle arm of Water Corporation knew nothing of this work, and neither did the archaeologists.

The second picture shows an orphan from the destruction today, a little jarrah block survivor resting on a jarrah floor, pining for its family.

The third picture shows Phillimore Street and highly significant finds of wooden drains from at least 130 years ago. An exciting discovery one would think. The fourth picture shows what appears to be the entrance to a tunnel under Pioneer Park. This should have been the opportunity to fully investigate the area, including for maritime artefacts, given the original shore line was here. But the wood was dragged away (so it didn't collapse under the road) and the history gone forever.

There have been stories for years about tunnels in this area, especially for water from the prison sold to ships, but now we will never know.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
14 August, 2020


13 August 2020

Markets Madness

Did you know that Fremantle Markets, owned by council, is the Fremantle ratepayers’ biggest income earning asset, generating over $3 million a year?

Did you know that Brad Pettitt and 6 councillors gave the Markets to FMPL for 18 years in 2008 with no public tender process? Crs Lauder and Dowson voted against the controversial lease, and MP Adele Carles sought a government enquiry.

Did you know that of the $3 million generated each year, only 26% goes to council?

Did you know that the 2008 Conservation plan for the Markets said $4.5 million was needed to fix them up, but less than $1m has been spent in 12 years?

Did you know that the Markets now need at least $5.6 million in repairs, but council intends to give FMPL another long lease in a month’s time?

Did you know that if Council had run the Markets since 2008, they would have received over $30 million, enought to wipe out council’s massive current debt?

You can stop this madness by telling the mayor and councillors NOT to give another lease to FMPL and lose 74% of market income.

Email Fremantle councillors:

John Dowson

11 August 2020

This Bridge Only Has a Future if You Fight for It

Government Neglect of Its Heritage Assets

The totally ineffective Heritage Minister David Templeman came to Fremantle last week to hand out $500 K towards years of neglect and millions needed at the State's most important colonial heritage site, Arthur Head (meanwhile other heritage sites like the kilns at Belmont get $6 million).

He should have apologised for his government's poor track record looking after State listed heritage sites in Fremantle, and for flogging them off as fast as possible. Last week his government sold the Technical School on South Terrace for a low price, they sold all the Warders Cottages after allowing them to run down, sold the old police station and court complex for a bargain, won't properly fund Fremantle Prison, allowed enormous damage to the Spare Parts Theatre in Pioneer Park, and now want to demolish the heritage listed traffic bridge years before its time. David Templeman needs to do his job, and actually advocate for heritage and promote it.

A new bridge is not needed immediately, and certainly not until traffic problems in North Fremantle and the future of the port is determined.

The second photo shows why the proposed new bridge is planned to go upriver of the existing bridge and not downriver - because of Fremantle Ports.

The existing heritage listed bridge, the longest wooden bridge in the State, has more than 20 years left in its life, especially if all heavy vehicles are banned from it.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

photos by John Dowson

30 July 2020

The Wooden Streets of Fremantle Part 2

The top photo shows Phillimore Street today, with works halted, so archaeological finds discovered can be assessed – possible historic wooden boxed conduit.

The major Water Corporation Pipes Project is replacing cast iron pipes dating back to c1898. They have lasted longer than most of the wooden blocks which covered the streets above them – High Street wooden blocks were laid in 1898, with Mouat and Cliff Streets in 1903.

Very little of the streets of wood remain, but talk of wooden streets in Australia goes back before Western Australia was even settled.

Wooden Streets in 1826

The very day, 2 December 1826, that the Hobart Town Gazette reported Major Lockyer visiting for a supply of water on his way to form a settlement in Albany, the newspaper discussed the use of timber on roads in Europe: “We should remark here the practice in Vienna, and other cities of the Continent of Europe, where open courts and blind alleys are usually paved with blocks of hard wood.”

In 1839 The Colonist (9 February) recommended wooden streets for Sydney, reporting that merchants in the world’s most famous shopping street, Oxford Street, were so keen to have wood paving, they offered to pay for a section themselves. They turned up at a council meeting with a New Yorker who attested to the success of wood paving on Broadway, “the greatest thoroughfare in America.”

But, the satirical Punch magazine thought London’s streets in 1846 were such a mess they were fit for a steeplechase: “The grand fun of a steeplechase seems to consist in the risk people run, and the difficulty they encounter in urging their horses across yawning chasms, and other kinds of obstacles.” Drivers “if their horses will gallop fast enough, would induce them to plunge without hesitation into the midst of sewers and gas pipes, or to go bounding over lumps of granite, blocks of wood, and every other obstacle which the paving, lighting, and watering authorities are constantly offering to the traffic of the metropolis.”

1862 Governor Hampton Arrives in WA

It took John Hampton, Governor of WA 1862-1868, to get wooden roads in WA. He had seen them in Canada, and ordered three miles of Stirling Highway to be paved as a test. Convicts cut down 300 year old jarrah trees and made 30cm thick discs, later to be known as “Hampton’s Cheeses.”

Hampton also paved parts of the road to Guildford, which followed a well worn Aboriginal track, and the beginning of the Albany Road, with wood. A section of the Guildford Road timbers (now Great Eastern Highway) in Belmont were discovered in 2012. The mayor proudly announced that his council was “committed to preserving its history”, so 6 of Hampton’s Cheeses have been moved and will one day be displayed (moving heritage is the last thing that should be done in such cases).

The use of Western Australia’s precious “Swan River Mahogany” for mundane purposes like sleepers and wooden streets, exploded in the 1890s, and 90% of our great forests have gone to the ends of the earth.

Fremantle’s Wooden Streets

In Fremantle, after new water mains (the ones now being replaced), were installed, High, Cliff, and Mouat Streets were paved with wood.
High Street was paved from the Town Hall to Cliff Street with 320,000 seasoned blocks dipped in boiling tar, installed against jarrah kerbing, on an 8 inch concrete base, by three teams working 24 hours a day.
The intersection of Mouat and High was regarded as the busiest in Fremantle, and indeed one of the State’s busiest. In 1910 Millar’s Karri and Jarrah Company (1902) Limited asked council for specimens of the 9″ long x 6″ deep x 3″ wide wood blocks laid there in 1898, in connection with tenders the company was lodging for orders outside the State. The wooden blocks were found to be “practically as good as new.”
Last week The Fremantle Society reported that numerous blocks in this same area had been rediscovered.

The discovery is a highly significant scientific find in a world class heritage town. It vividly tells the story of what has gone before.

The Fremantle Society will do whatever it takes to get these blocks conserved where they are. and presented to the public where they are, through a covering of bullet proof glass and with detailed interpretation .

The project should begin now, not in the future, when people have forgotten where they are.

A fund for $50,000 will be aimed at. How much will you contribute?

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
30 July, 2020
Phillimore Street: John Dowson
Cutting Street Paving Blocks: H. Webb photo from “A Glimpse into the Jarrah Timber Industry in Western Australia” c1905 (Dowson collection)
Cape Town Street paved with jarrah blocks: “Millars’ Karri & Jarrah Company (1902) Limited” c 1908 (Dowson collection)

27 July 2020

Wooden Street Project - Needed to be Implemented NOW

Exciting Find of Wooden Street Blocks in Mouat Street

Last week a substantial section of Western Australian wooden blocks was unearthed in Mouat Street. This is shown in the first two photographs, provided by Archae-Aus archaeologists of North Fremantle, overseeing roadworks for the Pipes for Fremantle project.

The streets of Fremantle were once paved with wooden blocks put down 130 years ago, but most have disappeared, and Fremantle Council was not able to provide details of what remnants exist.

The blocks have now been covered up, and council is saying:  "Deciding how to best to conserve, display and interpret these items will be complicated and needs to be carefully considered." And, "The archaeologists report..... may provide us with useful information for future interpretive work on the history hidden under our streets."

Given the appalling record of Fremantle Council on heritage, these weasel words are not good enough. The previous council under Mayor Tagliaferri spent $250,000 drawing up extensive plans for a major archaeological interpretive centre in Pioneer Park for visitors to enjoy as soon as they hopped off the train, but the Pettitt council threw those plans in the bin, and 11 years later there has been no effort to do the project. The same will happen here. There will be promises of future "investigations" into what may be revealed with this wooden street section, but nothing will happen unless the public put a rocket under the pathetic heritage record of council, and get this project done NOW. $50,000 needs to be urgently allocated to find a way to:

a) uncover the wooden blocks again and undertake professional conservation.

b) find a way of revealing the blocks in situ with state of the art protective glass, and if need be, extend the footpath to protect the blocks.

c) provide signage and interpretation of this exciting and important story of what happened under our feet 125 years ago.

Given the grief caused to local businesses for months and months by the necessary but intrusive Pipes for Fremantle, an archaeological discovery like this made visible to the public would be a great drawcard and a positive outcome after so much disruption.

The Pipes for Fremantle project is itself worthy of archaeological interpretation. It has been a major project replacing most pipes, many over 100 years old. Under our feet now are state of the art water pipes for the next 100 year

Many streets around the world were paved with valuable Western Australian timber. An astonishing amount of jarrah and karri was used. So little remains.

Karri was laid in Flinders Street Melbourne as long ago as 1889.

Camberwell UK laid over 12 miles of blocks. After 10 years they were taken up, and 65% were able to be recut, and reinstalled on their 8 inch concrete base.

Similarly, just in the UK, Hamsptead, Ramsgate, Edinburgh, Newbury, Bolton, Cheltenham, Southampton, Batley, Bermondsey, Bristol, Southwark, Wimbledon, Harrogate, Cambridge, Plymouth, and Newcastle Upon Tyne used shiploads of WA timber after 1895.

Patten Barber, engineer of Islington, London, where the third photograph above was taken of remnant blocks still in the street today, stated in 1903: "Granite setts are condemned on account of the noise made by the traffic passing over them, and asphalt because of its slipperiness and the bad foothold it affords to horses, especially in starting with heavy loads. Wood is undoubtedly the material most approved of by the public, whose demand for a noiseless pavement is not likely to be relaxed. Business is impossible and residence distressing in a busy street paved with material on which the traffic produces a continuous clatter.... jarrah from Australia led to the softer wood being to a great extent abandoned. Jarrah is now in almost universal use."

But, Karri was often preferred. The Chief Engineer of Paris wrote: "Karri up to now seems to me to give very good results, much better than those of jarrah". Fulham, London agreed, adding "Jarrah and karri are shewn to be both cheaper in the end than creosoted deal, and karri the cheaper of the two."

Even when the tramways arrived with problems of inserting rails into streets, hardwoods were extolled. In 1909 Biggs & Sons Municipal Engineering stated: "Macadam is out of the question; granite is noisy; asphalt is forbidden as a tramway edging; soft wood is unsanitary and short-lived; there is nothing left, therefore, but the hardwood block for such a position."

Of millions of jarrah blocks used for streets around the world, few remain.

Showing the exciting wooden street discovered in Mouat Street to passersby is a project not expensive or difficult, given the expertise in Fremantle. Join us in raising funds. Let's get this project done, now.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
27 July, 2020
9335 2113
Photos: First two provided by archaeologists Archae-Aus, North Fremantle 94331127.
Photo 3: Gerry Gillard's Freo Stuff
Photo 4: Regent Street London covered with Karri blocks, from "Karri & Jarrah Timber," 1905, Dowson collection (Copyright)

23 July 2020

Promoting Parks

Sunday Times Apologises for Defamation

The Fremantle Society is very keen on parks and on promoting them.

When Peter Newman defamed the Fremantle Society in the Sunday Times about Esplanade Park as detailed in our last Mailchimp, we sought a retraction and apology from the newspaper. That was published last week.

Council blogger Roel Loopers vented a nasty personal blog defending Mayor Pettitt's close ally Peter Newman, in a tirade described by a senior Western Australian journalist as "disgraceful."

The Fremantle Society will continue to advocate for council to actually implement the expensive Master Plans and Conservation Plans it produces for places like Esplanade Park and Arthur Head instead of ignoring them and not allocating the budget they need.

We will also be producing a vision for Pioneer Park opposite the train station, to be launched soon, a gateway to the town with a poorly maintained heritage building, incongruous sculpture, disintegrating wishing well, and no revelation of its archaeological past. Instead it could be a fabulous welcoming place to Fremantle with something to do and see.

We will also continue advocating for Mayor's Park, Fremantle's smallest and unknown park opposite Princess May Park, as featured this week in the Herald (above).

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
23 July, 2020

6 July 2020

State Treasurer Agrees with Fremantle Society

The Fremantle Society campaigned for a REDUCTION in rates due to the LOWERING of the GRV (Gross rental Value) of properties.

Because GRV values were going to reduce for the first time in decades, by 10% we were told, the Fremantle Society argued that rates should be reduced by the same amount, and if not, that represented a rate increase of 11% (the Herald, whose maths is not as good as ours, stated it would be a 10% rise).

But councillors online, especially Cr Sullivan, argued that in fact there would be NO increase.

The Fremantle Society's submission, along with all others, has been ignored in the budget papers going to council this Wednesday at 6pm.

Note: Council's own budget document states that: "A zero percentage rate increase for residents is unlikely."

Now the State Treasurer has come out in agreement with the Fremantle Society position. Treasurer Ben Wyatt said (ABC News 4 July) councils had resisted the reduction in GRV and that councils "had willingly passed on the increases in previous years - so they should be passing on the decrease as property values fall."

The scandalous situation is made worse:

a) because council refuses to reduce the 2% rate increase for the third plastic bin which the mayor said was a "one off cost" meaning you are paying that 2% EVERY YEAR.

b) when Mayor Pettitt took office, he benefited from the extra money generated from a massive 10.4% rate increase in 2009, intended as a one off increase. But, the rates were never reduced in subsequent years and ratepayers have paid that 10.4% EVERY SINGLE YEAR SINCE Dr Pettitt became mayor.

c) none of the heritage essentials for a heritage city like Fremantle have been reinstated in the budget.

Heritage Awards are GONE, Local History Awards GONE, Heritage Grants Scheme GONE, Heritage Reserve Fund of 1.25% of rates GONE, and heritage committee GONE. ADDED to that, this year's budget has put aside the minuscule budget for $20,000 for the Heritage Festival!

Meanwhile, council's mates, the developers Sirona , in a confidential deal, have been offered $400,000 a year to run the Fremantle Tourist Bureau, and it will probably go into their new building in King's Square to prop that up.

To begin fixing up the multimillion dollar mess at Arthur Head and the Round House caused by council inaction, council has proudly announced the budget includes $500,000 to start fixing it up. But that is money borrowed from the State Government, and council already spends over $3 million a year servicing debts.

How many scandals does the Fremantle Society have to expose before members get out in the street and bay at the moon? Or, do something?

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

29 June 2020

Fremantle Society Arthur Head Campaign Goes National

Liberal candidate for next year's state election, Miquela Riley, brought Federal Senator Matt O'Sullivan to Fremantle today to see first hand the sorry state of the state's premier heritage site, Arthur Head.

The Fremantle Society showed Miquela and Matt around, and afterwards they can be seen filming a summary of their visit, with Miquela on the right with Matt O'Sullivan behind.

Matt O'Sullivan was elected to the Senate for Western Australia in 2019. He is interested in the Fremantle Society proposal for Federal Heritage listing of Arthur Head. The Federal list is small and prestigious, with only the Fremantle Prison and Warders Cottages in Henderson Street currently listed from WA.

Miquela has been active and engaged with the Fremantle community, and has committed to advocate strongly for the important historic stories of Arthur Head in getting adequate funding for urgent repairs, restoration, interpretation, and ongoing maintenance.

Miquela has scheduled another meeting with the Fremantle Society this week.

Both politicians can see the heritage and historical significance of this sadly neglected but exceptional site, and the tales it could tell. The Fremantle Society gave both politicians key documents about Arthur Head, including a copy of the positive vision the Fremantle Society has for the area which brings in among other things, the need to develop the Maritime Heritage Trail which runs through the site.

The vision has been totally ignored by Fremantle Council, despite council asking for Fremantle Society help. Interestingly, the Senator months ago asked Council for a list of projects they needed money for, and Arthur Head was not on the council's list.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
9335 2113

21 June 2020

Inquiry into Fremantle Council?

Former Liberal leader Mike Nahan stood up in parliament last week and demanded to know why there was no government inquiry into Fremantle Council, given that councils with spectacularly good governance records like Melville and Cambridge have been investigated.

He pointed out that while Melville had the state's best FHI (Financial Health Index) of 98, for years in a row, Fremantle languishes on 44, the lowest of any metropolitan council.

He pointed out that while Melville has $150 million in the bank and can offer ratepayers $200 each off their rates, Fremantle proudly claims to be responsible for the state government allowing councils like Fremantle to borrow more money, and was "putting rates up 10%."

He said the fake sustainability claimed by Fremantle is shown in Melville's achievement of sending zero waste to landfill, "while Fremantle sent 10 to 15% of its rubbish to landfill" (actually staff informed the Fremantle Society last week that Fremantle Council now send 18% of rubbish to landfill).

The Liberal Party is not happy that after going out of its way in government to help Fremantle, by offering to send 1200 government workers to King's Square, knowing there were no votes in it for them, that Fremantle Council has stuffed up the project so badly, building a white elephant on the only town square in Western Australia with money it doesnt have.

Fremantle Council assured the State Government that the new administration building would pay its way and "take pressure off rate rises."

Former Premier Colin Barnett told the Fremantle Society that if he was still Premier, he would sack the whole council, not just order an enquiry.

It was two men who offered Fremantle the salvation that 1200 workers could bring, after so any workers exited Fremantle -1900 workers left the hospital, hundreds left from Customs, along with many police, and the ambulance service.

Bill Marmion, whose family memorial in Adelaide Street is still missing its plaque after thieves stole it, pushed the idea through Cabinet with the backing of Colin Barnett.

The inquiries into Melville and Cambridge Councils are scandalous politicking. After two years, nothing was found wrong at Melville Council, and two years after nothing was found at Cambridge, David Templeman, Minister for Local Government, and the weak Heritage Minister who cancelled the heritage grants program this year, has now begun another inquiry there.

David Templeman helped begin a new group in October 2014 called "Labor Connect", seeking to get more Labor people onto local councils.

With his alleged fee of $34,000, friend of mayor Pettitt, former Fremantle Councillor Tim Grey Smith (who left Fremantle owing his council $17,000, and worked as a Labor staffer), helped Labor's George Gear take Melville last year.

Heaven help Fremantle next year!

In the meantime, who supports an inquiry into Fremantle Council?
John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

8 June 2020

The Financial Pain Continues
Do You Want Your Rates to Go Up 11%?

Your rates will go up 11% unless you do something.

You have until 5pm Tuesday 9 June to lodge your comments for the “Public Consultation” about rates.

On the front page of this week’s Gazette Cr Sullivan has ‘”fired back” at the Fremantle Herald’s claim last week rates are going up 10%. He accuses the Herald of “borderline scaremongering.”

As the architect behind the massively wasteful failure of the “rejuvenation” of Fremantle, he has been very proficient at spending other people’s money.

Rates are supposed to be based on the GRV of properties and issued by the Valuer General every three years.

We like to think our assets are increasing in value over time, but unfortunately over the past 3 years, the values have gone down. Our properties are worth less when we go to sell them and we can earn less in rent from them. The Valuer General on 1 July will announce that Fremantle values have slipped 10% and reduce the GRV accordingly. Thus someone currently paying $4,000 in rates should see this year’s rates bill reduce to $3,600.

But wait, council have already shown their hand even before “Public Consultation” has finished by saying they need at least as much money as last year, and therefore they will alter the rate in the dollar to make sure the ratepayer who should pay $3,600 this year instead of $4,000 still pays $4,000 – an 11% increase over what he should be paying.

We would all like to earn as much rent as before and to have our asset worth as much as before, but the Valuer General will be telling us things have seriously declined. Ratepayers are expected to trim their budgets, but not, apparently, Fremantle Council.

Council argues that their costs have gone up – but so have ours.

Council committed fraud when it increased rates by 2% for a new plastic rubbish bin that many still have not received. The fraud is in the fact that ratepayers will be paying that 2% every single year, not a one off for one rubbish bin.

The decline in our assets does not even take into account the catastrophe of the virus outbreak. That is added pain to bear.

The Fremantle Society has long campaigned for serious financial reform from council, and has unfortunately been proven correct in its campaigning against council’s reckless financial decisions since Mayor Pettitt was elected, which has resulted in Fremantle now having the worst FHI (Financial Health Index) of any WA metro council.

During the Covid crisis we also campaigned for council to cut executive salaries by 20%, which it has done, and to save millions $$ by not moving staff to the new admin building this year. There are plenty of crazy council ideas that need to go in the bin, none more so than Cr Pemberton’s plan of “Participatory Budgetting,” where selected locals allocate budget money for pet projects.

Every ratepayer has to Iive with a tighter budget. So should Fremantle Council.

Say NO to an 11% rate increase and contact Council by 5pm Tuesday ( and,au and

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
9335 2113

5 June 2020

Main Roads Caves in to Fremantle Ports

Looking carefully at the picture above held by Transport Minister Saffioti and Labor MP Josh Wilson, it would seem that the new $130 million bridge for Fremantle will be built downstream of the current one (oceanside) and include rail, in a “combined road/rail solution.”

But, since this photo op promoting jobs (temporary ones for out of town workers) and “busting congestion” (while carrying no more vehicles than today), the rumour mill has it that Main Roads have decided to put the new bridge UPSTREAM of the traffic bridge due to pressure from Fremantle Ports, a government money making enterprise. Fremantle Ports for over 100 years has tried to push their port up the river at every opportunity and would be dead against a downstream option.

Such a cave in by Main Roads would:

a) necessitate the destruction of the current heritage listed timber bridge.

b) fail to deliver the improved rail access.

c) fail to deliver the possibility of extending Curtin Avenue for a seamless interface with the bridge, thus saving the town centre of North Fremantle from its current status as a traffic sewer for 25,000 through vehicles a day.

The Fremantle Society points out that the current wooden traffic bridge is heritage listed at the highest level of listing, is capable of having its current life extended, and if a new bridge is built, the wooden bridge should remain for pedestrians and cyclists, and be maintained by Main Roads.

Main Roads needs to listen to the community it serves, and not Fremantle Ports.

25 May 2020

A Bridge Too Far?

The Fremantle Society last week broke the news that Main Roads are about to launch plans for a new bridge over the Swan River at Fremantle. We noted that over the years there has been, and still is, a great deal of support for the current heritage listed bridge, and last week the Fremantle Society resolved that the current bridge should be preserved at all costs. We do not want Fremantle Council caving in from their previous strong support for the WHOLE timber bridge, and nor do we want Main Roads saying that they cannot afford to keep and maintain it.

We asked for your ideas and memories of the current bridge, but all we got was static about 5G causing the virus.

President John Dowson provides a virus free sketch (above) made when he was in primary school, and there must be plenty of people out there who also have a story to share .

Agnieshka Kiera, Fremantle Council Heritage Architect for 25 years, lets rip with her comments as below:

the historic Fremantle bridge has to stay. Not only for the reason of its heritage significance and, being listed on State Heritage, planning and compliance reasons. It should also stay for its greater importance to the city as the strategic urban feature and gateway to Fremantle, as follows:
since its construction the bridge has provided the vital pedestrian (and traffic) connection, not only between Fremantle and Perth but equally importantly between Fremantle and North Fremantle historic town centre;
while the main vehicular traffic connection to Perth has been taken over by the Stirling Bridge, the much-reduced traffic using the historic bridge has helped to keep the North Fremantle’s historic centre accessible and to date a viable local hub of commercial and social activity;
the bridge acts as an important entry point and gateway to Fremantle: on the approach to Fremantle by the bridge, the closed vista of Cantonment Hill and the Signal Station, the Fremantle Port to the right and Swan River to the left, all the iconic urban features and Fremantle icons, create an exceptional landscape setting, reinforcing the city’s identity as the historic landmark of Western Australia;
the proposed bridge could potentially relieve the historic bridge of the vehicular traffic altogether and let it act as the vital pedestrian/cyclist link with Fremantle proper. There are numerous very successful examples around the world of saving the historic bridges from demolition. And while building new bridges to take on the modern essential role of carrying the vehicular traffic, many cities conserved the old bridges utilising them for the ancillary (mainly pedestrian) purposes. The most famous examples include the Burt Bridge in San Francisco, the Brooklyn Bridge on New York’s East River, Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Pont du Gard in France, Chenguyang Inmud and Rain Bridge in China etc. Each of them was replaced by a new bridge while being preserved for new functions. The same could be done in Fremantle, as freeing the Fremantle Bridge from vehicular traffic would facilitate its proper restoration as the pedestrian/cyclist bridge;
However, the plan in Brad Pettitt’s blog doesn’t show where the new bridge’s roadway goes. Would it go through the North Fremantle old centre? It looks very likely. Would this result in some massive demolitions of the heritage buildings on its way? That would be the death not only to the old bridge but to the North Fremantle historic centre as well. The Fremantle bridge’s traditional role as a gateway and the significant connection between North Fremantle and Fremantle proper via Queen Victoria Street would be destroyed. That is a devastating prospect and should be stopped.
In addition, I would like to clarify the broader issue regarding the increase in antisocial behaviour, theft and generally a major degradation to the Fremantle social fabric and economic viability.

The decade long push to abandon the previously measured and harmonious development of the city with heritage as its driver (as evident in the West End, Wray Avenue precinct, South Fremantle), and to replace it with this major disruption by the out of scale, developers’ driven, massive, inconsiderate, badly planned, badly designed and expensive developments in the heart of the city is, in my opinion, the main cause of the increase in crime in the city.

Any major change is disruptive. The long term businesses lose confidence in the strategic prospects. As the disruption continues, the community at large starts to lose the commitment to the city and each other (remember what has happened to Fremantle Markets? Fremantle Police? Fremantle Hospital?); thousands of local investors and businesses begin to feel uncertain about the future and where Fremantle is going; the loyalty and ethical behaviour towards the city and each other declines, and the ‘undesirables’ of all kinds begin to fill up the void.

They feel encouraged by the lack of social cohesion to move in and began to steal, grab and, generally make the city environment unsafe.

20 May 2020

Bridge of Broken Promises

Main Roads has $130 million available for a new Fremantle bridge and soon will announce their plans.

But will we get a bridge of broken promises like we did 15 years ago when, ahead of the State Election, Planning Minister Alannah MacTiernan promised to save the old traffic bridge, and ditched that after winning the election on the grounds of cost? Alannah is still a hard working, dynamic politician, but has much to answer for in Fremantle, having denied community and council opposition against high rise ING on Victoria Quay, handed the Royal George Hotel to the National Trust without consulting East Fremantle Council (look at that mess now), and ditched her promise about our bridge.

The community and Fremantle Council have made their views known repeatedly – keep the existing bridge, whether we get a new one or not.

North Fremantle Cr Thompson (2005): “Extension of the life of the current bridge should be the first priority.”

North Fremantle Convenor Gerry MacGill (2005): ” Main Roads has some of the country’s best timber conservation specialists.”

CEO of National Trust Tom Perrigo (2008): “The bridge is sound and shouldn’t be touched.”

The images above show the opening program for the current bridge in 1939. Because it was thought the Japanese might bomb Fremantle, the previous bridge as seen on the right in the two photographs was kept (until 1949). In fact Fremantle also had two traffic bridges back in 1898 when a second bridge was built alongside the then existing 1866 bridge, and the two co-existed for some years.

Next month Main Roads will propose a new bridge, leaving the current one in place until the new one is built. Then, for ” cost and safety” reasons, Main Roads will want to demolish the current timber bridge. The Fremantle Society at its recent meeting voted that: “The existing heritage listed Fremantle Traffic Bridge must be kept.”

We are yet to see what Main Roads will propose for a new bridge. Will we get something iconic for that large sum of money ($130 million, a lot more than the $30 million proposed in 2005), or a dreary concrete bridge like so many others? Main Roads has a poor reputation with unsightly urban design, as any intersection in WA will attest, and the damage to the heritage values and aesthetics of the current bridge railings by Main Roads some years ago needs to be undone.

The Fremantle Traffic Bridge has the highest State heritage rating, because it is of significance. If there is no future for trucks and vehicles on the bridge, it can continue to exist for pedestrians and cyclists.

As former Fremantle Council Heritage Architect, and current Fremantle Society Committee member Agnieshka Kiera said in 2005: “The major guiding principle of conservation is to extend the economic life of a significant place for as long as possible.”

No more broken promises.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
images: Dowson collection

8 May 2020

Yard Property - the yardstick for heritage

View from the top scaffolding of Yard Property’s new purchase from Main Roads – the long vacant East Fremantle Post Office at 101 Canning Highway, on a very busy junction. The real estate company intends to make the old post office their new headquarters by the end of 2020 after an extensive restoration project.

East Fremantle separated from Fremantle 123 years ago and has fiercely fought moves to be reintegrated with Fremantle ever since. After independence, it desired its own identity and a new post office, police station, and town hall. The first post office, in 1898, was in a ‘commodious’ room attached to Messrs Pearse and Samson’s concert hall on Canning Road run by Miss Adams.
When the Public Works Department informed the locals they were getting a new post office, the citizens were delighted, until it was revealed it would be a simple low one storey building akin to the ‘back blocks’ style of the police station built on the adjacent block next to the town hall.
The locals won the battle to get a proper civic building, and Mr Lake came down from Subiaco to build for £1472 the handsome two storey building seen here that is now being restored by Yard Property. The whole top floor was given over to a three storey house for the postmaster, with a handsome London style front door entrance at the front of the building. The post office opened in 1901.

Nathan Hewitt (left) and Todd Grierson of Yard Property survey the view from their new asset, looking towards the forlorn Royal George Hotel, also an orphan of Main Roads, though one still neglected and unloved after so many decades. While Saracen bought the Royal George for next to nothing and demanded a 20 storey tower block on the site to pay for the restoration of the hotel, Yard Property asked for no density bonuses. They are doing the right thing by their building, for the right reasons.

Extensive repair and restoration works are under way and this picture shows the original signage just revealed after using the product Peelaway to remove many years of paint.
Yard Property deserve praise for taking on this major project in such a thorough and sensitive manner.

They say they are delighted the building is part of the East Fremantle Heritage Trail, and when completed, Yard will welcome trailers to ‘drop in for a scone.’ The only person not welcome will be Kodak, the graffiti pest who has damaged this building and many others from King’s Square to the river on numerous occasions.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
Photos by John Dowson, except for the cropped B&W courtesy of Fremantle Library.

5 February 2020

Les Lauder in Tasmania

The founder of the Fremantle Society and the main architect of the campaigns to save Fremantle from the wreckers no longer lives in Fremantle. Here he is comfortably ensconced in a gorgeous setting amidst the heritage of Hobart Town, the second oldest settlement in Australia.

Just before he moved in 2017, Les Lauder was awarded the Order of Australia for his work in saving Fremantle, though the Fremantle Council never congratulated him.

He and Mark Howard have done a superb job rescuing a very important early colonial house, and the photograph shows how splendid the interior now is.

Les has also been active in local politics, where the same problem of developer greed and high rise dominate local planning. As in WA, unelected development assessment panels are riding roughshod over community wishes to keep their community’s built form character. Les paid to attend one set of panel hearings for high rise proposals in a heritage setting, and using his vast experience was able to help protect an important downtown streetscape.

With the Fremantle Society’s 50th anniversary just 2 years away, we need to make sure he returns to enjoy some of the celebrations.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

28 January 2020

24 Hours to Get a Quality Cultural Centre

Tomorrow night, Wednesday 29 January, Fremantle Council will discuss the 828 sq m Tavern proposed for the new $45 million Administration Building in King’s Square. Last week, only two councillors voted against it: Cr Lang, Greens member for City ward, who faces re-election next year, and Cr Thompson.

As the Fremantle Society detailed last week, the deal is a shocking and inappropriate one.

The new administration building was touted as a “Cultural Centre”, and that is what we should get.

The community, yet again not consulted, is disengaged and unhappy, but unlikely to storm the barricades. It would be helpful if members turned up tomorrow night at the North Fremantle Community Centre at 6pm to voice their views, or at least write to councillors today. Councillor emails end in and begin with the councillors first name and initial eg geoffg (Geoff Graham), jennifera (Jenny Archibald), hannahf (Hannah Fitzhardinge, sug (Su Groome), frankm (Frank Mofflin), Samw (Sam Wainwright), Brynj (Bryn Jones), adinl (Adin Lang), andrews (Andrew Sullivan) and marijav (Marija Vujcic).

The Fremantle Society has been told that even the Church of England, who own half of King’s Square including a church 20 metres from the proposed tavern, have not been informed.

Below is what will be sent to all councillors (it might help you pose some questions to all of them at though individual emails are better):

Tavern Lease for new Administration Building

Please consider that ratepayers are paying $45 million for a new administration building they did not ask for, especially as it is destroying the only town square in Western Australia. It is opposed by two former Premiers, former Fremantle MP Troy, the Fremantle Society, and all urban design experts asked.

The new administration building was promised to be a civic building and a “Cultural Centre.”

Please therefore make sure we get a high quality “Cultural Centre” where a top class library with plenty of books (and not a preponderance of computers and coffee machines), sits alongside a revamped Local History Library. Fremantle’s Local History Library used to be the best in the State until council sacked half its full time staff and decided not to have a stand alone facility. The staff should be reinstated and the Local History Library should be a stand alone unit as before.

A “Cultural Centre” also needs area for exhibitions such as art displays (why is the council’s multi million dollar collection invisible?), meeting rooms, and information areas like a Tourist Information Centre.

A large tavern as proposed, which, even if it was run by a good operator, is a very bad idea for a civic building, especially if there is a long rent free period and a long 10 plus 10 year lease. Unsightly access for services, unloading kegs, storage of empty kegs and oil drums, grease traps, and bin areas alone will turn prime real estate into an ugly interface.

In Melbourne for the tennis, I stayed at a famous hotel because it looked attractive from the outside. However, the operators have given over most of the entrance area to a large tavern, which is so noisy and invasive, it ruined the whole purpose of going there to stay. A civic building is not the right place for a tavern. Fremantle is now under siege from endless new alcohol venues and that monoculture should not be supported by council, especially as many people do not drink alcohol, and want a civic experience in their new building that speaks of dignity, calm, culture, and peace.

There is no need to have everything finished and installed in a new civic building, just because there is a mayoral election next year. If 130 operators turned this idea down, there are very good reasons.

Besides not discussing this with the community, your council has not even discussed this with the Church of England, who own half of King’s Square, and are not happy to hear of a tavern 20 metres from their church.

Finally, can you please indicate why the Expression of Interest for this Tavern is not being readvertised when the extraordinary incentives being offered such as $500,000 fit out paid for by ratepayers and free rent for 3 years, were not offered to all those who initially saw the EOI?

Please vote for a Cultural Centre and not a Tavern.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

15 January 2020

Garry Gillard – Great Fremantle Stuff

The Fremantle Society, and many others, are indebted to Garry Gillard for the amazing work he has done single-handedly constructing a Fremantle version of Wikipedia.

Garry has posted a plethora of interesting pages about Fremantle people, places, buildings, and events over recent years.

Carmen Lawrence: “That is going to be a blight on the City of Fremantle for the next 100 years”

The most important is the recent posting of the complete speech former Premier Carmen Lawrence made several years ago to the Fremantle History Society about doing density differently. It was entitled “Is Increasing Density a threat to Fremantle’s heritage?”

This important speech was made in 2016 at the Fremantle History Society’s Fremantle Studies Day. The speech was an important rejoinder to the damaging and undemocratic high rise path being pursued by Fremantle Council in developing the town.

The speech was so important it should have been released immediately to the media. Instead, the Fremantle History Society, who holds the copyright, disgracefully kept the speech hidden. The speech might have made a difference, and helped save King’s Square, something the Fremantle Society tried hard to do. The Fremantle History Society is not into advocacy, which is a great pity, but this speech by a former Premier backs up the concerns expressed by another former Premier, Colin Barnett.

The Fremantle Society asked the Fremantle History Society if we can reproduce the speech, but they have not responded.

Garry Gillard has gone ahead and posted the whole speech. It [will be] available on his Fremantle Stuff site [but has been withdrawn for the time being at the request of the copyright holder, the Fremantle History Society]. A few extracts:

In struggles to preserve our heritage in the face of these economic goals, those goals may take precedence over what is really precious to us. So in a funny kind of way the metric of money because it is tangible and palpable – overwhelms the things that we cannot value so readily. Decisions about what matters and whether and how to protect heritage are often made without reference to the views of the public at large. It is only when people object that we find out what they care about. Those judgments are often made by experts and specialists and when they do ask people what they want it is often as not to ignore it once they have found out.

People know what Fremantle is about. It might consist of certain building materials, familiar here, colours, typical arrangements of scale and architectural form, building lot sizes, roof lines, the scale of public and semi-public spaces. I am sure we could all draw a picture of Fremantle that incorporated all of those elements and there would be a great deal of agreement between us about the nature, if you like the DNA, of Fremantle. The important thing here is that when you are thinking about increasing density, or building new civic buildings, or increasing the number of opportunities for people to have recreation on the waterfront, this DNA has to be respected. In my view. New buildings have to respect this genetic code, reflecting at least some of the existing patterns when they are being interpreted in contemporary form. There has to be a conversation; there has to be a relationship.

There is another one that you would be aware of in the old Spotlight site. I do not think that has come to anything yet, but the proposals being suggested are very like, as I understand it, the scale of old Johnston Court, which is one of those buildings that sticks out like a sore thumb. Similarly adding an extra storey here and there, out of sync with the streetscape, out of sync with the texture of the environment, is likely to have very significant effects as well.

I have on my thumb drive here an image of what is proposed for St John’s Square, which many of you will be familiar with. I find it hard to imagine that anybody could have looked at that place and said that that building, or those buildings, were the solution to the problem that we have there. Apart from anything else having a whole lot of office space is not likely to bring life to the city; you actually need people who live there and a big triangular building with all these grey facades plonked in middle of a square, out of sync with the town hall and the church is giving up what could be a wonderful opportunity. That is going to be a blight on the City of Fremantle in my view for the next 100 years and I think that is a tragedy.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society


photo courtesy The Guardian

7 January 2020

Disfigurement of a World Famous Town

Who Cares?

When the large deck appeared on the Elder Building above (now MSC) it stuck out like a sore thumb, and was so damaging to the heritage roofscapes of the listed West End, that it was assumed to be just a serious error that would be soon rectified and removed.

But no, months later it is still there. By day it disfigures one of the most important buildings in Fremantle, and diminishes the landmark quality of its cupola on the corner of Phillimore and Cliff Streets. By night, as seen above, it resembles a flying saucer landing in the West End.

The Fremantle Society has been shocked to learn that the deck with its louvred canopy roof was deemed by Fremantle Council officers to be ‘not unduly obtrusive’ and that the Heritage Council, which Mayor Pettitt sits on, raised no objections.

There are now endless examples of damage to heritage buildings  in Fremantle like this, and there do not appear to be any rules any longer. The rule book has been thrown out.

This disgraceful situation will be a focus of the Fremantle Society as it tries to make heritage once again a subject of importance to Fremantle Council. Since Fremantle Society committee member Agnieshka Kiera left council as heritage architect, there has been no strong advocate for heritage on council.

With 2020 vision, we will work to bring back the scrapped heritage committee, the scrapped heritage grants fund, the scrapped 1.25% of rates to heritage projects, the scrapped annual heritage awards, and the scrapped annual local history awards.

17 December 2019

President’s Report

10 Dec 2019 AGM Kidogo
by John Dowson


2019 has seen a united committee, with Secretary Chris Williams, a lawyer in High Street, Treasurer Adele Carles, the former MP for Fremantle who is invaluable with her background, Jack Turnbull, not officially on the committee but who helps with the finances, Mike Finn, a businessman in Market Street with the famous Kakulas shops, Robert Bodkin, another businessman, at Bodkin’s Bootery in High Street, Peter Scott, who is also precinct convenor for Arts Precinct, Ian Molyneux , the inaugural chairman of the Heritage Council, but who has been very ill this year, and Agnieshka Kiera, who, as Fremantle Council’s heritage architect for 25 years, was and is a superb advocate for heritage – though unfortunately now relocating to Sydney. Jeremy Bean was elected but withdrew during the year. I thank all these wonderful people for the time and effort they have given to improve Fremantle. As we approach our 50thanniversary in 2022, we need even more helpers!


A chronology for the past year shows:

December 2018: At a meeting with the Fremantle Society, former Premier Colin Barnett tells the Fremantle Society: “If I was still Premier, I would put Fremantle Council into administration.” The Fremantle Society is not alone in its concerns about the local council.

Royal George Hotel and George Street Precinct: The Fremantle Society worked closely with the pro-heritage East Fremantle council to ensure sensitive development of the Royal George Hotel and the reinstatement of the missing George Street Heritage Precinct.

Felice Varini Yellow Lines Fiasco: Ratepayers have had to foot the bill for over $200,000 worth of repairs to buildings in High Street because Fremantle Council left the paint on the buildings. The Fremantle Society lobbied for better outcomes for the repaired buildings.

January 2019: Campaign to save King’s Square. Despite the backing of experts and two former Premiers, the Fremantle Society was unable to convince council to save $45 million and keep King’s Square as the only true town square in Western Australia.

February 2019: The sale of the Spicer Site in Henderson Street by Sirona is investigated and it is discovered Sirona made $1 million profit from onselling this ratepayer asset.

Rubbish Fraud: Fremantle Society drew attention to the 2% rates levy for an extra rubbish bin, when many people will not get the bin, much waste is going to landfill, and the 2% rate increase means that that amount is paid every single year, instead of as a once off.

May 2019: Aboriginal Centre: The Fremantle Society continued to lobby for the maintenance of Arthur Head, and wrote to the mayor and councillors concerning the wasteful $50,000 being spent on a report about a $50 million Aboriginal centre at Arthur Head they will never get funding for, and didn’t receive a single reply.

June 2019: The Fremantle Society campaigned on the issue of the alleged mistreatment of stallholders at the Fremantle Markets, the missing millions of $$ that should be going to ratepayers, and the lack of restoration of the Markets. Council dismissed all concerns.

July 2019: The Fremantle Society worked with the Guildford Society who helped achieve the heritage listing for the whole of Guildford, vindicating the Fremantle Society position that more of Fremantle’s historic town should have been heritage listed.

Fishing Boat Harbour: The Fremantle Society attended a workshop on a proposal to develop the boat lifters’ site, which months later has morphed into a high rise apartment proposal.

September 2019: The Fremantle Society campaigned against the development by Yolk Property, who bought the Josephson Street ratepayer asset car park for $1.15m against a valuation of $1.42 and are given permission to build an apartment block on the corner of Josephson and High Street 5.4 m higher than the allowable maximum height.

October 2019: President John Dowson ran for City Ward in the local elections and narrowly missed out beating the Green’s incumbent Rachel Pemberton. Top election issues included the state of council finances, poor quality development, failure to curb anti-social behaviour, parking woes, and the proposed sale of the Leisure Centre Car park. Following the election the council implemented John Dowson’s idea for two hour free parking.

Former president Ralph Hoare wrote, in agreement with Fremantle Society concerns about the nearby town centre now, that this has been: “A very clear but sad period of development that in ten years has destroyed the essence of Fremantle that was renowned for its clear expression of its heritage past; and now this has now been tipped upside down under the current Mayor’s reign.”

November 2019: Arthur Head is in such a poor state due to council’s neglect and damage that they have asked the Fremantle Society for help in raising the millions of $$ needed. The Fremantle Society put forward the outline for a positive vision, but weeks later we have heard nothing and have not been provided with the documents we were promised.

More Submissions: Another made on the latest bizarre iteration of Cole’s Woolstores .

10 October 2019

Exciting Vision for Arthur Head

The photo above shows Fremantle Society committee member Agnieshka Kiera in full flight during a Fremantle Society meeting this week, whose main item of business was to get cracking on a positive vision for Arthur Head.

Arthur Head is in dire straits after years of neglect by Fremantle Council. The Round House only survives because of the amazing work done by an army of volunteers over many years.

Millions of dollars are needed for engineering works. The Round House needs quality maintenance and interpretation. Arthur Head needs better way-finding and lighting and interpretation. The Whalers Tunnel artefacts owned by the Museum were removed because Fremantle Council refused to maintain them. The archaeology of the whalers’ history has been vandalised and some removed by Sunset Events. The archaeology of the Power Station has not been done. The Maritime Heritage Trail (also known as the West End Trail) has been ignored by Council for ten years.

The vision being prepared will draw together themes and attributes of Arthur Head and Bathers Beach precinct, Round House, J Shed and the Maritime Heritage Trail.

Agnieshka had 25 years as Fremantle Council Heritage Architect, overseeing many important heritage projects, and in one five year period, raised $5.5 million in grants money.

She has handed over much of her work to the Society.

Any member with expertise or ideas is welcome to contribute.

The Fremantle Society is tapping into the expertise of its committee, members, and people we work with such as the WA Museum, the Fremantle History Society, and senior historians like Dr Bob Reece.

The committee is excited at the prospect of helping Arthur Head to have a well-funded future focussing on its many historical stories. Treasurer Adele Carles is organising a special event at which Agnieshka Kiera will launch the Vision, while Secretary Chris Williams is working through the many complex documents relating to Arthur Head.

There is very little money for heritage unfortunately, and very little interest in it, from local or state governments.

Fremantle Council have:

Abolished its heritage Committee
Abolished all funding for the Heritage Grants program
Abolished the annual Heritage Awards
Abolished the annual Local History Awards
Abolished the annual 1.25% of rates which since the year 2000 have gone into the heritage reserve fund.
AND, the State Government has just announced that ALL of the meagre pool of money available for heritage for a whole year is going to Fremantle Prison (who need $27 million but are only getting $3 million). So none of the owners of properties listed by the Heritage Council in the West End or elsewhere will be able to apply for grants for a year.

Premier McGowan once said: “Heritage is not sexy.” He obviously has not been to Fremantle.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
10 October, 2019

0409 223622

Written and authorised by John Dowson, 12 Mouat Street, Fremantle, WA 6160

9 January 2018

Linley Lutton/Hampton Road/ Manning Buildings

Vale Linley Lutton

The Fremantle Society extends its deepest condolences to Sue, Matthew, and Simon. Linley was not just a lovely person, but he had the rare ability to understand how urban design and planning should work, and to articulate clearly how to achieve good results. Linley will live on through his work.

Linley ran his own business as Urbanix Director of Urban Planning, was Adjunct Research Fellow, School of Earth and Environment, UWA, Unit Coordinator/lecturer, Urban Design for Planners, School of Earth and Environment, UWA, and Chair, City Gatekeepers – Advocates for Better Urban Planning.

Linley wrote reports for the Fremantle Society on King’s Square, Atwell Arcade Development, and 8 Pakenham Street Quest apartments, all ignored by the mayor and councillors.

Linley resigned as a member of the Fremantle Council’s Design Advisory Committee in December 2013 in dismay at how council handled major developments. This is a paragraph from his resignation letter:

Fremantle projects such as 8 Pakenham St, Point St and 85 Queen Victoria St are examples where I (and other DAC members) have been consistently expressing significant concerns about the projects from the initial presentation – to little avail. These projects simply advance through the system until they reach a crisis point. Another emerging example, which further confirms my sense of futility about the DAC process, is the Spicer site redevelopment. I and one other DAC member expressed concerns during the architect’s presentation about the poor relationship between the applicant’s proposal and the neighbouring Warders’ Cottages. Scale, materials and relationship with the public realm are the primary concerns. I notice in the most recent information sent to DAC members that the applicant makes no attempt at any level to address these critical issues. The applicant is going down the same path of ignoring DAC concerns.

Linley stated in another letter: There are three significant projects I will attest to where the DAC had very serious reservations and these projects have continued to go through the system at COF. At Victoria Park, projects causing major concern to the Design Review Committee would mostly be rejected. I sent this email in August 2013 regarding two projects. I have no idea if my concerns were properly recorded. The views are strongly expressed in this email but are consistent with the DAC committee discussions on both projects:

8 Pakenham Street (Quest apartments) and 81 Queen Victoria Street

These two projects are among the worst I have evaluated in many years. Each suffers from gross over development of their respective sites. In both cases the proponents have been uncooperative and have attempted to chip away with minor revisions without attempting to resolve the major problems.

What concerns me most is why both proponents felt it appropriate in the first instance to present such overdeveloped solutions. What message are they being given when they start the process? Why would a proponent think five storeys on the corner of Pakenham and Short Street would even be a possibility?

Both projects set poor precedents and if approved there will be no stopping others.

Unlike the DAPs, our role goes well beyond simply facilitating development. I understand the push to get development happening but not at any cost, surely!

I am not able to support either project in their current form.

Mediation with the mayor was sought and Linley wrote about that:

——– kindly arranged a mediation meeting between myself and Brad Petit a few weeks ago during which I was candid and open, as was —-, about many issues including the problems associated with Amendment 49.

Brad said he would set up a meeting with myself, himself, Andrew Sullivan and Phil St John to discuss the problems and I have never heard since.

I suspect he has met strong resistance to such a meeting.

Attached are my diagrams which show the impact of shadows on Point Street for at least two full months during winter. This applies equally to Queen Street or any street with a similar alignment.

Any good urban planner would never allow this to happen in an existing small-scale city centre.

My diagram showing how the situation is partly resolved by setting the buildings back is also attached.

Andrew Sullivan was the major driver of the building height changes and he misunderstood the serious shadow impacts caused by taller buildings.

Following my public comments on this issue he has tried to justify his work in several social media statements but he simply reinforces his ignorance and lack of experience with every utterance.

Following his resignation Linley continued his interest and involvement with Fremantle, speaking at public meetings and writing reports for the Fremantle Society. It was stressful for him and his supporters to see the lack of respect shown by council for his well articulated and sensible views.

Photograph copied from Linley Lutton’s Facebook site.

Notice of Planning Proposal 16 Hampton Rd

The Fremantle Society has received the following letter from Keith O’Brian asking Fremantle Society members to be aware of this issue and to make a submission to protect the buffer zone fo the World Heritage listed Fremantle Prison.

DA0568/17- Submissions close 12 January

I am writing to advise Fremantle Society that the above planning proposal has been lodged with Fremantle council with a deadline for responses on or before 12/1/2018.

This submission is for a massive new 3 story building plus basement that takes up most of the block to effectively replace an existing interwar cottage that is part of a group of 4 such cottages opposite the world heritage listed prison. The only remaining part of the cottage appears to be the front facades as a token nod to the heritage of this building.

The same owner previously applied for a demolition order for this cottage in 2010 and after a protracted process that included three separate heritage reports that found the cottage had some heritage value and contributed to the street scape and a SAT appeal, the council rejected the demolition order. Significant quotes from the heritage reports are copied in italics below. Note that the Harkness report was actually commissioned by the applicant at the time to support his demolition application.

A Heritage Assessment was required under Local Planning Policy 1.6 – Preparing Heritage Assessments and was prepared by Palassis – Architecture and Heritage (the full heritage assessment is available as Attachment 2) and concluded:

16 Hampton Road is a representative example of single-storey residential dwelling in Federation bungalow style.

16 Hampton Road has a high degree of integrity as a dwelling in a substantially intact street of domestic buildings.

From external inspection the dwelling at 16 Hampton Road appears to have a moderate degree of authenticity, with some changes to the street-facing elevation and probable later rear enclosures having little effect on the form of the original building.

By Harkness:

It has some significance as a generally intact residential dwelling loosely reflective of its era of construction, although of relatively low significance in terms of its specificarchitectural quality, authenticity and representativeness.

It has some significance in its contribution to the generally intact and variegated residential streetscape of Hampton Road.

It has more specific significance in its contribution to the group of Inter/Post War houses within which it is immediately located.

The Fremantle Society at that time also opposed the demolition and made a submission to thecouncil which helped preserve this building. The third heritage report agreed with the original report and found that the Harkness report commissioned by the applicant was biased towards demolition even though it acknowledged the heritage value.

The new application calls for discretionary assessments on the following points:

• Side and rear setbacks

• Building height (external wall and roof ridge)

• Visual privacy (North/South/East)

• Vehicle sightlines

• Site works

• Fencing (primary)

I would strongly urge members of The Fremantle Society to view the plans at the City of Fremantle and make submissions that the proposed building would significantly alter this important street scape opposite the prison and is extreme in its size and bulk, greatly exceeding the R4 building codes. It will also reduce the heritage value of the adjacent cottages from the same period.

Unfortunately the timing of the submission just before the Christmas/New Year break will ensure the least exposure to the residents of the City as council is closed between Christmas and New Year. The electronic file size is approx 29 MB and is quite difficult to read in .pdf form so I am not attaching it to this document, however if you contact you can request a copy quoting DA0568/17. Alternatively go to the administration building and view the paper copy when they re-open.

I would copy pictures of the proposal however the document is password protected to prevent snapshots being taken, possibly to minimise discussion on this proposal?

I have copied the submission form for this application on the next page so if you do wish to make a

submission you can print it out.

Thanking you in advance for your consideration of this application.

Kind regards,

Keith O’Brian

9/1 Bellevue Tce.


Manning Buildings Redevelopment

The gorgeous building shown at the top of this post is part of the Manning Buildings (7 William Street) before it became Norm Wrightson’s Hairdressing in 1933. Until then, for over 30 years it was home to the famous Fremantle photographer Charles Nixon. The attractive verandahs are long gone, but should be reinstated. Instead of Silverleaf spending the required 1% for art for this project ($100,000) on more dismal public art like the three poles in the Mall which represent the public art for the Atwell Arcade development, the money should go for a proper restoration job on these beautiful verandahs and shop fronts.

This $10 million redevelopment comes to planning committee this Wednesday (6pm at North Fremantle Community Centre) with a recommendation for approval, with few changes following a huge number of concerned submissions. The plans didnt even go to the Design Advisory Committee. The Fremantle Society submission is summarised below. Apologies for the lack of images and maps.

Executive Summary

The proposal for the Mannings Buildings at 135 High Street in the Mall seeks partial demolition of the Mannings Buildings, the separation of first and second floors, which have been united for over 100 years, the removal of all existing staircases, works to shopfronts and awnings, removal of various existing walls, and provision of a 1500 sqm brewery.

This is a once in a generation opportunity to revitalise a critically important central city building and in particular to make better use of the underutilised upper storey. This opportunity to get an excellent outcome must not be missed.

Unfortunately, the proposal is brutal in its treatment of heritage elements such as the rear structures, dismissive of the social history of shops like Norm Wrightsons’ Hairdresser, whose business has existed in the same shop since 1933, silent on the 1995 council recommended reinstatement of original verandahs, and does not seek to restore and reuse the former existing Majestic Theatre still in existence there.

This is a major development of a level 1b building, designated as being of ‘exceptional significance’ to the city. Under council’s town planning scheme, nothing of heritage significance can be allowed to be demolished. A very detailed and careful assessment of this proposal is essential to prevent any loss of original heritage fabric.

The Fremantle Society believes this project should deliver a carefully refurbished heritage building where internal and external heritage elements are respected and kept, where the original verandahs and shopfronts are reinstated, and where important social history like Norm Wrightson’s is celebrated and encouraged to continue in its current location.

The Manning Buildings

Designed by renowned architects Cavanagh and Cavanagh in 1902 in Federation Free Classical style, the collective group of buildings make a bold, confident, and significant contribution to the streetscape. The three shops in William Street (7, 9, and 11) were constructed earlier and had a two storeyed open verandah, rare in Fremantle (see next page). The Majestic Theatre was not opened until 1916 and closed in 1938, becoming the location of the first Coles to operate outside the Perth CBD, The buildings have housed many and varied tenants over the years, including the famous photographers Izzy Orloff and Charles Nixon.

It is unfortunate that the original verandahs were removed in the 1950s as with many Fremantle properties and that the original shopfronts in most cases have been unattractively altered.

However, the building is listed as being overall of ‘exceptional significance’ to Fremantle and there are many individual original elements remaining on the facade, at the rear, and inside some of the shops.


Given the recent highly controversial Atwell Arcade development by the same developer (Silverleaf’s Gerard O’Brien) just 10 metres from this proposal, extreme caution and care should be taken with this development to ensure that mistakes made there are not repeated here.
One Fremantle architect described the completed Atwell Project as ‘such a tragedy’ with ‘a gigantic loss of original fabric’. The damage to the world famous gold rush roofscapes of Fremantle with the new glass office block, the alterations to the arcade, the lack of restoration of verandahs and shopfronts, the failure to complete the building as approved, and the failure to complete restoration as promised, are clear warnings.

1) Restoration of verandahs

The developer is not proposing to restore the verandahs of the shops, as he should, yet council spent several years between 1994 and 1999 discussing the issue, and paying for plans to be drawn up with all the detail necessary to encourage the Manning Estate. The detailed plans and files are in the council archives.
As one architect stated: ‘The Mannings Buildings are naked without their verandahs and awnings.’ In particular, the double storeyed verandah originally on 7-9 William Street as shown below, should be reinstated.

2) Norm Wrightson’s – Important Social History

Plans submitted show the relocation of this business to Market Street, and the demolition of much of the shop, to facilitate a brewery.

The tenant does not want to relocate. There is enormous social history with this business having being been there since 1933. Only Warren’s Menswear is an older business (1931) in the Manning Buildings, but they are not been asked to relocate and their shop is not being demolished.

The developer wishes to make this shop, which is directly opposite the entrance to the town hall, the entry to his brewery. Such proximity to the town’s most important civic building is an inappropriate location for such a business. The shop should stay.

The social history of the various shops in the Manning Buildings is highly significant and should form part of the assessment to ensure that any relevant significant fabric is preserved and the story of those businesses told. Such story telling would add significantly to the marketing advantage of the refurbished premises. For example, Swansea Cycles and Motor Co factory was originally at 9 William Street adjacent to Norm Wrightson’s and significant original fabric may still exist at the rear (see image below). Given the current interest in cycling, this heritage is relevant today.

As the WA Historical Cycle Club notes: They started business at 9 William Street, Fremantle, with a small annex at the rear of the shop where they began making their own bicycles using components imported from England. In the first year of trading Swansea made and sold all of 70 cycles. The great Wall Street crash of 1929, followed by the disastrous Depression years actually helped Swansea Cycles, as many people found bikes a great means of cheap transport that was healthy as well By 1939 Swansea Cycles had expanded to larger factory premises in Newman Street Fremantle, with 5000 square feet of floor space, a staff of 33, and a turnover of more than 1500 cycles a year, as well as trotting spiders and children’s tricycles. There were also branches at Barrack Street, Perth and in Kalgoorlie and Bunbury, with agents throughout the state. 1939 saw the introduction of the top end 4 and 5 Swan models.

3) Facade Works and Shopfronts

a) Shopfronts: Most of the existing shopfronts have been altered and do not match the significant heritage values of the rest of the building above. This is a once in a generation opportunity to create a high quality
shopping environment that will be an attractor for the businesses with distinctive high quality shop fronts which match the heritage values above by recreating the original shopfront configurations.
Some shops currently have roller shutters, which should not be permitted because of the detrimental effect on both the building and the street scene.
In terms of security it should be remembered that smaller paned glass, transoms, mullions and stallrisers are more difficult to break into than large areas of glazing as recently installed by this developer nearby at the Atwell Arcade buildings. They are also cheaper to repair.

b) Cinema Facade: The developer proposes to ‘tuck paint’ the former cinema’s facade on High Street. The paint should be stripped and a proper tuck pointing restoration carried out.

c) Electronic Security: all security systems should form an integral part of the design and be located unobtrusively in order not to interfere with any architectural detail.

d) Lighting: Internally illuminated letters or fascias can conflict with the design of historic shopfronts, are incongruous in heritage areas and must be resisted by council. Full details of the fitting, method of fixing and luminance should be provided by the applicant. Moving signage, as currently existing on one Manning Building shop (tobacco shop) is not allowed under council bylaws.

e) Materials: Traditional materials should be used. Timber is appropriate as is wrought and cast iron.

f) Corporate colours and styles: Corporate housestyles can seek to have shopfronts and advertisements inappropriate for historic buildings, and may have to be adapted to fit in with the age and character of the building.

g) Original detail: Where possible, original detail should be preserved. The photos below show how the original pediments on the left of the Manning Buildings have been covered over and need to be revealed again.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
9335 2113

27 October 2017

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.

19 October 2017

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?

20 June 2016

DAPs (Development Assessment Panels) and the Disastrous Amendment 49

Digesting the DAPS and Dahl

You saw this image last week. Another appalling development for Fremantle (the mayor blamed the DAP system, whereas in reality it is the scheme amendment 49 amendments which are allowing such dismal outcomes).

We had a full house last night at the Maya Restaurant to discuss the DAP (Development Assessment Panel) system. Former Fremantle MP Adele Carles was there and wrote to Julie Matheson, Subiaco councillor, who had addressed us. This is the letter from the former MP:

"Thank you for addressing us last night in Fremantle about the failed DAPs system. I was the Member for Fremantle when this legislation was passed in Parliament and I did not support it. Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren did not support it. However the DAPs took effect in 2011 and its negative impact on Fremantle has been compounded by the fact that the Fremantle Council removed height controls in its Local Town Planning Scheme after this in 2012. Here is a timeline showing how this has played out to the detriment of Fremantle:

1) May 2010 - The Liberal Government and the Labor Opposition supported the DAPs legislation in the State Parliament. I spoke against it warning that it was undemocratic and totally unsupported by the Local Government sector. Click on link to see Hansard debateApprovals and Related Reforms (No. 4) (Planning) Bill 2009

2) 2011 - I wrote to all Fremantle Councillors advising them about the dangerous DAPs law that had now taken effect. I advised them to tighten the Local Town Planning Scheme as this would bind future DAPs decisions. Click link to read this letter CBD Heights

3) 2012 - in a test case, the DAPs approved a development in Bayswater that the whole Bayswater Council had rejected. Again, I warned Fremantle Council that the only way to ward off future bad DAPs decisions in Fremantle was a robust, protective Town Planning Scheme. Click linkChickens Coming Home to Roost on DAPs

4) 2012 - Fremantle ignored my warnings and took the opposite action. It unanimously amended its Town Planning Scheme (amendment 49) to INCREASE HEIGHTS in the CBD of Fremantle. It knowingly removed height restrictions in its Town Planning Scheme that previous generations of Councillors had worked hard to secure.

5) February 2012 - I tabled Don Whittington’s 442 strong petition in Parliament calling on the State Government to ensure the built heritage and human scale of Fremantle be protected Act to Protect Fremantle’s Future

6) June 2016 - Brad Pettitt complains that the DAPS is bad for Fremantle!! Yes, we know this…we predicted this 5 years ago, but the horse has now bolted. Click on link to readMayor gives DAPs a blunt assessment.


7) Fremantle needs to restore the protections it removed in its Local Town Planning Scheme in 2012.

8) The ‘Scrap the DAPS’ campaign should focus in on the State Parliament with petitions and other campaign strategies making this a big State election issue for March 2017. State MPs created this problem in 2010 and only State MPs can fix this mess by repealing this ill-conceived legislation. As we heard last night, the States of NSW and Victoria have repealed DAPS laws. We need to do the same here in WA.

Thank you Adele for allowing us to publish your letter.

At the meeting, members voted as follows:

That The Fremantle Society:
1. Writes to our Local Member expressing its dissatisfaction with the Development Assessment Panel process and calling on her to request the Opposition to support their removal and
2. Requests the City of Fremantle to support the positon adopted by many other Councils and pass the Scrap the DAPs motion.

Members can sign up to receive details of the DAP affected community by using this email: <>

10 June 2016

Another Dismal Quality Development Approved

The photo above shows the latest in a string of dismal quality developments approved in Fremantle.

Right next to the heritage of St Pats, next to the heritage of the Australia Hotel and in a sensitive area with Princess May Park adjacent, the overscaled and insensitive building pictured will forever reduce the heritage significance of this important part of Fremantle.

Fremantle Council's meddling with the Town Planning Scheme has led to this tragedy.

Already, across the road from this development at 8 Queen Victoria Street, the unsightly new six storey apartment building there has just gone into receivership.

Quality sells, but Fremantle Council is not giving us a quality environment.

It was the government's DAP (Development Assessment Panel) that approved the Foundry development pictured and it is the DAPS that are causing outrage in communities around the state. While other councils are campaigning against DAPs, Fremantle Council is not.

For that reason we are holding a dinner and talk next week on Thursday 16 June at Maya Restauant to hear Julie Matheson, anti DAP campaigner and Subiaco councillor, discuss the issue. On 2 June we invited the mayor and councillors to this event because the Fremantle Society wants the Fremantle Council to promote a better planning regime, but not one councillor has accepted our invitation, The mayor is unavailable due to another function.

Members - if you like these new boxes in Fremantle that's fine, but if you want quality development that looks to the future please help the Fremantle Society secure better results.

RSVP please for the dinner ($30 for two courses at Maya Restaurant), Thursday 20 June at 7pm sharp.

Please reply to:

5 June 2016

Heritage Festival Rolls into Final Straight

When only the best will do.

Proud owner of a vintage Rolls strolls past his vehicle in High Street with his son, both in vintage dress, in what was a very successful Back to the 60s Day as part of the annual Heritage Festival - which finishes Monday 6 June.

Ex Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson said that the beautiful English villages where he lived were despoiled by too many ugly modern motor vehicles and that only good and attractive cars should be allowed anywhere near the heritage towns. Well today High Street was clear of junk cars and four wheel drive rubbish for an interesting array of long loved machinery from the 1960s, all in splendid condition.

The Roller pictured may well be 1970s, but it's vintage, like most of us.

4 June 2016

Dazzling Dinner Date with DAPs and Dahl

Dear Members,


The Fremantle Society has organised an event for you on Thursday June 16 at Maya Restaurant in Market Street Fremantle for 7pm sharp.

Julie Matheson, pictured above, will be our guest speaker, on the issue of DAPs (Development Assessment Panels) and the SAT (State Administrative Tribunal). That doesn't sound sexy but wait till you hear all about it.

Julie Matheson is a Subiaco councillor and is running as an independent for the Senate in the current Federal election. She is a dynamic and interesting campaigner for community rights.

DAP panels, dominated by unelected members appointed by the government, will soon be making decisions on all planning applications worth more than $2 million. A number of councils are campaigning against the DAPs.To get Fremantle Council involved in this issue, we invited the mayor and councillors two days before sending this notice to you. We know that all resolutions from public meetings in recent years and seemingly all submissions made on planning issues to Fremantle Council have been ignored, but we felt that inviting councillors as early as possible might work.

The Maya Restaurant won Best Indian Restaurant in Australia some years ago.
Their two course menu for $30 is as follows:
Dinner Menu
Raita- house made yoghurt with cucumber & cumin
Eggplant pakoras- crisp chickpeas batter, tamarind & ginger
Butter chicken- clay oven roasted chicken finished in a sauce of tomatoes, roasted fenugreek, cream & little butter.
Dahl- a combination of lentils, cumin & tomatoes
Palak Paneer- ginger, sauteed english spinach, ricotta, tomatoes, little cream
Lamb rojan josh- lamb medallions, spicy sauce, caramelized onions, tomatoes, cardamoms & ginger.
Plain Naan- fluffy white flour bread cooked in tandoori oven
Basmati Pulao - cooked with cumin & cardmons
Cost - $30 per person
Seats are strictly limited. Please book now.
I look forward to seeing you
John Dowson, President
Contact Helen Cox:
Arrival time - 7pm
Meals to begin served once all guests have arrived- 7.15 - 7.30pm
Drinks - purchased by guests from bar.

3 June 2016

Mismanagement of ratepayer assets - again?

Arthur's Head

Yes, you have seen this photograph before. It shows the dismal clutter of intrusive signs and lights at Arthur's Head, arguably the most significant heritage site in the State.

Over one million dollars ($1,000,000) was spent studying this area with funding from the 1988 Bicentenary. Plans and projects and policies were developed. All that was thrown in the bin when the current council decided to turn the heritage precinct into an arts precinct a few years back. That has not worked and the Fremantle Society, which values Arthur Head, is entitled to complain about the mismanagement of this important asset of Fremantle. A huge amount of time and money has been wasted.

The Fremantle Society supports the Roundhouse Guides, Kidogo, the J shed artists and tenants such as photographer Glen Cowan.

One of the key issues at Arthur Head is the 21 year lease granted to Sunset Events to run large concerts and sell alcohol on the A class reserve. It was heartening to see the planning committee of council last Wednesday under the chairmanship of Cr Strachan refuse the approval for large concerts. The community was there in force and spoke very well and thankfully the councillors listened. Crs Strachan, Jones, Waltham, and Nabor voted to support the community and the heritage of the location.

The mayor was not there and neither were the councillors who have pushed the poorly thought out and poorly executed arts precinct idea - the Mayor, and Crs Pemberton and Coggin, and former councillors Wilson and Grey-Smith. The issue goes to council at the end of the month.

Commercial Break: Please put Thursday 16 June in your diary for an interesting event run by the Fremantle Society. So that we get at least some Fremantle councillors along we are inviting the mayor and councillors FIRST, several days before you even get to know about it, so that we cannot be accused of not including them!

Blogger Roel Loopers summed up some of the various issues with the arts precinct plan as follows:


Posted in art, arthur head, city of fremantle, heritage, tourism, western australia by freoview on June 2, 2016

The rejection last night by the City of Fremantle Planning Committee, of the proposal for a tavern and live outdoor music venue at J Shed, shows that the attempt by the City to activate Arthur Head by making it into the Bathers Beach Art Precinct is an abysmal failure.

This was never a well thought through concept, but merely a thought bubble that did not have an outcome in mind. You evict three parties from the Pilot Cottages at Captain’s Lane and lease out the buildings to predominantly average artists, creating a ghost town at night that attracts more and more homeless people. Who in their right mind would think this would create activation of the area?

After Mutima closed, now Wild Twig has also closed and artists up there are struggling to earn enough money to just pay the rent.

The Walyalup Aboriginal Culture Centre is another example of a failed concept. It has not become a community hub for Nyoongar people and it has not created an indigenous experience for overseas visitors either as it is very insular and uninviting. To make it even worse the culture centre nows shares the tiny cottage with an Aboriginal health service, that will do nothing to activate the area.

The Roundhouse guides count every single visitor, so we know exactly how many come through the doors each and every day of the week, and it totals to around 120,000 visitors a year. Now that is substantial and activation of historic Arthur Head, so why the change to an art precinct?

When the Fremantle Port pilots, the Crookes family and the Fremantle Society occupied the cottages there was 24/7 activity. The kids brought friends home from Lance Holt School, the pilots worked day and night shifts and the Society organised events on Australia Day, heritage festivals, etc, and held bowls nights for the community to connect. We engaged with tourists and wedding parties and made it an inviting experience for visitors. Homeless people did not enter the backyards or slept and defecated on the front verandas because we lived there and looked after the place.

What was Fremantle Council hoping to achieve by selecting Sunset Events as the preferred applicant for the number one studio at J Shed? They had called for expressions of interest for a cafe, small bar, function centre, but not for a live music venue and tavern, so why was that considerate to be a good idea in one of our State’s most significant heritage areas that houses the oldest public building in Western Australia?!
Why is there such a desperation at Council to create a youth culture in Fremantle when our city has a higher than average older population the COF should be looking after? There is already plenty of live music and there are heaps of pubs and nightclubs in Freo, so why change Arthur Head into an entertainment precinct? What is the rationale behind it?

The J Shed debacle shows an almost insane wish by the City to accommodate whatever is needed to change the place forever. No road access through Fleet Street? No worries, the City will allow trucks through the Whalers Tunnel or along a tourist path, or even have a lift next to the Gunners cottage to get goods down to the tavern. How utterly ridiculous!

There is almost a child-like attitude that when the community en masse does not want something in Fremantle, Council will do it in spite. You say no so we say yes is not good governance and looking after one’s ratepayers. Arthur Head demands a rethink at Fremantle Council.

Arthur Head needs a real concept by people who understand the historic important of place. It needs day and night activation so that there is passive and active surveillance of the area to combat anti-social behaviour. Artists studios will not activate the area, but Aboriginal activities, music, dance, etc, would create interest from overseas visitors. Having language classes at 6 pm might get ten people in the door if one is lucky.

The history of place needs to be embraced and promoted more and better. Money needs to be spend on making a visit to the Roundhouse even more interesting with new modern interactive displays and cleaning up the stairs and walls in the area. Arthur Head deserves that because that is where British settlement started, where the whaling station was, the quarry, the Mews family started the fishing industry, the first courthouse and police station were there and the harbour master had his house next to the Roundhouse.

There is no shame in promoting heritage and there is no need to change the heritage area into a mediocre art and entertainment precinct. The art component at Arthur Head has been well looked after at J Shed by the great sculptor Greg James and ceramic artist Jenny Dawson and others for twenty years, and Studio One should have been leased to create an art gallery with a small cafe and wine bar, with an alfresco area to watch the sunset. That would have been a really good addition to what already is a really interesting and fascinating place.

Why Fremantle Council wants to reinvent the wheel at Arthur Head is anyone’s guess and leaves me flabbergasted.

Roel Loopers

Wednesday 1 June Council Planning Meeting

30 May 2016

Letter from the President

This Wednesday (1 June) Fremantle Council will reinforce their approval for a 21 year lease for alcohol and loud music at Arthur Head's J Shed at the 6pm planning meeting.

The fact that it is a shocking, shabby, and totally inappropriate use of the State's most historic landscape will not concern any councillor, as none to date has taken much notice of the large number of community complaints about it.

No matter that there are already licensed premises for 1000 people just 200 metres away at the refurbished Fishermen's Co-Op, Council will plough ahead with its alcohol 'activation' plan for this historic area.

Anyone who spends five minutes reading any of the $1 million worth of research commissioned into the importance of Arthur Head, will conclude that what the council is doing is immature, damaging, and unbelievable.

Anyone who reads the 2007 Archaeological Conservation Plan for the area will see that the emphasis for this area is supposed to be history, history, and history.

Council's own documents state that the area is of 'exceptional significance' and that the area should be presented: "in an iconic way as an archaeological heritage tourism site."

Instead we will get loud noise and litter.

Council will say that the State Heritage Office approves the damage, but we know that the State Heritage Office, is but a thin shadow of its former self, and their own website detailing the heritage listing of Arthur Head only discusses the Round House and omits altogether the rest of Arthur Head!

Members- please take an interest in this issue and DO something. The councillors' email address is:


Below is the endless waffle from the officers' report trying to justify the unjustifiable, instead of spending their time and our money following existing policies for the area and enhancing the values of the historic precinct:

[A very large file has not been included here, as it's probably available from the Council site.]

28 May 2016

Good Turnout for Fremantle Society Event

Fremantle's senior architect and restorer of the old lunatic asylum in 1968 Rob Campbell joined Fremantle Society president John Dowson today at the asylum (Arts Centre) for a talk and walk with a good crowd in attendance.

Threatened with demolition in 1958, it took 10 years to save the place and get agreement for a restoration program, one of the first major restoration projects in Australia.

Riddled with rats, pigeons, chooks, and vandals, it then took years to restore. Rob, a Fremantle Society member, explained the challenges of getting the funding, the tradesmen, and compliance with building codes of the time.

The coloured plan shown here relates to the work carried out by the talented government architect George Temple Poole from 1886 when adding to the original 1865 work. The red coloured roofs clearly indicate that the materials to be used for these new sections should be wood ie shingles, as with the earlier roof sections.

Recent Fremantle Council work to the building has seen inappropriate tin sheeting used instead, looking dreadful, and adding to the poor decision to replace the stolen copper downpipes with plastic, instead of using the insurance money to replace them with copper. If original shingles were too expensive, facsimile ones should have been used, as Rob Campbell did 48 years ago. Council intends further damage to the building next financial year with more inappropriate roof replacement.

It was noted that the hard work of the previous council to get the place nominated for National Heritage listing, and possible future World Heritage listing along with Fremantle Prison, has not been pursued by the current council.

John Dowson provided a chronology of the history of the former asylum, noting that one of the last lunatics to be admitted was the Fremantle Mayor. In 1903 the Fremantle Mayor was admitted due to 'chronic alcoholic insanity.' He had been telling people he was the Duke of York and that his daughter was the princess of Fremantle.

The full historical chronology will be published on the Society's blog.

For the story of the (lost) battle at the Arts Centre to save the last remaining US Navy built building in Fremantle from demolition- the US laundry building on the eastern perimeter, see the 2011 article by then Fremantle Society President Jon Strachan entitled "Whitewash at the US Laundry" on the Society's blog.

23 May 2016

Visit Garry Gillard's site:

The Asylum itself is the first point of interest, being a building complex that was only just saved from destruction, mainly by Mayor Fred Samson. There is a free tour of the Asylum in this years's Heritage Festival, noon, Saturday 28 May, conducted by architect Rob Campbell and Fremantle Society President John Dowson.

Proceed down Finnerty St and turn right to go across to Queen Victoria St and turn left into it.

Queen Victoria St is the Fremantle street most obviously undergoing rapid and radical change. It used to be a street of luxurious houses like Villa Maria. The only remnants are the houses in the row of terraces at 20-26.

Villa Maria, Carl Ratazzi's house, Queen Victoria St - now Shacks to Officeworks

Passing the Proclamation Tree and Marmion Memorial, proceed into Adelaide St. This is a street of churches - but one is missing. The Johnston Memorial Church has been replaced by the Johnston Court block of flats.

Johnston Memorial Congregational Church, Adelaide St, 1877-1968 - now Johnston Court flats

Prospect House was the gracious home of Captain William Jackson, RottnestSuperintendent, and used to be on the corner of Adelaide and Point Sts, where there is now a trivial retail building.

Prospect House, Cnr Adelaide and Point Streets, 1886-1967 - now Ferrari Formalwear clothing hire shop

Turn right into Queen St, left into Cantonment Street, and left again into Market St. On that corner is the Wesley Church, next to which used to be the 1841 Wesley Chapel and Hall.

Wesley Hall and the 1841 Chapel, Cantonment St - now shops

Turn right into High St, to observe the aspect towards the Round House, and also to note the former TAB building on the left, showing the disastrous setback planned at the time.

Turn right into Pakenham St which passes next to Pioneer Park and the State Ships building - now the Spare Parts puppet theatre.

On the corner of Short and Pakenham Sts, a new apartment building is under construction - on the site of Manning's Folly.

Manning Hall, aka Manning's Folly, cnr Short & Pakenham Sts, 1858-1928 - now a building of many apartments

Turn left into Phillimore St, and observe opposite the two fire stations, the older one of which was saved by the FS. Note the Railway Station to the right, partly saved by the Fremantle Society. Only half of it was built, and none of it would have existed, perhaps, if the railway closure of 1979 had continued.

Passing the older Customs House on the right - now the home of the WA Circus School, and noting the weighbridge in the middle of a large roundabout, turn left into Cliff St, arguably the first and most important street of foundation Fremantle.

Near that corner The Residency would have been noticeable, until it was demolished in 1967.

The Residency, aka Government Cottage, Arthur Head, 1856-1967 - now a car park

WF Samson's house used to be on the corner with High St. The site is now a carpark.

WF Samson house, cnr Cliff & High Sts, c1885-1955 - now a carpark

The facade is all that is left of the Liebler Building. Where most of it stood is now yet another carpark.

Liebler Building facade, aka Reckitt & Colman Building facade, 21-29 - only the facade remains; there is a carpark behind it, where the rest of the building used to be until it was demolished in 1967.

The Pier Hotel once stood on one corner of Croke St.

Pier Hotel, Cliff St, 1873-1955 - site was an NDU carpark, now Tannock Hall, School of Education, NDU

The Cliff St Post Office was on the other corner. The first site now has Tannock Hall on it, and the other has been a carpark since the post office was demolished in 1967.

Cliff St Post Office, 1889-1967 - site has been a carpark behind the Sailors' Rest for many years, now used by NDU students

Return via Marine Terrace (Water Police Station and Quarters, Freemasons Hall, Esplanade Hotel), Norfolk St, Parry St (Fremantle Markets - another success story, Victoria Pavilion), High St - noting Dalkeith House on the left, and up to Hampton Rd to see where Ivanhoe used to be.

Ivanhoe, 8 Ord St, near corner of High St, 1889-1966 - now block of flats

Passing along Ord St, note that this was only the middle of the 45 acre grant of Fremantle Park, which has now shrunk to the section on the left. The area on the right is now mostly under the control of the Education Dept, as John Curtin school.

References and Links

FCC page for the tour

See also: Lost Buildings, Saved Buildings, (all) Buildings, Streets, (all) Stuff.

Garry Gillard | New: 30 April, 2016 | Now: 23 May, 2016

23 May 2016

Members Alert

Your 2016 Fremantle Heritage Festival arrives this week. Please support it. Check out the myriad events online.

The Fremantle Society is putting on two of the events as pictured above.

President John Dowson and Fremantle's most senior architect Rob Campbell team up again at the old lunatic asylum for a free talk and walk through our favourite Fremantle building. Rob did the original restoration and has plenty to say about the building then and now. Start: Upstairs in what is called the Pavlich Room. No bookings necessary.

Vice President Don Whittington talks and drives through Fremantle after extracting $10 from you to pay for the fake tram.

Tram Bookings: or 93356091

19 May 2016

King's Square or Coles

There were reports last week that the government had decided to move the Department of Housing to Fremantle and to house them in the Sirona/Fremantle Council King's Square plan.

The Fremantle Society has been campaigning to support Fremantle getting a government department, which would go some way to replacing the 1900 jobs lost when the hospital moved out.

The attached letter from Minister Marmion received today does not back up the rumours sweeping Fremantle. While the Fremantle Society is keen to see more workers in Fremantle it has grave concerns about:

a) the financial assumptions of the King's Square Business Plan, labelled 'absurd' by the licensed valuer commissioned by the Fremantle Society

b) the damage to King's Square, the only square in any town in Western Australia, by building a large new administration building on it which the community cannot afford.

13 May 2016

Pretty Picture followed by Commercial

Many members will know that Kakulas Sister in Market Street now has a little sister next door. Fremantle Society member Mike Finn and family have done a wonderful job restoring and reinvigorating their properties in Market Street and the new Little Sister delicatessen is magic.

Now to the commercial:

The Fremantle Society would like to hear from any members who have some time available to help with the Society's affairs.

Help is always appreciated in any area where a member has expertise or interest. In particular we are currently looking for:

a) Secretary -requires attendance at monthly committee meetings and taking minutes and dealing with some of the correspondence.

b) Archivist: Someone who likes organising records and helping find a home for the various boxes of Fremantle Society treasures which have been passed on over the years and need organising.

c) Activists: Those who would like to be involved in issues and write letters or lobby on behalf of the Society. Current issues include the West End listing, King's Square Business Plan, King's Square itself, Stan Reilly Site, upcoming elections, and many more.

Please contact president John Dowson ( or vice president Don Whittington (

7 May 2016

From the President

West End Update

The Fremantle Society has made its submission to the State Heritage Office regarding the listing of the 'West End'.

The submission took a great deal of work over many weeks to prepare and we are grateful for the expertise within the Society that has allowed a strong case to be put for the resolution agreed at the public meeting, that the area to be listed should be basically the original West End Conservation Area minus Fremantle Prison, the area that has been considered since 1975 to be the West End Conservation Area.

It has only been in the last few years through political interference, that the West End area has been reduced, to suit developers, putting at risk the heritage of the historic town.

This is a major issue, and the merits of the Fremantle Society proposed area became more apparent the more study that was carried out.

Remember, any person can at any time make a proposal to the State Heritage Office for a listing. Unfortunately no Fremantle property has been listed by the State Heritage Office since 2012.

The photograph with this article shows the current 5 storey Sirona development at 8 Packenham Street that Dr Lutton warned of two years ago and which caused him to resign from the council's design committee. His letter from 2014 in the Fremantle Herald is reproduced in full below:


September 19, 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.

4 May 2016

Picture Palaces of the Golden West

The Art Deco Society is a very impressive affiliate and friend of The Fremantle Society, and the work of Vyonne Geneve and Ron Facius in protecting and promoting Art Deco is remarkable. We reproduce Vyonne's letter here in case you are interested in Art Deco and the new book, which features the glorious artwork of Vyonne and her partner, Ron.

Dear Decophiles,

I thought you would like to know that the proof copy of Picture Palaces of the Golden West, authored by both Ron and myself, has finally arrived back from overseas and that we are pleased to announce that we are delighted with the result. (above) Apparently, so is the National Trust, who have already sent out flyers to their own members urging them to support the Trust's work in promoting the conservation and interpretation of WA's unique heritage by pre-ordering a copy of the book with a limited edition pre-package order containing a signed and numbered copy of the book. This offer is to be supplemented with a set of Art Deco cinema cards featuring the original artwork of both authors. In order to allow our ADMSWA members an opportunity to avail themselves of the same offer, you should soon receive a communication in the post from the National Trust, together with a message from patron, the Hon John Cowdell. I look forward to contacting you with details of a book launch when arrangements are finalised.

I have been asked to speak to a number of heritage and other interest groups on the content of the book and as you can imagine, these lectures will be individually focused and may need separate Power Point presentations - all of which takes up much time. Meanwhile our core work goes on, continuing to honour our society's aims and objectives including the identification, recording and conservation of art and architecture from the period between the wars in Western Australia. We correspond and meet regularly with the Museum of Perth to discuss the housing and digitising of the society's records; communicate with the press and various local government offices about the future use of some of our 1930s built heritage ( e.g. Former Grand Hotel, Wellington Street, Perth and Armadale District Hall - requiring yet another submission) and ponder the outcome of the 'Rationalisation of Stirling Highway Reservation' which, it seems 'will go ahead with modification'. (Perhaps Rosalind and myself were successful in our bid to prevent the widening of the highway, after all?)l. We'll keep you informed. We have also made a submission to the Heritage Council of WA supporting the Fremantle Society's stance on the creation of a heritage precinct in the Historic centre of Fremantle. In between these tasks we have been answering student enquiries and assisting with their projects.

We are also corresponding nationally and internationally with many other ICADS organisations. These include several welcome newcomers to the group and, whilst it is already established that World Congress on Art Deco 2017 be held in Cleveland, Ohio, USA, it has recently been announced that the 2019 Congress will take place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Whereas this society supported the excellent proposal put forward by the Twentieth Century Heritage Society of New South Wales to hold the 2019 Congress at Canberra, ACT, we are also happy to congratulate the Argentinian bid. As many will know, this South American city needs all the support it can get to save what is left of its sadly neglected unique early 20th century heritage.

In keeping with the cinematic theme, the 2016 Awards Night will honour some of our members who have actively contributed to the successful running of the society and will celebrate the work of Harold Krantz, whose architectural firm designed some or Perth's picture theatres as well as many early apartment buildings and other places.

Our next edition of Waltzing Moderne, whilst including stories from members whose families fought on the Western Front, will feature the Modernist buildings of Canberra, among many other related topics.

In between all of the above, Ron and I will be spending our double birthday (a big one for Ron) with our friends in Canberra this year. We'll try to avoid politicians - instead we'll check on Canberra's inter-war buildings, catch up with 'What's On at the Galleries', visit friends and colleagues at the National Gallery of Australia and the National Library and, perhaps, pop down to Melbourne to catch up with ADMSWA members there and say hello to Whistler's mother, who is visiting that city until mid June.

Yours decoratively,

2 May 2016

'West End' Heritage Submissions: Correction- State Heritage Office have indicated that while the offical closing time for submissions is 5pm today Monday 2 May, they will accept submissions over the next couple of days (

In yesterday's post to members it was stated that King's Square was once in West Ward of Fremantle. West Ward in 1905 was the area within one quarter of a mile from the post office, which until 1907 was in Cliff Street, so West Ward would not have reached King's Square then.

Below is an article from Agnieshka Kiera, former heritage architect at the Fremantle Council for 25 years and the person who knows more than anyone about the reasons why the area to be listed should be the Fremantle Historic Town and NOT the area proposed by Fremantle Council. The article is long but you can use it to aid your submission.

Agnieshka Kiera: A Chance to get Fremantle Heritage Right

It seems that everybody in Fremantle values the city’s heritage and feels excited about the pending listing of its area on the State Heritage Register. In this respect Fremantle is rich: the largest number of heritage listed places in WA, the largest number of the listed areas, the only one in WA cultural site on the World Heritage, the top tourist destination and now, potentially its whole historic core to be entered on State Register - an incredible opportunity to unite and support the proposed listing. It has taken a long time for the culture of heritage appreciation to mature in Fremantle, and the nomination itself has also taken the City of Fremantle a number of years to initiate and prepare. The opportunity to legally sanctify an area of Fremantle as significant to the State of Western Australia is rare, so important to get it right the first time. Yet, again, the community is divided.
So what is it about?
Despite plenty of statutory evidence to the contrary, the City of Fremantle chose and negotiated with the WA Heritage Office a nomination of a fragment of the historic centre of Fremantle for State Heritage listing, the area commonly referred to as the west end;
In accordance with the well-researched and documented evidence, the Fremantle Society is instead advocating nomination of the whole historic area, which includes the Town Hall, Railway Station, Fremantle Markets and Arthur Head – the so called Fremantle Historic Town.
In this case the City nominated the area of Fremantle, but according to the Heritage Act, any member of the public or organization can nominate a place to the State Register. After all, appreciation of the city’s heritage is not an exclusive right of politicians or bureaucrats. Fremantle Society is using the statutorily prescribed step of the nomination process, which compels Heritage Office to consult the community early on and obligates it to take the community feedback into consideration while determining, among other things, a curtilage of the area.

There is no surprise that heritage is a highly contestable area, all various shades of grey. Heritage is not a mathematical science, so whoever is expressing an opinion could be right.

This is why the nomination process specifies undertaking a rigorous and comprehensive heritage evaluation of the nominated place in order to arrive with an objective statement of its significance ( The documentary evidence required by the State Government is a critical first step of the nomination process and, ultimately, forms the most objective basis for the final judgment regarding boundaries of the area.

When in 2011 the City of Fremantle, with assistance of the community-based group, initiated the nomination process, it had commissioned Heritage and Conservation Professionals to research, evaluate and define the area’s significance as prescribed by the Heritage Office.

The report produced the required evidence and arrived at a comprehensive statement of significance and curtilage of the Historic Town of Fremantle ( Yet the Heritage Office using the same documentary evidence and self modified statement of significance, has reduced the area to include only the so called west end.

To date neither the City nor Heritage Office offered any compelling expert evaluation to support the reduction of the expert recommended area. Its one liner that the west end is ‘the most intact and legible example of gold rush architecture’ applies equally to the Fremantle Historic Town, including the street network, Railway Station, Kings Square, and the city’s symbol and landmark, Town Hall. However, in listing an area of Fremantle, there is more at stake than a due, statutory recognition of its significance. It would give owners and the City of Fremantle opportunities to seek heritage funding, making heritage agreements, ensuring harmony of new development within and around the listed area, including curtilage, landscaping and public spaces prior to development taking place and with the main objective to ensure public benefits.

It is so because the statutory listing of the whole historic core would form a base for translating heritage listing into the planning standards and controls in the listed area, providing a framework for development. The current, much more generic LPS4 zoning and height control offer no such prudent mechanism as it has no design process to inform the outcome at any scale prior to development. Instead it provides a framework for the developers’ led growth of the city immediately adjacent to the heritage area.

The only opportunity for the City and State to intervene is to slightly moderate aspects of the proposed development after a developer has submitted a proposal. It is this part of the planning process that currently generates so much uncertainty, thus conflict, between the developers, authorities and community. The larger area would provide a transition zone around the west end to protect its integrity while the reduced area offers no such transition.

So nominating the larger area provides a more solid rationale for a prudent conservation master planning as a next step following the heritage listing. It is the Fremantle Society’s proposal that will ensure good heritage outcomes, not the currently proposed reduced area.

Heritage decisions don’t belong solely to Elected Members. In this respect the community, Council staff, the Minister for Planning, SAT, even the developers make heritage decisions. The WA prevailing culture propagates the view that heritage stands in the way of development. So the developers’ lead development is based on the prevailing, generic views what’s profitable and rarely take into consideration uniqueness and specificity of the locality as inspiration to creatively explore the design option. In light of the conflicting perception of values, it is important to ensure that the procedural fairness and transparency forms the basis for the final decision regarding deciding boundaries of an area. There are many reasons for celebrating shared heritage in Fremantle and important for the decision makers to be flexible and generous rather than autocratic and callous in recognizing the built and social heritage of the city as its capital. Especially where there is an opportunity to stand by the community and its values.

The community response to Heritage Office’s call for submission would become an expression of the Fremantle’s heritage social values, especially if the submissions would stand by the Fremantle Society’s supported nomination.

2 March 2016

1 May 2016

Submissions for Heritage Listing of the 'West End' Close Monday 2 May


Urgent: Please consider putting a submission in, however brief, by the close of business Monday May 2 regarding the heritage listing of the 'West End.'

The Fremantle Society held a large public meeting at Kidogo in March to discuss the issue. The meeting and the Fremantle Society committee unanimously agreed to support the listing of the larger area shown above recommended by experts instead of the smaller area put forward by the Fremantle Council.

Your submission only needs to be a sentence or two, but it is very important to get our membership involved in this once in a generation opportunity.

The area shown above outlined in red is the area we recommend for listing and is known as the Fremantle Historic Town. It shows in different shades of blue various levels of significance within that area, bearing in mind that any precinct listing has properties of differing levels of significance within it.

Heritage listing of a precinct (or place) is not intended to freeze a place in history and disallow new developments or changes, but to give status to highly significant areas. We feel it is important to include Arthur Head, the Esplanade, King's Square and the Fremantle Railway Station in the precinct to protect the old historic town. Don't forget that King's Square was at one time within the political boundary of West Ward!

Please go to and return the form or your own comments separately to

26 April 2016

Major Property Developers Back Fremantle Society

Major property developers Gerard O'Brien of Silverleaf and Anthony Van Der Wielen of Empire Property met with the Fremantle Society today to back up Society concerns about the King's Square Business Plan.

They agree with the Fremantle Society that:

a) We all want a new government department to come to Fremantle.

b) The plan should have gone out for public tender.

c) The council assets are being sold too cheaply.

d) The financial assumptions of the plan are deeply flawed.

e) There are not enough caveats in the plan to protect the ratepayers.

f) The Business Plan should not be extended by Council on Wednesday 27 April.

More details of our discussions to follow later.

25 April 2016

Reminder of Event by Fremantle History Society

Lionel Holdsworth: Convict Aristocrat
Fremantle Arts Centre, Pavlich Room, 6.00 p.m.

Professor Bob Reece will deliver a talk on the man who was convictism in Western Australia's greatest success story, Lionel Holdsworth of Liverpool and Fremantle, 1826-1901.

24 April 2016

Letter Sent to Mayor and Councillors

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

The Fremantle Society has sought advice from a range of professionals regarding the Business Plan. We commissioned a licensed practising valuer to assess key aspects of the plan. The valuations of the properties are not the key elements of what is important, though one major developer told The Fremantle Society on two occasions that Fremantle Council was selling $50 million worth of assets for $29 million.

Amomg the key issues are the financial assumptions. We sent you our concerns in an article which quotes the licensed valuer, but not one councillor responded. To date, it seems not a single Councillor has sought independent advice to better understand the nature of these concerns. Referring questions about these issues back to the Mayor and City of Fremantle staff does not constitute independent advice.

As councillors you know that you have a fiduciary duty to ensure that you are properly informed to make a decision on this matter. Ignorance is and will be no excuse or defence in the future for the consequences of your decision if we pursue these issues through legal means if necessary.

Ten Things You Need to Know about the King's Square Business Plan

1) While it is essential to do everything possible to get the 1250 Department of Housing workers to Fremantle, they do not have to be in a civic space like King's Square. Kings Square should be used predominantly for civic, retail and residential purposes, with some commercial.

2) The financial assumption in the Business Plan that the new $47 million administration building will increase to $97 million in 20 years for the building alone is 'absurd' according to the licensed practising valuer commissioned by the Fremantle Society. It is totally illogical to say that the current administration building has zero value but that a new one will more than double in value in just 20 years to $97.7 million because it is promised to be a better built building. It is our understanding that NO single councillor has sought independent expert advice on that issue, and they should before voting.

3) The false assumption for the new building destroys the 6% claimed NPV, making it negative, and therefore NOT allowing council to borrow funds for it.

4) Council is selling the 850 car bay Queensgate for $16 million and then intends spending $15 million building a 400 car bay car park on the 'sacred' community site known as the Stan Reilly site. That is an unsustainable use of ratepayer funds.

5) Queensgate was earning $1,471,829 in rent in 2010 despite vacancies and some use of the building by council. The valuation of the building in 2012 was $15.9 and should have been sold then instead of emptying the building of tenants and waiting until Sirona was ready to purchase, meaning that when lost rent is taken into account and deducted from the heavily discounted sale figure of $6.3 million, ratepayers will be getting almost NOTHING for one of their prime assets.

6) Building a new administration building for the mayor, councillors and staff, along with an underground library the staff do not want, destroys half of King's Square and prevents Fremantle getting a true civic square for the future as recommended by experts such as Ruth Durack and the Urban Design Centre using Geoffrey London, Adrian Fini, Richard Weller, Dominic Snellgrove, Patric de Villiers, and supported by others such as Ian Molyneux, Robert Campbell, Linley Lutton, and the Fremantle Society. If a new administration building is needed it does not have to be in the same location.

7) The designs proposed for Myer and Queensgate, which include building up to 7 storeys on part of the Queensgate site, not 6 as the mayor states, bring a Claremont Quarter style large box development to the heart of Fremantle which is foreign to and damaging of the heritage of the area.

8. The King's Square Business Plan has so far failed to keep Myer and revitalise the city centre as proposed and the ratepayer is subsidising the developer Sirona, so the plan should not be extended but let lapse so that further negotiations can take place that do not keep having the ratepayer subsidising the developer.

9. There is no urgency to extend the plan yet again, because the extensions are simply more financial loss for the ratepayer and if the refusal to extend by Council triggers the purchase of the property by Sirona at least the $29 million will be available sooner rather than later.

10. If the plan is not extended but let lapse, council is in a position of strength to renegotiate a new deal which might exclude the necessity for example of Sirona building the administration building, a project the ratepayers cannot afford and which will do little to revitalise King's Square except further damage the value of the civic square. Have the councillors satisfied themselves there are enough funds available to ensure a new administration building of the promised excellence, which has already gone up from $45 million cost to an estimate a couple of years ago of $52 million?

Besides commissioning a licensed practising valuer we commissioned a report on King's Square which was part of our submission to the Premier when we met with him last week. Please see attached. Also attached is the presentation on the Business Plan given last Wednesday (we cannot attach those here but can provide them to any member who wishes to see them).

23 April 2016

Note With Reference to Previous Email Sent

Dear Member,

The previous email sent had a heading 'Personal Comment from the President' to make it clear that the comments were my personal comments and not those of the committee.

Unfortunately the heading did not end up in the email you received and I need to make it very clear that the email was sent by me as a personal comment and update to the events since last Wednesday night.

The Fremantle Society committee will meet to discuss the issues arising from the public meeting and decide their course of action.

My apologies that it wasnt made perefectly clear to you that the comments were personal views to keep members up to date.

John Dowson

22 April 2016

Dear Fremantle Society Member,

Today I met with the Premier Colin Barnett to go over the issues raised at Wednesday's joint meeting of community groups.

The resolutions from the Wednesday meeting have already been sent to you and have gone to council.

For last Wednesday's meeting we did not invite the council to present their material because we had a full agenda and the groups felt it was important to get to the members and the wider community and present our case. The mayor and councillors were all invited but none turned up. In the past they have shown contempt for submissions and community comment.

FRRA has worked very hard since 2014 on the King's Square Business Plan issue. The Fremantle Society and FICRA are now firmly united with them on this issue. And this issue was the subject of most of my discussion with the Premier today.

He has been given a 37 page report using material commissioned from experts in planning, heritage and finance. A great deal of work has gone into that report.

We all want extra workers to come to Fremantle and we all want revitalisation, but the King's Square Business Plan has serious flaws.

As we demonstrated on Wednesday the issues raised are serious enough for the council to be sacked.

The key financial issues were detailed last Wednesday and more details will be sent to you.

In addition, the intended plan will destroy half of King's Square with a new admin building for the mayor, councillors and staff, bring Claremont Quarter type boxes into the heart of Fremantle, and bring into that heart a particular government department with attendant anti social issues. Council must fight tooth and nail to get the Department of Housing to Fremantle, but they do not have to be on the civic square where community activities should dominate.

Please do not let this issue slide by any longer. Please read the Thinking Allowed article in today's Fremantle Herald and at least ask questions of your councillors.

As the Premier said to me today: 'There are elements of this Business Plan that smell of WA Inc.'

John Dowson

21 April 2016

Resolutions of Public Meeting

At the well attended public meeting held by The Fremantle Society, FICRA, and FRRA at
Notre Dame University, 7pm 20 April 2016, there was unanimous support for the four resolutions passed.

The presentations were high quality and very informative. A lot of information was presented and further reports will be issued to members a soon as possible.

The priority at the moment is getting a report finished for the WA Government which is taking up a great deal of our resources.

From the meeting the following resolutions were made to be sent to Council:

1) The Fremantle Society (FS), Fremantle Inner City Residents Association (FICRA), and Fremantle Resident and Ratepayers’ Association (FRRA) request that the City of Fremantle engages a qualified independent party to review the Kings Square Business Plan financial analysis and funding
arrangements, with terms of reference to be agreed with the FS / FRRA and FICRA.

2) The FS, FICRA, and FRRA request that the City of Fremantle does not extend or renew the current agreement with Sirona

3) The FS, FICRA and FRRA request that, in the event that the extension or renewal is denied by the Fremantle Council, the Queensgate Centre,
Queensgate Car Park and Spicer Site properties are not sold to Sirona Capital until a new Business Case is prepared for the proposed sale of properties, and that community consultation is undertaken prior to a Council decision being made.

4) That Fremantle Council support the main recommendation of the Urban Design Centre 2006 report into the revitalisation of Kings Square which stated that the ageing administration building should be removed from the square and the square allowed to function as ‘a true urban square- of appropriate size and dignity to anchor the heart of Fremantle'.

[19 April 2016]

Wednesday 20 April, 2016 at 7pm.
Notre Dame Uni cnr Croke and Cliff Street
'$220 million' King's Square Business Plan
The plan, the largest in the City’s history and already delayed by several years, is due to be extended despite key financial questions from City ratepayers remaining unanswered.
Fremantle City Council are withholding financial information which may reveal that the major city centre re-development will result in close to a $50,000,000 erosion of Fremantle's ratepayers asset base, rather than the gain claimed by Council. Fremantle ratepayers believe they have a right to know how their Council is spending their funds.
The city’s former Mayor, Peter Tagliafferi, has likened council's actions to a ‘...return of WA Inc'. He has described the project as 'Crazy', and 'a disaster waiting to happen'.
The Fremantle Society (FS), in collaboration with the Fremantle Inner City Residents' Association (FICRA) and Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association (FRRA), are holding a public meeting on Wednesday 20 April at Notre Dame University in Fremantle. At that meeting, presentations including information from a professional review by a licensed valuer of key assumptions, commissioned by the FS, will reveal the King’s Square Business Plan (a joint project by the City and developers Sirona), is not financially viable.
As part of the plan, the City’s Councillors have voted to sell property to co-developers Sirona at well below market prices, which will result in a financial burden that can only be recovered by large rate increases. The council have refused to hand over their financial assessment after many requests and the Fremantle Society and FRRA and FICRA are seeking an investigation into the financial assumptions of the plan.
We want King's Square area to be redeveloped, but not at any cost.

Smoke and Mirrors- Why Your Money is Going Up in Smoke

16 April 2016

If you read one thing this week, make it this expose of financial folly.

Ratepayer assets built up over generations are in grave danger of being squandered by the King’s Square Business Plan. If it proceeds it will erode ratepayers’ asset base by close to $50 million.

The Fremantle Society in conjunction with FICRA (Fremantle Inner City Residents’ Association) has called a public meeting next Wednesday April 20th at Notre Dame to explain this. Both organisations, along with FRRA (Fremantle Ratepayers and Residents’ Association) have long held serious concerns about the financial validity of the plan but have been refused access to key documents since October 2014.

In 2012 the City of Fremantle signed the King’s Square Business Plan with developer Sirona Capital to revitalise Fremantle and keep Myer in town.

The plan has done neither.

The plan was promoted in council ads as ‘the most anticipated urban renewal program in Fremantle’s history’ (Herald 20/11/12). Three weeks later former mayor Peter Tagliaferri warned ‘This would be financial suicide if the city embarked down this path’(Herald 15/12/12).

The agreement between the City of Fremantle and Sirona expires on May 10. The agreement has already been extended once at the CEO’s discretion, and it is likely it will be extended again at this month’s council meeting on 27th. It should not be.

The Fremantle Society has secured independent advice regarding the assumptions that the City of Fremantle has hidden behind to fabricate its artificial positive NPV for this project. Amongst other things, the advice confirms “it is unbelievable to think that someone could or would state that a building (not building and land) would appreciate over a 20 year period.”

The independent advice obtained from the licensed practising valuer states that:

“1) The residual valuation of the buildings in year 20 can not be reasonable and is not a sound assumption for this Kings Square Project (KSP).

2) The 20 year future estimate at $97.5 Million for buildings which cost $47.44 Million today is absurd.”

Without this assumption, the Kings Square Business Plan financial analysis collapses from a slightly positive NPV to a $30 million loss to ratepayers.

To fund this project, the Council is intending to sell approximately $50 million of property to Sirona for just $29 million. The losses on the sale of valuable City of Fremantle property assets are not factored into the Council’s analysis. Combine the two, and this project creates a black hole that erodes close to $50 million of ratepayer value.

The Business Plan is a pure fabrication of figures to mislead ratepayers, and those responsible must be held to account.

Peter Tagliaferri again broke cover last year (Herald 29/5/15) to warn that the council’s plans for King’s Square were: ‘crazy, seriously,’ and a ‘disaster waiting to happen.’

While it is an exciting prospect that the Department of Housing may finally be making a decision to come to Fremantle, the project should not destroy ratepayer assets in the process and damage King’s Square by building a new administrative building there and turning the square into a claustrophobic triangle surrounded by large buildings. There are other locations for the mayor, councillors, and staff.

Only ten years ago council spent $50,000 examining, through the Urban Design Centre, the best outcomes for King’s Square. Their report concluded that Fremantle deserved: “a true urban square- of appropriate size and dignity to anchor the heart of Fremantle ….this is the concept that speaks to the City’s confidence in its future….and refuses to bow to the short term exigencies of a conservative marketplace. It celebrates the original structure of the space.”

The Fremantle Society will present its vision next week, one that emphasises the prime importance of King’s Square – opening it up by removing the aged administration building, relocating staff into a refurbished Queensgate Centre, and avoiding the unacceptable risk to ratepayer assets.

We need to learn from previous council projects at the Queensgate Centre and Westgate Mall which were financial disasters. The King’s Square Business Plan is much larger and financially riskier, and it is time for councillors to listen to the people they represent.

From the President

[15 April 2016]

Free Public Meeting 20 April, 7pm at Notre Dame
(cnr Croke Land [sic] and Cliff Street)

The meeting represents the values of three significant Fremantle groups, FRRA (Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers' Association), FICRA (Fremantle Inner City Residents' Association) and The Fremantle Society. The topics covered will be the King's Square Business Plan, which FRRA has been working on for some years, and the Fremantle Society vision for King's Square.

(Wanted: Members to distribute meeting flyers this weekend. Please ring John 9335 2113)

The image above of King's Square taken some decades ago when cars and intrusive new council buildings dominated, illustrate that King's Square has never in fact reached its full potential as a civic open space.

However, the handiwork of Philip Webster, phanton [sic] tree planter, can be seen with his magnificent Moreton Bay fig trees flourishing.

As the decades go by, the value of open and green space will increase, and The Fremantle Society would like to put forward the reasons why King's Square should not disappear under a new $45 million administration building as planned in the King's Square Business Plan.

Dr Linley Lutton will present a positive and sustainable vision. He believes: “The best squares are usually simple open spaces edged with interesting, low scaled engaging buildings.”

Before the meeting you will receive further information about the King's Square Business Plan. The Fremantle Society commissioned a practising licensed valuer to assess the plan and his conclusion is that one of the major claims of the plan is 'absurd,'

Shopfront Saga Continued

[15 April 2016]

Fremantle’s commercial and tourist competitiveness depends on presenting the heritage areas as authentically as possible. The failure of council’s heritage staff to ensure that is unacceptable.

The Baird’s building sits between the P&O and the Orient Hotels. All three buildings were designed by the highly significant architects- Cavanagh and Cavanagh, who designed among other things St Mary’s Cathedral and the fire stations in Fremantle and Perth. The Baird’s Building is listed by council as being ‘of exceptional significance to the City.’

The new shopfronts are totally inappropriate and do nothing to reunite the bottom of the building with the elaborate stucco decoration and Corinthian columns above.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

The Fremantle Society King's Square Vision

The Fremantle Society is calling a public meeting to present its vision (the GOOD) for King's Square and to explain why you should insist that the King's Square Business Plan (the BAD) be abandoned, and the mayor and councillors held accountable for misleading the public about the viability of their plan.

Council intends selling $50 million worth of property to Sirona for $29 million. It will turn King's Square into a triangle by building a $45 million administration building there for the mayor, councillors, and staff which the ratepayers cannot afford. It will bring high rise to the centre of Fremantle on Queensgate and other sites which will ruin the scale of the historic centre.

Designed in 2012 to a) keep Myer in Fremantle and b) kick start the revitalisation of Fremantle, years later it has done neither.

The King's Square Business Plan is a disaster (still) waiting to happen.

At its Council meeting on April 27, Council will seek to extend its deal with Sirona which runs out on May 10. The Business Plan has been shrouded in secrecy. Its figures don't stack up. A licensed valuer contracted by The Fremantle Society to examine the plan says it is 'unbelievable.'

Millions of dollars have been wasted already on a plan that destroys King's Square and its future potential as the worthy civic heart of Fremantle.

The Fremantle Society, now with more heritage expertise than the Heritage Council and Fremantle Council combined, has called on the talents of various members. Come and hear our vision. More details to follow.

12 April 2016

Public Meeting 20 April

A Crying Shame

Fremantle Council heritage staff and Heritage Council staff have spectacularly failed to ensure good outcomes for the West End in recent building works.

The building pictured here on the corner of High and Adelaide Streets has been well restored above the awning, but no efforts were made to have the shopfront harmonise with the upper storey heritage. The incongruity is alarming and totally unsatisfactory.

Next door to the Boost outlet is City Beach, whose shopfront I helped design when Deputy Mayor, when owners pretended they didnt know what a good shopfront looked like. Traditional materials, look, and form give semblance of original layout and harmonise with upper floor.

Please see previous post concerning damage to 5 Mouat Street last week.

From the President
9 April, 2016

Damaging works to 5 Mouat St

Damage to 5 Mouat St

Yet again, Fremantle heritage staff and heritage staff at the State Heritage Office have failed to protect Fremantle’s heritage.

Countless examples exist from recent years of less than ideal outcomes for developments at valuable Fremantle heritage properties. The damaging works carried out at 5 Mouat Street are just the latest example.

Last Thursday the Fremantle Council planning department was phoned about an urgent matter, asking for someone to call back.

Noone did.

The matter concerns the installation of air conditioning and other services that day into what is arguably the most photographed building in Fremantle, the level one heritage listed former Strelitz office and warehouse at 5 Mouat Street. The installation was being done in such an unsympathetic manner that I wanted someone to urgently check what was going on.

On Friday I rang the State Heritage Office and they said approval for works at the property had been granted and suggested I speak to someone at Fremantle Council as the responsible authority for the implementation of the works. I rang and spoke to someone at Fremantle Council and they suggested I speak with the State Heritage Office.

Later they suggested I write to Fremantle Council instead of talk, which I did.

The attached photographs show the unsightly works which have now been carried out.

The cheap nasty white plastic piping is totally unsuited for a level one heritage building no matter where it is used on the building and in this case the piping is very visible for passers by and for anyone wanting to photograph this important building. The works carried out have destroyed the important visual quality of both sides of the building.

I had the general manager and director of a major air conditioning company view the works on Monday and he agreed that what has been done is unsatisfactory. He said that white piping should not be used on commercial projects because it is not fire rated, and that the excessive use of piping was largely due to cost saving issues to avoid installation of pumps.

These damaging works come on top of earlier damaging works carried out on the building when heavy grey painted bandings were allowed, which turned the building from a soaring vertical Germanic masterpiece to a horizontal wedding cake.

Fremantle Society member and former Chair of the Heritage Council and former Fremantle Council Heritage Architect says: “this is intrusive and highly damaging to the degree of cultural heritage significance (CHS) (aesthetic value class) of this Place.”

Action must be taken by Fremantle Council to remedy the damage caused.

Local MLA Simone McGurk is taking the matter up with the Heritage Minister.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

Hougoumont Hotel Bannister Street

Submission on 15 Bannister Street, Fremantle, Hougoumont Hotel

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
[6 April 2016]

The Fremantle Society is concerned at the repeated damage being done to the important West End by the mediocre and lax approvals issued by Fremantle Council.

Tonight [6 April 2016] the Planning Committee is dealing with another controversial application, stage 2 of the Hougoument Hotel in Bannister Street.

The Fremantle Society agrees with the officers' recommendation to REFUSE the application.

West End Conservation Policy DGF 14 Part 4.2.2 (a) states: 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 to be a maximum height of three storeys, on the street frontage.

Further in the report it is stated: 'It is also considered that reducing the height of the building to three storeys at the street boundary would generally allow the proposal comply (sic) with the principals [sic] of the Burra Charter and the objectives of the West End Conservation Policy.'

That is supported by the Fremantle Society.

The Fremantle Society is concerned to hear that an argument to gain extra height is being put because the large Fowler building is 'adjacent'. The Fowler building is in fact down the end of the street and at right angles to this property and there is no conceivable way that a right minded person could conclude the proposed hotel is 'adjacent' to the Fowler building.

The developer is also claiming concessions because the proposal is claimed by the developer to have 'design excellence'. How a large group of containers stacked one on top of the other can be construed as 'excellence' is open to contention and debatable given the large mass proposed.

The Fremantle Society agrees with the applicant (p176 Planning Agenda letter from applicant 6 April 2016): 'It is also important to note that traditional buildings were not built with upper floor setbacks, rather they were built to confidently address the street. The provision of an upper floor setback is a contemporary design guideline solution whch departs from traditional building form and is in effect a crude default solution to moderate the impact of perceived building bulk in the absence of design excellence.'

This is a rarely understood aspect of the built form of the West End and on this basis the Fremantle Society does not support a fourth storey on the street nor a set back roof terrace with all the built features shown in the plans.

Finally, we ask you to ascertain: Why are referrals to the State Heritage Office repeatedly addressed with informal and overly brief comments instead of detailed assessments from the planning committee of the State Heritage Council (see p166 of agenda: letter from State Heritage Office 24 November 2015: 'The comments contained in this letter are not made under section 11 of Heritage of Western Australia Act 1990 but are provided informally.')

According to our advice, such a process contravenes the Act and opens your decision to legal appeal., which we will be considering if approval is given for this project with non-conforming additions.

45 Henderson Street

Missed Opportunity

From The President
The Fremantle Society
April 3, 2016

The vast and highly significant Police Precinct of over 7000 square metres at  45 Henderson Street, Fremantle, has been sold.

The asking price of $5.95 million plus GST gives freehold possession of seven buildings of varying age and value, but includes the former heritage courthouse and heritage barracks, in a prime location near the World Heritage listed Fremantle Prison, King's Square, and Fremantle Markets.

The sale at such a reasonable price was a missed opportunity, one that Fremantle Council should have grabbed with both arms.

Instead Fremantle Council are stuck in a disastrous business plan with developer Sirona.

The Fremantle Society wrote to you last week outlining serious concerns with the King's Square Business Plan which basically sells $50 million of ratepayer assets to developer Sirona for $29 million. Then, council intends building a $50 million administration centre for the mayor, councillors, and officers in King's Square, thus destroying King's Square and turning it into a triangle. After all that, the ratepayers will be left with massive debt for decades.

The Fremantle Society is demanding accountability for such a flawed business plan. The plan was supposed to be the catalyst for revitalisation, but in effect, it has wasted millions of dollars and years of time. The mayor and councillors are directly responsible for the seriously flawed plan.

Under no circumstances should the business plan be extended after the May 10 end of  agreement.

The Fremantle Society is working with prominent architects and planners to present a better vision for King's Square and the surrounding area, and that will be presented to you in the next couple of weeks.

The vision sees King's Square becoming a true civic square, better design and use outcomes for council owned Queensgate, and for example,  better options for the Spicer site (the car park opposite the Henderson Street warders' cottages that the council  intends selling to Sirona) to give enhanced linkages between the Cappuccino Strip, Markets, Prison, Police Precinct, and King's Square.

Fremantle deserves a town centre designed for the public good, not for developers' greed.

From the President, 28 March 2016

Proposed new administration building for King's Square

From the President
The Fremantle Society
28th March 2016

What's Up?

Arguably, the three most important issues for Fremantle at the moment are:

The total failure of council's King's Square Business Plan.

The development application lodged by Silverleaf for a 12 storey (38 metre  high) building on top of the Coles car park opposite the railway station.

Difficulties getting Fremantle Council to listen to the community and to value submissions made.

1. King's Square Business Plan:

a) The Business Plan was established in 2011 to revitalise King's Square in a joint venture with Sirona.

b) Despite council's own document stating: The Local Government Act prohibits the City from entering into a joint venture agreement with a private sector partner, the same document states: While the King's Square Project is not technically a joint venture arrangement, it should be considered as one.  (King's Square Project Bringing People to Fremantle Project Overview p2)

c) Former Mayor Peter Tagliaferri warned that such deals could lead to Freo Inc.

d) The project is based on selling $50 million worth of ratepayer assets for $29 million to Sirona.

e) The project is based on a government department relocating to Fremantle. Not only is that unlikely to happen given the current financial climate, but a decision will not be made until at least September after the cessation of the deal with Sirona, and Silverleaf are also seeking that government department to locate to their property on the Coles supermarket site.

f) Five years and millions of dollars in fees, consultancies, and staff time later there has been no progress.

g) In 2015 the agreement was extended by one year and is due to cease on May 10 this year.

h) In revitalising King's Square, the project was intended to give council $29 million towards a new $52 million building in King's Square to replace the current administrative building.

i) That new building will further encroach into King's Square, turning it into a triangle. But the remaining triangle is owned by the Church of England who may well be inclined to build on their land also, further destroying the city's civic square.

j) The Fremantle Society made a submission on the Business Plan (reprinted below) with concerns about, among other things, the financial assumptions made. Those concerns were dismissed. FRRA (Fremantle  Residents and Ratepayers' Association) have been trying since October 2014 to get access to documents to back up the financials but have been thwarted.

k) Experts such as the Urban Design Centre have argued that King's Square should not be cluttered with further encroachment, but that it should be EMPTIED of the current administration building. If not the city faced 'the intangible costs of foreclosing on an extraordinary opportunity to provide Fremantle with a civic square worthy of its cultural heritage and a dynamic urban future.' (Urban Design Centre's King's Square Revitalisation Concepts 2006)

l) Flawed mathematics: Council contends that the King's Square Project will have a net benefit of $4 million, based on an assumption that a new administrative building in 20 years will have a value of $92 million. Financial experts have told the Fremantle Society that is not the case, and in fact that there will be a loss to the ratepayers of $30 million.

2. Twelve storeys for Coles car park

Most people will be unaware that a proposal for a 12 storey commercial building (car park, offices, and hotel) is with council and is being assessed by their Design Advisory Committee. The site is the car park at Coles, opposite the railway station. At the first meeting of the Design Advisory Committee, chaired then and now by Geoffrey London, who was nominated for the position by mayor Pettitt, Mr London supported a proposal for that site of 18 storeys put forward then by a different developer. The current application has been put forward by Silverleaf, responsible for the objectionable architecture at Atwell Arcade and the banks in Queen Street. The application could damage forever the scale and character of Fremantle. Please see the Fremantle Society blog When Will Fremantle Get a Decent New Building? At

3) Council not listening:

Whatever submissions are made and however many hours are spent making them, they are generally ignored. This major problem has disenfranchised residents and ratepayers and is a fundamental issue that the Fremantle Society is addressing.

Please contact us with your views. We will be in touch again shortly.

January 11, 2013 · by Your Herald · in News

FREMANTLE city council's blueprint for redeveloping Kings Square has been slammed by both the Fremantle Society and former deputy mayor John Dowson.
The society's submission, prepared by former city councillor Henty Farrar, describes the Kings Square business plan as riddled with inaccuracies and seriously flawed.
The business plan has the council teaming up with developer Sirona Capital — the owner of the soon-to-be-vacant Myer building — in a $220 million joint venture to transform Kings Square and its surrounds. The council promises cafes and restaurants, commercial and retail space, apartments, a new library and a swanky hotel.
To pay its share the council proposes selling the Queensgate building and multi-storey car park and the old Spicers site at the corner of Queen and Henderson Street.
Society president Roel Loopers says the business plan fails to disclose the true nature of the deal between the council and Sirona and doesn't outline benefits to ratepayers. He says it's full of inaccuracies, misrepresentations and errors.
The overall impression is that the document has been prepared by the beneficiary of a land transaction, he says.
There is no justification presented for the sale of the city's highest-earning property asset.
There is no indication that the business plan as drafted has been subject to review by independent legal and commercial expert advisors.
Mr Dowson, a former society president, submitted a revised, shorter submission after his original—which took three weeks to prepare—was lost by council staff.
He says guidelines in the plan have serious flaws and fail to properly account for heritage.
The urban design guidelines begin with a principle which states that the heritage values of the area must be maintained and complemented, but by the end of the document, it is obvious the heritage values have been in large part ignored, he wrote.
This has serious ramifications for future resulting development and how it respects the heritage of the area and builds on it rather than overwhelming or diminishing it.
Mr Dowson accuses the council of kow-towing to developers rather than doing what is best for the delicate heritage scales of Kings Square.
By not going out to public tender, council has repeated the undemocratic course of action it took with Fremantle Markets, when it decided to appoint the Murdochs as lease holders, despite hundreds of aggrieved market stall tenants and members of the public repeatedly turning up in distress at council meetings to voice their concerns.

Garry Gillard