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Fremantle Society Emails

The Society ceased sending out printed newsletters in 2014, starting to send bulk emails (via MailChimp) instead, from 2016, continuing to 2022.
This is the weblog of the bulk emails sent to members and others subscribed to the email list. Most of the posts between 2016 and 2020 are not here. Many of the posts here are text only. The date of the emails below may also be a link to the MailChimp website with the original email.


2022 Fremantle Society Inc. 50th Anniversary Annual General Meeting
Tuesday 6 December, 2022
Scots Church Parish Hall, rear 90 South Tce, Fremantle

1. President's welcome.  Attendances noted. Program for the night.
2. Minutes of Annual General Meeting held 2021
Motion: That the minutes of 2021 Annual General Meeting be accepted as a true and correct record
3. President’s Report - John Dowson: Brief summary only - full report in booklet.
4. Honorary Treasurer's Report - Bill Ody
Motion: That the 2021-2022 audited financial statements be accepted as a true and correct record
5. Election of Committee members (Secretary Matt Wallwork to run election)
6. Close of meeting
7.50pm. Anecdotes from former presidents and special guests (4 minutes each speaker)
1. Jenny Archibald (president 1990-1991)
2. Carl Payne (president 1983)
3. Ralph Hoare (president 1994-1999)
4. VIP Guest Jeremy Dawkins (former Fremantle Council Director of Development & WAPC Chair)
5. VIP Guest Agnieshka Kiera (former Fremantle Council City Architect and current committee member)
6. Ian Alexander (president 2007-2010)
7. John Dowson (president 2000-2004 and 2015-)           
8.25pm: Move to Synagogue Tonic + Ginger Restaurant across road for Dinner

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
tel (61 8) 9335 2113
0409 22 36 22

Serious Corruption of the Rule of Law

On Tuesday 15 November 2022, JDAP met to decide the fate of the Chinese 3 Oceans application for 24 storeys at the former Ford Motor Company site in North Fremantle, also known as former Matilda Bay Brewery site.
The past record of JDAP (Joint Development Assessment Panel) in approving almost any development put in front of them whatever the expert evidence detailed against the proposal was well in evidence yet again.
Fremantle Council put to JDAP a recommendation for refusal based on serious concerns from councillors (except Cr Sullivan), the Fremantle Council planning staff, the Fremantle Council heritage officers, the Design Advisory Committee of Fremantle Council, and advice from the Heritage Council.
The community made strong and expert submissions on the day, including Fremantle Society committee member Ken Adam along with Tony Blackwell and Ingrid Maher. Cr Bryn Jones, who is a member of JDAP and chair of Council's planning department, moved the refusal. He was seconded by Cr Sullivan, the second councillor on the panel, who then used the seconding to talk FOR the proposal!
Cr Sullivan, as a member of JDAP does not have to mirror the council view, but as one presenter stated, there needs to be action against Cr Sullivan for the damage he continues to  wreak to orderly planning and sensible advocacy throughout Fremantle.
One member of JDAP basically supported the whole proposal and said height didn’t matter, it just needed tweaking. He foreshadowed a deferral.

Conflicts of Interest

The chair, Rachel Chapman, (after effectively declaring numerous conflicts of interest at the start of the meeting) more or less went along with that. She then proposed the deferral.
The final outcome - a 120-day deferral and car parking was not a consideration! And, apparently height was not recorded as a consideration.
Whatever body rules over us, it should be governed by rules and law.
JDAP rules over the whole community for any large projects.
The supposed intent of JDAP was to get better outcomes through a process using experts to make quality decisions based on expert advice.
That is clearly not happening. As with the Spicer site Andrew Forrest hotel, expert advice was left on the floor, and erroneous flawed arguments were elevated to righteous reckoning.
There has been a massive corruption of the process since JDAP was set up, and there is little evidence that the rule of law is being followed by them.
The Fremantle Society has been in talks with similar groups in other areas, and all have suffered the same corrupted outcomes.
The former Chair of the Western Australian Planning Commission Jeremy Dawkins is so concerned, he is flying here from his home in Sydney, not just to attend our 50th Anniversary event on Tuesday 6 December, but to begin talks on the planning reform that he and the Fremantle Society wish to lead, to allow the rule of law in WA to be followed.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

Do You Know These People?

Please find above:
a) Membership form for new members and details for current members about renewing their memberships.
b) Nomination Form for Office Bearers and Committee due 23 November
Please find below:
Contact details needed for the following former members (if you can help locate them please email:
Also, if you feel there is a former member we should send an invitation to for the 50th Anniversary celebrations on Tuesday 6 December please let us know urgently.

Contact details needed for:
Anthony Rutherford
Baden Pratt
Peter West
Fred Watson
John Hickman
Christine Wheeler
Kris Kennedy
Barbara Bennetts
Jeny McNair
Janet Burke
Stan Cole
Roy Edinger
Hector Jackson
Mary Kelly
Martin Lowe
Robert Nelson
Keir Matheson
Jan Ressing
John White
David Young
Aileen Whitmore
Neville Teede
Max Bevilaqua
Keith Sinclair
Audrey Fowler
Frank del Rosso

Do you have an anecdote or two?
Please send any anecdotes or stories about The Fremantle Society to the president : for possible inclusion in a commemorative booklet for the 50th anniversary
(200-300 words).
Deadline: 20 November.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

Former Ford Motor Company Site 24 Storey Development North Fremantle
Is JDAP Set to Ignore Expert Advice AGAIN?

Tuesday 3pm 15 November the detested JDAP (Joint Development Assessment Panel) will meet at Fremantle Council in the new undersized $60 million unfunded council chamber to determine the 24 storey application from Chinese 3 Oceans developers. The Chinese have employed Greg Rowe Associates who aggressively push their clients' interest.
Time to aggressively push the community interest.
Above is tomorrow's Herald.
The Fremantle Society has learnt that just today JDAP has asked Fremantle Council officers to prepare a recommendation for APPROVAL for next Tuesday's meeting despite a very strong officers report to REFUSE the application on grounds of heritage, urban design, height, and other issues.
Does this signal a push to approve the unapproveable?
Fremantle has been let down again by Cr Sullivan, who spoke against the officers recommendation for refusal, in what one councillor said was the longest speech in the history of the planning committee. During the marathon, he stated that " all heritage boxes had been ticked", though that is not the view of the heritage experts - The Fremantle Society, the Heritage Council, and the planning staff at Fremantle Council.
While it is true that slender towers can be better than dumpy boxes, the problem with 24 storey towers is that there is rarely just one of them - Canning Bridge had one tower for many years, but now the area resembles a new Gold Coast, with numerous developers seeking heights way above the agreed and prescribed limits. They can only get those heights because of the shocking JDAP system which is there not to get better outcomes, or provide development during covid, or provide the best expert advice, but simply to help the government's developer mates get what they want.
WA Inc Mark 2 is well under way.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

10 November 2022

From This to That (top photo shows Woodside with its original grounds)

Appeal to Fremantle Society from East Fremantle

This is the image of what developers Hall and Prior want to introduce into Dalgety and Fortescue Streets in East Fremantle. They want to build an aged care facility - which many people are in favour of in this location - but their proposed plan, as this image shows so clearly, will destroy the environment of the East Fremantle Woodside precinct and desecrate the heritage value of the existing Woodside House. It will also lead to the total destruction of smaller buildings on site which are also of significant cultural heritage value.

This proposed four-to five-storey edifice which will surround and dwarf Woodside House is currently being considered by East Fremantle Council before it goes to the State Government for approval.

The electors of East Fremantle have protested in large numbers and the proposal is still under consideration, but urgent action is needed to stop this going ahead in its present form. We are calling on organisations such as the Fremantle Society to help take action against this.

I attach an article from The Shipping News which gives more background to the proposal and associated issues.

Please do get in touch if you are able to help or can offer advice. Given the Fremantle Society's society's excellent track record of local advocacy in the heritage area, we would be grateful for input.

Sincere regards

Jan Gothard
57 Fortescue Street, East Fremantle

Our Immediate Response:

Hi Jan

Thank you for contacting us.

This is shocking to see. The original significant heritage is denigrated to being a minor player on the site and its curtilage is not respected. By sublimation people are increasingly being asked to accept these sort of developments as necessary and OK.

I didnt see such disrespect for iconic buildings when I lived in the USA where they dont rush to develop every square inch of land.

The community need to appreciate that JDAP, an appalling pro pro developer construct, say they make decisions based on 'expert advice', so my advice is:

a) by all means use whatever East Fremantle Council comes up with to support your concerns, BUT

b) because that council advice will already be in front of JDAP when they meet, you need to get EXPERT independent advice and have it presented at JDAP (you get 5 minutes).

No guarantees that works, but its the system.

We will send this to our members. Attached is the image of the main building, as published in my book Old Fremantle. A great amount of the charm and significance of the property is the curtilage, which back then was huge, and still needs today to be enough to allow the building to sit in its own space.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

5 November 2022

Council Agenda Issues: Comments from the Fremantle Society

1) Electors' Meeting:

a) Disappointing responses on financial questions. Obfuscation not transparency.

b) Concern that the fact the Annual Report was NOT accepted by the electors appears to be missing from the report.

c) Concern that the question asked by John Dowson "If Cantonment Hill and the River are listed for Aboriginal heritage, why is the escarpment that joins them not listed?" was NOT answered.

d) Concern that the $700,000 re-roofing project for the Arts Centre will proceed despite expert opinion that it will damage one of WAs most significant heritage properties by being totally inappropriate material.

2) South Beach Facilities:

The saga of the $3 million toilet block and changerooms carries on and on, with Cr Sullivan now writing that he will support, not option 3 recommended by the officers, but option one, which destroys a magnificent Norfolk Island pine tree, and adds $158,000 to the budget. Ironic that the Norfolk Pine marks the very beginning of the street eloquently called Ocean Road, and Cr Sullivan wants it replaced by a toilet block. The following comment was posted online in response to Cr Sullivan:

"It is shocking to see Option one being promoted by Cr Sullivan- leading to the destruction of a mature significant tree and a resultant project cost increase of $158,000. All options put forward at the moment are hugely expensive and unaffordable and will not be built any year soon. The options also do not deliver a great deal, and the overall result with extra parking bays and extra concrete paths to the beach will be ugly, compared to the reasonably modest current iteration which does not take up too much of the important grassed area. One's arrival at the beach should not be blighted by a long strip of changing facilities and toilets, extra car bays , and more concrete paths, which for around $3 million do nothing to improve the coffee shop area next door, which is arguably a more important facility for most beach users. Be sustainable, and refurbish the existing facility with its attractive concrete roof like the one on the Port Authority building."

3) Sale of Quarry Street:

The failed original sale process of council will result in at least $1 million less than could have been obtained for ratepayers and the dire budget needs. This comes on top of the loss of $1 million to ratepayers on the sale of the Spicer Site.

4) Cr Lang motion on fossil fuels:

Woke virtual signalling.

5) Swan River Crossing:

Little evidence of council standing up to Main Roads and their bullying and destructive projects. No evidence of council seeking a green belt across the river using the heritage listed traffic bridge, as highlighted in council's own document Transformation 2029.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
tel (61 8) 9335 2113
0409 22 36 22

24 October 2022

Notes from the President - Some Urgent Issues for You

Why is there a photo of a Sydney Beach here?

One of many significant issues affecting Fremantle at the moment is the proposed 20 storey Matilda Bay site (former Ford Motor Company Factory site - see second photo) development proposal by owners and the controversial 3 Oceans company, the one responsible for the 46 storey Scarborough Beach Road proposal.

3 Oceans, a Chinese company who generously made donations to various community groups in the Scarborough area as long as they got photo opportunities as a result, and who donated a large sum of money to the Labor Party, still have an application for their Scarborough site for now 46 storeys plus 20 plus 16, revised up from the 43 approved in 2018.

The 3 Oceans original application had been refused 6-1 by the MRA (Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority) on 7 December 2017, but that year the Labor Party was elected and the Premier and the Planning Minister criticised the rejection. On 22 December the State Government announced the appointment of 7 new MRA members, leaving only one member of the original board. Within weeks 3 Oceans had submitted an even larger development application to the new MRA, with the Premier calling for the development to be given the 'green light' even before public consultation began. The new MRA board voted to approve the application.

The photo of the Sydney beach is relevant as various iconic Sydney beaches have managed to increase density of living nearby without resorting to Gold Coast style high rise.

The 20 storey proposal for Fremantle overwhelms the site, the area, the site's structure plan, and would be a precedent for more Gold Coast style development in Fremantle.

The issue will go to JDAP at the beginning of November.

The Fremantle Society discovered that the community have been let down again by the supposed peak body, the Heritage Council, as the Heritage Council began assessment of the site in 2004 thinking it worthy of attention, did more study in 2007, and then did nothing to progress a possible heritage listing for the last 15 years. So, the important site, originally built for the Ford Motor Company almost 100 years ago, a rare industrial heritage site, is not protected by the Heritage Council!

The Fremantle Society, along with Gerry MacGill of the North Fremantle Community Association, have written to the Heritage Council to urgently urge them to finish their assessment. They informally commented that the proposed restaurant/bar deck on top of the heritage listed offices facing the highway is unfortunate (see third photo), but there is no commentary yet about the impact of 20 storeys, something far greater than anything anywhere in Fremantle, and double the height of the Port Authority Tower.

Having wasted hundreds of hours providing expert advice at JDAP regarding the Spicer Site Andrew Forrest hotel, and seeing again how JDAP ignore community (and council) presentations, the Fremantle Society appreciate there is a huge battle ahead to get this project assessed sensibly.

You are asked to express an opinion before it is too late to be heard.

Wednesday 26 October Council Issues

a) South Beach facilities: The ridiculous saga of the $3 million toilet block and changerooms carries on and on, with Cr Sullivan now writing that he will support, not option 3 recommended by the officers, but option one, which destroys a magnificent Norfolk Island pine tree, and adds $158,000 to the budget. Ironic that the Norfolk Pine marks the very beginning of the street eloquently called Ocean Road, and Cr Sullivan wants it replaced by a toilet block. The following comment was posted in response to Cr Sullivan:

"It is shocking to see Option one being promoted by Cr Sullivan - leading to the destruction of a mature significant tree and a resultant project cost increase of $158,000. All options put forward at the moment are hugely expensive and unaffordable and will not be built any year soon. The options also do not deliver a great deal, and the overall result with extra parking bays and extra concrete paths to the beach will be ugly, compared to the reasonably modest current iteration which does not take up too much of the important grassed area. One's arrival at the beach should not be blighted by a long strip of changing facilities and toilets, extra car bays , and more concrete paths, which for around $3 million do nothing to improve the coffee shop area next door, which is arguably a more important facility for most beach users. Be sustainable, and refurbish the existing facility with its attractive concrete roof like the one on the Port Authority building."

b) Sale of Quarry Street: The failed sale process of council will result in at least $1 million less than could have been obtained for ratepayers and the dire budget needs. This comes on top of the loss of $1 million on the sale of the Spicer Site.

c) Swan River Crossing: Will council represent the community concerns about this project, the total loss of the heritage listed bridge, and the destruction of the escarpment and all its history by putting Canning Highway through it? Well, the officer report certainly doesn't.

d) Electors Meeting: Attendance at this meeting recently was a waste of time, again. The electors present VOTED DOWN the annual report but that isn't even mentioned in the report!

Probing excellent questions by accountant Craig Ross were obfuscated over the horizon.

Fremantle Society question as to why the only major heritage project this year will be the damaging one of replacing the Arts Centre roof with inappropriate material (tin sheets) was not answered.

Fremantle Society question about why the land between the Aboriginal heritage listed Cantonment Hill and the Aboriginal heritage listed Swan River is not listed was not answered.

e) Cr Lang Motion on fossil fuels: Woke virtue signalling will be in evidence as ideology takes precedence over common sense about transitioning to a sustainable future. Watch the woke councillors who pile in behind Cr Lang's virtue signal.

f) Gay and Lesbian Community: Council agenda refers to the issue of pronouns and council says in the agenda it will launch into the "introduction of pronouns."


The Fremantle Society is running two heritage walks this coming Saturday. Call 0409 223622.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

21 October 2022

3 October, 2022

Electors' Meeting Big Issue Again: Shocking State of Finances

The Annual Electors' Meeting is held for electors to ask questions, make a statement, or move a motion.

While council asked for those to be submitted by 5pm Sunday 2 October, they will take questions on the night. They only put a notice online about this meeting three day before the due date.

Will you be there? If not, who will represent your views?

The meeting is also held to present the annual financial report. But it's missing from the agenda!

The meeting therefore would seem to be in breach of the Local Government Act.

The big issues yet again will largely swirl around the poor state of council finances. While the Fremantle Herald reported on September 17 that Melville Council had $190 million worth of unallocated funds, Fremantle's finances show:

a) Net decrease in cash of $10m in FY21. How is Fremantle financially sustainable?

b) Where is the provision for addressing the rehabilitation of contaminated sites like Jones Street and South Fremantle tip site?

c) Why was 2021 Financial Report not finalised till August 2022?

d) Why has there been so much secrecy over the true cost of the new administration building whose costs have blown out by 50% or $20 million?

e). Why were the architectural costs of the admin building not clearly disclosed? How can architects fees mount to $7 million?

f) Given the financially flawed Business Plan for King's Square that the Fremantle Society has been questioning for years, how will the quality of council business plans be improved, and will the council be more transparent in revealing unfavourable information?

Last year Cr Fitzhardinge, the Chair of the Finance Committee, did not attend the Electors' Meeting, though it was in an election year and she knew she was running for mayor. She has not been held accountable for the parlous state of Fremantle's finances, despite being Chair of the Finance Committee since 2016.

Above are just a few of the financial problems Mayor Fitzhardinge and the rest of council must answer for.

There are many other issues you may wish to riaise.

For example, why is the only major item in the heritage budget this year a sum of $700,000 to damage Fremantle's possibly greatest building (Fremantle Arts Centre) by replacing its roof with inappropriate bright sheets of tin, instead of shingles or faux shingles?

For example, why hasn't Fremantle Council called a Town Hall meeting to discuss the appalling plans of Main Roads to spend $280 million demolishing a Level 1a heritage bridge, demolishing a whole river escarpment for a highway, and not solving any of Fremantle's traffic problems?

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

Leadership? Where is it?

The article above appeared in the Fremantle Herald exactly two years ago seeking leadership from Fremantle Council on the whole bridge issue for Fremantle.

Because there is no leadership, it is up to YOU.

$280 million is about to be spent on a project that nobody wants, is not urgently needed, and which does not fix any of Fremantle's problems.

One of the best ideas, pushed by those like candidate for North Ward Mark Woodcock, is for a TUNNEL. But why wasn't that on the agenda?

Electors' Meeting Monday 3 October 6pm at Council

YOU can attend YOUR Electors Meeting Monday night at 6pm at Council to ask questions and move a motion.

Look forward to seeing you there.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

27 September 2022


Fremantle has lost a passionate and popular community member with the passing of Nicolas Gurr, partner of Helen Cox, and father of Georgia and Jacob.

Nic is seen above at the 2020 AGM of the Fremantle Society at the Fremantle Arts Centre with (right to left): Helen Cox, Dr Carmen Lawrence, Sue John, and Elizabeth Megroz.

In the second photo father Nic is enjoying the company of his son Jacob, Alisa Dowson, and on the right daughter Georgia.

Nic had a passion for Fremantle, and served the Fremantle Society as its Vice President on five different occasions - 1996, 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2008. He was also a committee member in 1997, 1998, 2006, 2010, 2011, and 2014. Nic knew the issues of the day well and was always ready to help foster good outcomes in the community. He even ran (unsuccessfully) for council in the Beaconsfield ward against the mighty party machinery that dominates local government these days.

The Fremantle Society is grateful for the unwavering support given by Nic to the Society and the many issues it constantly deals with. Nic was very busy for many years running his business, National Linemarkers, but he always found time for the community issues that needed attention.

Nic's funeral will be at Fremantle Cemetery at 2pm on Wednesday October 12th.

Farewell Nic.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

16 September 2022

Fremantle Herald Saturday 17 September Page 2

6 September 2022

Who is Representing YOU?

Almost a year before the public get a chance to comment on plans for their own town, developers have been working behind the scenes to massage their project through the system.

In the past the Heritage Council and National Trust could be relied on to stand up for heritage values. No longer - they now stand up for developer values. Council's $1,000 an hour Design Advisory committee has failed also to give Fremantle good quality new buildings - just look around you.

This Wednesday Andrew Forrest's plans for the huge 6 storey hotel pictured will go through Council's planning committee at 6pm and off to JDAP (Joint Development Approval Process) around 25 September.

The Fremantle Society tried to represent YOU by spending weeks making submissions, getting information to you, and having meetings to get a high quality outcome. But read the agenda for this week's meeting, and the detailed submissions made by the following experts are barely assessed by council staff - they were given to the developer to assess and the developer's opinions are so important, their responses to our submissions are printed TWICE (at page 166 and 204).

You do not have the advocates you need to ensure high quality outcomes in your town, except for the Fremantle Society and ? YOURSELVES! But, what are you doing?

The mayor has even absented herself from Wednesday's important meeting - she knows the result already.

Below is the brief executive summary from our second letter to Andrew Forrest:

Executive Summary

Jeremy Dawkins (former Chair of WAPC): objects to the proposal as being over-scaled, that it will diminish the city rather than contribute to it or reinforce "the very qualities that people stay in Fremantle to enjoy." If built, the hotel as proposed will be added to the "negative catalogue" of "destructive developments" from the 60s and 70s. "The owner and architects don't seem to get it." "There is a great deal at stake here, involving principle, precedent and commitment."

Agnieshka Kiera (former Fremantle City Heritage Architect): strongly opposes tproposal because of its "irreversibly detrimental effect on the potential to consolidate the Spicer site and Paddy Troy Mall in harmony with the historic core of Fremantle." The proposed building is "too bulky, too tall by at least two floors and too alienating aesthetically to fit in the small urban grain of the existing townscape." This proposal "can easily tip the already fragile balance between old and new to the point of no return."

Sasha Ivanovich (former DAC member): "The proposal diminishes the heritage value of the Warders' Cottages by its scale and character". "The heavy, stern, monotonous and gigantic structural elements, the heavy column and beam grid should be avoided." There needs to be a better response to context - "to preserve and protect the unique character of Fremantle and its priceless historical heritage."

Carl Payne (Fremantle architect): "Cities begin to lose their unified character when change is not generated by local preferences or understandings but by a perceived commercial advantage to the owners of the buildings or land's clear that the historic buildings which contribute mostly to the urban character of Fremantle, are two to three stories." The new building "takes its cues from recent high commercial approvals within Fremantle, as well as from the excessively high modern car park building across William Street... this is despite directly facing the old Warders' Cottages in Henderson Street, which are two storey and domestic in scale, form, and texture." "In the 1970s, Council decisions negatively changed the entire area. The Henderson Street terrace houses (on the western side) and associated buildings were demolished, as was the Spicer's building...we need to repair, not exacerbate previous poor decisions."

The Fremantle Society (founded 50 years ago): The Urbis report acknowledges the site as being in "the heart of the historical Fremantle City Centre" yet the proposed hotel references with its bulk and scale not the mainly two storey buildings that make up the historic heart, but the monstrous bulk and scale of the aberrations from the FOMO and car park developments next to King's Square. The Urbis report focusses on the 4 storey Spicer building which previously occupied just a 20 metre frontage of the site 50 years ago, while totally ignoring the two storey Brockhoff building that existed on the corner of Henderson and William Streets. If the proposed height and bulk is allowed to be built, it will lead by precedent to the destruction of the historic heart of Fremantle, a place of national and international significance.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

29 August 2022

Forrest – destroying the numbat was nothing compared to the size of his hotel!

Can You Save the Historic Town?

The only aspect of the controversial Spicer Site 6 storey hotel covered by the West Australian was the demise of the numbat, commissioned in 2011 and painted by graffiti and street artist Roa from Belgium.

As the photo above shows, it is now gone, along with the 1852 heritage wall - of greater significance. It was heritage listed, but that didn't save it. It was supposed to be carefully taken down and reused on site. That didnt happen – a bulldozer knocked it down and put the rubble in a skip bin. Some rubble will be given to a Noongar artist to do his interpretation of someone else's history.

Apparently, to appease the arts community about the numbat, Forrest will spend up to $100,000 to get Roa back from Belgium to do a couple of new works, one of which is likely to be a Walyo.

But he needs to appease the general community, which likes its colonial town heritage.

The big issue is that his proposed hotel is too big.

The Fremantle Society has provided you with expert analysis from Jeremy Dawkins, former head of WAPC, Agnieshka Kiera, former Fremantle Council heritage architect, from Sasha Ivanovich, architect and former member of council's Design Advisory Committee, and Carl Payne, long time local architect. Plus our own analysis.

Fremantle's Character : Gone Forever

Make no mistake, if Forrest's plans get through without proper regard to the context of the site and the scale of the historic town he is building in, the famous character of Fremantle will be destroyed by the next developer seeking six storeys, and then the next one after that, and soon a walk down South Terrace will be a view of surviving facades with new builds rising above them – which should not be allowed.

Scale and height are important values in Fremantle, but never to developers, who always want more.

Do not think there are good advocates for heritage at Fremantle Council. Where are they? Not only has heritage disappeared as a priority, but all heritage budgets have been slashed, and this year even the heritage festival disappeared.

This issue is the last chance to save the historic town. The situation is that grave.

Contact the mayor and your local councillors. Encourage Forrest to spend his money – but first get him to listen to those who know Fremantle.


John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

25 August 2022

1852 Heritage Wall Gone for Forrest's Oversized Hotel

The 1852 wall has been bulldozed and sits in a skip bin.

No effort to keep the wall in situ.

No effort to "carefully deconstruct and reassemble" as originally discussed.

Leftover rubble of the convict era wall will be given to an Aboriginal artist who will be paid to do an Aboriginal interpretation of colonial history.

Welcome to Fremantle Andrew Forrest. Your legacy has not begun well.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622
25 August, 2022

24 August 2022

$280 MILLION and you get WHAT?

"Disaster Beyond Belief"

Prominent architect ________ responded to plans just released for the new Fremantle traffic bridge as being a "Disaster beyond belief."

He asked the Fremantle Society not to use his name, because, he was so strong in his criticism of Main Roads projects in Swanbourne, that they have hired him.

Premier McGowan, Rita Saffioti, Josh Wilson, Simone McGurk, and the Labor Mayor for Fremantle all turned up at the bridge on Sunday to say words.

They (Saffioti) talked about busting traffic congestion (FEWER people now use the Fremantle traffic bridge now than 15 years ago), making Fremantle a "modern" city (McGowan), and lied (Labor Mayor Fitzhardinge) about the "small" number of locals who want to keep the heritage bridge (she didn't mention the 9431 people who have signed the petition Simone McGurk refuses to even accept).

And just what do you get for the astonishing $280 million to be spent on this project?

a) the complete removal of the longest wooden bridge in WA and a heritage entry into an historic town, with NO effort to keep any of it, and the BURYING of the convict capstan base, one of the few left in Australia.

b) a boring modern Main Roads concrete bridge and an extra rail line.

c) the destruction of the attractive natural escarpment between East Street and the current bridge as Main Roads intends running Canning Highway DOWN TO THE RIVER there and under their new bridge.

The picture above shows Richard Evans of Save the Bridge Alliance speaking to media after President of the Fremantle Society John Dowson. The message from both was clear - the battle has just begun.

For $280 million you get NO solution to North Fremantle's traffic problems.

You get no high line green belt across the river as proposed by the Save the Bridge Alliance.

Look at the disaster Main Roads have created at High Street/Canning Highway intersection. The ugliest of solutions for a massive amount of money, solving what?

Main Roads are:

- Bullies

- Inflict ugly urban design on communities - and this project will be no different.

- NOT experts at Placemaking.

- are demolishing a level 1a heritage listed structure along with BURYING the convict built ferry capstan base.

Fremantle Council:

Where is Fremantle Council in all this? Labor Mayor Fitzhardinge had her head bobbing faster than a clown as she stood behind Rita Saffioti who was explaining why the heritage bridge has to be demolished after so many millions have been spent fixing it up.

Has Labor Mayor Fitzhardinge ever read her own Masterplan on her own council's website (Fremantle 2029 Transformational Moves)? It says: Keep the old traffic bridge for pedestrians and cyclists while building a new traffic bridge.

Australian Institute of Architects:

They represent 12,000 architects and designers. They say about the heritage bridge: "It should not be demolished." They say it is an "iconic reminder of Fremantle's history and of important cultural significance."

The Fremantle Society:

We say: the $280 million project is a purely utilitarian one for cars and trains. We want placemaking to include a green belt across the river on the heritage bridge, connecting North Fremantle to Fremantle.

A MASTERPLAN for the area is needed FIRST, not after $280 million is wasted. The Future of Fremantle Committee have yet to release any of their ideas.


Start writing letters.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

19 August 2022

RIP Architect Bernard Seeber

Above: Fremantle Railway Station, restored inside and out by Bernard Seeber 2011

The Fremantle Society is saddened to hear of the passing of Bernard Seeber.

His range of work included restoration, as with the Fremantle Railway Station, and new works like the changing rooms at the pool at the Fremantle Leisure Centre (designed to only be there for 10 years), the Hilton Community Centre, Leighton Beach facilities, and the Fremantle Cemetery Crematorium, which Bernard described as "a place for a group of people to come and gather and watch a 'stiff' be put into a fire."

He even did the refurbishment for the Australian Institute of Architects (WA Chapter) building in Nedlands.

The Fremantle Railway Station, covered in plastic paint and deteriorating, should have been restored for its centenary in 2007, but wasn't.

However, a report from John Dowson to Alannah MacTiernan enticed her down to Fremantle on a Sunday morning to view the building, and soon after Bernard got the job to restore the exterior.

While the railways were adamant that the former Victorian Gardens which used to be out the front were never going to be restored ("Our job is not to grow roses") they appreciated the way Bernard carried out his meticulous work, so much so that he was able to convince the authorities to continue the restoration on the inside as well.

While the works of our architects live on for all to see, what happens to their records and their ideas?

The Fremantle Society has been in talks with Notre Dame University to get them to house the records of notable local architects. We have lost too many in recent years. A university library can ensure that the records are preserved, and that they get used.

But as Bernard said, the answers architects are seeking are all around us: "Everything you want to see is right here (in WA)."

"You go and look," he said.

Unfortunately, as we find too often in Fremantle with new projects, there are too many who look but cannot see.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

photo courtesy Bernard Seeber Architects site

18 August 2022

Why Forrest's Spicer Hotel Has to Change

The Fremantle Society works hard to provide expert analysis of significant projects for Fremantle.

The Fremantle Society wants to see development.

But the Forrest hotel proposal is highly controversial – like his other hotel proposals at UWA and in Cottesloe.

The size is way too large for the site.

The building is too aggressive and monolithic.

The Fremantle Council has had decades to get ready to turn the Spicer site car park into an important addition to the built fabric of the centre of the historic town.

But the council policy of Jeremy Dawkins (see previous emails) prescribing a maximum of two storeys on Henderson Street and a maximum of four on William Street has disappeared.

Council allowed Sirona to sell this site at a profit instead of developing it themselves, and now the developer is saying they can't reduce the size of the hotel from 117 rooms because of the price they had to pay for the land from Sirona.

The Fremantle Society has met with the hotel project manager and put the various expert opinions gathered in recent weeks from Jeremy Dawkins, from Agnieshka Kiera the former City Heritage Architect, from Carl Payne architect, from the Fremantle Society, and here from former Design Advisory Committee member Sasha Ivanovich.

Please forward your comments to the mayor and councillors:

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

17 August 2022

This Week's Herald, and the legacy of Andrew Forrest?

Demolishing Convict Heritage to make Aboriginal Art

Buried in the developer's 50-page planning document for the Andrew Forrest 6-storey hotel on the Spicer Site on Henderson Street, one of three controversial hotels Andrew Forrest is currently involved in, is a description of what will happen to the 1852 convict era wall about to be demolished at the rear of the building where the numbat proudly walks.
Because the development will be at least a $35 million one, under the % for art scheme, $350,000 has to be spent on public art.
So, the rubble is going to be given to an Aboriginal artist paid to do an Aboriginal interpretation of colonial history.
How is that any different from bulldozing Aboriginal rock art in the Kimberley and giving the rubble to a white man to be paid to do his interpretation of Aboriginal culture?
It seems Andrew Forrest's foray into development in Fremantle will be just as controversial as his Forrest on the Swan hotel at UWA and the proposed hotel behind Indiana Tearooms in Cottesloe.
The real controversy is the bulk and scale of the proposed hotel.
If it is allowed to go ahead in the heart of the historic town of Fremantle, Fremantle will be finished as a well-protected homogeneous heritage rarity.
If it goes ahead, the next developer will ask for 6 storeys, and then the next developer after that will ask for 6 storeys, and the streetscape and roofscape of Fremantle will be ruined forever.  Gone.
In recent meetings that the Fremantle Society has held with the Fremantle CEO, the Fremantle Director of Planning, the local member of parliament Simone McGurk, Fremantle Port, and various developers, it is obvious the system is set up to expedite development, no matter how ordinary.
There is just no apparent advocacy for quality development in a famous place like Fremantle.
The Design Advisory Committee (DAC), set up to vet new major developments, has only on one occasion over the past 10 years, refused an application. Every other application no matter how mediocre, has been approved.
So, the future of Fremantle lies in YOUR hands, no-one else's.
John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 22 36 22

9 August 2022

Jeremy Dawkins on 6 Storey Spicer Site Forrest Hotel

Former WAPC Chair on Freo Forrest Hotel Jeremy Dawkins was Chair of the Western Australian Planning Commission and planning director for Fremantle during the America's Cup. He even wrote the policy for the Spicer site which stipulated 2 storeys to Henderson Street and max 4 to William Street.

This is his submission to Fremantle Council.

Andrew Forrest's companies are currently engaged in three controversial hotels in Perth - one behind the Indiana Tea Rooms on Cottesloe Beach, Forrest on the Swan at UWA as featured on the front page of this week's Post newspaper, and the one pictured above in the historic town of Fremantle.

Submission on Spicer site Fremantle DAP004/21

29 July 2022

I object to the proposed development of the Spicer site. Not because the site should remain as it is – this gap in the city should be used for an activity that contributes to the city centre. Fremantle can benefit from a new hotel, along with a hotel’s other activities and connections. A substantial and handsome building on this site would be a real asset.
I object because the façade of the proposed building is assertive, even aggressive, rather than polite and aware of its context. Unless the council expects, or maybe intends, that the warders’ cottages will be demolished, its primary responsibility is to require an appropriate building form on the other side of the street. It’s not difficult to work out what that form should be. It is short-sighted and irresponsible to allow anything else.
I object, even more strongly, because the building is over-scaled. Anywhere else it might be enough to calculate the expected demand, or the economies of scale, or the minimum number of floors for efficient lifts, etc. To do so in Fremantle is to diminish the city rather than (i) contribute to the city and (ii) reinforce the very qualities that people stay in Fremantle to enjoy.
Fremantle as a mature city centre demands mature and patient governance that is fully aware of how cashing in on the city’s very strong qualities will weaken them. Once that begins to happen the decline will be hard or impossible to reverse. That’s the story from many other places. Fremantle is too important (to the local community) to allow that to happen.
The assessment process must start with the context and the whole city, not with what might be viable or might be an opening bid.
The city has all the legal, planning, regulatory, policy and negotiating tools it needs to achieve the right outcome on this site. It should not be reticent in demanding the right outcome, and should fight hard for it if the decision goes the wrong way and/or there is an appeal.
The city should, if necessary, use its other tools if negotiation demands it: transferable development rights, offsets, incentives and swaps. The fact that the owner is a long-term investor and has a number of sites in Fremantle makes such negotiations more likely to succeed.
The city should call on public opinion. It is unlikely that the owner, and the architects, want to force their initial concept through the process if it is widely seen as unsympathetic, excessive, greedy, etc.
It comes to this: the city’s qualities have evolved through nearly two centuries of organic place making. Fortunately, post-war attempts to scrap the past and start again failed. In the sixties and seventies there were some well-intentioned but destructive developments, and they still stand out. This building will be added to that negative catalogue if it is built in its present form, and no-one – community, council, owner – would want that.
The city government’s primary task is to respond to community needs and a changing economy – keeping the city alive and evolving – in ways which, increment by increment, heal the city.
A determination to do so is essential in achieving a good outcome for the Spicer site.
Jeremy Dawkins
John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

Save the Wall

It seems that Twiggy Forrest's first foray into Fremantle development will be his demolition of a significant piece of Fremantle's heritage.
The 23 metre long 3 metre high heritage limestone wall on the Spicer site on Henderson Street in the heart of our heritage town is about to go, along with the much loved Numbat painting ratepayers paid $20,000 for in 2011.
There is a council requirement to turn the heritage wall into an art piece onsite within 18 months- a rather second rate option.
Because Council's own documents state: "Limestone wall should be substantially retained and conserved and integrated into a future development."
Instead of making the developer integrate the heritage wall into a future development, council staff decided to support: "on-balance decision to demolish the wall for the greater benefit that the new development and artwork would provide for the surrounding heritage buildings and cityscape once they come forward."
But will the 6 storey hotel plans for the site, widely panned by numerous experts, benefit the surrounding heritage buildings and cityscape?
Mayor Fitzhardinge and the planning committee voted to allow the demolition, and have not required the archaeological investigation and interpretation for the Pine Warehouse site before it will be turned into a temporary carpark. Yet the site is in the heart of the historic town, and the limestone wall is at least 100 years old.
Twiggy Forrest's namesake Sir John Forrest did such good works in Fremantle, Fremantle council voted in 1901 to erect a memorial gate and fountain outside Fremantle Oval just 100 metres away from the Spicer site in his honour. Mind you, council still haven't built it.
What will Twiggy Forrest's legacy be in Fremantle with all the properties he has bought here - hopefully worth at least a fountain.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
5 August 2022

Addendum: In the last Mailchimp, mention was made of those who secured the government workers for Kings Square. Omitted was mention of the work done by local member Adele Carles whose advocacy was central in convincing the Liberal government to relocate over 1200 government workers to Fremantle.

1 August 2022

My My Myer

August 1, 1972 Myer Opens in King's Square

(above: Myer as it could have been 2011)

Exactly 50 years ago today, Myer opened in King's Square.

Its huge bulk and scale and ugliness had, along with the 6 storey car park behind it, wiped out the scale and character of historic Fremantle.

For a couple of decades it was an integral part of the shopping core of Fremantle, though competition from Booragoon and Claremont Quarter, and a decline in Fremantle's attractiveness as a shopping hub, led to concerns that the underperforming Myer store might close. This led council to try and not only keep Myer in town, but rejuvenate the area.

The picture above is from 2011 and is a reimagining of the brutal white Myer box, to make it more friendly and appealing.

The Sydney Morning Herald (August 8, 2011) stated of the reimagining above:

Sirona Capital managing director Matthew McNeilly said while it was still early days, he wanted to see mid to high-end retailers join the centre.

He had no doubt it could compete against Claremont Quarter and Garden City Shopping Centre in Booragoon.

"A lot of people live in that neck of the woods [and] there's a bourgeoning population south of the city [of Fremantle], as well. We'd be attracting people from there," Mr McNeilly said.

"I look at Fremantle and it's long overdue for a make-over. I suspect that largely what's holding the place back is some willingness to spend some money down there.

"The council is supportive of developing a new vision for the area and we as a developer/financier are prepared to back that vision and help realise it."

Mr Pettit said the Myer building make-over would be the catalyst for the city's rejuvenation.

"I hope it will really start the rejuvenation of retail in Fremantle as an eclectic centre," he said.

"It's looking a bit tired and rundown and in need of a face lift. This will start it off."

This was the genesis for the highly controversial King's Square Business Plan, a key proviso of which was that council had to convince Myer to stay in Fremantle.

Council, under Mayor Pettitt, failed to keep Myer in Fremantle. Salvation came in the form of three Liberal politicians, Barnett, Marmion, and Jacob, who successfully advocated to Cabinet that a government department should be relocated to Fremantle.

While those government workers now have our prime real estate to work from, though many currently choose to work from home, the public only have access to the site on the ground floor and basement where an uninspiring raft of offerings is in no danger of competing with Claremont Quarter, and certainly not Napoleon Street, Cottesloe, where the Vans site has just sold for a record sum of $12,630 per square metre in what the agent described as "The best performing neighbourhood retail strip in Perth."

The tragedy for investors in CBD Fremantle is that for those who have survived the King's Square Business Plan and council's way of doing "revitalisation", they have often lost money on their investment while other areas have boomed.

Council last week repeated their error with the selling of the Spicer site too cheaply to Sirona, by allowing the sale of the Point Street site to Sirona, when they could have taken it back for $10 million, less than the 2007 valuation of the 5012 square metres site, valued way back then for $10.5 million.

Still, the good citizens of fremantle can now in 2022, 50 years after the arrival of retail giant Myer, visit the former Myer site for a few modest current retail options, safe at least in the knowledge they are guarded by 400 security cameras.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
August 1, 2022

28 July 2022

Expert Commentary on Spicer Site (Forrest Hotel) You Can Use in Your Submission (CLOSES: 29th July)

(above: proposed 6 storey hotel in Henderson Street where original policy stated 2 to 4 storeys max. Two storey convict cottages of national importance are on the left.

The Fremantle Society has worked long and hard to assess and provide expert commentary on the Andrew Forrest 6 storey hotel proposal for the Spicer Site.

We have engaged architects outside the Society as well as our own, and have secured extensive commentary from former Western Australian Planning Commission chairman Jeremy Dawkins, who wrote the policy for the site, architect Carl Payne, and Fremantle's former heritage architect Agnieshka Kiera.

Material from Dawkins, Payne and Society President Dowson are in the current issue of the Fremantle Herald, with more commentary to follow in the next Herald.

In fact an International journalist was so impressed with the Spicer coverage, he walked into the Herald office this week and told them how refreshing it was to read such well written material.

But, unless YOU put in even the briefest of comments, you cannot complain when the centre of our heritage town gets further damaged by proposals like this overcalled one.

Submissions close tomorrow Friday 29 July. Please go to HAVE MY SAY. You can use any of our material if you wish.

The following piece is written by Fremantle Society committee member Agnieshka Kiera, who was the City of Fremantle Heritage Architect for decades:

Agnieshka Kiera:

"I strongly oppose the proposal submitted by Andrew Forrest to redevelop Spicers Site in its current form. Regardless of its alleged compliance with the general provisions of the planning policy, it would be disastrous redevelopment for Fremantle if it proceeds as proposed. The potential redevelopment of the Spicer site is critical to Fremantle. The site and Paddy Troy Mall form part of the significant historic town as defined in 2009, in the Fremantle City Council’s initial submission to the then Heritage Council of WA for State Heritage listing. The heritage assessment report prepared by Rosemary Rosario of Heritage and Conservation Professionals has outlined the substantially larger precinct of the city, defined as Fremantle Historic Town, as being of state heritage significance. It includes the Spicer site, Paddy Troy Mall, William and Adelaide Streets of Kings Square, the Town Hall, the pedestrianised section of High St, Market Street on both sides and Fremantle Railway Station (att.1).

The larger area underwent the statutory consultation process and received the preliminary endorsement of the Heritage Council of WA. Even though it was later defeated for political reasons, including the behind-the-scenes manipulations of the then Mayor of Fremantle, the sound heritage values and reasons for nominating Fremantle Historic Town as being of state significance, remain undeniable. Those values and reasons to protect the larger area have been already well articulated in the submissions by the former WAPC chairman and the City of Fremantle Director of Planning, Jeremy Dawkins; local architect Carl Payne; and the President of Fremantle Society, John Dowson.

"Too bulky, too tall"

I strongly agree and endorse their views and combined conclusions that the proposed development of the Spicer Site is plainly WRONG. It is too bulky, too tall by at least two levels and too alienating aesthetically to fit in the small urban grain of its immediate setting and the city as a whole. Its proposed architectural style is too contrasting to harmonise with the urban architecture of the city. The proposed building is too much aligned with the visual aesthetics of the 1970s parking station across the road, which in all expert evaluations, the publicised views of many prominent Fremantle personalities, and, most importantly, the community’s sentiments, have been defined as an abomination.

Thus the characteristics of the current proposal are contrary to the overriding premise of the Council’s local scheme and its many policy objectives for a harmonious and sustainable redevelopment of Fremantle. In my professional opinion as a heritage conservation specialist, there are already too many out-of-sync, out-of-scale, nondescript contemporary boxes around the heart of Fremantle that threaten to undermine and isolate the listed heritage area.

And the recently built Civic Centre is one of them. While I fully support the general argument of Carl Payne’s submission, I disagree with his concluding comments that the new Civic Centre has been well integrated with the heritage precinct. Therefore just one more out-of-scale and bulky contemporary box spreading out of the redevelopment block east and south of King Square into the historic town, can easily tip the already fragile balance between old and new to the point of no return. The point where the conventional ominous redevelopments would become the dominant feature of Fremantle thus isolating, if not ruining its identity and character as a relatively coherent, unique, creatively adapted, 19th-century port city.

"Urban Healing"

The heritage recommendations of the initially proposed larger area identify the Spicer site and Paddy Troy Mall as suitable for what Christopher Alexander defines as ‘healing’. Urban healing involves careful planning and redevelopment of a city by augmenting its significance, reinforcing its resilience and ensuring long-term sustainability in a harmonious way. The kind of infill redevelopment that would integrate the surviving heritage buildings (Sail and Anchor, Federal Hotel and across the streets, Fremantle Markets, Henderson Street cottages, former Technical College building, Town Hall) and the surviving, contributory buildings which hold the historic streetscape relatively intact, and harmonise it with the city’s small grain and character that makes Fremantle significant and precious, not only to the local community but to WA and Australia as a nation.

In the case of the historic town of Fremantle, the potential redevelopment of the Paddy Troy Mall block should provide a functional and visual link with the World Heritage Prison’s site and its buffer zone into clearly identifiable and coherent ‘whole’. Thus potentially healing this part of the city already damaged by the past demolitions and expedient constructions such as the warehouse currently used as the Food Hall next to Sail and Anchor. The City of Fremantle has already done all the preparatory work to assume both, the necessary level of control and guidance with confidence to know what to ask for from the potential developers.

Local Identity Code

Somewhere on the shelves of the city’s archives, gathering dust sits a precious Local Identity and Design Code for Central Fremantle. The LI&DC was prepared by the expert consultants to the City, Dr Jacek Dominiczak and Magda Zawadzka with contributions from the students of Curtin University. The main purpose of the study was to survey, study and define what constitutes Fremantle’s urban architecture and its unique character. The Code has been adopted by Council in 2009 as a community resource and a guide to compatible development for anyone interested, including developers. The Design Code was prepared as a planning tool, a practical and specific manual translating the relevant and, by nature, general policy provisions, into the architectural design language. The Spicer Site Design Code was prepared as a particular design framework for implementation of the 1992 Conservation Policy for the West End,1987 Spicer Site Policy, 2008 Conservation Management Plan for the Synagogue Precinct, 2008 Conservation Management Plan for Fremantle Markets and the 2008 Fremantle Prison Heritage Precinct Masterplan.

It is about time that the City of Fremantle made good use of its own planning resources such as the Local Identity and Design Code. It should be used as a tool that enables both, clarification of the Council’s own rules and clear direction to individual entrepreneurs undertaking construction works in Central Fremantle. The Code reduces the current uncertainty in interpreting Council’s policies and clearly defines what is likely to be approved by Council. At the time of its adoption, the Code has been sceptically received by some local architects as too ‘restrictive” because it challenges the developers’, architects' and designers’ ‘freedom’ to fulfil their own professional ambitions as they see fit. Instead it is encouraging them to put their talents to good use within the defined framework. As the former Government Architect, Geoff Warn of Donaldson & Warn, once assured me while working together on the numerous and much loved Fremantle projects: talented architects are not afraid of rules and regulations as they appreciate the challenge of constraints and the opportunity to express their creativity in many unexpected ways. Geoff Warn has officially endorsed the Local Identity and Design Code and used it to come up with the unique plan for the much loved Old Port of Arthur Head Project. The project received the Royal Institute of Architects’ award in the urban design category, for the creative design of a unique, locally relevant and aesthetically appealing public space that amplifies its significance and extends its lasting values into the future. In addition, the project prompted the developer of the adjacent, formerly neglected Co-op building, to redevelop it into a very attractive and popular complex of shops and restaurants.

Model: Old Port Project

Thus in the case of the Old Port Project the three basic attributes of good planning and good architecture: the aesthetic, functionality and endurance, together with the heritage-informed and conservation inspired redevelopment have revived the area and added to the resilience, sustainability, and heritage-inspired, urban development of Fremantle, ensuring that it continues. This should serve as a model for all infill developments within the historic town Fremantle, including the Spicer site."

Addendum by Fremantle Society: There are many issues and we haven't even mentioned the heritage limestone wall that is intended to be demolished. Despite there being a pre-goldrush limestone wall on the property, Fremantle Council voted in March 2022 to allow the developer to demolish it if he wanted and perhaps reconstitute it elsewhere as his contribution to "public art." The developers have indicated they wish to demolish that wall by the end of July.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

26 July 2022

Point Street Deal - Just as Bad as Spicer Site Deal?

The top photo shows the Andrew Forrest proposal for the Spicer Site on Henderson Street.
A 6 storey disaster for the low scale famous heritage town around it (submissions close this Friday 29th July)

The second image shows the overscaled 7 storey proposal for the Point Street site which was approved but not built. The owner of the property SKS Land Pty Ltd, who paid $10 million for the property to Council in 2012, wishes to sell it, and Wednesday 27th July council will vote to allow that, unless the two councillors who voted against the sale at committee (Crs Camarda and Vujcic) can convince their colleagues to consider the better option of buying the property back as allowed under the previous sale agreement for the price sold ($10 million) or current market value, whichever is the lower, and selling it themselves.

Sirona, council's partner in the 10 year 'revitalisation' projects which have smashed council finances but made Sirona millions of dollars, appear to be the ones interested in buying this property! Sirona are distressed asset specialists, and perhaps smell a bargain now that the adjacent wool stores have been sold for $7 million and may soon be developed.

Sirona bought the Spicer site cheaply in 2012 and then unsold it for $1 million profit after not developing it. Will they be doing this again with this site, and why hasn't council learnt from their previous bad deals? Why does it seem there are only two councillors, Camarda and Vujcic, who care about ratepayer assets and the council's finances.

The Tagliaferri council survived the GFC, paid off council debt, and reduced vacancies. The Pettitt council, of whom many remain, gave Fremantle a 'revitalisation' that has seen a massive sell off of council income producing assets, falling rents, and barely any growth in the value of CBD properties.

The 8 Point Street property after 10 years may be worth $11.2 to $11.7 million as estimated by council, or less than $10 million. But councillors should not be handing any potential profit to a private company without fully exploring options as outlined in Cr Vujcic's motion for Wednesday night.

25 July 2022

Former Fremantle Society President Cathy Hall

Cathy Hall RIP

We regret to hear that former Fremantle Society president Cathy Hall has died.
Cathy, partner of Jon Strachan, himself a former president some years after Cathy, spent many years engaged with community groups in Fremantle. When the precinct system began in 1996, she helped found the South City Precinct.
In 2004 she was on the committee of the Fremantle Society and took over the role of president in 2005 when John Dowson ran for council. In 2006 she was Vice President. In 2007 and 2008 she was Secretary. From 2010 to 2014 Cathy was on the committee, being Vice President in 2013. A free thinker with a modest soul, Cathy did more than most in helping her community.
Much of Cathy's community engagement came during her partner Jon's years as a Fremantle Councillor for South Ward where they lived.
Our thoughts are with Jon, and Cathy's family at this sad time.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
25 July, 2022

Fremantle Oval - Large Boxes

A document entitled Fremantle Oval Redevelopment Business Plan will be passed by Fremantle Council TONIGHT Wednesday 27 July.

Fremantle has suffered 10 years of financial mismanagement and financial pain from the King's Square Business Plan, and now Fremantle Council are about to embark on another Business Plan, this time a $90 million one to redevelop Fremantle Oval.

While Fremantle Oval may need some money spent on it, these images from the plan are shocking in their scale and damage to the heritage values of the area and the sight lines to the World Heritage Listed prison.

Council aims to get $60 million from the State and Federal governments, while putting in $8.6 million from the sale of land and borrowing  $6.4million.

How did this document get to this stage without public consultation?


Your councillors: members@fremantle.wa

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

Dismal 2022-2023 Fremantle Council Budget

Council is not being honest in their council budget document by stating that "After consecutive years of low or no rate increase' they will now increase rates by 6%.
Last year was 4.9% and the previous year, if you believe the Fremantle Herald and the State's Treasurer, was 10%.
Additionally, there was a 2% rate rise for a FOGO bin we pay each year and of course the huge 10.4% increase from 2010 still continues to be paid every year by all ratepayers for maintenance, which we never really have received.
Council's budget is not only uninspiring, but unsustainable. To balance the budget council has to continue their recent trend of selling off income producing assets, meaning that their Quarry Street site will have to be sold, for an estimated $4.9 million.
Assets built up over generations continue to be sold off at fire sale prices.
These assets normally provide revenue.
Hidden in the budget is the fact that council still needs to spend $2.5 million on the new admin building no-one asked for. That is almost 10% of the $27.3 million capital project budget, for a building that is already $20 million over budget.
Heritage, a key economic driver for Fremantle, and solace for our souls, is allocated an insultingly paltry amount.
The Fremantle Society has campaigned for years to have the interior of the Town Hall brought to a suitable standard for hiring out. Hans Hug's wonderful Chamber Orchestra suffers from poor seating, lighting, and a host of other problems, but only $2,793 has been allocated for the interior.
Council may say that the $750,000 allocated for the roof of the Arts Centre is a heritage project, but in fact it is a project DAMAGING the heritage values of that superb building by reroofing it in sheets of tin instead of shingles or faux shingles.
$2.1 million is allocated for long overdue basic maintenance at the Fremantle Markets, but apparently at least $1 million of that will come from the Murdochs in return for getting another 10 years lease without it going to tender.
So little for heritage. But, somehow, $1.4 million can be found for a bike trail in Boo Park.
Somehow, $920,000 can be found for the unsightly Naval Stores.
Somehow, $1.6 million can be found to replace the parking machines yet again. To keep an eye on us $180,000 will be spent on licence plate cameras.
Councillors will be pleased that they now will get over $700 a week, and staff costs, estimated in 2021 at $37 million, will climb this year to an eye watering $42 million.
So, an unsustainable budget from a council with a poor financial track record. Disturbingly, this new budget is presented to you without council yet completing the audited accounts for the year to June 30, 2021. What are they hiding?
If you want to get a word in to councillors before their 6pm meeting tonight, or even afterwards, email them:
John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

29 June 2022

Gimlet and the Warders Cottages

This is blatant advertising for a Henderson Street business in one of the earliest terraced houses in Australia.

Gimlet is a magical location for a drink and something to eat. Pictured are four dumplings ($15) and a coffee ($4) in a heritage environment in the heart of Fremantle.

It is a success story worth celebrating and supporting.

Gimlet is part of the somewhat controversial development of 19-29 Henderson Street, the very first warders cottages to be built, the earliest example of terrace housing in Western Australia, and the only buildings in Western Australia apart from the prison to be heritage listed on the national heritage list. The only ones.

Since 1851 the cottages had always been part of Fremantle Prison, but 140 years later, in 1991, the Labor Government sold them to the Department of Housing for $2.1 million. They were completely vacated twenty years later, in poor condition, and deteriorated further through lack of maintenance.

A report by FICRA prepared for Premier Barnett in 2013 saw the Premier visit the cottages and allocate funds for their restoration to a standard suitable for on-selling. While the cottages alongside (numbers 7-17) were sold for housing, 19-29 were turned into a hotel, cafe, garden restaurant and bar.

The warders are long gone, but up to ten people can sit in the tiny front yard of this characterful cottage.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223 622

South Fremantle Power Station

It's For Us?

Two years ago the image here was published in perthnow with the following explanation:

"Graffiti artist Doofus released images of the work over the weekend, which can only be properly read from the sky, crediting 13 other artists and organisations for coming together to create it.

Doofus released the photos with a quote from New York street artist Skeme, taken from the 1983 American documentary “Style Wars”,which illustrated his ethos around graffiti and an exclusion of wider public audiences.

“I don’t care about nobody else seeing it or the fact if they can read it or not,” Skeme said.

“It’s for me and other graffiti writers, that we can read it. These other people who don’t write, they’re excluded. I don’t care about them, you know? They don’t matter to me. It’s for us.”

The Perth Street Art and Graffiti Instagram account said “It’s for us” had many meanings.

“To the writers who frequent it, to the people who take photos of the ageing infrastructure, to the people who walk their dog past and admire it, to any government or developer that wants to take it away or change it — just remember it’s for us,” it said."

Exactly one year ago today the WA government announced it was going to sell the power station.

What has happened since?

The sale is shrouded in secrecy.

Michael Barker in the excellent Fremantle Shipping News states that the response from Synergy is less than helpful:

So they can’t/won’t say –
* Who the prospective purchaser is.
* What the conditions of the sale agreement are.
* If there is or is to be a Market Led Proposal or a development application under the Planning legislation over the site.
* When the sale will reach ‘completion’.

In any decision regarding this imposing structure in such a brilliant beachside setting, the landmark status of the building must not be overwhelmed by competing blocks of flats all around reaching to the sky in a Saffioti lovefest.

In Fremantle, the scale of the best remaining wool store (former Fort Knox) has been overwhelmed by the overscaled Liv apartments across the road from it, a disastrous outcome for protecting the scale of Fremantle and the primacy of the woolstores. That mistake should not be repeated - the Powerstation IS THE LANDMARK for the whole area.

A stumbling block will be moving the $80-$100 million switchyard providing power to many nearby suburbs. New tech of course means that the new facility can be much smaller. Before the recent election the Federal Labor Party promised $20 million for a battery storage unit in the area, one of 20 offered around Australia.

Stop the secrecy and allow the public to know what is happening with their assets.

It's For Us.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
June 23, 2022
0409 223622

More alcohol

Public submissions close Tuesday 7 June 5pm

500 Person Tavern for 47 Pakenham Street

(The Fremantle Society request that you also make a submission through council's website under Have My Say)

Fremantle Society submission on 47 Pakenham Street due 7 June, 2022
Executive Summary:
Based on discussions with affected residents, nearby businesses, and having over 20 years experience dealing with inner city liquor issues, the Fremantle Society comments:
a) That 500 patrons is excessive given the size of similar premises nearby with much lower numbers.
b) That the proposal is contrary to the amenity of nearby residents, especially given council's own Business Plan some years' ago for the revitalisation of the inner city stating that there should be a "quadrupling of the number of residents" (from 500 to 2,000 dwellings).
c) That the proposed development is not a high quality outcome for the important West End Precinct.
Additionally,  the Fremantle Society supports all of the notes below under Community Concerns put together by residents.
The Fremantle Society further notes that alcohol is fast becoming a vexed issue again, with some 130 liquor licences already in the town, and too much emphasis on alcohol in new developments.
The current mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge's own comments the very first time she spoke at council following her election in 2016 are a case in point.
She rose to speak in support of a liquor licence proposal for a bar in the middle of a busy traffic roundabout on the corner of Cliff and Phillimore Streets. Besides being a ludicrous and dangerous location, the proposal, at the entrance to the port,  angered Fremantle Ports. While that proposal is yet to proceed, council needs to appreciate it is not just the number of people inside a licensed premises that is the concern, but all aspects of getting people to and from the venue without detriment to others.
Fremantle Council has for some years encouraged the focus on small well run bars, and the good ones have been integrated seamlessly into the community of residents in the West End.
It appears that the Heritage Council and Design Advisory Committee have given the developer different messages about the style of infill building they would support.  Miissing from the documents available are notes from the Design Advisory Committee showing deliberations to improve the outcomes. Given that the community pay over $1,000 an hour for that committee to operate, it is essential their deliberations be made available as the Heritage Council ones have.
The end result of the proposal put forward is that it could be a showroom in Osborne Park. It doesn't reference Fremantle well enough. Its height and bulk are acceptable, but there has only been a minimal effort to produce something of high quality.
The Fremantle Society suggests council insist on the use of the Local Identity Codes they spent $140,000 developing, and give a copy to the developer to guide his plans.

Community Concerns Regarding Proposed Tavern at 47 Pakenham

Operating Hours. The Applicant has submitted that their hours of operation will be approximately 7am to midnight, subject to demand. We note that given this is a residential area, every side of the proposed Tavern is flanked by residential buildings. As one resident stated, the proposal means the business will be operating “relentlessly and without let up”.
Number of Licences and Capacity. Currently, there are 131 liquor licences issued in the area[1]. While the community enjoys the small bar scene experienced in Fremantle, residents are concerned that the number of patrons (500) and the quantity of alcohol proposed to being served at this venue and others in proximity, is too great. There is a direct link between alcohol and antisocial behaviour. Sadly, Fremantle is ranked 283 in crime statistics and is on the scale as a suburb with “most crime”[2]. The most common crime is assault. There is no doubt that alcohol is a contributing factor to this statistic.
Street Noise from patrons coming and going. Given that the proposal suggests patrons park in car parks away from the venue at Fremantle’s various car parks, street noise is likely to be wide-spread.
Takeaway alcohol. The proposal includes provision to sell branded beer 10am to 8pm daily. This is of particular concern, incentivising drinking in public areas. This provision significantly increases the risk of anti-social behaviours.
Waste Management. The venue proposes a truck loading bay. However, residents fail to see how a truck can manoeuvre around the alfresco area and between the existing street lamp to enter into and then reverse out of (or vice versa) that loading bay. This would cause considerable congestion. It would likely be that a truck would:
utilise the intersection of Nairn and Pakenham (one way) in order to carry out a reverse manoeuvre into the loading bay; or
for ease, park across the driveways of 47 and 45 Pakenham.
Noise/Odour Emissions. Residents note a stage for live music is planned and residents believe that during ticketed events such capacity is likely to be reached. Residents note the following concerns:
There is no air-lock included in the available plans to prevent noise escaping as patrons enter and exit the venue
Noise and odours from kitchen exhaust fans.
Ventilation of toilet facilities and sewer vents.
Ventilation mechanical noise have been a problem with other restaurants in this neighbourhood, for example Bread in Common, Strange Company, Duck Duck Bruce and Sandino’s. Such issues needed to be addressed after residents fought hard and after the plans had been approved and the building had been built. Residents do not wish for this process to be repeated, yet again.
Parking and traffic. Residents are concerned with:
Where the additional 500 patrons will park; and
The impact of an additional 500 patrons will have on street parking and, in particular, permitted street parking.
Further, Pakenham Street is narrow and at times, already congested. The increase in Taxi and Uber cars this venue will generate will have a significant and detrimental impact on the flow of traffic in Pakenham. Residents in Phillimore Street have already experienced a traffic flow problem since the opening of Gage Roads.
It is common for traffic to speed or to proceed down Pakenham contrary to flow. An increase in traffic is likely to exacerbate these existing problems.
Heritage. Many of our residents fail to see any characteristics of the Gold Boom period reflected in the proposed new building façade. It is also noted that the second story gable roof (33deg pitch) is clearly visible above the façade, which is generally not acceptable in Pakenham Street and seems out of place when viewed from Nairn Street. The bill-board style of commercial advertising inherent in the proposed design is also foreign to, and clashes with, the heritage style of street frontages in the West End.
Proximity to Headspace (13.5m)
The new proposed Tavern is surrounded by purely residential buildings. The proposed late night entertainment venue and commercial kitchen is seeking to operate in a firmly established, densely populated residential enclave.
Our West End Community
The residents wish to reiterate that we love living in the West End with all it has to offer, including the small bars. Venues such as Strange Company, Republic of Fremantle and Darling Darling have created a sense of style that is both desirable and responsible. These venues carry much less risk of anti-social behaviour than a larger tavern type venue.
Most of our residents would welcome a small niche business that would add significant flare to the Pakenham, Collie, Nairn Street neighbourhood.
This is an historical, residential area. This proposal will ruin the amenity of the West End and destroy the peace and quiet of the residents who have chosen to live here for the peaceful character of this part of Fremantle.
John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

WA Day today, but no mention of our foundation or history

The shameful woke cancel culture of Fremantle Council is evident on their website.

If you think WA, and Fremantle, are important, you would expect Fremantle Council to reflect that and provide detailed balanced history on their website.

While there is detailed Aboriginal history on their website, as there should be, this page above, with just five short lines of text, is all you will find on the history of Fremantle. This shameful deliberate neglect is despite hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on their website.

There is nothing on the website about Captain Charles Fremantle, our founder. And there is no memorial in Fremantle to him. Just demonisation - like comments from Cr Pemberton that Charles Fremantle was a 'child rapist.'

Fremantle is almost unique in Australia having some 3,000 places heritage listed, four of them Aboriginal. But there is very little about that amazing heritage on council's website, except a page listing a few heritage sites, that is riddled with factual errors.

The website does not explain why heritage is no longer a priority for Fremantle Council - why the heritage budget has been slashed, why the Heritage Awards and Local History Awards have been abolished, why the Heritage Grants program has gone, and why the Heritage Committee no longer exists.

Your Rates and the 6% Rise - Make a Submission by 7th June

Despite promises that the new Admin building would earn money and keep rates low for years, that lie has now been exposed.

If you wish to make a submission about the proposed 6% rate rise, you have till the end of business tomorrow Tuesday 7 June.

Former Mayor Tagliaferri has commented:

The promise of a new administration building with no cost overruns promised by Council for the last several years coupled with no rate increases past two percent for 10 years - those commitments by the then Council and Mayor have misled the residents and ratepayers as you are now proposing over 6.5% increase.

With all the new approved devolvements as quoted over $2billion why are rates even going up?

Electricity, water, gas, and so on have gone up significantly to residents and commercial properties via state charges and cost of living has spiralled . The City of Fremantle have significantly cut services over the last 10 years to residents, sold income earning assets and now your Council wants to punish residents and ratepayers with a 6.5% rate increase . The Council should support a modest increase of only 2% as committed to in its communication to everyone over the last several years.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

Victoria Quay - Neglect of Maritime Heritage of a Port City: Neglected Fremantle (3)

1 June, 2022

In Neglected Fremantle and Neglected Fremantle (2), The Fremantle Society asked you to consider the area near the railway station like Pioneer Park and the old pumping station lying neglected for decades.

Also lying neglected for decades is everything in the top photo here, except for the two architects from the Fremantle Society committee surveying the neglect, two of five architects on our committee.

This is the slipway precinct. The three cranes pictured are all that remain of many that once prowled the wharf. A fourth, outside E shed, was quietly dismantled and sent to the rubbish tip.

None of the cranes nor the submarine have been maintained properly. They sit sorely neglected.

But, recently, the Premier visited Victoria Quay to provide funds to get the submarine fixed. He also provided $7.5 million for the area near A shed, to help Gage Roads Brewery customers shelter and find their way to and from the brewery.

The Fremantle Society have seen the plans and they are appalling - a suburban garden response to a maritime industrial heritage landscape of great significance.

It took 8 years for the Fremantle Society to get Fremantle Ports to do a conservation plan for Victoria Quay and Fremantle Council do not even have a copy.

The second image [not included] shows the year 2000 Waterfront Masterplan, and very little of it has been implemented.

The slipway area next to the maritime museum is an important heritage precinct and the Fremantle Society supports the vision put forward by Professor Geoffrey Shellam's committee some years ago. But, such visions are not on the radar of anyone in charge.

The government's recent vision to turn Victoria Quay into film studios turned out to be a disastrous idea, as predicted by the Fremantle Society after meeting with numerous film experts.

Planning for Victoria Quay continues to be carried out in secret, with very little effort to respect the area's heritage values or to sensitively reanimate links between port and city.

There needs to be more than alcohol and coffee to activate Victoria Quay. The maritime culture must be brought to life. The sheds that line the wharf and follow the curve of the river upstream are rare, important, and undervalued. They should continue to provide the scale for future development in the area. Protecting the authenticity of the water related heritage is key.

While Fremantle Ports has done good work recently interpreting their own history through film, photography, and events, the physical attributes of the Quay need recycling into maritime related attractors, and an immigration museum.

During the overscaled ING proposals of 2007, the opposition to high rise development on the wharf was intense. Will the public rise this time to get good results?

The Fremantle Society has drawn up interesting ideas which will be put out for comment. Two of the contributors are the architects pictured above - Matt Wallwork and Ken Adam.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

31 May 2022

Neglected Fremantle 2

The Fremantle Society believes Fremantle is a great place that is being neglected in basic ways as pointed out in Neglected Fremantle, which we posted yesterday.

The Fremantle Society continues to put forward many good plans and ideas, but won't shy away from tackling the problems that council and media won't face.

The photo above is the modern reverse view of the 1940s one printed yesterday. It highlights the significance of the location, the sublime Royal Doulton Memorial, and the historic pumping station.

But when Neglected Fremantle was posted on Facebook, one councillor and the former mayor were quick to pass the buck to the State Government, when all these issues BEGIN with good local leadership and advocacy.

Good that one councillor has reached out for a discussion - an excuse for another cup of good Fremantle coffee.

Amazingly, the burying of an axe in the windscreen of a police car in broad daylight did not concern several commentators, who attacked the Fremantle Society for wanting higher standards.

We are told that $270 million was spent in and around King's Square to 'revitalise' Fremantle. Yes, FOMO there has 400 security cameras. But the 7-11 store on the other edge of King's Square (where 4 street lights aren't working) closed because of endless crime and anti social behaviour.

Has the 'revitalisation' worked? Council staff, after weeks of asking, cannot even tell the Fremantle Society if they have met the targets set for the expenditure of millions of ratepayer dollars 10 years ago.

The Fremantle Society today received the letter below which was written by an East Fremantle resident to the council. It is not from someone trying to denigrate Fremantle for the sake of it, or to score cheap political points. It is a heartfelt plea from someone with a lifetime association with the place, who just wants to see it improve:

My name is --- and my husband is --- we live in East Fremantle and have a family history in the area that dates back over 130 years.

We grew up visiting and loving Fremantle and up until around ten years ago were always proud to take our friends and guests to Fremantle.

All that has changed.

Recently we had overseas guests with us and left Pizza Bella Roma at around 9.30 (just as the tone of Freo changes with the night club set arriving). As we walked along the street we were confronted by a man being chased by five policemen. He had been flashing, down the road. In the melee one person was pushed over and received a broken hip. Our friend was thrown to the ground and cracked her head so hard on the pavement she required hospitalisation.

We have since attempted to visit Freo, once to Kathmandu in the middle of the day and needed to cross St Johns Square but couldn’t because of a bottle throwing gang of ----- youth.

The next visit early one morning we were confronted as we attempted to go to an ATM across from Target by a homeless man hurling abuse and urinating in full public view on the doorstep at 8.30am.

This weekend friends, including a recent cancer survivor, went to The Joy Kitchen by car, left around 9.30 and were chased to their car by a group of abusive ------- youth.

These are just our stories but they are multiplied across our friends and neighbours.

This morning we had a police car on a truck drive past our home, obviously the one the axe went through !

Surely, after a police car was burnt last year and now this, the Council will actually participate in a cleanup literally of Fremantle. It is dirty smelly and lawless when in fact it should be a drawcard for the State. Whatever is going on has become the complete dismantlement of Fremantle as a destination.

It happened in NYC until a zero tolerance approach was taken. It can be done - start by washing Fremantle so it no longer smells in many places like a public toilet. Work to find appropriate accommodation for the ever increasing level of homelessness and sort out the grunge art programs that have destroyed historic public buildings.

Fremantle is a gift to protect. Please start respecting what you have been given the care of, and stand up on these fundamental issues. Otherwise many areas will simply become ghettos !

Published by The Fremantle Society

photo by John Dowson

29 May 2022

Neglected Fremantle 2022

You are looking at a magnificent photograph that you are unlikely to have seen before (just posted by Sue Fury in her excellent Old Perth in Her Former Glory).

The image was taken around 80 years ago from the Fremantle railway station looking over the Victorian Gardens (which should be reinstated), past the famous ginger beer stall that was Kakulas family's first commercial enterprise after they arrived in Australia 101 years ago in 1921. Some Fremantle residents remember it as Tinny Thomas' ginger beer stall where a scoop of ice cream turned your drink into a Spider.

The pumping station in the middle became a much needed toilet block, but it was closed 20 years ago and council have totally ignored this important heritage building right at the entry to Fremantle as you get off the train.

It should be restored and used as a bike rental shop so tourists can cycle around town, or better still redone as the toilet block it was, something Fremantle needs as every second new development now seems to be another alcohol venue.

It is truly shocking that Fremantle Council continues to allow this building to deteriorate on such a prominent site.

Note the trams delivering people right to the station - No serious effort has been made by Fremantle Council to reinstate light rail in Fremantle.

Note Uglieland in Pioneer Park on the right, now a degraded public space with a derelict heritage building, a crumbling wishing well, and an incongruous large dog statue.

Note the well dressed people, who dressed up to visit Fremantle, instead of the shabby, disrespectful and lazy habit today of dressing down.

Just 100 metres from this site last year a police car was set on fire in the street.

Just 200 metres from this site yesterday, one of the 'well dressed' Fremantle visitors buried an axe in the windscreen of a marked police vehicle in broad daylight.

These astonishing events cannot be swept under the carpet as council continues to ignore anti social behaviour and crime.

The Fremantle Society does not wish to talk Fremantle down, but these problems have not been effectively addressed, and also the attractions of Fremantle, like its heritage, are being ignored.

A senior police officer who has worked in Fremantle told the Fremantle Society yesterday he no longer brings his family to Fremantle as he feels it is not safe.

Get your mayor and councillors to earn their money and do something to address these issues and their lack of pride in our city. Their mediocrity is not enough.

Contact them on:

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

1 April 2022

16 March 2022

Update on Fremantle Society Film: Tall Timbers

Fremantle Society Film Release

We have a free film for you, about the Fremantle Traffic Bridge. The film is good, and it's not too long.

The Fremantle Traffic Bridge is the heritage gateway into our heritage town. It is heritage listed at the highest State level - level 1a (of "exceptional significance").

But, Main Roads intend to demolish this bridge, the longest wooden one in the State.

Main Roads have just ruined another gateway into Fremantle - the utterly unsightly new High Street/Stirling Highway intersection - which is a disgrace.

For almost 6 months, the Fremantle Society President and a wide cast of actors, TAFE students and staff, editors, drone experts, and a remarkable director who wishes to remain nameless, have worked to produce a short 5 minute film to tell the story of why the bridge needs to stay, for, among other things, repurposing as a New York style High Line pedestrian and cyclist connection between North Fremantle and Fremantle.

The work needed to complete the film has been endless, but the community spirit and support for the bridge from such a wide spectrum of the community has been gratifying.

The photo above shows a dolphin turning up to check out the filming. The dolphin even breached totally out of the water in an epic demonstration of support, but the film crew were distracted filming the actors and missed that action.

In conjunction with the Save the Bridge Alliance, the film will be put out to as wide an audience as possible. You will be sent an invitation next week to the film launch and you are asked to support this issue as strongly as you can, to as many influential people as possible, as time is running out.

Fremantle Society 50th Commemoration T Shirt

A limited number of T shirts printed on organic cotton and designed by Fremantle's own Blue Lawn Design promote the bridge and are available at Blue Lawn's normal retail price of $55 for a few lucky people who want a souvenir of the Society's 50th.

Contact us at the email below with your size and address.

T shirts can be collected at the launch or posted for $10.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

dolphin photo by John Dowson

2 March 2022

Why is Council Tone Deaf to Good Music Facilities?

Last week the Fremantle Society in print broke the story of the scrapping of the proposed film studios on Victoria Quay, after campaigning for a better location from day one.

But its not just FILM in Fremantle that suffers from immature planning.

Classical music, which has a proud history all the way back to 1829, survives today in wonderful groups like the Fremantle Chamber Orchestra.

However, the lack of interest and support from Fremantle Council is a travesty. The best venue in town - the Fremantle Town Hall - has had no money spent on its amazing interior since the America's Cup.

The Fremantle Society asked the Fremantle Chamber Orchestra's (FCO) inspiring leader Hans Hug to explain the problems.

Hans Hug:

Fremantle has really not enough performance spaces. Victoria Hall is beautiful, with great acoustics but too small for FCO (even without COVID and distancing rules). FCO loves Fremantle Town Hall and we consider it our home because of (and this is most important as we don’t use amplification) the great acoustics, atmosphere, stature and size. FCO welcomes the City’s support by extending “subsidised use”, meaning FCO doesn’t pay any rent for the Fremantle Town Hall.

I checked out all venues I know in Fremantle and with the exception of the churches (also no A/C and heating but good acoustics) there is really no space for concerts, the size FCO and other groups could perform in. John Curtin’s theatre is new, flash with A/C and a good size with just under 500 seats but the acoustics are too dry and live music needs (expensive) amplification.

NDA has the Drill Hall but the ambience, stature and crucially acoustics are not the same as in the town hall. FCO was the first to perform at the Naval Store. It’s a good size with reasonably good acoustics and the noise intrusion isn’t as bad as in B Shed. There are no chairs however and hiring them is quite expensive. B Shed is in a great location but with disturbing noise intrusion and exposed to the elements without chairs, it’s not really suitable for classical music. St Patricks has good acoustics and a good size and FCO has performed there many times while the town hall was unavailable. St John’s has lovely acoustics too but is just not quite big enough. It’s very suitable for chamber music.

The Fremantle Town Hall used to have A/C until about 6-7 years ago. Yes, it was asthmatic but in summer I went there the night before the concert and turned it on. The timer turned it off after 6 hours, so in the morning of the concert I went there again and at 2pm I would turn it on so it wouldn’t be too hot when people arrived. It never kept up with a full hall but it was manageable for 2 hours. A few years ago, I looked into buying or renting portable A/C units. The A/C expert examined the drill hall and the town hall: there is not enough electricity for portable A/C and a generator is too costly (and makes noise).

Cr Rachael Pemberton promised me it would be fixed once the new admin building is up. There are 2 major issues with the town hall from a performing arts organisation’s view: capacity has been halved and lack of ventilation of any kind.

Capacity has been halved: the balcony is closed (-178) and the 100 plastic chairs are gone. So loss of 278. Left are 290 (if you are lucky) battered, dirty chairs. (Ps: in 2019 the Government House Ballroom gave aways their 455 identical chairs but in pristine condition for free! I contactd council: no takers. I contacted Rachael Pemberton: no takers.) I’m told the popular balcony is closed because the railing is too low and the seats are not “legal standard”. I suggested to lift the railing as I have done on the balcony of my heritage home. I’m sure if everybody worked together the chair problem (non for 100 years???) could be solved too.
Ventilation: on 11 December, FCO performed after a cold night of 14 degrees and on a day of 24 degrees. It was very warm in the hall. I opened the back doors to the main hall but there was no ventilation as there are only 2 tiny windows behind the stage and one was painted over. I’m told that’s solved. Kitchen windows (now called supper room and used for storage of all sorts of miscellaneous stuff from tricycles to…) are not to be opened: security issue. They are about 1.6 metres high and couldn’t be climbed into that easily. I suggested only open them as long as a security person is there. Another suggestion I sent to the mayor is: The glass roof over the atrium isn’t original and instead of providing ventilation (via entrance under the tower as well as main doors in the hall) is like a green house.

Naturally, this is not only about FCO but Fremantle: its community, economy and re-vitalisation: If the town hall cannot be used several months a year….. The town hall could and should be busy with events of all sorts and play a major part in Freo’s revitalisation of its heart.

Since December I have been urging the mayor to do something but nothing seems to happen. FCO played in the Armadale District Hall last year for the first time: fabulously restored. A/C, heating, chairs, kitchen, lighting are all much superior to Fremantle. But I am even more blown away by the contrast - how FCO has been treated in its home town and in Armadale. We met at the Fremantle council meetings where I detailed FCO contribution to Freo and you witnessed partly how this was never taken on board but belittled. Disappointing and depressing. In Armadale, FCO is not only welcome but the community development officer met with me, welcomed us, connected us with several community groups so we could announce our first concert there, organised another meeting with somebody from finance and recently approached me with a proposal to come back this year.

Encouraging, uplifting, exciting. Where I see community destroyed in Fremantle I see it being built in Armadale.

(Hans Hug)

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223633
2 March 2022

25 February 2022

Film Studios Scrapped

Breaking News – You Are Reading This Here First

Exactly a year ago Mark McGowan and Kate Walsh stood on Victoria Quay breaking news of a $100 million film studio for the area. One year on The Fremantle Society can reveal that the election promise has been canned.
The project that McGowan promised would bring thousands of jobs to Fremantle will not go ahead and is to be scrapped due to massive cost blow outs.
- The site was a ludicrous choice.
- The deal with the Labor Party donors to build the studios was reminiscent of WA Inc.
Fremantle journalist Mark Naglazas wrote three insightful articles last year about problems with the proposal.
Community leaders Simone McGurk, Josh Wilson, and Andrew Sullivan as then acting mayor of Fremantle, bear partial responsibility for the millions of dollars and time wasted due to their blind advocacy.
Fremantle needs grown-ups who understand proper planning based on a good appreciation of existing plans and policies, and of the special nature of Fremantle itself.
The arts and culture need investment in Fremantle, but juvenile hyperventilation on thought bubbles keeps leading us astray.
Fremantle has lost four museums, and even if four new ones were built we would not be back to where we were 15 years ago. Also, we keep losing performance spaces, and while the location of the proposed film studios was wrong, there are plenty of incentives the government could be funding for the film industry in Fremantle to (as Professor Ted Snell said) "draw from and harness Fremantle's spirit."
In terms of major projects, Labor have given Fremantle a raft of shockers:
a) Moving the port, when most Fremantle people want it to stay
b) Demolishing the heritage listed gateway to Fremantle - the wooden traffic bridge, when it could be repurposed as a New York style highline bridge as advocated by the Fremantle Society.
c) Building the horrendous unsightly $100m million truck intersection at High Street and Stirling Highway.
d) Stopping the airport train at Claremont instead of Fremantle, halving the number of trains for Fremantle passengers.
Fremantle deserves a lot better.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223 622

25 February 2022

17 February 2022

Entry to a Rubbish Dump?

No, you are not looking at the entrance to a rubbish dump, but an entry point to the nationally significant Arthur Head Historic Precinct.

Arthur Head is a magical place with many great stories of significance. But who is telling the stories and why isn't the area being looked after ?

The disgraceful neglect by Fremantle Council of its heritage obligations in a heritage town doesn't get any better once you enter the "rubbish dump."

Straight ahead to the left of the unsightly coloured rock is the historic whaling area where all interpretive elements have been removed and not replaced following vandalism.

Ahead of that are the repairs to the crumbling cliff face and 1837 Whalers' Tunnel where Aboriginal art will adorn a colonial historic setting.

Inside the tunnel, artefacts telling the story of the area used to be displayed, but because Fremantle Council refused to look after them properly, they were removed by the owners, the WA Museum.

The history of the area is poorly interpreted and told on site, despite the coming 200th anniversary in 7 years of the State's foundation, and claim by Captain Charles Fremantle near this very spot of the whole of Australia outside New South Wales.

Council's 1984 commissioned report "Report on an Investigation into the Aboriginal Heritage of the Arthur Head Area, Fremantle" failed to find evidence of Aboriginal history at Arthur Head, but the report recommended more research into Aboriginal activity in the area following European settlement, which drew more Aboriginal people to the area.

Atop the cliff face sits the Round House, where extensive recent research by Dr Steve Errington has uncovered fascinating details of the many people locked up there since 1831. Included among the many hundreds were a minority of Aboriginal prisoners en route to Rottnest, where authorities of the time thought the natives would be better able to roam free instead of being locked in the tiny cells of Fremantle Prison on the hill behind the town.

Why the neglect of Arthur Head and so much of Fremantle?

10.4% Rate Increase!

Council should be reminded that they put up council rates by a massive 10.4% in 2009 to get money for maintenance AND YOU ARE PAYING THAT 10.4% EVERY SINGLE YEAR IN YOUR RATES BILL.

The Fremantle Society has been reminding you of these issues for a long time.

Perhaps you could contact your local councillor and ask for better maintenance, of Arthur Head, and the town. Councillors are paid $500 a week to listen to you. Contact ALL of them at:

The streets are becoming goat tracks and the footpaths are filthy. Fremantle's maintenance issues are widespread and serious.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

23 December 2021

Keep Cool and Carry On

Merry Christmas from a 50 Year Old

This is the 50th year of the Fremantle Society, but 6 December 2022 is our actual 50th birthday.
The President and Committee wish you the best for this important time of the year.
At our recent AGM, the committee was re-elected the same as this year, with several new committee members due to join us in January.

President: John Dowson
Secretary: Matt Wallwork
Treasurer: Bill Ody
Committee: Robert Bodkin, Ken Adam, Agnieshka Kiera, Mark Woodcock, Peter Scott

The AGM featured an excellent talk by Dr John Taylor on architect Talbot Hobbs and his work in Fremantle, from John's impressive book Between Duty and Design.
We sold enough books about this wonderful legendary architect to make a profit of $500 on the night. All we need now is for you to pay your membership dues if you have not already done so.
Thank you again to those who helped at the AGM, especially the legendary Val Cousins.
The President's report will be sent to you after Christmas, as reading it now may cause indigestion with so much eating going on.
Fremantle Council have asked us if we have any stories about Fremantle Oval, so please check out council's website:
My Say Freo: Fremantle Oval - Stories and Memories.

Merry Christmas from us all,

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622
photo by John Dowson

15 December 2021

New Admin Building Claims First Victim

The new administration building claimed its first victim today.
A senior citizen on his way to dinner tripped over the conduit laid across the square and smashed his face on the paving, breaking his glasses and spraying blood all over his clean clothes.
He was attended by one local who offered to take him to the pub for a drink, but the local security, community safety team, a first aid worker, and two police helped the shattered man.
Cr Thompson, late as he often is to council meetings, sauntered past on his way to the first council meeting in the new building behind.
The two police seen in the second photograph [not shown] were called to the council chamber because a group of people turned up to the council meeting to speak about vaccine mandates. Most of them were stuck outside the council chamber anyway, as the new venue is so small, there is barely any room for the ordinary public.
The night's agenda contained another example of council giving away assets for nothing to selected people. Council want to give the Esplanade Park to a boat show for 3 years with a free subsidy of $236,000 in fees, with just $73,000 from the operators. The Fremantle Society misunderstood that the 10 year "Revitalisation" we have just been through, that cleaned out most of council's income producing assets, was to put the town in a strong position so that people would queue up to come here and rent our assets like Esplanade Park.
The Fremantle Society were not in attendance to witness the new building in action, but to photograph it and investigate the claim from one of Western Australia's top paint experts this week that the new building is so poorly painted it is beginning to rust already. We will get back to you on that claim.
With $56 million just spent on the former King's Square, one could perhaps expect better than dangerous trip hazards leading to fairy lights strangling the new plane tree where the majestic moreton bay used to live, and the adjacent sound stage.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

11 December 2021

Membership Renewal

As we celebrate 50 years of saving and serving Fremantle, the Fremantle Society asks you to pay your membership promptly so that we don't have to issue constant reminders.
The easiest way to renew is to send a direct deposit to Bendigo Bank and also please notify the Secretary at the email given.
New members are welcome to complete the form and either scan and send by email or post or drop into 72 High Street.

Perth Pictured Trying to Pinch Fremantle's Christmas

The top photo [not used on this webpage] shows a large truck driving around Fremantle trying to encourage people away from the delights of Fremantle to Basil's Perth.
This is a cheeky invasion into the heart of an important retail time for Fremantle's
wonderful array of businesses.
The message on the truck "See the City Shine" may be a reference to the perception that Fremantle, despite the huge efforts of so many good retailers, suffers from grubby streets that don't shine and a lack of shining Christmas lighting - both the responsibility of Fremantle Council.
After yet more delays the new administration building will have an opening this Sunday. There will be a party for VIPs from 5pm.
Included in the invitation list for the VIP part of the party is former councillor Tim Grey-Smith, who left town owing council $17,000, has never paid it back, and worked for Labor's Department of Premier and Cabinet before helping run the campaign of Labor's candidate for mayor Hannah Fitzhardinge. He also scored an invitation to the CEO's farewell party the week the CEO, the mayor, and the chief financial officer ironically headed out of town after Pindan collapsed..

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

3 December 2021


The photo shows a restoration in progress in Pakenham Street Fremantle, where the paint has been chemically removed, and the frontage is having tuck pointing applied.
Heavy and often damaging plastic paint covers far too many buildings in the heritage town of Fremantle, and it is refreshing to see owners doing proper restoration to reveal the building as it once was. Not only is the end result far better looking -the building never has to be painted again.
The problem is - the extra expense of paint removal is beyond many owners, and they need help and encouragement from grants.
Fremantle Council have abolished their heritage grants program set up after Deputy Mayor Dowson's advocacy in 2009, but there is a small pool of money available from the Heritage Council, though applications close in ONE WEEK. See below:

State Heritage Grants
The State Heritage Grants stream subsidises the cost of urgent conservation works, documentation and professional advice relating to the conservation of State Registered places.
Who can apply?
Private owners of State Registered places
What types of projects can receive funding?
Physical conservation works, for example:
structural stabilisation
masonry repairs
re-roofing works
mitigation of damp
Preparation of conservation management planning documents for State Registered Places or a place in the Heritage Council’s assessment program, for example:
cultural landscape management plans
feasibility studies for future use activation
How much funding can I apply for?
Grants of up to $40,000 are offered for conservation works projects and up to $10,000 for non-works projects, on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
Your project may be eligible to receive additional funding if it meets the ‘Major Conservation Project’ criteria outlined in the program guidelines.
Contact: The Heritage Council 6551 8002

Ian Molyneux Exhibition

Fremantle Society Committee Member and architect Ken Adam opened former committee member and architect Ian Molyneux's art exhibition yesterday at the Peppermint Grove Library.
You can see the gorgeous control of colour and form in the paintings behind Ian - the framed ones being evocative Rottnest tributes.
The paintings are, like Ian, delightful, and start at the extremely reasonable price of $220.
Further details from Ian's daughter Claire: 0439 096 743

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622
photos by John Dowson

26 November 2021

Good News on Fremantle Family

Following our email to you yesterday, Fremantle Council have indicated that some of the Fremantle family gifts are in fact now on display in the new civic building, despite staff saying on Wednesday that they didn't know.
That is very good news and reassurance of a commitment made several years ago when the issue was first raised by the Fremantle Society.
There is a long and interesting story about the various gifts from the Fremantle family, leading to political ructions at the national level because of the way the Fremantle family were treated. But that story is embargoed for the present.
Thank you to Fremantle Council for keeping some of our history.

Reminder: Talbot Hobbs: Fremantle's Greatest Architect?

Fremantle Society event: Talbot Hobbs by Dr John Taylor Tuesday 30th November 6.30 at Victoria Hall.

Western Australia's senior historian Ruth Marchant James has already heard this talk but wants to venture into Fremantle again next Tuesday to hear it a second time as eminent architect John Taylor speaks very well.
We not only need you there for the talk, a drink, and then the AGM if you can bear that, but we need you to support our fund raiser - John Taylor's book (signed) for HALF PRICE ($30). How on earth we will raise money by selling things at half the recommended retail price needs commentary from our Treasurer Bill Ody, but this is Christmas, and if you want to reserve 5 or 6 or more copies please let us know ahead of the evening, as we need you to open your wallet next Tuesday, not just for fund raising, but to pay the expensive hire of Victoria Hall, where even the chairs are charged for.

No Help From Herald

Given that this is our 50th year, a grand achievement for any community group, and given that the Fremantle Society has spent thousands of dollars advertising in the Fremantle Herald over the years, you would think that our request for a little publicity for next Tuesday's event would have been supported? But no, not a single word.
However, communist era skateboards and their exhibition in another suburb (Melville) get front page coverage in today's Herald, showing the Herald's current priorities.

News on Fremantle Society Film to Save Fremantle Traffic Bridge

The three photos above were taken during the 8 hour film shoot for the Fremantle Society video called Tall Timber being filmed by a top international cinematographer and a team of 16 young filmmakers and three professional actors.
Following weeks of advertising for and selecting actors, eight drafts of the script, permits, insurance, rehearsals, and delays, the film was shot recently at the bridge. Besides the wonderful commitment of the young people who share the Fremantle Society passion for the bridge, the Society were joined by a another group of young people - skateboarders (a couple pictured middle image), there to prove themselves by jumping from the bridge in a long standing Fremantle tradition. They also voiced their like for the bridge and wish to see it retained. Their jumping efforts will feature in the short video which stars Nat and Savannah as grandchildren with granddad Ron.
While Biennale next door to our film shoot received huge amounts of public money for their events, some very interesting, they vandalised an historic and important river foreshore with brutal footpath paint dedicated to a dead concrete artist. They couldn't even get the history of the area right, didn't respect the history of the area, didn't consult with any of the locals, and lied about the need for permanent paint.
In contract, the Fremantle Society received no public money at all, with no participants being paid, covered all insurances and costs ourselves, were respectful of the history of the area in telling the story of the bridge truthfully, and left the area cleaner than when we filmed there, unlike Biennale.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622
photos by John Dowson

25 November 2021

Western Australia's Most Senior Historian on the Hunt for Fremantle

Ruth Marchant James Visits Gnamma

The new civic centre in King's Square has been evacuated due to flooding.
Cost to ratepayers of the damage to the brand new carpets and equipment and building is not known.
According to one Fremantle Society committee member Mark Woodcock, the new building is now known around town as Gnamma (waterhole).
Before the deluge, Western Australia's most senior historian Ruth Marchant James (pictured above yesterday visiting the Fremantle Society) was in the new civic centre yesterday demanding to know where the Captain Charles Fremantle treasures were housed that used to be displayed in the former building. She was told that no-one had a clue.
There is no memorial anywhere to Fremantle's founder Charles Fremantle, no history of the man Fremantle or the town named after him on the council's own website, and as part of the cancel culture infecting council, Cr Pemberton labelled Captain Fremantle a paedophile at a council meeting.
In the photo above, Ruth Marchant James is holding part of the correspondence between Mayor Samson from 1959 to the Fremantle family in which he thanked the family for their gifts of silver, noting that "It will be placed in a glass case in the Mayor's Parlour and I can assure you the gift will be greatly appreciated by the Councillors, the Citizens, and myself." Mayor Samson, in another letter, to Lady Fremantle, mentioned that there was an autographed photograph of another Fremantle, Admiral Sir Edmund, "hanging in the Mayor's parlour."
Other gifts from the Fremantle family were also made. Ruth, 92 years of age, though just out of hospital after 6 weeks there, is determined to track down what has become of these important links with the Fremantle family.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622
photo by John Dowson

22 November 2021

Local Government - Is it Good Enough?

Larry Graham Pulls Back

Like many community members trying to improve their community, the stress of dealing with dictatorial government ministers, or in the case of David Templeman, the "worst" Local Government Minister in 50 years according to journalist Paul Murray, has led to well known reform advocate Larry Graham pulling the plug a few minutes ago and heading for some fun in retirement.

This is a great pity, as there is so much to do to improve local government so that it serves the community, not developers and the State Government.

Here is what Larry has just posted:
Larry Graham

Local Government Reform
This is a quick post to advise that I will no longer be playing any public part in any matters local government. Whilst I am still healthy and kicking, my ticker has been a tad dodgy for a while, and this stuff is not helping, so it must go; that is not the ticker, it is the stuff that must go.
My association with these matters was accidental and resulted from some local dealings that highlighted many of the major failings in the system. When I made a written submission to the local government act review, my phone melted down, and a lot of people pointed out very few people ever get to review legislation and because I had, these folks asked me to get involved, so I did.
Things began in a cooperative way but sadly the former minister turned it into a battle that it needed not to be. The incoming minister is heading down the same path, so maybe it is me that brings out the worst in them.
But it is extraordinary that neither of these ministers knew what their role under the Act was. Despite the law saying the opposite, one thought councils had no power on “operational matters”, (whatever they may be) and the other does not know he has the power to direct councils. And the department that is supposed to advise them was subject to one of the most damning Auditor General reports that I have ever seen. How can people with such poor levels of knowledge, successfully and competently rewrite laws?
While there will be substantive window dressing, there will be precious little reform in local government and in a few years’ time, folks will again be talking about the power of the club and the structural, democratic, and economic dysfunction of local government. Then another minister will charge off over the reform hill, but like the last two ministers, the next newbie will only get as far as the club allows them to.
Debating the formation of the parliamentary select committee one of the high-profile party head kickers pontificated about local government not being in the constitution; well, it is. But it is these spruikers and the apologists like them who parrot the club lines who perpetuate the dysfunction in the sector.
It is just so obvious that many of these talking heads base their input on sweeping assumptions; they obviously cannot read properly, they repeat propaganda, and have obviously never read the act, but we are supposed to take them seriously. That old saying about them being entitled to their opinion but not their own facts kicks in about here.
My hope is that one day someone in power will have the courage to examine the entrenched and systemic corruption and cosiness of the local government club and end it, but my guess is that will not happen for a very long time.
My thanks to the big mobs of people who work hard in the sector for the right reasons and also to those who have contacted me with sage advice, and those who passed on their knowledge; I needed it, it has all helped enormously and I thank them for it.
As I dust off my cameras, pack my car, and prepare for the return to my much missed hermetic life, I wish you all well. See Ya!
Farewell quote (just coz I like them) from Seneca some two thousand years ago: “He who spares the wicked, injures the good.”

The photo [not included] and news headline at the top is from a year ago when David Templeman was still local government minister and appears on the Facebook site of City of Melville Residents and Ratepayers Association with the following:

Mr Larry Graham, former MP and well known critic of WA's local government, has a lot to say on the current reform process. Larry has just authored 'A review of the review of the Local Government Act 1995.'

If you are interested in Local Government then Larry's opinion piece is essential reading. It is succinct, pithy and absolutely nails most of what is wrong with a Local Government.

'The WA Minister for Local Government, Hon. David Templeman, announced an “expert panel” to “independently assess and provide recommendations on the feedback collected during the extensive consultation on the direction and requirements for a new Local Government Act."

'The result was neither a competent, nor an independent review. It was not a rigorous and open intellectual endeavour seeking the best outcome for the public,but it was a secretive process with what appear to be predetermined outcomes.'
........... . . . . . .
If the review of the Act continues to head in the current direction under this Government, then we can all kiss local democracy good-bye.

Interested in where this is going? Read on!

(Go to that site to read the 56 pages of Larry Graham's analysis. We dare you.)

The new local government minister John Carey is promoting what he calls Town Teams, which seem little more than another way of developers and the Labor Party getting control of the processes. Carey says there are 70 already and that they are "incredibly powerful." Read one response:

Andrew Main
Local Government Reform
Its a little concerning that John Carey, as the Minister for Local Government, is urging local governments to ‘embrace’ the Town Team approach as detailed in his post from last week. Having had first hand experience of the concept in the City of Vincent, I wanted to put forward an alternative to the rosy view of the Minister.
In contrast to the Minister’s view, some teams operate in an opaque manner with limited transparency and accountability, and do not seek the views, nor represent the broad community.
For example, the local TT strongly advocated for a ‘public square’ on View St North Perth. However, a community survey by the COV conducted prior to its decision to proceed with this project, indicated that only 7% of respondents wanted it in the proposed location. This opinion was ignored, and not surprisingly, it has been a total flop and a waste of $600,000.
In addition, many recent COV election candidates have come from town teams, who have been supported and endorsed by the ALP aligned sitting members. Current and former councillors have benefitted financially from events run by the town teams. The teams appear to have become a power base and breeding ground.
The emphasis that the Minister places on TTs not ‘whinging and criticising’ is also of concern. We do live in a democracy, and if people aren’t happy with decisions of government, it is essential that we raise concern. Where would Australian society be today without our ‘whingers’ in years gone by?
I strongly support civic engagement and community engagement. However, the town team concept is only one mechanism to facilitate this. And it’s not perfect.
The Fremantle Society has worked hard to improve local government processes as well as council processes, but those with the power repeatedly prove they cannot be trusted, need more oversight, and investigation.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

15 November 2021

Architect John Taylor Talks about Talbot Hobbs. Fremantle's greatest architect?

Special 50th Year Event: Fremantle Society 30 November

Tuesday 30 November: Victoria Hall 6.30pm (talk and AGM)

Come to the glorious Victoria Hall, saved TWICE by the Fremantle Society.
Come and hear about Talbot Hobbs, possibly Fremantle's greatest architect, in a building he designed, by eminent architect John Taylor.
Buy Dr Taylor's book at HALF NORMAL RETAIL price and get it signed on the night. Buy several for Christmas. Support the book, and the Fremantle Society's 50th year. The book sale is our fund raiser event so please support it generously.
Support the Society in its 50th year ahead of next year's celebrations.
Admission free to Life Members and members whose memberships are renewed on the night. Bring your friends - admission is simply the price of membership ($30 concession, $40 Single, $60 family)
This special and fascinating 7pm talk follows drinks 6.30 till 7 - can be purchased from the bar.
The Fremantle Society's 50th AGM will follow the talk at 7.45pm.

Fremantle's Greatest Architect?

The architectural work of Joseph John Talbot Hobbs is impossible to overlook in Perth and Western Australia. It dominates public spaces as well as domestic and business streetscapes.
A strong sense of duty determined that the diminutive fifty-year-old architect-soldier J.J. Talbot Hobbs would in 1914 voyage to the First World War, where he survived the horrors of Gallipoli and the Western Front. Hobbs’ powerful organisational skills positioned him as Australia’s highest ranking soldier in Europe after the Great War. Organiser of Australian war memorials in France and Belgium, his stellar designs both there and throughout Western Australia are now largely forgotten. Who was J.J. Talbot Hobbs that he was considered to be of such importance at the time of his death that a memorial was built in one of the most prominent places in Perth?
Between Duty and Design is a meticulous biography of the man: soldier and architect, highlighting his place as a citizen of national importance.

(from UWA Press)

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

8 November 2021

Prison 30th/ AGM/River Issues/Archives

Happy 30th Anniversary Freedom Day

The Fremantle Society was invited to Fremantle Prison today to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the decommissioned site.

The top photo shows possibly the best tree in Fremantle guarding the ramp to the prison, the second image shows Speaker of the House Michelle Roberts in the distance behind unlocked doors. Michelle has been involved with the prison for many years and is largely responsible for the $60 million allocated to the new police station just a few hundred yards away, and within the buffer zone of the prison.

The third photo shows one of the original cells. Outside is a ration list of food for the week. No fruit or vegetables on the 1851 list.

The fact that the prison is the top tourist site in Fremantle is due in large part to determined locals and the Fremantle Society who manoeuvred the decommissioning process away from other uses, into a well restored heritage icon.

That took years of work.

The prison now is in good hands with good staff, though they could do with more. Their exhibits are world class, and perhaps the most astonishing recent addition to their archives are 20 hours of Channel 7 video filmed inside the prison before it was decommissioned. The video was missing for decades as Channel 7 said they didnt have it, and it was only someone clearing out their back shed and handing over boxes of tape, that 20 hours of professionally shot film is now safely with the prison.

In 1955 the Stephenson Report showed Fremantle Prison eventually becoming Fremantle's new Civic Centre, something supported by Mayor Samson.

Later Brian Burke promised he would give the prison to Fremantle Council, but when he won power in 1983 he reneged on the idea.

Just as Bourke had no interest in helping Fremantle get World Heritage Listing by funding a report for the Australian Heritage Commission as requested by them in 1983, his government wanted the prison to pay its way, and a variety of commercial solutions were floated - convention centre, hotel, Fremantle Tivoli Gardens, Murdoch University, housing, and so on.

Rob McKellar Campbell had been extolling the site's heritage values since 1975 when he stated that "Fremantle Prison has greater potential than the comparable Darlinghurst, Norfolk Island, or Port Arthur."

The 1974 Gray report stated: "The whole Establishment will in time be the most important and interesting feature of the City."

A Fremantle Society Prison Group headed by Dianne Davidson, who died last month, contacted prison expert James Kerr and he was brought to WA to do the report that put the prison onto a heritage focussed track. The Building Management Authority were running the prison, and luckily Gerard MacGill (State Planning Commission) and Ralph Hoare (project manager for BMA) had close links with the Fremantle Society.

Additionally, Agnieshka Kiera, the heritage architect for Fremantle Council, worked tirelessly along with others to get the prison world heritage listed. That bore fruit in August 2010.

The prison is the only World Heritage building in WA.


You are invited to hear one of WA's eminent architects John Taylor talking about (possibly) Fremantle's most famous architect Talbot Hobbs, on Tuesday 30 November at Victoria Hall following the AGM at 6.30pm.

Further details to come.

We encourage you to consider being an office bearer and volunteering some time to help with the many issues that need dealing with. All positions are available, though there is no salary or superannuation, only lots of cheap wine.

Please contact President John Dowson if interested ( or Secretary Matt Wallwork (0414 235 082).


The Fremantle Society archives have moved and we are very fortunate to have the help of the Museum of Perth to digitise some of the wonderful material sitting in boxes unloved and unread.

Already, a considerable amount of our material can be found on Garry Gillard's superb Fremantle Stuff site.

Party Time 2022 - Fremantle Society's 50th Birthday

To celebrate 50 years of serving and saving Fremantle, the Fremantle Society is keen to hear from current members as well as former members whose membership has lapsed and who would like to be part of our significant 50th milestone. Any excuse for a party.

If you have ideas please let us know.

The River - The Bridge - The Biennale - The Film

While council sycophants like Roel Loopers are frenetically attacking the Fremantle Society whenever the Society writes and acts about a subject involving Fremantle Council, the Fremantle Society is hard at work researching the important issues, especially at the moment around the riverfront, which include:

a) completing the $35,000 film project this week to try and save the heritage listed traffic bridge.

b) working with senior bureaucrats to get more respect for the Swan River and its foreshores, and encouraging a Bicentennial project that focusses on the health of our waterways and even endeavours to bring swans back to the Swan River in numbers.

c) getting better maintenance of existing interpretive signage, replacement of stolen and damaged public art, better public art, and a process that respects residents' wishes.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 22 36 22

3 November 2021

Concrete Art and the Riverside

Biennale Bother

Do You Trust The Fremantle Herald?

The Fremantle Herald has been the community's friend for many years since its foundation exactly 22 years ago. It used to fearlessly cover significant local issues in a balanced way.
In recent years the paper's pro council bias has become increasingly evident, and the question we ask you: Do you now trust the Fremantle Herald?
Look at the way the Fremantle Herald (above) and the Post newspaper ((top) reported this week exactly the same issue concerning the Biennale - the concrete art along the riverfront.
The Herald goes to great lengths to defend the concrete art without outlining any of the detailed concerns of the Fremantle Society and local residents, who were not even consulted.
The opposition to the 'site specific artwork' - a tribute to a dead concrete artist with no relevance to 'river crossings'- is described by the Herald as 'invective.'
You can decide what invective there is in the following respectful letter written to Biennale organiser Tom Muller by the Fremantle Society and copied to the Herald:

Thank you for the prompt response.
The Fremantle Society has worked for 50 years to protect and enhance Fremantle's history and heritage.
We always try to be respectful of the areas we work in and comment upon.
The Biennale provides an interesting range of events that have the theme of river crossings, though we see misrepresentation of history with invalid assertions about CY OConnor, and even the incorrect date being used concerning the port. Hopefully the treatment of history is balanced and you show not just Aboriginal history, but also the importance of the bridges in their current location, particularly in terms of the first bridges saving the river from destruction from large ships venturing upriver.
We consider the concrete path painting to be desecration of a peaceful riverfront historical setting, and a permanent installation unlike the light footprint promised at this and earlier Biennales like 2017 - which was not delivered with the yellow lines.
In a world ravaged by covid, many are feeling mental health issues, and the need to respect important natural riverscapes is paramount as people get so much pleasure from such places. If stories are told of the area, which they should be, the stories should be relevant to the area.
That is why for example we are making such an effort to do a good video of the significance of the heritage listed wooden bridge.
We ask that you not complete the concrete art work.
The Biennale works, which in 2017 cost ratepayers over $350,000 and already this year has cost ratepayers $150,000, are supposed to be TEMPORARY. The Herald quotes Mr Muller as saying that: 'the artwork was made permanent after the state's environmental watchdog (DBCA) expressed concern about any toxins leaching into the river from temporary paint.'
That statement is false. DBCA (Department of Biodiversity) have stated:
'At no time did DBCA advise that the paint was required to be permanent or that temporary paints could not be used.'
This divisive, destructive concrete path that has no relevance to the river or its history is a repeat of the 2017 Felice Varini yellow line fiasco in High Street, and both Fremantle and East Fremantle Councils need to clean this mess up.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 22 36 22

1 November 2021

Lame Duck Opening

Pictured: A Proper Civic Opening

Above: 1966 Opening. Why a Lame Duck Opening for 2021?

The front page story of this week's Fremantle Herald ("New Chapter for Freo") describes without any hint of irony the fact that the problematic new "civic centre" will be opened in three weeks by none other than the former council Chair of Finance largely responsible for many of the problems, Hannah Fitzhardinge, now mayor of Fremantle.

After years of delays, cost overruns, and damage to King's Square, including a name change undemocratically imposed by a committee headed by Cr Fitzhardinge, there will be no inspiring opening like that which heralded the previous administration building in 1966, opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

Pictured (top) is the arrival of this inspiring world famous figure in Fremantle, an indefatigable inspiration to millions, a woman who was President or Patron of 350 organisations. Thirty-nine years previously she had accompanied her husband to open the Federal Parliament in Canberra.

Her itinerary is shown carefully drawn up, with the trip from Perth passing a number of hospitals from which numerous patients waved from the roadside.

After opening the new council building, named The Exhibition Hall, built by the same award winning builder who built the 1964 Port Authority tower, Her Majesty made for C Shed past the tower, to board Challenger 1 for Perth.

The Port Authority Tower is still in use and has had a book written about it.

Fremantle's history however is unfortunately largely ignored by its council, with their website containing just five sentences summarising the whole of the town's interesting past.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622
1 November, 2021
Documents: Dowson Collection

25 October 2021

Fremantle Deserves Respect

Biennale Trouble - Again

Images. Above: tranquil river interface (top photo), Biennale concrete art (next 2 photos), examples of damaged signs.

The public deserves high quality public art in a world famous town like Fremantle.

Fremantle Council has not provided that. Endless damaged information signs and installations supposed to tell the stories and history of Fremantle litter each suburb, and stolen or damaged public art works are not attended to. The percent for art program has been a colossal failure. Cancel culture has seen the removal or attempted removal of Fremantle’s history. Public Art in Fremantle is in crisis, and The Fremantle Society is still waiting for answers to questions raised on these issues in April.

Four years ago the Fremantle Biennale provided Felice Varini with $150,000 for installing yellow lines down High Street in Fremantle's heritage heart. The lines provided a quirky and appealing disruptive view for a few seconds to many viewers, though others found it disrespectful to the heritage of the area. But the problem lay with the fact that the "temporary" art work was allowed to remain so long, costing ratepayers an additional $200,000 to clean the mess off the historic buildings.

Now, in 2021, Biennale is desecrating an historic waterfront setting between the heritage traffic bridge and Stirling Bridge with permanent concrete art on the footpaths in what will be "perhaps Western Australia's longest public art work". East Fremantle Council has chipped in $25,000 for their share. The Biennale is supposed to provide temporary work for our pleasure, but because temporary paint could wash into the river, the garish brightly coloured concrete installation will be permanent paint, lasting "up to 25 years". One local legend, Gordon Lee, a caretaker of that part of the river for 50 years, describes the Orange Path as "shocking".

NO Consultation

None of the residents in the area were consulted, and when they expressed outrage, they were told by organisers that the artwork is "designed to be disruptive... to make the audience feel uncomfortable." It is so disruptive, that when a confused cyclist falls off and sues the council, there needs to be a large contingency fund. The colours chosen are garish and totally disrespectful of the peaceful interface with the beautiful Swan River. One Biennale organiser admitted "he wouldn't want this left outside his house".

The theme of this Biennale is to do with the river and its crossings, and includes the nonsensical assertion that C Y O'Connor died as a result of a curse put on him by Aborigines "just months before the completion of the Fremantle Harbour in 1903", when of course the harbour opened in 1897. Interestingly, not one historian or heritage expert has been engaged by the Biennale, similar to Main Roads' total lack of respect for the history of the area when they did their bridge "consultation."

Biennale organisers have some innovative interesting ideas, but not the AC4CA (Australian Centre for Concrete Art) work, intended to be "socially and culturally significant." It choses a hugely significant and historic riverside location, but provides desecration and disrespect for that important place, turning the tranquil area into a garish overload in a tribute to one of their dead members, making what one local calls "a cheap circus." The concrete artwork should not be finished, and what has been already done should be removed now. Gallons of paint, "permanent" or "temporary" have no place alongside the river in a flood prone location.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

0409 223622

23 October 2021

Endless Signs that Freo Needs Fixing

Labor and Greens Clean Up (in Elections only)

Labor and the Greens collaborated and successfully dominated the Fremantle local elections, making it almost impossible for independents to get elected any more.

The Fremantle Society leaked minutes of the previous mayoral election team of Dr Pettitt in 2017 where Greens and Labor could be seen collaborating to win office then. In 2021 the same players essentially successfully got their people elected, with former bankrupt Tim Grey-Smith ironically helping Chair of the Finance Committee Hannah Fitzhardinge win office to be mayor. Dr Pettitt is also back in town, being helped to get an office by one of the developers he was closest to when mayor, Yolk Property.

The other two main mayoral contenders Adele Carles and Maria Vujcic stood little chance against such well-oiled machinery. Labor even forced one of their own, Frank Mofflin, to step down as mayoral candidate after he nominated. But he has already been rewarded by being elected deputy mayor this week, and no doubt other gifts will be bestowed for his compliance.

A mayoral race costs upwards of $50,000 done properly, and the compulsory donor register shows that much must have been spent by Hannah Fitzhardinge herself, as the $25,000 needed for just one of several letters posted to all residents is not declared as being donated. The donor register even in its final state is an untidy document poorly laid out with donations repeated twice, reminiscent of the whole scrappy election, where council officers seemed unable to cope with voter registration issues, refused dozens of applications, and were heard stating publicly well before the vote counting that "Hannah Fitzhardinge was going to win."

In a very ethical but expensive exercise, Adele Carles refused to accept any donations, and funded her own campaign, which included an impressive website with enough ammunition to slaughter all incumbents if voters had digested it.

But most voters act superficially and quickly, and this is a Labor town. Maria Vujcic made a valiant effort with a novel approach of having a 'team' run with her in various wards, but this is a Labor town, and the team probably reminded voters of an almost extinct species - Liberals, a word rarely uttered in Fremantle.

Fremantle Society committee member Mark Woodcock came close to unseating veteran Doug Thompson of 33 years in North Ward, was across all the issues and regardless of the election outcome, has pledged, like the Fremantle Society, to help North Fremantle following the election, given that neither of its councillors has any interest or plan to solve the area's massive traffic problems, let alone the bridge issue.

Good people ran for office and missed out. Hopefully they will stick around and stay involved. Unfortunately, the election itself was a tepid affair except for the nastiness online and stolen candidates' signs, because most forums were controlled to make sure no-one actually had a debate, something sorely lacking and essential in the future.

Freo Streetwise, like the Fremantle Society, tried to get the issues to the punters, and the Fremantle Society report card sent to every address in the town was such a success, that a donation was received to have it published in a full page ad in the Herald. The Fremantle Society presented facts, and showed the unsustainability of council's finances, and council's negativity to its own assets like heritage.

Will the new council be better? It has to be, and we wish them well. But, in her first act of 'healing the divisions' she helped cause, Mayor Fitzhardinge has emphatically ruled out supporting heritage like the Fremantle Traffic Bridge, despite the Institute of Architects with its 12,000 members stating that the asset should be repurposed.

Next, you will see the quick sale of one of council's few remaining assets, 7-15 Quarry Street.

Then you will see the Fremantle Markets lease come to council to be given again to the Murdochs, allowing them to make $2 million a year profit instead of the ratepayers.

Then, the cancel culture and damage to heritage will ramp up, with the problems of the 2017 and 2019 Biennale being revisited, with the disrespectful 2021 one this November wreaking havoc on the historic waterfront between the traffic bridge and Stirling Bridge- report to follow.

Video of Bridge

In what feels like a Ben Hur epic, the video of the Fremantle Traffic Bridge proceeds well, with some 50 hours having been spent already getting actors and preparing. The Fremantle Society is benefiting from the generous donation of some $30,000 worth of work for this short video and it is hoped the video will help underscore the value of keeping the bridge for future generations.

Certainly the dozens of children and their parents who have been involved show a strong appreciation for Fremantle's heritage and the bridge.

Death of Dianne Davidson

Following the death of her husband Ron, the wordsmith of Fremantle, Dianne passed away at Regis. She was a longtime member of the Fremantle Society, and was particularly involved and keen on the repurposing of the Fremantle Prison, before helping set up the breakaway group the Fremantle History Society.

Dianne's funeral will be held 12.15pm Tuesday 26 October at Fremantle Cemetery.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

11 October 2021

Bridge Video and Port Play

Further info on brief Fremantle bridge video:

The video mentioned in the most recent Mailchimp only runs for a few minutes and it not expected that filming will take more than two days for those involved as actors.

Great Use of Heritage: Roving Theatre on Victoria Quay

This November, for the first time, Fremantle Ports will present live, roving theatre on Victoria Quay, dramatizing the historical icons of the port in three powerful nights of theatre on Fremantle’s own West End stage.
Harbouring Secrets: Rogues, Rats and Wraiths stars Paul Rowe - place activator and atmosphere coordinator at Perth Theatre Trust and well-known director, writer, and performer Ross Vegas, with drama students from John Curtin College of the Arts.
Fremantle Ports’ Manager Corporate and Community Relations, Neil Stanbury, said the traditional theatre stage had been cast aside for this roving drama, where the working port would be the stage.
“The audience will travel on foot and in time, following the stories of a World War II US submarine commander, enigmatic bohemian artist Kathleen O’Connor, a fire on the freighter Panamanian, the lumpers’ riot and more.
“This mobile performance will bring historical characters to life as the audience moves with the performers along Victoria Quay,” he said.
The performance has been written for the enjoyment of the whole family and is engaging, tragic, romantic and whimsical, as the characters of Victoria Quay and their stories are brought to life with costume, drama and song.
Harbouring Secrets: Rogues, Rats and Wraiths tickets are available via Fremantle Ports’ website with all proceeds going to the Flying Angel Club. Visiting international seafarers are no longer permitted shore-leave due to WA’s COVID-19 restrictions but are generously supported through the work of the Flying Angel Mission to Seafarers.
Harbouring Secrets: Rogues, Rats and Wraiths is inspired by Fremantle Ports’ very successful Port Walk program and marks the beginning of the Quay to Summer calendar of events on Fremantle’s historic Victoria Quay.
“Fremantle Ports is proud to support this locally-developed project as part of our Community Engagement Program. We are incredibly fortunate to have performers of this calibre in Fremantle and pleased to support the Fremantle arts community and help develop young performers from John Curtin College of the Arts,” Mr Stanbury said.
The show runs over three nights, with tickets strictly limited. Tickets are available at
John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

11 October 2021

Freo Film Stars Needed

Film director needs three actors urgently

As indicated earlier, the Fremantle Society is making a video in conjunction with the Save Freo Bridge Alliance of the significance of the Fremantle Traffic Bridge and the possibility of repurposing it into a New York type High Line bridge for pedestrians and cyclists, with associated recreation infrastructure.
We are extremely fortunate to have a generous benefactor and international film director (who has worked on films such as Batman) offering to fund a video.
The normal cost of such a video if paid for at commercial rates would be around $35,000.
The Fremantle Society is getting it for nothing, but we urgently need three actors in the next few days, as the window of opportunity for making this video will close very soon.
We need:
8 year old Milly
9 year old Billy
Photos and phone number and details of previous experience (experience not essential) immediately to:
As with others involved, there will be no commercial payment for this role, but a copy of the video for portfolio purposes will be provided and the satisfaction of working on a worthwhile cause with a well known director, who wants to remain publicly anonymous.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 22 36 22

10 October 2021

Juicy Election Notes from the President

Elections—they are about People and not just Issues

Sullivan photo above:

No, this image is not of a derelict condemned site, but a photo of the acting mayor of Fremantle's Andrew Sullivan's home as it has looked for years.
He is running yet again for South Fremantle against a well liked lawyer Steven Pynt. Steven believes there is widespread concern at the state of council's finances and the state of the CBD. Cr Sullivan on the other hand thinks he has done a good job, and when criticised, is a strong defender of his record. As he told one resident on facebook: "Facts I can deal with, its fuktards I have problems with."

Fremantle Herald—Letting the Community Down, Again

This week's Herald has a front page story from the owner Andrew Smith, lamenting the "bogged down and boring" current election. One reason perhaps is the Herald's refusal to do its job and report the many important stories that actually make the election significant.
What about Sean Hefferon's investigations into the council depot site saga, revealing new information? Submitted, but not printed. That issue is a multi million dollar scandal, and is one of the reasons the Fremantle Society has called for the Chair of the Finance Committee Hannah Fitzhardinge to resign- a position backed by Streetwise Magazine., but which the Herald refused to publish.
The skulduggery over the candidates forums? The Fremantle Society being turfed out of the organisation of the Mayoral Forum" The controlled event resulting, resulting in absolutely no debate, when there should have been many.
The interference in local politics by both Greens and Labor and the collusion between them, with former Mayor Pettitt using his access to databases to write urging his followers to back the Fitzhardinge team? The interference in the election by sitting councillors, with Cr Pemberton possibly facing defamation charges over her assessment of Adele Carles and Marija Vujcic.
There has also been lots of advice from Cr Jones this election saying how he only needed $300 to get elected, yet omitting that Cr Fitzhardinge spent around $25,000 on a single colour letter mailed to people in Fremantle. Cr Jones tells candidates to publish their material in Fremantle, yet the letter from Cr Fitzhardinge came from Osborne Park. Cr Jones says words like "cancel culture" shouldn't be used, yet the reasons for it are clearly spelt out in the page 2 advertisement of the Fremantle Society in this week's issue.
The Herald this week has THREE photos of Hannah Fitzhardinge but none of fellow mayoral candidate Adele Carles. Page 6 of the Herald shows Labor's Hannah Fitzhardinge trotting along faithfully behind Labor's Rita Saffioti when a strip of bike path was opened. Why did the Herald publish that without questioning why the Labor mayoral candidate Fitzhardinge was included but not the other mayoral candidates?
On the next page is a fluff piece about Cr Fitzhardinge and "civility", blaming the "grey-haired opposition" to the skate park for the lack of "respect" in Fremantle, when in fact it was the way council handled the issue that caused the problems.
What about all the significant issues raised by Adele Carles (see her excellent website) and Marija Vujcic?
Not a single letter this week has been published, yet Andrew Smith calls for "thoughtful or humorous" comments to be sent which "we promise to publish" - but that will be AFTER all the votes have been counted!
Compare this with The Post, where dozens of letters each week allow the community to hear both sides of the story.
The need for change in Fremantle is well demonstrated. There is not just a "disgruntled minority" as alleged by former Mayor Pettitt, who caused many of Fremantle's problems, but will the seemingly "disgruntled majority" actually feel it worth their time to vote, given they haven't been listened to for the past 12 years?

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 2236 22

8 October 2021

International Help for the Bridge

More Good News on Heritage Bridge

The Fremantle Society has been working hard with the Save Freo Bridge Alliance to get a world class facility for you and your grandchildren on the Swan River, with a repurposed wooden traffic bridge to be used for recreation and cyclists and pedestrians.
The Fremantle Society broke the news to you last week that the Australian Institute of Architects, the peak architects' body with 12,000 members, support our stand.
We asked you to urgently write to the planning minister Rita Saffioti and the Premier to support the future of the project (see example below).
The appalling lack of leadership from Fremantle Council, and their vote to demolish the bridge as soon as possible has not gone unnoticed in the current election.
Of the mayoral candidates, only Labor's Hannah Fitzhardinge (councillor for Beaconsfield) has come out against the bridge, as she has to toe the Labor party line, which is to destroy the heritage listed icon.
An internationally famous film director currently in Perth has offered free of charge to film a video for us of the bridge to promote its future as an iconic river destination. Planning is well under way, with a script prepared and three actors required (grandfather and two children 8 and 9) for brief roles. Instead of many thousands of dollars normally needed for such work, we are getting it done through generous help and sponsorship. If you wish to contribute, please contact us immediately.
Have you written YOUR letter to Planning Minister Saffioti about the bridge?
Dr John Watson, a Fremantle Society member, certainly has. The issue is urgent. The time is short. YOU need to do something please instead of nothing.

Dr Watson's letter:

Dear Minister Saffioti,
The Old Fremantle Traffic bridge.
Too many opportunities have been missed in Fremantle, too many wrong turns taken and too many millions wasted.
Now the once-in-a-lifetime chance of a great embellishment is occurring; that of converting the use of the Old Fremantle Traffic Bridge and preserving it for non-vehicular and pedestrian purposes (excepting, I expect, such things as bicycles, shopping scooters and so on) in an evolution of function to beautify and add to the amenity of our locality and add significantly to its attractiveness to visitors and the WA tourism industry.
I understand that the Australian Institute of Architects is strongly in favour of retaining this culturally and historically important structure and has submitted the case for that cause to Infrastructure Western Australia. The bridge is a rare part of our heritage: its loss would be to the detriment of us all.
You did a marvellous job with the Matagarup Pedestrian Bridge at East Perth/Burswood, a truly fine addition to its locality, and I respectfully ask that you do not join the unenlightened ranks of those who wish to both rob us of our heritage and deny our populace and visitors, present and future, the pleasure and advantages of the fulfilment of this unrepeatable opportunity for enrichment and enhancement of Fremantle’s locality with the preservation of the Old Traffic Bridge.
Yours sincerely,
John Watson.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

4 October 2021

Breaking News about Fremantle's Heritage Bridge

In a breaking news story you are hearing first from the Fremantle Society, the Australian Institute of Architects, representing 12,000 professionals, has come out and endorsed the efforts of the Fremantle Society and Save Freo Bridge Alliance to keep the heritage listed traffic bridge and repurpose it.

The Australian Institute of Architects state:

"This almost century-old structure is an iconic reminder of Fremantle's history and important cultural significance. It should not be demolished. It could be retained and adaptively re-used for recreation and tourism purposes."

This and further commentary is contained in a submission to Infrastructure Western Australia, a submission regarding the WA State Infrastructure Strategy Foundations for a Stronger Tomorrow. The Institute supports the recycling of assets.

The Australian Institute of Architects is the peak body for the architectural profession in Australia. There are around 13,500 architectural businesses in Australia with about 40,000 employees.

This exciting support for the heritage gateway into Fremantle is unlikely to get coverage from rags like The West Australian newspaper, because it would be seen as criticism of the State Labor Party, which the paper protects at all costs. Labor councillor for Beaconsfield Hannah Fitzhardinge, running for mayor, has toed the party line on the bridge and again stated at the final candidates' forum that she does not support the heritage bridge.

The MP for Fremantle, Labor's Simone McGurk, last week refused to accept a petition of over 6,000 signatures to save the bridge handed in by Save the Freo Bridge Alliance.

The Fremantle Society has borrowed Angie's cartoon about the heritage Fremantle traffic bridge [not included] which appeared in the latest Fremantle Herald.

A key person to convince is planning minister Rita Saffioti, who drove down to Fremantle again last week, not to comment on the Institute of Architects' report, but to launch a short strip of bitumen for the bike path.

Time is running out to save the bridge. She can be contacted:

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

30 September, 2021

Mayoral Debate 30 September

Tonight there is a mayoral candidates debate at 6pm at Notre Dame at 44 Cliff Street.

The Fremantle Society are normally a sponsor of this event, but have been booted out. Rachel Pemberton says it wasn't her group Fremantle Network, so that leaves Fremantle Shipping News and Chamber of Commerce.

The event will be closely controlled with Shipping News' Michael Barker as Moderator.

The event stipulated that questions had to be submitted beforehand and that people had to get tickets online and not just turn up. Mayoral candidate Adele Carles objected to that and the rules have been relaxed.

Each of the mayoral candidates have been interviewed in Fremantle Shipping News which will give voters a chance to hear their vision and philosophy. Podcast interviews are a very good feature of the Fremantle Shipping News site

The Fremantle Society has asked the Chair of Finance Cr Fitzhardinge to resign given the financial scandals at Fremantle Council, but in the various candidates meetings she hasn't had to face tough questions. When the Fremantle Society stood up to ask a question about council finances at one forum, Cr Fitzhardinge walked out.

The two mayoral candidates that the Fremantle Society supports are Adele Carles and Marija Vujcic. Despite our long association with the former Fremantle MP Adele Carles and her wonderful warmth and interest in the Fremantle Society and its issues, the Fremantle Society has worked closely with Cr Vujcic as a new councillor when elected two years ago and supported her mayoral run before we found out that Adele was considering running. Adele sensibly is making her run late in the process and we wish her and Marija every success. They are both outstanding.

With the current biased media landscape and with precincts trying to control the narrative, it is thus more difficult for two independent people like Adele and Marija, even with their formidable talent, to break through and overcome the collusion between political parties (who should stay out of local politics), as pointed out in our last post.

However, both have done very well in the various forums and they provide a message of hope for a better Fremantle, and not more of the same financially inept and divisive ideological claptrap.

Candidates Forum 21 September

The Fremantle Society ran a very democratic and successful candidates meeting at Notre Dame last week. We handed over the moderation to the former Labor Premier Carmen Lawrence and no questions from the Fremantle Society were asked on the night, except for one from a committee member at the end. Probably we should have asked some tough questions as the audience was far too polite, though Cr Jenny Archibald was allowed to continually interject throughout the meeting.

A crowd of over 70 people, more than the attendance at the North Fremantle mayoral and candidates forum, heard Adin Lang the incumbent and Craig Ross, chartered accountant, square off.

Adin Lang, a former Green, has admirable interest in real green initiatives such as plantings, though he needs to explain how the annual tree planting by council is now less than it was 10 years ago. Following previous poor performances in City Ward by mayoral disciples Simon Nabor and Tim Grey Smith, City Ward has suffered another 4 years of biased anti-heritage representation, and the Fremantle Society certainly prefers city ward resident Craig Ross, for the financial skill set he brings to the table and a genuine interest in heritage. He has provided expert advice to the Fremantle Society and the media over the past 10 years about the financial woes of Fremantle Council.

Police Investigating Political Interference

The Fremantle Society reported that police are investigating political interference in the Fremantle election. The matter has been handed to WA police and two detectives are working on the issue. One mayoral candidate said that as they were typing material onto a site, it was being removed in front of their eyes.

There also appears to be a problem with voter registrations. Many people are reporting that they signed up to vote and have had their application rejected. In some cases people received a phone call from a council officer about an error on an application, and that was able to be corrected, but many apparently have received a letter two weeks after registrations closed to say their application has been rejected. It is being alleged that up to 40% of City Ward voter registrations have not gone through.

The situation is not helped by Fremantle not having an elected mayor, a CEO, or a chief financial officer.

The acting CEO is on holidays, which is hardly good timing.

Will Fremantle staff and the Electoral Commission properly investigate?

20,000 Flyers delivered

The Fremantle Society has raised a number of significant issues through its 2021 Report Card delivered to every address in Fremantle.

The problem is getting the issues addressed and debated. The cabal of council lovers prefer to attack the messenger than answer the questions.

Depot Issue

The whole depot site issue is a major disgrace involving amounts of ratepayer money close to $20 million being allocated to the idea of speculative property deals IN ADDITION to the $50 administration building with millions spent there on speculative extra space to be let out - none of which has.

We still have some flyers to be delivered and we also ask again for donations to help our publishing efforts. Any help much appreciated.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 22 36 22

27 September, 2021

Your Last Chance to Get Democracy in Freo

The page above [removed by the owner of this website at the request of people named in it] is from the last mayoral campaign for Brad Pettitt and shows the minutes of one of his campaign meetings. It demonstrates the close relationship between the Greens and Labor in Fremantle then.
It is a reminder of the Greens and Labor reach into local politics, which they should stop interfering in.
It is imperative, as Emperor MacGowan gathers more and more power over our lives and health, that individuals stand up for themselves and their own community, so that Fremantle is not  simply a facilitator for everything Mark MacGowan and his favoured group of developers want. That will happen if Cr Fitzhardinge, the Labor councillor for Beaconsfield (featured above), is elected.
The path to the mayoralty has been made easier for her by pressure put on the other Labor candidate for mayor, Frank Mofflin, who pulled out of the race after pressure from those within Labor so that Cr Fitzhardinge's vote was not split.
The list above is relevant today. For example, Tim Grey-Smith, on the list above, was a Fremantle Councillor who left owing $17,000 to the council, was a bankrupt, and later went to work for the Labor Party in the Department of Premier and Cabinet before resigning and being paid $34,000 to run Labor's campaign to take over the mayoralty of Melville Council in 2019. Now he is apparently working for Cr Fitzhardinge in her current election campaign - ironic, she being Chair of the Finance Committee, and he being a former bankrupt.
Lisa Barnes (listed above) is currently administrator for the controversial South Fremantle Precinct facebook. She worked with Stephanie Poly to reactivate a precinct that hasn't met for some 20 years - South City Precinct - just in time for the election and without following council process. South City Precinct then tried to control the City Ward Candidates Meeting run by The Fremantle Society and FICRA. A previous administrator of South Fremantle precinct was campaign manager for the Greens in Fremantle, and after the 2019 election was given a job on Fremantle Council as an "education officer."
The precincts were set up for the community, not to help councillors to control the narrative.
Besides electoral interference there is evidence of extensive cronyism, which is being investigated also.

Police Investigating Political Interference

Interference by Labor and the Greens is widespread and continuing. The Liberals appear not to be involved.
The Australian Signals Directorate is investigating serious electoral interference with the Fremantle election and hopefully will prosecute offenders to the full extent of the law.
It is ironic that acting mayor Sullivan, running for South Ward in the current election, is accusing Cr Vujcic and her team of independents of being part of a Trump-like right-wing group, while he has merrily trampled on Fremantle politics with Green tactics and far left undemocratic changes to Australia Day and King's Square without proper public consultation.

The Biggest Scandal - the new council depot?

The biggest scandal at the moment is the revelations from the formerly confidential documents of council about the new council depot issue.
How is it that council turned themselves into property developers and decided to spend up to $20 million pursuing a Greenwash One Planet new depot deal - that crashed around their heads?
They intended selling Knutsford Street for a healthy profit and moving to another property.
The new property was going to be a $14 million one on Carrington Street. Millions more were needed to make the depot, subdivide the land and sell the excess.
That deal failed, and council bought 2 Jones Street for $7.8 million instead. Councillors gave officers permission to spend up to $8.5 million, despite council's own valuation for the property being $7.1 million.
The property was contaminated with asbestos.
Cr Sullivan stated this week that the asbestos on the Jones Street site was mentioned in the advertised business plan as required by law, but it is not.
Despite the real estate boom, that $7.8 million purchase is now worth less than $3.7 million.
The new depot has not eventuated.
Where is the mandate for this sort of outrageous behaviour?
An independent enquiry should be held. When Sean Hefferon tried to get council to investigate, Cr Sullivan moved a motion not to.
We are told to look to the future and not to be looking backwards. But a good future needs money, and millions have been wasted. Lessons need to be learned, and those responsible for disasters must be held to account. Fremantle is too valuable a place to be allowed to continue to disintegrate.
As the Fremantle Society has suggested - do NOT vote for any incumbent (except Maria Vujcic).

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

20 September 2021

20 Questions to ask your election candidates

Fremantle Society/FICRA forum is Tuesday 21 September. There are plenty of forums and of course you can email your questions to candidates also.

You don't have to ask all 20 questions, and you may have much better ones yourself!

1. Why has Fremantle Council had the worst or close to worst FHI (Financial Health Index) score of any Metro council in recent years?

2. What will you do to restore heritage to its proper place in Fremantle following council's abolition of the heritage grants policy this month, abolition of the heritage fund (1.25% of council rates), abolition of the heritage committee and abolition of the heritage and local history awards?

3. Why did council choose a third rate builder for the administration building when it was obvious that Pindan had a poor reputation for building quality?

4. Why does council refuse to give the true total cost of the new administration building, which is millions of dollars over budget already?

5. One union organiser described the new administration building as a 'shit' building and one developer said it was 'poorly designed and poorly built.' How is this possible when huge fees of over $70,000 a month are being paid to supervise the unfinished project?

6. Why was King's Square renamed, following a committee led by Cr Fitzhardinge recommendation, without a proper public referendum?

7. A massive 10.4% rate rise 10 years ago, a rise we still pay every single year now, was to pay for asset management reports and maintenance, but the dirty streets and damaged tourist signs all over Fremantle from Samson Park to North Fremantle are evidence of a failure to do basic maintenance. Why has council allowed that to happen?

8. Fremantle has enormous character and charm, but the issue of anti social behaviour has not been tackled. The fire bombing of police vehicles in the middle of town was a stark reminder of how much work there is to do. What will candidates do to address this issue?

9. The Tent City debacle involved several councillors using the homelessness issue for their personal political advantage. It was a shocking episode in our history which led to the state government taking the whole of Pioneer Park away from Fremantle Council. What will candidates do to make sure a full enquiry is held into those events?

10. The Fremantle Traffic Bridge is heritage listed at the highest level but Fremantle Council has done nothing to help community groups like the Fremantle Society and Save Freo Bridge Alliance save it for future repurposing as a New York style High Line bridge for pedestrians and cyclists. Why?

11. Why did council allow Arthur Head and the Round House to deteriorate to the extent council had to borrow money from the state government to fix the damage?

12. Why did council spend $7.8 million buying 2 Jones Street for a new depot without doing due diligence that would have shown it is in fact a contaminated site. It is now valued at $3.7 million and that doesn't take into account the cost of remediation. In 2018 councillors asked for a report on the scandal but the report still hasn't been presented to council. Why not?

13. Council sold over $40 million worth of income producing assets to Sirona for $29.5 million, and so many other income producing assets, that there is only around $22 million worth of income producing assets now compared with $87 million in 1997. Why did incumbent councillors like Crs Sullivan, Thompson, Lang, and Fitzhardinge vote for this shocking sell off of assets under Mayor Pettitt?

14. Council is selling one of the last large land holdings in the middle of town (7-14 Quarry Street) after refusing to use a local agent or even putting a For Sale sign on the property and revaluing the property down by $5 million to make it easier for a developer to buy it. Why?

15. Do candidates agree with the 2012 Robson report into local government recommendation that councillors should not stay on council longer than 8 or 12 years, given Cr Thompson has been on council 33 years and Cr Sullivan on and off since 1992?

16. Fremantle has the second worst tree canopy cover in WA but council refuses to allocate enough funds to make a real difference to get to their target of 20% cover. Why?

17. Fremantle Markets: Fremantle Council and the tenant there FMPL have badly neglected the Fremantle Markets in the past 10 years. Why hasn't the Conservation Plan been implemented and why has there been such neglect? Why is council considering a new lease instead of putting it out for tender, when FMPL have earned $20 million over the past 10 years, enough to wipe out much of Fremantle Council's debt?

18. Why are key documents such as council's 10 year plan and the MOU with Notre Dame years late in being written? When will council negotiate for Notre Dame to pay a reasonable sum each year instead of the current voluntary small payment?

19. What are the streets of Fremantle so grubby? One reason is that the local law requiring cafe owners with tables and chairs in the street to STEAM CLEAN their areas every month has DISAPPEARED. Why did councillors allow that local law to be taken off the books?

20. A key element of Fremantle's world famous charm and fame is its human scale, but councillors are not defending that, instead embracing large boxes. Few people like what has happened in and around King's Square. Another example is the proposed privatisation of Victoria Quay for film studios, large non architectural boxes contrary to council's own policy for the area. Why are current councillors so eager for any sort of development, instead of good quality development that fits in?

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

19 September 2021

20,000 Messages to all of Fremantle

The message above will be delivered to every home in Fremantle.

Fremantle has great potential as a soulful soothing character filled heritage place of endless stories, a 'cut and come again' Magic Pudding if maintained properly.

At the moment it is a grubby, neglected, broke town, with too much anti social behaviour.

Fremantle cannot afford more of the same poor oversight from the same councillors, two of whom (Crs Sullivan and Thompson) have been on council for far too long - a total of over 50 years!

We would appreciate hearing from you if you are available to help deliver these DL flyers or to make a donation to their cost.

Please call the president John Dowson on 9335 2113 or 0409 223622 or email

McGurk Rejects Petition of Over 6,000 Signatures and Refuses to Accept it

The Fremantle Society is working with Save Freo Bridge Alliance to create a New York style High Line bridge with the heritage listed Fremantle traffic bridge for pedestrians and cyclists.

A petition for this exciting idea has attracted close to 7,000 signatures. But when the petition was presented to the local MP Simone McGurk a few days ago, she refused to accept it.

Shocking behaviour from a local MP, something former local MP Adele Carles said today she would never have done.

Reminder: Tuesday Night City 21 September City Ward Candidates' Forum

Dr Carmen Lawrence, former Labor Premier, is moderator for this 6pm event at 44 Cliff Street on the corner of Croke.

The Chamber of Commerce, Fremantle Network, and Fremantle Shipping News booted The Fremantle Society out of the organisation of the Mayoral Candidates Event in the same venue on 30th, without even discussing that with the Fremantle Society.

A stunt was pulled to resurrect a dormant precinct (South City Precinct) to hijack the Fremantle Society/FICRA meeting, but that political skullduggery failed.

Our event next Tuesday is for the candidates to have plenty of time to discuss their ideas and policies and for you to ask questions on the night. Unlike the Mayoral event, you are not asked to send your questions by email or to book tickets.

Loopers Lashes Out

Roel Loopers from Freo View, whose nastiness and attacks on the Fremantle Society are well known, criticised the City Ward Candidates' Forum as being a right wing Liberal event - despite it being moderated by a former Labor Premier.

His ignorance and nastiness were evident in his response to one of many critical comments about his usual bias. He wrote:

"Just f-ck off. I have no time for you entitled knockers. You would not even understand what the word community means."

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

14 September 2021

Who Won the First Candidates Debate in North Fremantle?

Visions for North Fremantle?

The picture above which you have never seen was drawn by the Mayor of North Fremantle Cr. E.H. Tomkinson 110 years ago, giving his view of what North Fremantle could look like, with wonderful oceanside facilities.

Unfortunately, current visions for North Fremantle are in short supply, as evidenced at the first candidates forum in North Fremantle last night.

A goodly crowd gathered in North Fremantle to hear both mayoral and councillor for North Ward candidates. The meeting was tightly run by North Fremantle Community Convenor Gerry MacGill, a venerable former councillor himself.

Fremantle Society committee member Mark Woodcock, running for North Ward, spoke first, followed by Cr Thompson, who has been in the councillor position for 33 years. Then came mayoral candidates South Ward Cr Vujcic, the Labor member for Beaconsfield Cr Fitzhardinge, and former Fremantle MP Adele Carles.

Big Picture Ideas

Adele Carles came out with two big picture ideas - building the new traffic bridge west of the current railway one instead of between the current traffic and rail bridges, and using the new administration building as an Aboriginal museum while keeping the administration at Fremantle Oval where they have been for the past few years. Both ideas are worth considering, though Mark Woodcock's vision of a tunnel to take through traffic met with support, and Fremantle is more a colonial historic town with 4,000 registered heritage sites rather than being known for its Aboriginal history, with just four registered Aboriginal sites.

The idea of saving the timber bridge for a New York High Line idea was pushed by local Isadora Noble, but Cr Fitzhardinge took the Labor view and slapped that down, with a ludicrous assertion that Aboriginal elders didn't want so many piers in the river (the piers have been there for 80 years, and a new cable bridge could be built with none). Pity that her council lobbied so poorly for the old bridge, and not one historian or heritage expert has been asked for their opinion.

Council Finances

Council finances raised the temperature in the room, with criticism of the King's Square Business Plan in particular from various members of the audience.

The Fremantle Society asked the following question:

"Of the various financial scandals of Fremantle Council, and there have been many, one that really stands out is the failure of the King's Square Business Pan to deliver a new administration building (which no-one asked for) on time (it is years late), on budget (it is $15 million over budget) and to a high standard (one developer asked to view the site to run a business there refused, saying it is poorly designed and poorly built). Now we hear councillors cannot rent out any of the commercial spaces there - meaning our rates will go up. How can we get out of this mess? Will incumbents like Cr Thompson and Chair of the Finance Committee Cr Fitzhardinge resign so that financially responsible people can help Fremantle have (as Cr Fitzhardinge said) "a bright and responsible future"?

This inflamed Cr Thompson who demanded to know the name of the developer mentioned. When the name was not handed over to him in public, he dismissed the allegation. Ironic and hypocritical, as it is council who continually fail to hand over information sought by the community.

Gerry MacGill was keen to steer the questions back to North Fremantle and more mundane issues like footpaths, but the attacks on council kept coming, including questions from Fremantle Society committee members Bill Ody and Ken Adam, with an emphasis on both staff and councillors needing to do a better job.

The most stupid candidate idea of the evening came from the very woke Cr Fitzhardinge, who resurrected an appalling ideological idea from Cr Pemberton of "community participatory budgeting." This brings into council mates of the councillors who sit around and decide how various chunks of the budget are spent. Insane, given the nepotism evidenced on council in recent years.

Cr Vujcic showed a real community touch and a genuine transparency lacking from Crs Thompson and Fitzhardinge. Cr Vujcic's probing questions over the past couple of years have shone a light on serious problems like the $8 million council debt, hidden from sight.

Adele Carles has a great deal to offer, as when MP for Fremantle she was well respected, inclusive and approachable - something lacking from today's MP.

The Winner?

But over the two hours of commentary and answering questions, the unflappable Mark Woodcock had intelligent and cogent answers to all issues raised. He showed a sense of humour. He said one year he went to more council meetings than some councillors. He stated that spending $230 million on a new bridge before knowing how to solve the traffic problems was akin to buying a new cart, shooting the horse, and wondering how you were going to get home.

While Adele Carles and Maria Vujcic presented very well, the winner of the night if there needs to be one, was the candidate for North Ward Mark Woodcock.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

9 September 2021

Our Fiftieth Year

The Fremantle Society this year is in its 50th year of operation, a remarkable milestone for a community group.

Remarkable survival in a hostile environment - defunded as a precinct and ignored by Fremantle Council. A survivor in a media landscape that promotes big government and developers. The trashy West Australian, Sunday Times, and Perthnow Fremantle rarely represent community views. Thank goodness for the Fremantle Herald, The Post, Streetwise, and 6PR.

The Fremantle Society researches issues and attends boring meetings so you dont have to. We lobby for better outcomes. Fremantle deserves quality planning, not mediocrity. While it is great working with Fremantle Ports, the Town of East Fremantle or Cockburn, the last 12 years of Fremantle Council have been a nightmare, with heritage stripped of its funding, poor maintenance of assets, and a lack of implementation of numerous Masterplans that cost a lot of money to produce.

Election Skullduggery

The elections are on for a new mayor and 6 councillors. Voting ballots will arrive by the end of September.

For years The Fremantle Society has been one of the hosts of the Mayoral Candidates Meeting at Notre Dame University. This time we have been booted out by Cr Pemberton's developer group Fremantle Network and the Chamber of Commerce, and replaced by Fremantle Shipping News.

However, the Fremantle Society, along with FICRA, will be running the City Ward candidates forum as above. Unlike the forum from which we have been booted, you will NOT have to send your questions in in advance so they can be vetted, and you will NOT have to apply for a ticket. Our event is free and open to all. And we have a superb moderator.

Election skullduggery was also at work, when at a South Fremantle Precinct meeting, a member of the audience announced she had had a dream about forming a new precinct called South City Precinct. Cr Lang from City Ward at that meeting announced there was already a precinct with that name in existence and that it was "on ice".

So, miraculously, just before an election, a precinct that had laid dormant for 15 years was suddenly brought back to life without any formalities and the woman with the dream announced they were holding a Meet the Candidates Forum with the Arts Precinct the same night as the Fremantle Society/FICRA one. Really?

After serious pushback from City Ward candidate Mia Kriznic and others, the South City Precinct has suddenly disappeared again, and the Arts Precinct convenor has announced her resignation.

Very interesting to see now that the South Fremantle Precinct have organised two candidate functions deliberately on the same night as the Fremantle Society one and the North Fremantle Community Association one.

Committee Man Mark Woodcock to run in North Ward

Fremantle Society committee member Mark Woodcock has announced his run for North Ward against Cr Doug Thompson, who has been there for decades. Interesting to read Sean Hefferon's letter in todays Herald quoting the 2012 Robson report which stated: "A limit of three terms, or 12 years, is considered ample opportunity for an elected member to achieve a great deal for his community."

Cr Thompson has been on council for 33 years. Cr Sullivan since 1992- a 29 year period, though not all continuous..

Mark Woodcock is an extraordinary person with a deep and intelligent understanding of the serious issues council has failed to deal with well. He is particularly keen to work on the long term solutions for North Fremantle's transport and development issues.

Incumbents - Please Go Away

As stated previously, the Fremantle Society does not believe any of the incumbent councillors (excepting Cr Vujcic), who have caused the serious financial and other problems Fremantle now faces, should have the nerve to run for council again.

Please go away:

Cr Hannah Fitzhardinge (running for mayor)

Cr Adin Lang (running for City Ward)

Cr Andrew Sullivan (around on council since 1992)

Cr Doug Thompson (around on council since 1988)

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

1 September 2021

Save Freo Bridge Alliance in Action

Cross Crossing Consultation

A large crowd turned up at the North Fremantle Community Hall Tuesday 31 August for the final of three Main Roads forums on the new river crossings.

Most were there to seek repurposing the heritage wooden bridge into a New York style High Line bridge, as demonstrated by the photo above which shows what happened when Save Freo Bridge Alliance convenor Isadora Noble asked the crowd how many were there to save the wooden bridge.

Around 80 people crowded into the hall. Main Roads did not want to let most of them in and were unhappy that they initially lost control of their meeting. The sign in table was deserted and Fremantle Society president John Dowson wrote his name on a name tag there, only to have it physically taken away from him by a Main Roads staffer, who then tore it into small pieces in front of him.

The meeting began badly when it was obvious that Main Roads only wanted to consult with those who had booked ahead (one Fremantle Society committee member had booked a ticket and had been allocated one, but Main Roads cancelled it without explanation.). At one point school prefect Cr Doug Thompson interjected to shut down a community member who dared ask a question instead of listening. No other councillor was present, though acting Mayor Sullivan and his iPhone made a brief appearance. Real community leadership was shown by Dr Carmen Lawrence, who not only attended, but spoke to mollify the ruffled waters, while standing up for heritage and proper consultation, something Fremantle Council has abysmally failed to do.

Those in attendance protested that they wanted to have a say on the retention of the bridge, though a Main Roads staffer at an earlier meeting had stated that any comments 'off script' would not be passed on anyway.

The crowd quietly listened to an abbreviated presentation by Main Roads, where yet again Main Roads fulsomely covered Aboriginal history of the river, but skipped the last 190 years of history and the history of the bridges and Main Roads' own significant history with wooden bridge building. No historian or heritage expert from Fremantle has yet been consulted.

Main Roads abandoned their meeting after the presentation, but there was a chance to talk to staff. The bridge architect was asked if a suspension bridge had ever been considered or costed, but the answer was no, though the project manager said 'it was not out of the question.' A suspension bridge could:

a) be a stand out attractive entry statement into Fremantle

b) reduce navigation hazards and allow the wooden heritage listed bridge to remain for pedestrians and cyclists.

Main Roads indicated they have not considered having new bridges WEST of the current rail bridge and trying to solve some of North Fremantle's serious traffic snarls.

Main Roads admitted a new bridge is not needed for 'capacity' reasons. It is needed because the current bridge was built as a 'temporary' one. That is, just like the Eiffel Tower..

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

30 August 2021

Final of Three Bridge Forums: Tuesday 31 August (tomorrow) 6pm North Fremantle Community Centre 2 Thompson Road

Main Roads: Running Sham Bridge Consultation process

Main Roads are running a sham bridge consultation process, with one public meeting left to go - Tuesday 31 August 6pm at North Fremantle Community Hall.

At the first meeting there was widespread support for repurposing the wooden heritage bridge, an entry statement to Fremantle of "exceptional significance" into a High Line bridge and running it along the lines of the Busselton Jetty model. But, apparently, Main Roads will delete all those references in their report.

The process is a sham, because Main Roads, while employing an Aboriginal presenter for Welcome to Country and presenting on Aboriginal history, and a video referencing extensive Aboriginal consultation, which of course there should be, Main Roads has not consulted a single historian or heritage expert from Fremantle to comment on the historical and heritage values of the site and the bridges covering the past 190 years.

Main Roads did seek feedback after the guided messaging was all over. This is the Fremantle Society response to the survey following the event:

* 2. Did the format of this consultation session allow you to fully participate and put forward your views?

No. Again, as in 2005, Main Roads didn't allow the option during their 'consultation' that the wooden traffic bridge should stay and thus the format of the forum did not welcome those views, and I understand views expressed about keeping and repurposing the bridge will not be passed on, which is a great concern, as many in the community will keep fighting to save the level 1a heritage listed bridge.

* 3. Were you provided with appropriate information (either at the consultation or prior) to enable you to fully participate in the discussion?

No. The 'welcome to country' was far too long and irrelevant in content. It was also insulting to hear that that presenter disliked the name of the school she works at (John Curtin High School), an insult to one of our great prime ministers. Then the Aboriginal person gave her views on the significance of the river crossing, which were not believable or based on evidence. But audience views were not welcomed. The main problem was that the Main Roads presentation on which people were supposed to rely for their comments to put on the sticky notes was deeply flawed, as, despite extensive consultation with Aboriginal people about their views on the place there has been NO consultation with local heritage or history experts on the significance of the site and the bridges in terms of history of the past 190 years. That is unforgiveable.

It is no good saying you employed a firm like Element for heritage guidance, as the Fremantle Society has already stated that our experience with that company is they write what their employer wants them to say.

4. Do you have any other feedback on how we can improve similar consultation sessions in the future?

There were good people present from the Main Roads “Alliance”. But Main Roads itself too often appear to have a predetermined position with little interest in genuinely listening. Main Roads have let us down with so many projects, often brutally done without aesthetic sensitivity (just look at the current unsightly High Street/Stirling Highway urban design disaster nearby).

Fremantle is an important heritage town, a world famous tourist destination, with the wooden bridge as an entry statement of “exceptional significance” and you need to consult with more than just the Aboriginal elders. Consult with the history and heritage experts. And, respect your own stellar history of wooden bridge building.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

18 August 2021

Unfit for Office

4143 sqm site for sale in Quarry Street

Last week the Fremantle Council Finance Committee, chaired by mayoral candidate Hannah Fitzhardinge, went behind closed doors to discuss a confidential item - the controversial sale of 7-15 Quarry Street. One minute later, with no discussion, the committee came out of confidential mode, having voted to get the CEO to sell the land.

The vote on that decision is not recorded in the minutes - a violation of the Local Government Act. The law is very clear: the vote resulting from any council motion must be recorded and published.

Last year in November the Fremantle Society alerted you to this controversial sale stating:

a) the sale was not being properly advertised

b) there was (and still is not) a for sale sign on the property

c) a great deal of time and money has been wasted getting this property sold. The Fremantle Herald reported: "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."

This rare and glorious site of 4143 sqm adjacent to a park in this current boom should be worth around $2,000 per sqm, but council will sell it for much less.

Not only have they not marketed the property correctly or wisely, they should not be engaging in such a major transaction a few weeks before an election, as a new council may have other ideas about the property.

Mayoral candidates Fitzhardinge and Mofflin and councillors seeking re election have shown themselves unfit to manage the finances of Fremantle, engaging in dumb deal after dumb deal, with no effort to learn from their mistakes and no effort to listen to issues raised.

Fremantle's Senior Real Estate agent John Dethridge

Fremantle's senior real estate agent John Dethridge told the Fremantle Society yesterday that :

"In my view the only method to dispose of this land to ensure the best price is achievable is to offer the land for sale by tender allowing all developers an opportunity of say 30 -40 days to carry out their due diligence before submitting their tender."

Former head of REIWA Hayden Groves and other agents spoken to by the Fremantle Society again this week agree.

Poor Quality Developments

We have seen since Brad Pettitt became mayor in 2009 a series of mediocre developments. As John Dethridge explained:

"The current market conditions have given rise to a new brand of developers with little or no experience who generally only have eyes for the money and little understanding of the value of quality development in a region such as Fremantle."

Former mayor Peter Tagliaferri agrees, stating: "the big hitters havent come to Freo."

Instead we have seen developers like Pindan, builder of King's Square, and a series of unattractive boxes throughout Fremantle.

The Quarry Street site was going to be rezoned R!00 but that attracted 50 submissions against the idea, stating objection to possibly four storeys on the site. It is now zoned R80, a zoning that only attracted one complaint, but the developer may be seeking 5 or 6 storeys, as he is the same developer whose low offer was rejected last year.

Instead of an open and transparent process, we have a secretive and flawed one, again.

Time for a Change - and a Fresh Start

Mayoral candidate Hannah Fitzhardinge, Acting Mayor Sullivan, and Crs Thompson, Lang, Archibald, and Wainright all voted for the secret sale last week, and all bar Cr Wainright possibly are seeking reelection. They all need to go.

Fremantle needs a fresh start with people who learn from their mistakes, not those who keep making them.

Cr Vujcic may be able to save the situation as it goes to full council next week and she is genuine in her concerns for Fremantle. But she will need community support.

There is a certain irony that this site was once home to the man who did more for Fremantle than anyone - CY O'Connor, but his home was demolished by Fremantle Council, and the land is about to be sold in a poorly managed deal similar to other financial disasters of council.

Next Financial Scandal:

Coming soon to Fremantle Council: New lease for Fremantle Markets without going to public tender and without providing stallholders with a voice to protect their leases.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
18 August, 2021
0409 223622

5 August 2021

Election Issue

Does This Herald a New Dawn?

This week's Herald seems to reflect a community slowly waking up from winter hibernation and showing interest again in council politics.

The local elections for mayor and 6 new councillors are 10 weeks away, and now we are seeing more CHOICE. The Herald front page showed Maria Vujcic's mayoral launch along with ward candidates Jason Amaranti (Hilton Ward), Craig Ross (City Ward), and Steven Pynt (South Ward).

Great, because we don't need MORE OF THE SAME.

Also on the front page of the Herald is the exciting idea of the old traffic bridge becoming a version of New York's High Line bridge.

Despite her council voting to support demolition as soon as possible, South Ward councillor Maria Vujcic ventured under the bridge today to inspect the heritage level 1a magnificent assembly of wandoo stringers and jarrah piles. Along with the Fremantle Society she spoke to the workers there doing maintenance - who work on timber bridges all over the state. They said the bridge is in good condition. They are fans of the bridge and were impressed to see efforts to save it. They gave their expert views about the positive future if heavy vehicles are removed.

Maria's take away is that this a major election issue, a premature "congestion buster" when there is no congestion, with serious traffic problems in the area to solve first.

Maria spoke of the majesty of a structure that has taken us through a world war, and then a cold war, to emerge in much better condition than many timber ocean jetties pounded by storms and neglect.

Planning and Transport Minister Saffioti has already been in Fremantle this week saying that the community has been listened to on the bridge issue. No they haven't. She is coming back on Friday to talk about the future of Fremantle to the Chamber of Commerce at a $140 a head lunch.

The government promised that community voices would be part of the future of the Fremantle Committee, but there is no sign of that, or of an invitation to the Fremantle Society, now in its 50th year, to be part of the conversations.

John Dowson, President
The Fremantle Society
4 August, 2021

3 August 2021

You Have Been Fooled

The photo shows Planning and Transport Minister Saffioti with Federal MP Josh Wilson a year ago launching the plan for new bridges across the Swan River. The new rail and vehicle bridges are shown running together WEST of the current wooden traffic bridge.
Then Main Roads indicated that the new bridge for technical reasons needed to go EAST of the current traffic bridge, causing angst in the community about it being too close to Northbank, among other things. Now, after lengthy "public consultation", Main Roads has agreed to put the bridges back where they were originally going to go, and the community falsely believes it has a victory.
Main Roads' careless press release yesterday actually stated it originally intended for BOTH the new rail and vehicle bridges to go east of the wooden bridge - a physical impossibility.
The community has been fooled by the two step shuffle, a common developers' trick, and left feeling grateful they have been listened to.
MP Josh Wilson lobbied for Federal money for Fremantle in 2018 and Prime Minister Morrison's visit to WA in March 2019 saw $115 million of Federal funds committed to a new Fremantle traffic bridge with an election looming two months later. Josh Wilson waxed lyrical about the wooden bridge being turned into a "concert venue and family picnic area" while Fremantle Council's plan was: "to convert the old bridge into a pedestrian and cycleway."
Meanwhile The Fremantle Society would like to know what Federal MP Josh Wilson intends to do to help get us the nice picnic area over our river, and what on earth is Fremantle Council up to voting last month to demolish the bridge they said they wanted as a cycleway?
The photo touts the new bridge as "busting congestion" when the truth is the traffic has gone DOWN 15% over the past 15 years. Because the heritage listed wooden bridge needs to stay whatever Main Roads is up to, thanks to the generosity of Kakulas' Mike Finn, SAVE THE OLD BRIDGE bumper stickers are being printed and will be available free of charge from Kakulas Fremantle - one per customer!

1 August 2021

Call to Arms (and legs) Monday 2 August at 10.30am North side of traffic bridge


The Fremantle Society has always campaigned for the retention and reuse of the heritage listed traffic bridge given its good condition, its heritage listing, its magnificence as a gateway to the heritage town of Fremantle, and because there is no current need for a new bridge as traffic numbers on the bridge are FEWER than they were 15 years ago.

Following the public meeting at Notre Dame from which the Fremantle Society was excluded, and given the lack of advocacy from Fremantle Council, the Fremantle Society suggested key bridge advocates like Isadora Noble and Carmen Lawrence and the Fremantle Society work to save the bridge and not accept any of the four options put forward by Main Roads which all assumed the demolition of the heritage bridge. Many others have now joined the group and the launch you were invited to last week to discuss tomorrow's media event was a great success with so many new enthusiastic souls wanting to save the bridge.

The important event tomorrow morning at 10.30 am described below at the NORTHERN end of the bridge is where the newly founded Save Old Freo Bridge Alliance will launch its campaign.

Premier McGowan and Planning Minister Saffioti will be at the SOUTHERN side of the traffic bridge tomorrow Monday (sometime between 8.30 and 11am) for a media event launching Main Roads preferred bridge alignment option. Regardless of where Main Roads wish to build their unnecessary bridge, the Alliance state that the old bridge must stay.

Tell McGowan and Saffioti what you think: (MacGowan)

Dr Carmen Lawrence Launches ‘Perth Highline’

Linking Perth suburbs from Woodman’s Point to Hillary’s & CBD
Expected to be Western Australia’s N#1 Tourist attraction. Attracting 1 million visitors in first year
Perth residents & tourists welcome announcement

Fremantle, 2 August 2021 - A new landmark will be launched today expected to become Western Australia’s N#1 tourist destination.
“Perth Highline” modelled on New York’s famous Highline - now New York’s most visited landmark - is a 10 km public park and walk and cycle way built around Fremantle’s heritage listed historic timber bridge where visitors can experience nature, art, design, history, and connect with Perth beaches and Swan River.
The Perth Highline is planned as the jewel in the crown of the State Government’s Fremantle Masterplan announced last month - which integrates a new world class movie studio, a new urban brewery, 30,000 new residents planned for the Leighton beach Peninsular and the rejuvenation of the heritage listed Victoria Quay Fremantle Port area in preparation for the Fremantle Port’s departure to Kwinana.
The Perth Highline will act as a welcome gateway to Fremantle for the 3 million intrastate visitors who visit Perth each year, and like interstate and international tourists rate Fremantle as their N#1 most visited place after the Perth CBD.
The “Perth Highline” is the vision of 3200 people including former Labour Premier Dr Carmen Lawrence, Fremantle Council, eminent public figures including marine engineers, urban planners, tourism & business leaders, politicians and a former judge.
The Highline will repurpose the Old Fremantle Bridge, which has the highest heritage rating of any Western Australian landmark - planned for demolition by the Western Australian Government this year - into a pedestrian and cycle only bridge connecting Perth’s new cycle way from Perth to the CBD connecting Cottesloe, Subiaco, West Leederville and Perth. Owned by the people of Western Australia, The Highline will connect to the Highline’s other attraction launched today, “Perth’s Marine Trail” which leads visitors on a journey of Perth Northern and Southern beaches, Penguin Island, and Swan River discovering Perth’s unique marine highlights.
Dr Carmen Lawrence, former Premier of Western Australia and former Chair of the Heritage Council, attending the launch today, said “I oppose the State Government’s plan to demolish the old Fremantle Bridge as an assault on our heritage. The bridge was placed on the State Heritage List in the first place because it is a significant, living record of West Australia's history that should be retained and restored. The planned demolition is also unnecessary, since a new bridge could be constructed on an alignment which preserves the existing bridge for community use, walking and cycling. We have a sorry record in Western Australia of destroying our heritage for short term financial reasons. Since the State owns this heritage asset, it should be a model for the rest of the community by preserving the bridge for future generations."
Spokesperson for the Highline and Old Fremantle Bridge Project, Richard Evans said “Many cities around the world are now creating Highlines from heritage bridges to capitalise on the financial return Highline’s offer. New York’s Highline cost $170 million for the restoration of the area, gardens, seating and public art, attracts 8 million visitors per year and has returned $2 billion to the New York economy, not only from what locals and tourists spend when visiting, but also from the investment and development that has occurred in the revitalisation of what was once a disused area.”
“Unlike New York, Perth’s Highline is located in an area that is already Perth’s city’s most visited tourist attraction after the CBD - historic Fremantle. The Perth Highline has the potential to put Perth on the world map due to its unique location on Swan River and coast. Our Government’s tourism reports tell us that Perth is visited because of its beaches, Swan River and natural beauty. Beaches rank number 1 for what to visit, Swan River number 4. The number one appeal of Perth for intrastate, interstate and international tourists is Perth’s ‘natural beauty and the connection between nature and city’”. Perth Highline is what they have all been waiting for.”
“Like the New York Highline, if required, the Perth community will fund the Perth Highline project.”
“Cities recognize parks are good for their economies. They’re no longer a nice thing to have, but a must,” said Will Rogers, president and chief executive of the Trust for Public Land, a national conservation group in San Francisco, commented in the New York Times.
Spokesperson for Save the Old Fremantle Bridge Alliance, Isadora Noble said, “The ‘Save The Old Fremantle Bridge Alliance’ was formed to save the heritage listed Old Fremantle Bridge from the Western Australian State Government’s plans to destroy and remove it to build a new traffic bridge in its place. The Alliance consists of organisations and Australians in support of the retention of the bridge. The bridge has the highest level of heritage rating available in Western Australia.”
“Many cities are finding the cost of building their Highlines much less expensive than pulling old heritage bridges down. For example Philadelphia’s abandoned elevated railway was estimated to cost $50USD million to tear down compared to $36USD million to retrofit.”
“A Highline is a win-win landmark for Perth. It works with the Government’s plans to move Fremantle Port, is well timed to be part of Fremantle Masterplan, Fremantle’s centenary in 2029 and the bridge’s 82 birthday in December. The Government has $230 million allocated to spend on its Swan River crossing project. If it can allocate $120 million to the Fremantle Victoria Quay historic restoration project, and $20 million to build the Elizabeth Quay bridge, it can allocate at least $30 million to The Highline.”
“The State Government has spent $23 million in the past 5 years repairing the Old Fremantle Bridge to make it safe. It is currently able to handle 25,000 cars, 20 tonne trucks and buses per day. With 90% of its load reduced for the pedestrian-cyclist only Highline, eminent marine engineers conclude the Old Fremantle Bridge could live for more than 40 years.”
About Save the Old Fremantle Bridge Alliance

The ‘Save The Old Fremantle Bridge Alliance’ was formed to save the heritage listed Old Fremantle Bridge from the Western Australian State Government’s plans to destroy and remove it. The Alliance consists of organisations and Australians in support of the retention of the bridge. The bridge has the highest level of heritage rating available in Western Australia. Founding members include former premier, Dr Carmen Lawrence, Chair of the Fremantle Society, local past and current politicians and council staff from Fremantle Council and other Western Australian constituencies, a former heritage adviser to the Fremantle Council, prominent Western Australian and Fremantle business owners, Western Australians living in the Eastern states and overseas, Western Australian cyclists; developers, doctors, artists, musicians, lawyers, engineers, urban designers, families and local children. 3200 people have signed a petition to Save the Old Fremantle Bridge. 850 people have donated funds to save the bridge.
The Alliance seeks to ensure the Western Australian State Government delivers on its obligations under the Heritage Act of Western Australia to retain, restore and maintain the bridge. The Alliance provides a consulting body for the State Government, Fremantle Council and other government, public and private organisations and individuals to liaise in regards any matter associated with the Old Fremantle Bridge. The Save Old Fremantle Bridge Alliance is a non profit alliance welcoming all individuals and organisations wishing to join the Alliance to retain the Old Fremantle Bridge.
Fremantle Bridge Project
Fremantle Bridge Project is a non profit organisation dedicated to developing a new vision for the Old Fremantle Bridge. The Fremantle Bridge Project has consulted with leading Western Australian business, political and tourism leaders to develop its Perth Highline project. The Project will consult to the State Government to oversee the development of The Perth Highline. #freobridgeproject @frebreidgeproject
About Highlines
A Highline’s common attribute is a pedestrian-cycle-only heritage bridge connecting landscape, heritage, art and people. Cities which have created Highlines have rejuvenated underused areas and integrated communities, offering physical celebrations of environment, nature, history and offering community connection and tourism. Highlines have been built in New York, Paris and Melbourne have become world class public spaces. New York’s Highline cost $170million to build, and now attracts 8 million visitors per year.
Media Launch Invitation:
Monday 2 August 2021
Northern end of Old Fremantle Traffic Bridge
Video vision of Perth Highline will be unveiled
Video opportunities with the public
Interview opportunities: Dr Carmen Lawrence, Perth Highline founders, Chair Fremantle Society, Fremantle Council, Save the Old Fremantle Bridge Alliance, Better Bridges Founder, Design Freo, Former
For more media information:
Isadora Noble
Save Old Fremantle Bridge Alliance
T: 0419328999
Richard Evans
Fremantle Bridge Project
T: 0407 386 737

26 July 2021

Wednesday 28 July: Fremantle Council Meeting and Electors' Meeting Answers

D... D... D... Debts

Following the Electors' Meeting In June when a lively crowd of 40 people fronted the normally boring Annual Electors Meeting, Fremantle Council was left with a lot of questions to answer and motions to deal with.
They will be dealt with this coming Wednesday at the 6pm Fremantle Council meeting in North Fremantle (see Agenda and Minutes under Fremantle Council).
Because Acting Mayor Sullivan went on radio two days after the meeting and told four porkies to investigative journalist Liam Bartlett, the Fremantle Society and chartered accountant Craig Ross turned up at that night's Council meeting to ask further questions.
Porkie one was that the acting mayor stated there were only "about 20" people at the Electors' Meeting when in fact Council confirmed 40 in the audience.
Porkie two on radio occurred when Cr Sullivan said the two former councillors and friends of the mayor forgiven their debts of $40,000 occurred "ten years ago" when in fact both were in the past 2 years.
So this question below was tabled at Council on June 25:
Liam Bartlett stated to acting mayor Sullivan on 6PR today "It isn't a good look when two former councillors have their debts to council waived!" He was referring to $22,000 for former councillor Nabor, and $17,000 for former councillor Tim Grey-Smith. Cr Sullivan stated that that was 10 years ago, but that is not true.
The $22,000 waived by the CEO for Mr Nabor is a very recent debt, and Mr Grey-Smith was forgiven his debt by the CEO Phil St John in August 2019, less than 2 years' ago, not 10.
The officers state in their report that should circumstances change, they will seek to claim debts waived.
For Mr Grey-Smith, his circumstances appear to have changed. He was employed by the Department of Premier and Cabinet before taking on the role of campaign manager for a former Labor Minister running for the mayoralty of Melville, and allegedly paid $34,000. He recently attended the farewell party for the CEO of Fremantle who waived his debt, and is allegedly now part of Cr Fitzhardinge's mayoral election team.
Given those changes in circumstances and the officers' stated possible intention of pursuing debts, will officers be pursuing such debts on ratepayers' behalf?
This question was severely edited before being published in the Minutes, and the answer provided this week is that the debts will not be pursued.
Porkie three related to Cr Sullivan stating that the total costs of the administration building to date are $39 million. Having waded through hundreds of pages of council financial documents, many deliberately misleading it would appear, chartered accountant and FICRA (Fremantle Inner City Residents' Association) committee member Craig Ross will reveal the total cost tomorrow. It will shock you.
Answers to the many other questions asked at the Electors' Meeting and the motions put will be analysed and summarised for you tomorrow, so you can stay at home nice and warm and devour Netflix. But the Fremantle Society will pursue financial integrity and a better Fremantle on your behalf and attend yet another exciting council meeting.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

23 July 2021

Council Elections: Vote for Someone Who Cares about Your Money and Fremantle's Financial Health

The Letter the Herald Refused to Publish

With millions of dollars invested in real estate, and grand plans done and paid for pointing to a great future, the election of Mayor Pettitt in 2009 should have signalled a renaissance for Fremantle using the unique assets of the town to plough a great future.
Plans had been done for the Phillimore Street interface with the port (not used), for Arthur Head Conservation (not used), Fremantle Markets restoration (not used), Pioneer Park Archaeology Centre (not used), King's Square Town Square (not used), Esplanade Park Masterplan (not used), Asset Management Plans (not carried out) and so on.
Instead, bad deal after bad deal was entered into, stripping Fremantle Council of its financial assets, and now, in 2021, making council finances a hot election topic.

Below is the letter from April the Fremantle Herald has repeatedly refused to publish on this subject. Perhaps they are protecting their finances (council advertising):

On Tuesday afternoon April 6 Fremantle Mayor Pettitt won the last seat in the State Election. Three days later, on Friday morning, the Fremantle CEO Phil St John told staff he was resigning.
Fremantle Council, with no mayor or CEO, tabled the annual Auditor General's report into the City's finances. The financial figures are alarming.
The Fremantle Society has warned for years of reckless spending by Council, while ignoring the basics (and Fremantle's heritage). Carmen Lawrence recently redoubled her criticism that the King's Square project and the unnecessary $50 million admin building will "blight Fremantle for 100 years," while Colin Barnett said he would sack the whole council if he was still premier.
At the council meeting we asked how council's land holdings have been devalued by $59 million, investment property devalued by $6.3 million, and why a lack of fraud prevention controls are still identified by the auditor as a concern. There is a debt for 2019-2020 of $32 million, which is not sustainable.
The "sustainability" crusade of the past 12 years has been a disaster for business and for heritage. It is a tragedy the Chamber of Commerce is more interested in supporting woke council programs like renaming King's Square than protecting business viability and helping to enhance the good things we already have in this world famous town.
Clearly, as one financial expert said, Fremantle councillors are "financially illiterate." (Cr Vujcic is the exception).
None of the councillors responsible for Fremantle's dire financial position should run in the upcoming October elections. Up for reelection are: Crs Sulllivan, Thompson, Wainright, Archibald, Lang, and Fitzhardinge. Several councillors will run for mayor - possibly Crs Fitzhardinge, Sullivan, and Mofflin.
Just as members of a board which fail their shareholders need to resign, so should those who have put us in this mess. They need to resign, and to be held responsible.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

New York Style High Line Bridge on Iconic Maritime Trail?

Fremantle Society Vision, or Fremantle Council Usual Disinterest in Heritage?

A fresh group of visionaries, including former Premier Carmen Lawrence, has joined the Fremantle Society to campaign for the retention and repurposing of the level 1a heritage-listed Fremantle Traffic Bridge.

Citing the hugely successful New York High Line Bridge project, a visionary scheme is being drawn up that shows how an iconic heritage river crossing for pedestrians and cyclists could not only be a great human connector into a world famous heritage town like Fremantle, but a key and interesting part of a Maritime Trail stretching from Woodman Point to Cottesloe.

The two pages above are only a rough draft and your ideas and feedback are welcome to:


While Mayor Logan Howlett of Cockburn favours the ideas put forward above, Fremantle's acting mayor Sullivan led Fremantle Council last week to NOT ONLY VOTE TO SUPPORT DEMOLITION OF THE BRIDGE, BUT VOTED IT BE DONE "AS A MATTER OF URGENCY".

Such corporate vandalism from Fremantle Council is astonishing.

It is inexplicable, given the government has yet to even begin discussions on the future of Fremantle as announced recently.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223633

26 June 2021

Council Challenged to Seriously Improve

Electors Seek a New Council

6PRs Liam Bartlett Challenges Acting Mayor Sullivan: "It's Not a Good Look"

This week you were sent a summary of Monday night's Electors' Meeting.
Liam Bartlett at 6PR read it, and got Acting Mayor Sullivan on the phone.

Referring to the fact that two former councillors, both friends and allies of Mayor Pettitt, had debts totalling $40,000 waived by the CEO, Liam Bartlett said "It's not a good look!"

During his interview Cr Sullivan told four porkie pies.

a) He told Bartlett that the two former councillors who were forgiven debts were forgiven those debts 10 years ago. In fact it was less than 2.

b) He told Bartlett the attendance at the Electors' Meeting was only around 20. The official attendance figure given to the Fremantle Society by council officers was 40.

(Former Mayor Tagliaferri said yesterday that in the 8 Electors Meetings he ran hardly anyone ever turned up, especially councillors, so an attendance of 40 shows a strong interest from the community.)

c) He told Bartlett the Auditor General had given the council a clean bill of health.

Not true:

(i) debt/service ratio is adverse and has been below Dept of Local Government standards for the past 3 years.

(ii) there are fraud related control weaknesses and non compliance with parts of the 1995 Local Government Act

(iii) IT rating was very low .

d) He told Bartlett the total cost of the new administration building to date was around $39 million. The chartered accountant we use said the figure is $56 million and is being hidden in a deliberate strategy.

The TOTAL cost of the whole project was promised to be $43 million including fit out and 5% fee for Sirona to manage the build and 8.5% fee to the architects.

Also, Fremantle Council are hiding the fact that they in fact have made an operating loss of $8.4 million, and a total loss for the year of $32, 886, 286 after devaluation of property. The council report shows the amount as 'income' when it is a loss!

Telling porkies is one thing.

Destroying the finances of a world famous heritage town is another.

Electors on Monday clearly showed - they want a new council.

Coming: the further questions asked by the Fremantle Society

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

22 June 2021

2021 Annual Electors Meeting

A large turnout of passionate Fremantle people saw an almost full house Monday night for the only meeting of the year specifically for electors, where they can ask questions and put forward motions.

The very detailed and lengthy Annual Report of Council was first presented, and Fremantle Society Treasurer Bill Ody detailed why it shouldn't be accepted by the meeting, because he had serious concerns about the financial statements in the report. He was backed up by Craig Ross, an accountant, and committee member of FICRA, who stated that the report failed to disclose important material evidence. The meeting voted down the report, and things got worse from there.

Speaker after speaker lambasted Council over perceived failures - for almost three hours.

Much time and effort had obviously gone into the multitude of questions, often forensically  prepared. These were followed by a series of motions.

Craig Ross put forward a total of 17 questions, mostly related to the collapse of Pindan and the building of the King's Square administration building. He had submitted them prior to the meeting and was not at all satisfied by the responses he received. For example, he was not able to get a simple answer to the simple question: "How much has been spent so far on the new administration building?" He tore strips off the officers for obfuscation,  omission, and failure to follow normal accounting practices. It was a striking performance of accountancy coming to life.

Elizabeth Megroz repeated the refrain of many, that answers to questions asked of council are continually evasive and not useful.

Andrew Luobikis asked why so many council commercial tenants were having their rents waived (including two former councillors) totalling already this year over $500,000, instead of being put onto a payment plan.

Architect Peter Pacek said he was horrified at the problems with the building of the $50 million administration building and where it will all end up.
Former councillor Georgie Adeane asked why her South Beach markets, which she had built up over the years herself,  were going to be put out to tender, when the Fremantle Markets weren't and have not been for decades.

She was backed up by former MP and former Fremantle Society Treasurer Adele Carles who also raised the issue of Fremantle Markets.

Former Fremantle Society committee member Martin Lee lambasted the acting mayor Sullivan and officers for years of evasive answers on issues like the Kings Square Business Plan, and said he was sick of getting "responses but not answers."

Fremantle Society President John Dowson asked why the Annual Report states on its first page that Fremantle is home to "the state's busiest and most important cargo the beating heart of Western Australia's economy" and yet Fremantle Council appears to do so little to fight to keep the "beating heart" in Fremantle.

He also asked about the 2% annual rates levy for a FOGO bin. The Annual Report listed one of the "Notable achievements of One Planet" being the roll out of the FOGO waste program, after a 2% levy was introduced to pay for the red bins. The question was: "Given that this is not a one off charge for a new bin, but an annual 2% tax on every ratepayer every single year for a single bin, and that inner city residents and businesses do not and have never received one of those bins, when will Fremantle Council rescind the tax for those who don't benefit, and refund their money?"

West End resident Sue John described disgraceful night time behaviour at Arthur Head and its effect on nearby residents.

West End resident Richard Bartlett again raised the issue of the poor levels of maintenance of Arthur Head and the Round House.

Former Fremantle Society Secretary Chris Williams asked a series of questions seeking the number of meetings held between Mayor Pettitt and Sirona before the MOU was signed, given Sirona stand to walk away with over $100 million profit from the joint venture, while ratepayers will be left with a debt approaching $40 million.

Various motions were put forward including one from former Fremantle Society committee member Helen Cox concerning the Tent City debacle at Pioneer Park.

Sean Hefferon asked a series of forensic probing questions in a motion about the developing scandal of the purchase of the 2 Jones Street site by council for $7.8 million, now worth $3.7million.

Fremantle Society president John Dowson's motion was that "Funding for heritage should be increased in the 2021 budget."

He outlined that while Fremantle has 3,000 heritage listed places, something that has helped make it the world famous destination it is, and that while heritage was a key economic driver for Fremantle's economy, Fremantle Council in recent years had  stripped back heritage funding from its budget - getting rid of the heritage grants program, abandoning the 1.25% of rates annually that used to fund heritage projects,  cancelling the annual heritage awards and the local history awards, and getting rid of its heritage committee.

The meeting resoundingly supported the motion, as it did all others put.

Fremantle Society committee member Mark Woodcock put a motion that the electors had no confidence in Council. He listed many reasons why not. That sealed the evening.

The final word for the evening was had by Fremantle Society committee member Ken Adam, who reinforced the importance of heritage to Fremantle.

Notable by their absence from the meeting  were mayoral candidate, the Labor member for Beaconsfield H. Fitzhardinge, City Ward Councillor R. Pemberton, and of course the Fremantle Herald.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

[photo: Bathers' Beach Boardwalk Heritage Project - a highly successful and much loved heritage project done by the former council, before the ruination of heritage sites like Arthur Head under Mayor Pettitt.]

17 June 2021

The Fremantle Society Seeks Good Financial Governance

It's the Money Honey

[image: 2017 photo: Empire Property specialist Anthony van der Wielen who was commissioned to do a valuation of 2 Jones Steet, and Mayor Pettitt. Fremantle Herald photo]

The Annual General Meeting of Electors will be held Monday 21 June at 6pm at North Fremantle Community Hall in Thompson Road.

This meeting is held once a year for electors who are eligible to vote in the local government elections . This meeting is a requirement of the Local Government Act and must be held within 56 days of Council accepting the Annual Report of Council.

The Annual Report is online under Agenda and Minutes, and is an impressive detailed document, whatever ones thinks of the direction and success of Council. Officers have put a lot of time into writing the report.

Given this is a mayoral election year, and given there will be a substantial rate increase of 3.5 to 4% this year because of councillors' financial incompetence, the main issues for the Fremantle Society at the Electors' Meeting will be the financial ones.

Over the years the Fremantle Society has sought expert advice from accountants and licensed valuers and real estate agents. We have given you this insight and professional information to act upon, but mostly you have done nothing with it.

It is said that accountants tell you about problems you didn't think you had, in a way that you dont understand. But The Fremantle Society has been proven correct over and over again in its efforts to protect your ratepayer assets, to improve governance, and to get better results from decisions made. We just need you to act. Let's give you just one glaring example: - the 2 Jones Street purchase.

Fremantle Depot Purchase - the Dumbest of Deals - "A rare opportunity for the perfect property"

At the top of the page is a photo of Mayor Pettitt with, then, Fremantle's only dedicated commercial property specialist Anthony van der Wielen in 2017 in a Herald article entitled "Row Over Depot Deal". The Fremantle Society tried to make this an election issue during that mayoral contest, but the Herald only published the article a few days before votes were counted.

The 2 Jones Street O'Connor site was purchased in 2014 for $7.8 million, despite council's own valuer saying it wasn't worth that much.

The property had last sold during the boom times of 2005 when it fetched $1.975m, yet nine years later during a slump it fetched $7.8m when Mayor Pettitt and his councillors at a confidential meeting agreed to buy it. At the time Scott Bailey from Knight Frank said he was "baffled" how Realmark managed to sell it to Council so soon after they got the listing, when he couldn't sell it to anyone during a 6 month listing.

In the Herald article, where van der Wielen criticises Fremantle Council for having paid too much, Mayor Pettitt says the property was "a rare opportunity for the perfect property."

The "perfect " property is contaminated and contains asbestos.

The "perfect" property had a tenant paying $634,974 rent plus GST plus outgoings, but allegedly it was the owner company paying itself that rent.

If you read the council's latest financial documents you will see that the property is now worth only $3.7 million. Over $4 million lost on one property.

And there has been no progress towards having a new depot.

The financial deals done under Mayor Pettitt are an utter disgrace, and the current group of councillors wear much of the responsibility.

This is just one of many such examples.

The Electors Meeting is an opportunity to not only ask questions but to put forward motions (see online for the form which suggests submitting them by 5pm the day prior).

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

30 May 2021

Fremantle Society Option: Keep the Heritage Bridge Till Traffic Links Sorted

Save Our Bridge

Main Roads have put out four options as above for you to comment on by 1 June.

None of them is good enough.

None of them addresses serious traffic link issues in the North Fremantle area.

None of them protects the heritage listed traffic bridge.

In France, in 2017, the French decided to look after one of their heritage icons, the Eiffel Tower, which like the wooden Fremantle Traffic Bridge, was only supposed to be "temporary". They decided to allocate $500 million to renovate and really look after it.

In contrast, the WA State Government has walked away from most of their obligations in Fremantle to the heritage properties they own, by either selling them, or as in this case, by proposing to demolish the traffic bridge, the longest wooden traffic bridge in WA and an icon of the timber industry and the thousands who worked in it.

There is no need and no rush to build a new traffic bridge at this time, because the traffic numbers over the bridge have actually DECLINED from 28,000 in 2006 to 24,000 now, and are only projected to increase to 30,000 in 2041, an increase of 2,000 vehicles a year after a period of 35 years!

The Fremantle Society wants to see the level 1a ("Exceptional significance") wooden traffic bridge maintained until the government has worked out how to fix the Curtin Avenue and North Fremantle Town Centre traffic issues, to give North Fremantle back its amenity. In the meantime trucks and heavy traffic should be banned from the wooden bridge. With heavy traffic off the bridge, its life span is cheaper to extend and well within Main Road's budget.

There is also no sense in building an additional rail freight line as proposed if the government is intending to move the port by 2031.

Ideally, the Fremantle Society wants to see the wooden bridge kept even if a new one is built, to be used by pedestrians and cyclists. But at the very least the government should show a little savour faire and respect our heritage.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

P.S. Monday 6pm at Tannock Hall in Cliff Street,  Design Freo has a discussion night on the bridge issues, but, like the Fremantle Network, they have excluded the Fremantle Society, and are not pursuing the retention of the heritage listed bridge.

See also: Mains Road WA page for Swan River Crossings Fremantle.

Suffocating Suffolk Street

24 May 2021

You are looking at a seagull's view provided by the developer of Yolk Property's proposal for 65 South Terrace on the corner of Suffolk Street.

Most people in Fremantle don't see their environment like a seagull does, but it helps developers hide the true impact of their proposals.

Last week, despite a disturbing officer report ignoring normal planning protocols, which concluded the 6 storeys were OK, all councillors voted against it. There were thoughtful comments from Crs Archibald, Thompson (both running for re-election), Wainright (up for re-election but possibly not running again) and Graham. Cr Archibald made the important point that the officers had not even mentioned the effect of the proposal on the largely one storey adjacent Suffolk Street, "one of the earliest and most important of Fremantle's streets."

But it has to go to council this Wednesday before going to the State Government's Covid Committee, set up to help developers during the current boom get permission to build higher than they are normally allowed.

The Fremantle Society has submitted this exciting report to all councillors:

Public comment to the government has closed, but Fremantle Council's comments will form part of the government's decision making when they make a decision.

The Fremantle Society, while always supportive of good development, is strongly against this development. It is yet another overscale development by Yolk Property who are arguing that non conforming mistakes of the past like Arundel Court and Fremantle Hospital can be used as precedents when in fact they are aberrations. The great concern is that council officers have agreed with them in their report.

The Fremantle Society has four architects on its committee. To add extra commentary we have commissioned one of the State's top planners, who works on numerous design panels and is regarded by many as the best in the field. He wishes to remain anonymous but his comments are still valid.

He comments:

· The report details, on page 9 of the (19 May) agenda, the 4 limbs of Clause 4.8.1 of LPS4 that need to be satisfied in regard to the exercise of discretion – this is the key. The Fremantle Society does not believe the clauses referred to are all satisfied: Where sites contain or are adjacent to buildings that depict a height greater than that specified in the general or specific requirements in schedule 7, Council may vary the maximum height requirements subject to being satisfied in relation to allof the following—

(a) the variation would not be detrimental to the amenity of adjoining propertiesor the locality generally,

(b) degree to which the proposed height of external walls effectively graduates
the scale between buildings of varying heights within the locality,
(c) conservation of the cultural heritage values of buildings on-site and
adjoining, and
(d) any other relevant matter outlined in Council’s local planning policies.

· The SAT supported the initial refusal on this basis and the reasons are outlines on page 5/6 (19 May) of the agenda. You should ask the question whether SATs observations apply to the current design – I believe they do, and point out that they would apply equally, if not more, to the proposal.

The Fremantle Society agrees that the SAT observations printed below in red apply even more so to this development.
The most relevant previous applications include a four storey, plus basement mixed use development comprising a hospital, medical centre, and multiple dwellings. This application was refused by Council in 2008 as it was inconsistent with the building height provisions of LPS4. The decision was appealed to the SAT who, in 2009, upheld the decision providing the following reasons (summarised):
• There is a legal ability to approve a height variation under clause 4.8.1 (formerly 5.8.1) of LPS4, subject to the development meeting the four considerations of the clause, however, the SAT was not satisfied that the proposed development met the considerations.

The variation to the wall height proposed would be detrimental to the character, and thus the amenity of the locality, because the height would be incongruous and unsympathetic to the South Terrace streetscape. Predominantly, the reasoning was that the development presented with a nil setback to three of the four boundaries and thereby made it read as being a part of the South Terrace streetscape, particularly the western side of the street, which is composed predominantly of single or single and a half storey buildings of heritage significance. The hard-edged nature of the entirety of the proposed development, combined with the design and the bulk was considered out of character with the streetscape. The implication was that had the development been set back from the street, similar to Arundel Court and, to a lesser extent, the Fremantle Hospital, the development might have been considered to read as separate enough from the existing streetscape so as not to detract from the amenity of the street.
The SAT was not satisfied that the four storey development effectively graduated the scale between buildings of various heights within the locality. SAT accepted that scale is not simply height, but is a product of bulk, built form, architectural design and setbacks. As the development occupied the whole of the site, unlike Arundel Court next door, it would not effectively graduate the scale between buildings of various heights.
The SAT was not satisfied that the development would conserve the cultural heritage value of the adjoining corner store building as it would not have provided an appropriate visual setting for the corner shop.
The SAT was not satisfied that the development would preserve traditional building forms and streetscapes or relate to the scale, height, form and mass of existing buildings.
The SAT opined that a three storey development, with the third storey set well back from the street, would be a more appropriate outcome, consistent with the locality.

· The interface with the existing shop and cottages in Suffolk (which have heritage value) is ‘brutal’ and does not transition (step down) in the gentle manner of the previously approved development (illustrated in page 7 of the May 19 agenda).

· There is an argument that the proposal is premature in that there ought to be comprehensive detailed planning for the precinct to establish how transitions from the taller buildings to the smaller building should be managed, or what happens for example, if Arundel Court and its car park are redeveloped.

· As a general guide in planning, variations to the local planning framework need to be adequality justified (or ‘earned’), and that any benefit of a non-compliant design should be commensurate with the variation – ie giving a little to get a little, giving a lot to get a lot. In this case, the applicant is asking for a lot and not giving much.

· From a design perspective, the design has some merit when viewed though a contemporary architectural prism. However, design quality alone is not enough. The building still has to do the right thing by its setting.

· On parking: I wouldn’t focus on that. It’s always raised as an issue and my usual comeback is, “do you really want more cars in your town?” Parking is seldom a reason for refusal.

Councillors: please reject this overscale development for the reasons outlined above.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

22 May 2021

Notes from the President

Is The Fremantle Herald still a community newspaper?

The Herald's lack of willingness to tackle Fremantle Council over its misdeeds, including its poor record on heritage and the dire financial situation it has placed Fremantle in, while at the same time promoting the very people who created these problems as they run for office for election in October, seems to reflect a need on the Herald's part to protect their significant revenue stream from Council.

This week the gates slammed shut at King's Square as Dr Pettitt partied nearby the same day. Apparently that was not newsworthy.

The Fremantle Society were sent damning photos by the unions of problems at King's Square, but that apparently was not newsworthy.

Fremantle Council has carried out a divisive woke agenda at King's Square to build over most of the square, to rid the place of its best trees, ignore its colonial history, and change its name.

The Fremantle Herald today runs a front page story about a lunatic fringe group calling for Stirling Council to change its name and equates that to Fremantle Council engineering a name change next Wednesday.

One of the 'electors' at the Stirling Council meeting Ngalla Maya Aboriginal Corporation CEO Mervyn Eades told electors that Captain Stirling was "no different to Hitler." Such asinine comments presented as evidence are rather different to considered comments presented in Fremantle against changing the name of King's Square by historical experts like Professor Reece, Ken Adam, The Fremantle Society, and the Fremantle History Society, which will all be ignored next Wednesday when council votes to change the name to Walyup Noort.

Expert opinion carries no weight in this issue and it should. The most intelligent person to have lived in Fremantle, Professor George Seddon, wrote: "There has not been adequate recognition that the street patterns, the street names, and the public open spaces are the most enduring record of early Fremantle. They need to be conserved."

The loathing of heritage and history by so many councillors is summed up well by WA's only Prime Minister: As John Curtin thundered: "There are persons in Australia as in every other country who can see no good in their country. The reason is that they are no good themselves."

Read below at the end the thoughtful and well argued case for retaining King's Square name, written by Anne Brake and Alan Kelsall of the Fremantle History Society.

WAMN TV Sunday Night 5.30: Subject: Fremantle Society on King's Square

if you wish to see more about King's Square tune in to WAMN and see the Fremantle Society interviewed.

Film Studios on Victoria Quay

The Fremantle Society had an award winning international filmmaker detail why heritage listed Victoria Quay is unsuitable for film studios, and the Fremantle Herald publicised that material (without attribution).

Now we hear that the whole development is racing ahead, and is at "stage three".

When the public will have a say about this $100 million land grab is unknown.

The government keeps promising transparency, but why the secrecy?

Committee Member Banned from Facebook

Mark Woodcock is a very well informed and active committee member. But Facebook has just BANNED him from Facebook altogether for posting the following response to another inane nanny state post of Cr Pemberton's seeking cars to travel at 30 kph in Fremantle CBD. What on earth is 'against community standards' in this thoughtful post to another inane idea?

Mark Woodcock:
"What would make Freo more livable is sorting our the Anti-social issues. Freo is plagued crime, violence, substance abuse, speed humps and parking issues, these have been driving people out of Freo for years. Cleaning the place up so it looks like council cares is the first step in sorting out any decline in an are. We need cars bringing people in as even Fremantle council voted to cut its CAT Public transport services. Go and see an area that thrives in WA it has good private transport access and services. The speed limit dropped to 30kph years ago on this street, it certainly hasn't increased foot traffic, councils own counters and the ever increasing list of for lease signs in Freo says exactly the opposite. Yagan square built as a car free pedestrian friendly area, has failed to attract people, its actually an utter disaster. Its very easy to cross a road safely, look before you leap, if you don't step in front of a vehicle it will never be likely to hit you."

The Fremantle History Society on Why King's Square Should Keep its Name

Kings Square renaming

The Fremantle History Society supports the retention of the name Kings Square but encourages the City of Fremantle to consider a range of interpretive programs, in Kings Square and across the whole Fremantle/Walyalup area, in close consultation with Whadjuk Noongar cultural custodians, which helps to strengthen all the cultural heritage values of our shared history.

The Society’s thoughts are summarised below and further expanded in the attached paper.

Recognising and celebrating the layers of our past are fundamental to good heritage practice and to the nurturing of a strong, respectful resilient community. This requires an holistic approach which considers a broad range of views and will involve a multi-faceted program for the whole of the Fremantle/ Walyalup area to conserve and interpret its rich heritage values.

Conveying the length and strength of the Whadjuk people’s connection to the land should be the starting point or basis for all discussions about how to best conserve and interpret the sum of the natural and cultural heritage values attributed to Fremantle. Superficial gestures (no matter how well meaning) are unlikely to foster either the intended public awareness or the type of engagement that will lead to a deeper understanding of Aboriginal culture and connection to the place that the proposed re-naming of Kings Square intends. Neither do they reflect a commitment to good heritage practice which the City of Fremantle (and the Fremantle History Society) aspire to.

Kings Square is a central element in the JS Roe’s 1833 town plan of Fremantle illustrating his understanding of the latest innovative thinking in urban design at the time by responding to the topography of the place rather than imposing a grid plan on the landscape. The naming of adjacent streets also reflects the origins and timing of the settlement. This should not be lost.

Simply renaming Kings Square with the name of a prominent Whadjuk person of that period does not acknowledge in a meaningful way the Whadjuk people as the traditional owners of the greater Fremantle/Walyalup area. It is therefore unlikely to significantly increase in the community’s knowledge of the Whadjuk people’s connection with the greater Fremantle/Walyalup area.

Working with local Noongar cultural custodians to develop a range of interpretive programs, which may also include elements within Kings Square such as indigenous plantings as well as the wider Fremantle/Walyup area, will have much stronger, richer legacy.

One such way could be reinforcing the strong correlation between Fremantle’s topography and its urban form. This provides an opportunity for a multi-layered reading of the co-existing heritage values that helps in defining the identity of Fremantle. Topographical features and other natural landmark elements that had a recognised Noongar name are well suited to renaming or dual naming. Public art, public programs and events, commitment to inclusivity in consultation and planning and interpretive material in the forms of signage, publications and the like are further examples. Importantly these need to be planned, interlinked programs which are developed in conjunction with cultural custodians.

If a dual naming approach is taken, names such as Walyalup Koort (Heart) meaning a place in the heart of Fremantle or the variation, Walyalup Karlup meaning Fremantle heart-country / home is indicative of what this place is but would have to be agreed to by Whadjuk Noongar Elders and Traditional Owners.


Fremantle has a dynamic history of adapting to changing circumstances that have sometimes transformed it, which is why the history of Fremantle can be described in terms of its periods or phases of development.

The heritage of Fremantle is what we have inherited from that dynamic history. The distinctive characteristics of these various layers of history embody the aspirations, knowledge, beliefs, skills, traditions and investment of successive generations of diverse communities. Each significant part of Fremantle’s heritage is both a finite resource and an irreplaceable asset which plays a defining role in enriching the fabric of Fremantle’s townscapes and landscapes in ways that provide the community with an attractive environment with a sense of continuity with the past, as well as the context for its continuing evolution.

How people feel about a place can have a significant impact on its economic and social vitality and consequently the community’s sense of connection to the place. It is why Fremantle’s heritage should not be treated as a stand-alone subject; it should instead be recognised and promoted as a social and economic asset that is also a cultural resource for learning and enjoyment. As such it should be sustained for the benefit of present and future generations.

People value heritage places for a range of often inter-related reasons; for the knowledge or learning that is inherent in it, for the story it can tell them about its past, its connection with notable people or events, because they find its landform, flora and fauna beautiful or inspiring, or for its role as a focus of a community’s identity. Although these expression of a place’s heritage values can be appreciated simply as a spontaneous, although culturally influenced, response, people’s experience of the heritage values associated with a place can be enhanced through education.

Learning and experience can raise the community’s awareness and understanding of the importance of a place and help them to refine and articulate the varied ways in which its co-existing natural and cultural values are perceived by different generations and communities. This brings with it the potential for reconciling the diverse and sometimes contradictory associations that people can have with a place. Differences that are often a consequence of what happened in the different phases or periods of this areas we now know as Fremantle’s history. This type of comprehensive understanding of heritage tends to grow in strength and complexity over time as knowledge deepens, and people’s perceptions of it evolve. It has the potential to prompt a greater sense of community ownership and an increased awareness of the importance of conserving heritage.

Conservation actions like restoration, preservation and reconstruction have the potential to reveal the significance of a place and aid in the understanding its various values. However, the reasons places are listed as being of heritage significance is not always readily apparent to the general public. The purpose of interpretation is to communicate these reasons by means that are accessible and inclusive. Sometimes interpretation needs to take the form of a creative exercise, particularly when the place may have a range of co-existing tangible and intangible values and meanings for different people.
Interpretation is most likely to enhance understanding and engagement if the place expresses those attributes which help to communicate what is important about the place. Interpretation includes, therefore, protecting the place from the adverse impact of intrusive interpretive infrastructure, visitor pressure, and inaccurate or inappropriate interpretation.

To identify the cultural and natural heritage values of a place, its history, fabric and character must first be understood. The range and relative importance of the relationships between a place and its heritage values will normally emerge from an understanding of its origins and the social and cultural circumstances that caused its landscape setting and fabric to change over time. Articulating the nature of these relationships provides an informed basis for making decisions about the most appropriate methods of physical conservation and interpretation. It may, for example, provide insights into:

• the fabric and evolution of the place
• who values the place, and why they do so
• how the significance of the place relates to its fabric
• whether associated objects make a contribution to its significance
• the contribution made by the setting and context of the place
• how the place compares with others sharing similar values.

This type of comprehensive analysis of the place’s history is the starting point for decisions on how best to conserve and interpret the sum of the heritage values attributed to a place. Tension usually arises when there is a perceived need to diminish evidence of certain heritage values in favour of others. In these cases, it is important to be alert the co-existence of heritage values by not automatically assuming that only one set of cultural or natural heritage values must prevail over all others. Such dilemmas are usually best reconciled through dialogue, based on knowledge, mutual understanding and respect for the place’s multi-layered identity.

It is to be expected that places of natural and cultural significance that are the result of centuries of history, will have a range of co-existing, and sometimes apparently contradictory, natural and cultural heritage values. It is also likely that these will be considered to be of different levels of importance to different individuals or groups. If a place comprises evidence of fabric and uses that are associated with different periods and aspects of cultural significance, emphasising or interpreting one period or aspect at the expense of another can only be justified when what is left out does not substantially diminish the understanding of the significance of the place.

We need to get better at embracing and celebrating the diversity and complexity of the city’s history. Our historic environment contains a unique and dynamic record of human activity. Opportunities for the interpretation, commemoration and celebration of these associations should be investigated and implemented. Opportunities for the continuation or revival of these meanings should also be investigated and implemented. Only in this way will it be possible to get a true understanding of the richness and complexity of Fremantle’s history.

The co-existence of natural and cultural values that derive from significant associations between people and the city should be respected and retained; and should not be obscured. Maintaining legibility helps people to decipher these associations and their contributions to the layers of history that have led to the present identity of the city. This layering of history gives the city its uniqueness and a thought-provoking sense of authenticity and complexity. The more the city acknowledges the complexity of its history and the resulting co-existence of heritage values, the more inclusive will be the awareness of the contributions made to the multi-layered identity of Fremantle by its various communities. Achieving this legibility sometimes requires conservation to embrace such activities as interpretation and the compatible use of places.

Decisions on achieving what at the time seems to be the optimum outcome often depends on achieving an appropriate balance based on a comprehensive understanding of the range and relative importance of the heritage values involved, including what is necessary (and possible) to conserve and interpret each of them. These decisions should be based on the application of a systematic and consistent process which is guided by expertise, experience and judgment, applied in a manner that is appropriate and proportionate in scope and depth to the importance of the place and its contribution to society as a whole. However, it needs to be realised that this ‘right balance’ is rarely achieved at the first attempt, if at all. Indeed, in many cases it will need to be continually reassessed as understandings change as a result of new information and learning, or changes of attitude within society, including a greater appreciation of the reasons for the evolution of Fremantle’s multi-layered identity.

To summarise: communicating the natural and cultural significance of a place to everyone concerned with it, particularly those whose actions may affect it, is then essential if all are to act in awareness of its heritage values. Only through understanding the significance of a place is it possible to assess how the qualities that people value are vulnerable to harm or loss. That understanding should then provide the basis for developing and implementing management strategies that will best sustain the heritage values of the place and its setting. Every conservation decision should be based on an understanding of its likely impact on the significance of the landscape and fabric and other aspects of the place concerned.

Urban form of Fremantle

John Septimus Roe, the first surveyor-general of the colony, was responsible for choosing and planning the sites for the towns of Fremantle, Perth and Guildford. In 1829 Roe set about making preliminary surveys of Fremantle, the river and the sourrounding land. The first town plan of Fremantle was submitted for approval to the Lieutenant-Governor, Captain James Stirling, in March 1833. Additional surveys were undertaken in 1833 and in 1836.

The planning of Fremantle did not derive from the imposition of a single planning grid on the landscape but instead it was planned in response to the constraints of the town site, including the shape of the peninsular and its topography. The plan can be described as consisting of distinct areas arranged to suit the broadening of the peninsula and the consequent change in direction of the shorelines and constraints imposed to the east by the hills and limestone ridges.

Topographical features such as Point Marquis, Ferry Point, Obelisk Hill (now monument Hill), Cantonment Hill and Church Hill (now the site of the prison) are named on the 1833 town plan and their influence on the urban layout is evident. The plan shows High Street aligned with Point Marquis (and the Roundhouse) on the promontory at the western tip of the peninsular running in an easterly direction through the town and interrupted by Kings Square. It then skims the northern edge of Obelisk Hill (now Monument Hill) and terminates just beyond it, at the east end of the town site. The town plan spread out from the confines of the peninsular along the line of Market Street/South Terrace. Market Street is set at right angles to High Street and aligns at one end with Ferry Point (the river port). At the other end it joins South Terrace, where it runs against the limestone edge of Church Hill. Kings Square is the pivotal point for the convergence of areas inland of Market Street.

The original plan remains legible. The ability to read the early town plan is aided by the way in which from these beginnings these areas evolved and can now be seen as having their own distinct identities derived from a combination of their locations and the influence of the changing patterns of use and activity within them, together with their contributions to both the adjoining precincts and the overall development of the City.
It is relevant to make the point that The Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout is being considered for inclusion on the National Heritage List and that the documentation supporting registration includes the following:

The Adelaide Park Lands and City Layout is the physical expression of the 1837 Adelaide Plan designed and laid out by Colonel William Light.... It is an exemplar of a nineteenth century planned urban centre.... regarded throughout Australia and the world as a masterwork of urban design.... Designing the city layout to respond to the topography was highly innovative for its time with the northern sections of the city located and angled to take advantage of the rising ground while retaining the Torrens River as a feature within the parklands....It is substantially intact and reflects Light's design intentions with high integrity.

It is important to recognise that the 1833 town plan of central Fremantle not only shares these characteristics with Adelaide but that it also pre-dates it by several years. Its significance should be acknowledged, and its heritage values afforded that same level of protection as being sought for Adelaide. The name King’s Square together with the other street names shown on the original plan should be included on the list of items to be protected.

The first town plan of Fremantle submitted by the Surveyor-General to the Lieutenant-Governor for approval in March 1833.

King’s Square is named on the original plan to commemorate the British monarch at the time, King William IV. The plan also shows the square edged not only by William Street but also by Adelaide Street, the name of King William’s wife and Queen Street. King William IV was on the throne between 1830 and 1837. He was succeeded by Queen Victoria. Adelaide the capital city of South Australia was named after Queen Adelaide.
The name, King’s Square stands as reminder of the date and origins of the British settlement of Fremantle. It is in effect an historical record. The foundation of Fremantle is obviously an important part of history of Western Australia and this link between the name of the square and the foundation of the colony and it is important that this evidence be retained and not diminished.

The fact that these very strong connection between the naming of the square and the streets around it, and the founding of Fremantle does not seem to be common knowledge highlights the importance of the role that education needs to play in communicating the natural and cultural heritage values linked to places in Fremantle to the community, particularly those who are making decisions about its future.

Effective recognition of the Whadjuk people

Every e-mail sent from the City of Fremantle includes the following statement:

The City of Fremantle acknowledges the Whadjuk people as the traditional owners of the greater Fremantle/Walyalup area and we recognise that their cultural and heritage beliefs are still important today.

This declaration should serve as the guiding principle in regard to any judgements in regard to the perceived benefits brought forward to justify the renaming of Kings Square.

Whadjuk people have lived, for around 40,000 years, on the land where Fremantle now stands. Consequentially the history of Fremantle forms only a small part of the history of the greater Fremantle/Walyalup area.

Conveying the length and strength of the Whadjuk people’s connection to the land should be the starting point or basis for all discussions about how to best conserve and interpret the sum of the natural and cultural heritage values attributed to Fremantle. Superficial gestures (no matter how well meaning) are unlikely to foster either the intended public awareness or the type of engagement that will lead to a deeper understanding of aboriginal culture and connection to the place.

Simply renaming Kings Square, which is a piece of British town planning dating from 1833 with strong connections to the British settlement of Fremantle, even if it is name after a prominent Whadjuk person of that period. This gesture does not acknowledge in a meaningful way the Whadjuk people as the traditional owners of the greater Fremantle/Walyalup area. It is therefore unlikely to significantly increase in the community’s knowledge of the Whadjuk people’s connection with the greater Fremantle/Walyalup area.

The ‘phases’ of the city’s history are expressed in its landscape, townscapes, buildings and public areas. They are the physical evidence of how different areas have been affected by the cycles of change that are part of Fremantle’s history. The care of these various cultural and natural heritage values should be managed in parallel to foster close working relationships between their co-existing and interrelated heritage values. Conserving and interpreting the evidence of all these layers of Fremantle’s history will heighten the understanding of its origins and how and why the landscape and the city have changed over time.

The first phase in the interpretation of the history of Fremantle must be of the 40,000-year phase before the arrival of the British settlers. The underlying need is to make the community aware in a tangible way of the longevity and nature of the Whadjuk people’s interaction with the landscape. The Whadjuk 40,000 year connection with the land on which Fremantle was built provides the foundation and setting for Fremantle’s multi-layered identity. Although the Whadjuk people’s association to Fremantle does not end there, it is considered right that this fundamental fact be emphasised and recognised.
The strong correlation between the Fremantle’s topography and its urban form (see map above) provides the opportunity for a multi-layered reading of the co-existing heritage values that help in defining the identity of Fremantle. Topographical features and other natural landmark elements that had a recognised Noongar name are well suited to renaming or dual naming. It is strongly recommended that this be considered and implemented.

Recognising that for the Whadjuk people the natural and cultural values of a place are indivisible should be the starting point for decisions on how best to conserve and interpret the cultural and heritage beliefs that the Whadjuk people attached to these landscape elements.

Interpretation is most likely to enhance understanding and engagement if place’s natural features help in communicating its natural and cultural values. Natural features include rivers and streams, wetlands, ponds and lakes, hills, trees and flora, wildlife habitats and rock outcrops. Conserving a place’s natural features provides for a better understanding of the relationships between its natural and cultural values. The way these attributes combine all contribute to creating a more tangible sense of the place’s importance. These attributes could include the character and appearance of the land, including its shape, form, ecology, natural features, and elements. Intangible cultural heritage values may be reflected in cultural practices that:

• Relate to the use of a place.
• relate to the paths that connected places with their surroundings
• relate to a place as a whole or to particular spaces within the place.
• are specific to the place, have modified the place or have been modified by the place.

Combining the care of the natural environment with the conservation of the natural and cultural values that the traditional owners attribute to Fremantle provides a rationale for guiding an integrated approach to the conservation of Whadjuk cultural heritage in ways that would sustain its heritage values by protecting and enhancing the quality of the natural environment in urban areas. Taking this opportunity to learn lessons from the Whadjuk people on how to care for our natural environment and in so doing improve the quality of life of for present and future generations of the community. Hopefully it will also help make connections and provide insights which encourage a sense of shared identity that promotes a spirit of respect, reconciliation and integration within the broader community

19 May 2021

Six Storey Hotel on South Terrace Too Large for Site

Yolk Property At It Again

Apologies for the very late notice but Yolk Property have an application going through Fremantle Council Wednesday night at 6pm on its way to the government's COVID Committee dealing with projects like this over $23 million.

You should be alarmed at another oversized development damaging the essence and scale of Fremantle in such a sensitive area on the corner of Suffolk Street, a street of one and two storeys.

The images do not show an honest view of the proposal as most people are not seagulls flying around the town.

Fremantle Council officers are recommending approval and most councillors have already indicated they like this oversized development by the same developer who built the building in Pakenham Street described by one resident as the "worst building in the West End" and who are currently building the oversized block of flats in Adelaide Street opposite Johnston Court just 100 metres from the heritage heart of Fremantle, forever changing the modest scale of Fremantle.

If you have time to read the agenda you will see that this site had proposals for 3 and 4 storeys REJECTED, yet this 6 storey application, vastly bigger, with a serious lack of car bays, and contrary to the height allowed for the site, is recommended for approval.


The applicant again is arguing that nearby monsters like Fremantle Hospital and Arundel Court block of flats are PRECEDENTS and can be copied in size, when in fact they are detested ABERRATIONS NOT to be copied or repeated.

This proposal is not only higher than the adjacent Arundel Court, but has a much bigger footprint.

How then did the design committee and officers fall for that one? How does Yolk repeatedly get these oversized developments through Council?

Please urgently send a comment, even if one sentence, to:

Or, you can attend at North Fremantle Community Hall at 5.50pm and register to speak on this issue.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

18 May 2021

The Fremantle Society Told You So

Gates Slam Shut at King’s Square as Pettitt Parties

A  farewell party has been organised for departed Mayor Pettitt in Fremantle tonight at the Sail and Anchor upstairs just as the gates slammed shut today on his pet project – the $50 million unsightly “Pettitt’s Palace” and associated destruction of King’s Square.

CFMEU organiser Peter Joshua rang the Fremantle Society to say union workers had just hours’ notice to get their tools and possessions off the Pindan built administration building site before the gates were locked.

Pindan is being sued by a former director, and that seems to have upset the whole applecart.

The immaturity, inexperience, and negligence of the mayor and councillors over this whole project have been warned about for years by the Fremantle Society. But the community went to sleep, and allowed not just endless poor decisions by Council, but the woke revisionist negating of much of the history and heritage of King’s Square. Next Wednesday night Council will vote to change the very name of King’s Square, so you only have a few days to lobby councillors.

Why was a “third tier” builder (as described by the CFMEU) chosen by the mayor and council? They only had to look in South Beach to see how residents of an apartment block there had to fund their own court case and find $600,000 to sue Pindan for building faults.

The CFMEU said the King’s Square project is only 80% complete. Foreign made windows are still being readied offsite for installation, and the 40 to 60 workers normally onsite have all now lost their jobs.

There may well be some insurance that Fremantle Council will get to cover the disappearance of Pindan, but in the current booming construction market with prices rising quickly, it will not be enough to cover what is needed, and as warned by the Fremantle Society, ratepayers will suffer through increased rates.

There is some irony in the picture above. It features the serial graffitist Kodack on the Pindan banner. Graffiti is an activity long accepted by Mayor Pettitt and others like City Ward councillor Adin Lang, but despite 400 security cameras in the new ProBuild built FOMO building next door (yes 400), Kodack has never been prosecuted, because under Mayor Pettitt, there have been more important things to focus on – like the party going on right now at the Sail and Anchor.

Please write to councillors before next Wednesday night at: to express your view.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

15 May 2021

How well is the "biggest project ever undertaken by Fremantle Council" really going?

Visible deflection left on front lattice beam after attempting to rectify sag with mobile crane.

King's Square Admin Building: "Deplorable"?

Following our last email to you where a union organiser alleged there were so many problems with the new Kings Square administration building, that it was a "dud", another union organiser has slammed the project.

CMFEU Organiser Peter Joshua, who lodged the complaint to Worksafe about alleged "serious breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1984" relating to sagging of the steel canopy and other issues, told the Fremantle Society this week that the whole project is "deplorable." He lodged the Worksafe complaint one week after the canopy collapse at Curtin University killed a worker there last October.

The outgoing CEO of Fremantle Phil St John described the King's Square Project to Fremantle Shipping News as "the biggest project ever undertaken by Fremantle Council and the biggest ever likely to be undertaken."

But he has disappeared, along with Dr Pettitt, and the City of Fremantle has no CEO and no Mayor to oversee and finish this project, one the community never asked for and which the community cannot afford.

Sirona are being paid millions of dollars to oversee the project, but the $300,000 a year CEO and the $150,000 a year mayor are nowhere to be seen. They pushed this project and should be held responsible. Councillors seem ignorant and disinterested.

Union concerns cover alleged problems with the construction of the admin building, the materials, and the 'wage theft" of using subcontractors on low wages are just some of the issues that need investigation. The whole tender process also needs investigation. Probuild who did the adjacent FOMO buildings for Sirona are well regarded by the unions. They tendered for the administration building contract, but Pindan got the contract.

June Boddy RIP

The remarkable and effervescent June Boddy died on her 96th birthday, on May 9.

President of the Fremantle Society 1979-1980, and councillor for Hilton 1982-1996, June devoted herself to her community and was always a very strong and tenacious advocate for heritage.

The big issue for June as President of the FS was the closure of the railway line to Perth. June was prominent in marches and protest meetings along with the Federal Member for Fremantle John Dawkins, who tried to get June and the Fremantle Society to support Labor candidates in Fremantle Council elections. That June refused to do, and it resulted in the Labor Party targeting Fremantle Society members running in local ward elections. June herself was targeted in 1979 in Hilton when union organiser Clive Hughes ran against her, and he lost because June was seen as independent and a good person.

June was positive, full of fun and light, and gave to her community a great deal more than she took.

Bill Beattie and Ruth Levett have been looking after June, and the funeral will be announced soon.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

6 May 2021

Breaking News: Will the new King's Square admin building break the bank?

Union Organiser: King's Square Admin Building is "a shit building."

The new King's Square administration building is nearing completion. Delays have meant that more fees now have to be paid to Sirona, who are already receiving millions of dollars in fees to manage the project, and spend ratepayers' money on a project that ratepayers dont want.
Will it be a good building? Will its looks enhance the centre of town? Or, will it be a financial disaster like previous council projects namely Queensgate, and before that Westgate? Will "Kingsgate" be the new burden ratepayers have to bear for years to come as warned by the Fremantle Society 10 years ago?
A senior union figure has described the new Pindan construction as "a shit building." He said a number of problems make it a dud.
The CMFEU were so concerned with construction issues they lodged a complaint with Worksafe, alleging "serious breaches of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 1984", noting:
"that the structural steel forming the canopy on the project had shown significant sagging and that a lot of the bolts didn’t line up with the intended mounting bolt holes as per the engineered design. Pindan’s solution was to weld the structure.
Initially Pindan denied any such knowledge of these issues however later admitted bringing in a mobile crane to lift the sagging canopy structure into its intended position.
The steel was manufactured and fabricated in Vietnam and imported into Australia which raises concerns over poor quality welding and cambers in the steel because of the overseas fabrication process."
Why is a "sustainable" council using Vietnamese steel instead of Australian?
Why is it that Worksafe won't make public the results of their investigations?
We don't want "a shit building." We want something worth the $50 million being spent on it.
The Fremantle Society has been meeting with senior union figures, because unions are pleasingly passionate, like the Fremantle Society, about heritage, and because the unions share other common passions - such as keeping the port in Fremantle.
The council's failure to attract tenants into their speculative commercial spaces in the admin building has led Cr Fitzhardinge, (the mayoral candidate leading the charge to change the name of King's Square), to declare that the vacant space could be used as "an exhibition space"- the very idea put to council last year by the Fremantle Society and laughed at.
Of course the previous building on this site, opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in 1966 was actually named The Exhibition Building. The difference is that back then, history mattered, and the builder won awards for his work. But today, Pindan is struggling to rise above third tier status as a builder, and recently were successfully sued by apartment owners at South Beach, and had to hand over $1.3 million to rectify building faults there.
Which councillors are actually asking the tough questions about our "shit building"?

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 2236 22

photographs courtesy CMFEU

29 April 2021

Auditor General Reports on Fremantle

Unsustainability in Action

Reckless Spending

On Tuesday afternoon April 6 Fremantle Mayor Pettitt won the last seat in the State Election. Three days later, on Friday morning, the Fremantle CEO Phil St John told staff he was resigning.
This week, Fremantle Council, with no mayor or CEO,  tabled the annual Auditor General's report into the City's finances. The financial figures are alarming.
The Fremantle Society has warned for years of reckless spending by Council, while ignoring the basics, and Fremantle's heritage. Carmen Lawrence recently redoubled her criticism that the King's Square project and the unnecessary $50 million admin building will "blight Fremantle for 100 years," while Colin Barnett said he would sack the whole council if he was still premier.
At the council meeting we asked how council's land holdings have been devalued by $59 million,  investment property devalued by $6.3 million, and why a lack of fraud prevention controls are still identified by the auditor as a concern. There is a debt for 2019-2020 of $32 million, which is not sustainable.
The "sustainability" crusade of the past 12 years has been a disaster for business and for heritage. It is a tragedy the Chamber of Commerce is more interested in supporting woke council programs like renaming King's Square than protecting business viability and helping to enhance the good things we already have in this world famous town.
Clearly, as one financial expert said, Fremantle councillors are "financially illiterate." (Cr Vujcic is the exception).
None of the councillors responsible for Fremantle's dire financial position should run in the upcoming October elections. Up for reelection are: Crs Sulllivan, Thompson, Wainright, Archibald, Lang, and Fitzhardinge. Several councillors will run for mayor - possibly Crs Fitzhardinge, Sullivan, Mofflin, and Pemberton.
Just as members of a board which fail their shareholders need to resign, so should those who have put us in this mess. They need to resign, and to be held responsible.
John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

26 April 2021

Renaming Kings Square etc.

After so much damage to King's Square (Moreton Bay figs gone, the square filled in, white heritage trashed and replaced by $200,000 of Aboriginal art designed by a white man) the Fremantle Society is unhappy that the woke cancel culture will continue with the renaming of Kings Square.
We asked the Church, who own half of it, if we could set up a table and collect signatures about the issue, but they refused. We went to King's Square anyway, and the people we spoke to are angry about Fremantle Council's constant ideological crusades against our history.
Politics in the Pub tomorrow night at The Local Hotel at 7pm deals with this issue, and even though the Fremantle Society has never been invited to any Fremantle Network event, we suggest you go and make a stand for our history. But, given the government has extended the 4 square metre rule to apply till midnight Friday, it is hard to know how a crowd of 20 can be viable.
The two photographs above show the latest look of King's Square. We dont know anyone who actually likes the new look that will leave Fremantle $40 million in debt. We have written to Council to ask why the statue of Hughie Edwards has been removed when we were promised it would stay.

Finances of the Fremantle Council

Head over to Streetwise to read the latest expose of shocking financial neglect by Fremantle Council, something the Fremantle Society has been trying to get you to do something about for years.
This needs to be read by a wide range of people. Of particular concern is the paragraph: 'A former financial expert of 30 years told StreetWise the City’s $32 million debt will grow unless the State Government throws it a life line: “The City can look forward to less revenue, less staff and less services. It does not have enough funds to maintain the asset base and take care of properties in Fremantle. Ultimately, ratepayers will underwrite the City’s bad finances. Rates will increase by three, four, five per cent each year and there will be cost cutting. And it still has to repay borrowings on $20 million.”'
After Fremantle rates went up in effect 10% last year, they will be going up again this year to pay for the financial mistakes of Mayor Pettitt and his councillors.

Arthur Head

Remediation works are progressing. Sad that the whole area looks so badly neglected.
The Round House Conservation Plan comes to Council this Wednesday. We made a submission but cannot see anywhere in the agenda where the submissions have been dealt with and whether they made any difference.

Tent City

The Fremantle Society, like most Portonians, was dismayed when the mayor and certain councillors allowed the Tent City debacle at Pioneer Park to develop into a nasty political stunt.
We wrote to the CEO asking questions, and it took 14 weeks and repeated reminders to get a set of unhelpful answers.
We have written to the heritage minister, the tourism minister, and the arts minister (all the same inept David Templeman) about Pioneer Park reminding him about the various plans already passed by Council for the park, which is supposed to commemorate the builders of the Port.
We are also working on a film highlighting the significance of Pioneer Park for our history and culture.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
photos by John Dowson

5 April 2021

King's Square Name Change, Heritage Festival, and South Terrace Hotel

Church of England Refuses Permission

The woke cancel culture of Fremantle Council, its efforts to rewrite history, and starve heritage of funding, are well known, the latest being their intent to change the name of King's Square.

And, the Church of England has joined them.

The Church of England, which originally owned the whole square, has been a weak and feckless custodian of culture and tradition in Fremantle in recent years. They allowed the magnificent Moreton Bay fig trees to be neglected by Council and removed to make way for viewing sight lines to the unwanted new administration centre.

They stood by while council planned to remove the statue from their land, of Australia's most decorated soldier Hughie Edwards, because he is a white man no longer worthy to be in the town square. It was only the Fremantle Society, with military muscle backing us up, that reversed the plans last year.

The church has gone along with all the council ideas to destroy the only town square in Western Australia, and now seems happy that the name be changed.

The Fremantle Society asked the church if we could put a table in the square, away from the church, but on their land, to talk to members of the public to inform them of the proposed name change and to canvass their views. The church refused permission.

The Fremantle Society could apply to have a table and chairs elsewhere, on Council land, but have been told it will take up to 10 working days to get permission, and submissions close on the renaming of Kings Square on April 18.

Please go to the Fremantle Council website as detailed recently in our email, and comment. Also, write to the newspapers.

The Fremantle Society has tried for weeks to get Ken Adam's excellent comments on the issue as sent to you, published in the Herald, but so far they have not been published.

Heritage Festival

Last year the Fremantle Council cancelled the Heritage Festival and this year they have allocated the paltry sum of $28,000 for the whole year to commemorate heritage.

The Fremantle Society, the second longest running heritage group in Western Australia, were again not contacted to be part of the program, making it easier for council to focus on their pet issues.

The festival begins on 18 April as part of the larger Australian Heritage Festival.

Hotel Proposal on South Terrace

Yolk Property have submitted 6 storey plans for the controversial site at the corner of South Terrace and Suffolk Street.

This is the same developer who built the apartment block in Pakenham Street described by one resident as the "worst building in the West End." They are currently building an oversized apartment block just 100 metres from Kings Square in Adelaide Street, where they used the height of Johnston Court as a precedent, when it is an aberration. They are using the same tactic for their 6 storey hotel by comparing it to Arundel Court, which is not the predominant form of the residential area surrounding the site.

The mayor, whose only criterion for supporting a new building seems to be if it "attracts new people to town" waxed lyrical when supporting it on his Facebook site, leading to an extraordinary backlash that is worth reading.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

23 March 2021

Expensive Woke Cancel Culture by Fremantle Council

Ken Adam, One of Four Architects on the Fremantle Society Committee, Gives His Views on Council's Woke Cancel Culture

King's Square - What's in a Name?

Ken Adam LFRAIA, LFPIA, FAIUS Architect (Retired) and Urban Planning Consultant

What’s in a Name? The question put by Shakespeare, and thousands of others over thousands of years, remains of paramount importance. The answer is: plenty, indeed everything. The names we give things, or beings, are the most potent signifiers of their intrinsic meaning, and what they mean to us. Names tell stories. Names, therefore, should never be carelessly, or falsely, or accidentally, or maliciously attributed. And because names endure, for hundreds if not thousands of years, they should never be given, or changed, out of short-term ideological or political advantage.

Inevitably, the question arises as a serious one when a prominent place, like Kings Square, that has played such a significant part in the history of its city, becomes the subject of suggestions that its name be changed, a change that would nullify its history, and perhaps supplant it by another.

Like many people I’m more than happy with the principle of renaming distinctive features and places of Aboriginal significance – those that have been part of the Aboriginal environment, natural or man-made, for thousands of years – with their traditional Aboriginal names. In fact I would strongly argue for that principle to apply universally as public policy, especially in the case of features that are held, by the Elders, to be sacred to Aboriginal culture. Uluru is a prime case in point. The same principle should apply to places that are or were of importance to the traditional cultural life of Aborigines – middens, waterholes and the like, and of course to ceremonial places. Respect for the cultural relationships and stories attached to a place is paramount to naming them.

However, in the case of non-Aboriginal, post-settlement, development the application of the same principle, of respect for the relevant cultural relationships and stories, demands the opposite outcome. In these cases the identical principle demands the retention of British- or European-inspired names that properly reflect the historical/cultural origins and life of that place.

Importantly, we should not be making these name-change decisions on an ad-hoc basis. They need to be informed by a clear policy based on deep consideration of the principles and sensibilities involved and broad consultation with all parts of our community.

Place names for man-made places should, in my opinion, always be reflective of the socio-historical-cultural values that relate to that time and place. Names should continue to respect that principle, even when the associated underlying values may have changed, unless they were badly misrepresented in the first place. For example to rename the Leopold Ranges was obviously appropriate on two counts: first, they represent an age-old landscape with deep significance for Aboriginal people and, second, there was never an appropriate connection between the tyrant Leopold of the Belgians and those ancient ranges. The permanent attribution of the names of explorers and navigators, and sometimes their vessels – even their emotional responses – to natural features of our Western land and coastline may be more complicated. After all, the names given are reflective of those stories of exploration, which have become part of our collective history, and often recognise significant achievements. Over time, no doubt it will be appropriate to consider whether some such features might best be renamed, or given dual names, in recognition of their meaning to Aboriginal people.

However, it must be said that to give an Aboriginal name a place whose history is overwhelmingly one of development in accordance with European/British cultural traditions is deeply disrespectful to both traditional Aboriginal culture and to Western culture. The name Kings Square is appropriately reflective of the time and the associated cultural values. Even if we no longer subscribe to those values they are still part of our collective story. Aboriginal culture had no place in the origins of Kings Square, nor should Aboriginal people be burdened by giving it an Aboriginal name. Some might say that Aborigines should not have to bear any guilt by association for the travesties of the past few decades.

To rename Kings Square may simply be seen as a totally misguided and unnecessary attempt to negate the heritage value and principles of one group of citizens in favour of creating an impression that Council cares about another group of citizens. That, I would suggest, is just virtue-signalling. It has even been suggested by some, out of a genuine but misplaced respect for the Italian migrants who have contributed so much to the city, that this fragmented place be relabelled as a “piazza”. An unintended but laughable insult to Italian civic values if ever there was one.

The name of Kings Square is an intrinsic part of the heritage value of historic Fremantle as designed, drawn and surveyed in 1833 by John Septimus Roe. The recently butchered Kings Square is immediately adjacent to the State Heritage-listed West End and forms an inherent part of the Fremantle's urban architecture and street layout, designed to become the heart of the city of which West End forms an inherent part. The suggested change of the historic name would be in contravention of and an insult to this significance as defined by the State Heritage listing.

Ultimately, to give Kings Square an Aboriginal name is in fact an insult, a patronising insult at that, to Aboriginal people. In this case the traditional, and culturally appropriate, name for the place has always been Kings Square. Kings Square it must remain.

Ken Adam revised 23 March 2021

(drone image above copyright © The Fremantle Society)

20 March 2021

Save The Longest Wooden Bridge in Western Australia - Iconic Entrance to Fremantle

Your Last Chance to Save Fremantle Traffic Bridge

The article above is from today's Post newspaper.

Main Roads is well advanced in their planning for building a new bridge and demolishing the heritage listed entry statement into Fremantle that continues to serve us  so well today, and which would serve us even longer, especially if the government was prepared to spend money on maintenance instead of demolition.

The bridge is heritage listed category 1a with Fremantle Council, meaning it is of "Exceptional significance", but no-one at Fremantle Council is interested in campaigning for it. Thousands of dollars has been put into ideological and divisive campaigns by Council to attack Fremantle's history and inappropriately rename King's Square, but not a single dollar has gone into protecting the bridge and its heritage listing.
This is your last chance to do something.
Please write to key people such as Rita Saffioti, Planning and Transport Minister:
and Heritage Minister David Templeman:

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
20 March 2021

17 March 2021

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

Fremantle Society Meets Dr David Honey

Just 3 days after an astonishing election rout by Labor, one of only two surviving lower house Liberal politicians, Dr David Honey, met with the Fremantle Society to discuss issues in his electorate such as the proposed new traffic and rail bridges.

The Fremantle Society is keen to save the heritage listed traffic bridge, keep the port in Fremantle, and get high quality maritime related development of Victoria Quay (SOB, SOP, and SOQ).

Unlike the local member on the other side of the river, Simone McGurk, who will not meet with the Fremantle Society, doesn't answer correspondence, and derides those who have spent 20 years working positively to improve Fremantle, as "a small minority who want things to stay the same", Dr Honey listens, learns, and acts. He just needs to be in power.

Given the mandate given to the Labor government, the 'development at all costs' bias of media like The West Australian, and lack of pushback from the community, the next few years are going to see more dumb ideas like film studios with 40 metre towers on Victoria Quay and unsustainable developments benefiting developers but not communities.

The danger is so real and the links between government and developers so close it has already been dubbed WA Inc Mark II

Time for members to write a letter to the Editor (Post or Herald).

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

15 March 2021

Save Pioneer Park - for Heritage

4 March 2021

Film Studio or Property Developers' Land Grab?

Hollywood Film Director Named

The Fremantle Society wants good planning that achieves quality results, not election stunts and immature feel good land grabs where heritage is treated as a problem instead of an asset.

The proposed film studios for Victoria Quay are a good idea in the wrong place.

The award winning Hollywood director who wrote and agreed with our concerns, and whose comments we posted to you yesterday, has agreed to have his name published and to make further comments about what is needed.

Dean Head will meet with the Fremantle Society, and has offered to help get our message out through videos - see the one on Youtube we launched last week called Parking Freo done by Lehani Ani, which has already attracted more views than 10 of Mayor Pettitt's videos combined.

We are also grateful to member Angie Lyndon, the cartoonist, for providing some light relief above.

Director/Cameraman Dean Head, who has been living and filming in Hong Kong and China for the past 30 years and has been confined to WA due to Covid, has worked on multiple Hollywood blockbusters from Transformers 4 and Tomb Raider II to Rush Hour II and Batman - The Dark Knight, plus myriad of international television productions over his 40 year career, agrees that WA must have a studio especially with our Southern Californian / Mediterranean climate which is conducive to more filming days, however, believes that any studio complex should be located on land, supplied by the government, that has views, if physically possible, of ocean in one direction, bush in another, Perth city in another and suburbs in the fourth view such as empty lands south or north of the city rather than at an operating Port. This is only if the economics can work with the government donating the land and all parties first coming together in the design to work out the enormous level of logistics it would involve which would include the need to bring crew & equipment from over East of Australia or overseas to support the handful of experienced crew here in Perth plus they must utilise Screen West's "attachment" initiative whereby local crew our attached to more experience visiting crew with an allowance plus experience learnt as payment. If no land area exists to facilitate good economics of that concept then an area closer to Perth airport would have to suffice.

It is important to note that no studio around the world actually enjoys the luxury of having professional crew filming a professional production whilst simultaneously having members of the public, and their associated noise, pass by on paid tours to see where certain scenes of films were shot except at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. The reason that location works is because all stake holders came together 'before' anything was designed or built and all agreed on what would work including what we call 'itc' (intermittent traffic control) whereby tour guides who are in direct contact with production assistants intermittently stop tours when a 'take' is being filmed. When the camera stops the traffic then continues on. We utilise this technique when filming in cities such as Hong Kong.

What WA needs right now is overseas promotion of its wonderful weather and blue skies giving excellent images for filming, promotion of our unique and amazing fauna & flora and our benefit of being in the same time zone as China.

With that, Dean is currently in pre-production to direct a kids adventure movie here that will promote WA to China and the world plus deliver good moral messages. An Oscar winner is involved plus some other very heavy hitters from the film and also the music industries who Dean has worked and is now friends with and Dean would most definitely need to utilise any studio space if any were available but at the moment he is looking at Heng Dian World Studios in China, whom he is very close with, as an alternative. Dean has been committed to promoting WA to China, Hollywood and Bollywood and helping the local film industry get more work and more experience for several years and continues to do so.

Dean also commented:

"Studio designer, Mike Lake, is involved in the Fremantle Port studio development idea announced by McGowan's government. Mike explained to me that many stakeholders have already been brought in for their professional advice especially in terms of sound proofing and is quite happy that his studio design will provide a professional studio. I have no doubt of that especially knowing that Mike also designed the studios over Eastern Australia plus the Pinewood Iskandar studios in Malaysia. He explained that his part is the studio design only, not the environs, and is not fully aware of other areas around the studio the developers are planning. In terms of 'convenience' it would make sense to have a studio near Perth or near Fremantle making all the logistics nice n easy and trouble free but that convenience can directly affect productions in terms of nearby noisy public or inebriated individuals who decide it's fun to jump in front of the camera, or security of actors & crew & equipment who may be filming exteriors, general expensive interruptions to a filming schedule all of which have happened to productions I've worked on.

There is always a compromise involved and allowing the tail to wag the dog instead of the dog wagging the tail means many miss out, unnecessarily. What the government really must do, in order to cover themselves is check that this project is actually about a 'film studio' for professional filming rather than a property developers dream and land grab which I've seen in other places, with near total disregard to the film side of things."

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

3 March 2021

Award Winning Hollywood Director Backs Fremantle Society

"Incredibly greedy land grab" - film director

The Fremantle Society wrote to you about the proposed film studios for Victoria Quay, all 8,315 square metres of them in high rise boxes.

An award winning Hollywood film director, who cannot at this stage be named, has commented on our ideas as follows:

"The (Fremantle Society) statements are correct. The recently announced studio plan is an incredibly greedy land grab attempt by property developers who are pulling the wool over the eyes of the government. At the same time, no one in the government has any experience with what is actually required for a proper studio to work as a functional space where filming & sound recording can take place nor the environs outside of the sound stages which can provide quick & varied locations to help a film complete a shooting schedule on time and on budget rather than travelling a small army to a distant location far away from a town centred studio lot.

It's important to note that no professional Executive Producer, in their right mind, is ever going to heave a crew & gear all the way to West Australia, just for a nice studio. They all have their own or access to nearby stages. Instead, many EP's will most definitely and happily come to WA's excellent climate to shoot our pristine coast line, natural raw deserts, flora and unique fauna including unique marine life. It's the destination we need to be promoting and if we have a studio then 'maybe' that can be a bonus but most productions shoot their studio elements at home within comfortable control where most of them live nearby and don't have the expense of hotel stays.

Out of the numerous Hollywood movies I've worked on only one utilised a studio, that was Jackie Chan's Rush Hour II and that particular scene of a kung fu fight on bamboo scaffolding up a high rise building was too cumbersome and expensive to transport to LA so it made sense to shoot it in HK and that was only for two nights.

Yes, Perth needs a studio but no it should not be in the middle of any busy, noisy town. No producer will come here for a studio but yes they will come for our amazing locations but we need crew & gear and most of that is over East because few productions come to WA because of the lack of local support. It's a vicious circle and that is the actual part that needs addressing to get everything to work.

Promote WA as a destination, provide tax rebate incentives to attract foreign productions (that's why Fox & Warner over East are busy), offer easy & useful support for logistics i.e. getting crew & gear from over East to over here, ensure each production utilises Screen West's 'Attachment Incentive Programme" (affordably hire & attach young local crew to incoming experienced crew, to learn on-the-job {better than any film school} and enjoy our locations being promoted, forever, in international films that are shot here).


John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
0409 223622

26 February 2021

Governments Drunk With Power

New Urban Precinct for Film Industry Needs Sensitive Planning

(The wonderful photograph above by Fred Flood c. 1930 pays homage back then to Fremantle wharf right where, 90 years later, the State Government wants to locate huge boxes for a privatised business of film making. Even in 1930 Fred could see the magic of the second most isolated port in the world, with the lumpers arriving early for work, the railway lines criss-crossing the quays, the O'Connor statue framing the important Immigration Buildings - statue since relocated - and the overhead bridge linking the port to the town and the railway station. If Fred Flood could appreciate this place 90 years ago, why do all the clowns appearing for the photo shoot last week for the film studios on this very location, not have the same appreciation for a site that now has 90 years extra history?)

Why is so much contempt for community shown by our local Council and the State Government? Excluding the community from genuine consultation is resulting in new developments that suit developers but not communities.

Fremantle's King's Square development was foisted on the community by ignoring what the community wanted and by ignoring what Dr Carmen Lawrence calls: "all the reasonable principles of heritage protection and city planning." The consequence is, as she said at the recent Fremantle Society AGM: "No matter what businesses set up there, the new building is and will be a blight on the City of Fremantle for the next 100 years."

Now a massive series of simplistic boxes are set to be plonked on the heritage listed Victoria Quay for film studios, by a State Government drunk with power.

Local MP Simone McGurk headed a secret Victoria Quay committee last year that excluded community experts. It seems she wants to consider heritage at the end of the process instead of at the beginning.

It would be interesting to know if any members of her committee actually read the key documents for the area like the Conservation Plan (which Fremantle Ports has been unable to locate). The Conservation Plan is a key document commissioned by Fremantle Ports after 8 years of lobbying by the Fremantle Society. It identifies what former City Architect Agnieshka Kiera calls: "a State heritage listed significant place for WA."

As Fremantle architect Sasha Ivanovich wrote to the Fremantle Society: "Fremantle CBD together with Victoria Quay, is one of the few, if not the most, valuable civic heritage sites in Australia."

While film studios may be a great idea, the proposal is so large it will create a new urban precinct, one that requires sensitive bulk and scale and design. And, it should not be a privatised land grab without significant public access.

The over large sheds being proposed wipe out the heritage listed lumpers' cafeteria, built during WW2 on the express orders of Prime Minister John Curtin. They wipe out the scale of the area by being too tall and bulky.

This juicy election sweetener is perhaps supposed to distract voters from Labor's intention to close the port - something else the community weren't consulted on.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society
26 February 2021

20 February 2021

Huge Boxes for Victoria Quay

Premier Unaware Victoria Quay is a Heritage Precinct

Unaware that Victoria Quay Fremantle is a famous heritage place that has 124 years of history related to shipping, immigration, and trade, Premier Mark McGown today announced he will spend $100 million of taxpayers money building huge boxes on the heritage site for the film industry.

Unless he has plans for a Disney style theme park, these huge boxes will in the main be privatised and off limits to the general public.

The photos above from ABC News show the Premier today in Fremantle with the utterly useless Heritage Minister David Templeman out of picture. The large boxes get bigger the further they are from the viewer, and bear no relationship to the low scale heritage protected sheds along the quay.

There are plenty of expert plans and documents which point to the importance of Victoria Quay, as a twin to the West End and needing respect and enhancement of its maritime history, and an immigration museum. Development on the Quay Is welcome, but must respect the heritage of the place.

There is no room for this massive complex.

The Fremantle Society spent 8 years campaigning to get Fremantle Ports to do a conservation plan for Victoria Quay. Knowing that the secret Victoria Quay committee headed by Simone McGurk  (which no community group was on) had finished its work, we asked last year to see a copy of the Conservation Plan so we could get people to read it. It clearly lays out the significance of Victoria Quay and the need to protect its form and scale. We are still waiting for Fremantle Ports to find their own copy.

A copy should be given to the Premier and the Heritage Minister to educate them about the heritage significance of the Quay. It is too late to give a copy to Mayor Pettitt, who said on his blog yesterday he has been working on this project to destroy the character of Victoria Quay for a year, to match the damage he has done to King's Square.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

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.

[image] 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.

[image] 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.”

[photos] 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

[photo] 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.

[photo] Nathan Hewitt 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 the original signage has been 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

1 April 2020

1966 Royal Visit v 2020 Covid Virus Visit

The Queen Cannot Help King's Square This Time

On April Fool's Day, 1966, just 54 years ago, the Queen of Australia [see note below] arrived in Fremantle to open the new council building in King's Square entitled the Exhibition Hall (see map above)

She had travelled from Government House with an escort of 10 police motorcycles in a cavalcade of vehicles led by the Chief Inspector of Police.

Along the way the route was lined in places with schoolchildren, and patients from the Home of Peace, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, the Repatriation General Hospital, and the Salvation Army Eventide Home.

She arrived into a bustling port city with thousands of lumpers, a port whose chief commodity was oil, and which catered for up to 200,000 ship passengers a year.

As she exited her vehicle in King's Square, she was greeted by the legendary Mayor Sir Frederick Samson and his wife Mrs Laurie.

It was a stunning coup to get the Queen to open the council's new King's Square building.

Fremantle Society Resolution: Defer the Council Administration Move to King's Square.

Given the financial crisis the council has gotten itself into, the Fremantle Society at its meeting on April 14th unanimously passed a motion: " That Fremantle Council defer the completion of the new administration buildling as an administration building until there is a more positive financial climate, and in the meantime use the building as an Exhibition Centre, including the multi million dollar council art collection still in storage after decades."

There is no tenant for the 828sqm tavern in the building, and no money for the expensive fit out so that staff can relocate from Fremantle Oval. Leave them there - there is no financial boost to the Fremantle economy by having staff or council in King's Square rather than where they are.

There is no signed tenant for the speculative extra floor being built in the new building, though the Rottnest Island Authority was going to sign a lease (the Labor member for Beaconsfield Cr Fitzhardinge is a member of the Rottnest Island Authority Board).

With some help from at least one of the well known business heavyweights, the new partially completed building could be an excellent temporary Exhibition Hall, even better than the previous iteration, but with council's own extensive art collection and that of other private collectors.

The Fremantle Society has made various suggestions about the budget in recent weeks, including a 20% pay cut for CEO, senior staff, and councillors, which council has since implemented.

Council meets this Wednesday 15 April.

Besides supporting the Notices of Motion from the Electors' Meeting that are on the agenda, members are urged to encourage council to bring down a sensible budget.

John Dowson
The Fremantle Society

Web editor's note. The Queen in question was not Elizabeth II, but her mother Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

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 (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 Johnson [!] 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.

Fremantle Herald
January 11, 2013

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.

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Garry Gillard