AGNIESHKA KIERA was Fremantle city council’s long-serving city architect, before her retirement some years ago. The Little Howard Street resident is unhappy with the direction the council on development issues. She says it’s time for councillors who support big developments to point out the success stories.
IREFER to February’s public meetings attended jointly by some 200 Fremantle residents each opposing large-scale developments in Fremantle, including Sunset Events’ proposal for the part redevelopment of J-Shed on Arthur Head A-Class Reserve.
Since attending these meetings I have been dismayed by the evident disregard by some elected members of Fremantle council to:
• legitimate and well articulated views expressed by the community members
• the views of its former expert member of the design committee, Dr Linley Lutton
• state and local ordinances, particularly the council’s own LPS4 provisions and policies.
1. When arguing his support for the proposed 850-capacity Sunset Events development, Cr Sullivan referred to Arthur Head Reserve Strategy Plan as providing the basis for this development. The only policy support I can find in the document is for: “the low profile commercial uses of the J-Shed, reflective of and compatible with the history and maritime themes of Arthur Head and the foreshore … for the maximum five-year period leases”. So unless Cr Sullivan could demonstrate otherwise, I would regard his public assertions as misinformed at best;
2. At the council meeting Cr Sullivan justified his support for the large-scale redevelopment of J-Shed as the continuation of the recently accomplished Old Port Project. I wish to put it on public record there is nothing comparable between these two developments. As manager of the project from inception to completion, including the procurement of Lotterywest funding, I should know. The Old Port Project has been done in accordance with all applicable ordinances, including the sometimes tense community consultation and successful negotiations with Aboriginal elders. The heritage and community benefits served as the two prime drivers of its design, and the greatly improved patronage of the upgraded area demonstrates it was the right approach. Where is the evidence the Sunset Events’ proposal has undergone the same scrutiny and planning considerations, including identification of tangible benefits to the community as a whole?
3. There is already evidence of vandalism on Arthur Head Reserve. Most of the heritage signs on Old Port and the interpretative reconstruction of the whaling station’s archaeological findings have been damaged by vandals and subsequently removed by the council. What contingency does the council have in place to deal with the potential increase of vandalism generated by the additional crowds?
4. I take exception to Cr Sullivan calling Fremantle “Dullsville”. It is disrespectful to residents like me, who worked hard and delivered tangible improvements to the City. The last time I checked Fremantle was the prime and most frequently visited tourist attraction of WA, the university town, the UNESCO-listed world heritage place and a busy state port. My friends from the US and Europe, who visited me recently after some years of absence, have reassured me the city centre looks cleaner, busier and classier than few years back, particularly the West End. It may not be enough in light of the council’s big aspirations, but it is a tangible improvement, due to many successful incremental developments, celebrating Fremantle’s human scale and its heritage. All pre-dating and unrelated to the scheme amendment 49.
5. Are recent developments in Perth and Claremont what Cr Sullivan advocates for our city? If so, it would in my view be the end to Fremantle, as we know it. The council has ignored its own local identity code, the city-specific guide to compatible development, yet where is the evidence its facilitation of large-scale development has been successful? I have a copy of the conceptual design plan for the redevelopment of Point Street—one of potentially many design options based on the LIC, discarded up front by the council. Five years has passed since it instead adopted and promoted the feasibility plan for a much bigger development on this site. So where is it?
6. I would like the most outspoken elected member, Cr Andrew Sullivan, who by his own admission has been advocating big things for Fremantle, long before he joined the council, to substantiate his claims as described above. No more words, please, just the deeds. Could Cr Sullivan demonstrate the successfully completed, exceptionally well-designed high rise/high density development in Fremantle, which has delivered the promised benefits (ie, tangible increase of population, jobs, vitality, commercial viability, rates, better services, improved safety, attractive urban environment, sustainable future …. the lot). Or any other tangible benefits generated by recent development initiatives undertaken by the council?
To me Cr Sullivan’s public declarations ring hollow, if not disconcerting. The fact they influence the council’s decisions makes me doubt Fremantle’s future is in good hands. So I look forward to being convinced that Cr Sullivan is right and the objecting community members are wrong. I look forward to Cr Sullivan providing the long list of successfully completed, large-scale developments he has pushed for over the years, that have delivered the promised benefits to the city and its community as a whole.