A NEW steering group to drive development on Victoria Quay has more chance of success than previous attempts because it seems to have strong state support, says Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt.
Seven years ago his council pushed for the creation of the Fremantle Union, a mix of transport, port and planning mandarins to push through waterfront plans.
It went nowhere, with Dr Pettitt blaming a lukewarm response from previous Liberal ministers.
“The current state government has shown a far greater level of enthusiasm for the redevelopment of Victoria Quay, which gives us confidence the project will proceed,” Dr Pettitt said.
The working group was announced by ports minister Alannah MacTiernan and planning and transport minister Rita Saffioti on Tuesday, who said the outcome would be a plan for a “people-oriented waterfront precinct”.
Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk will chair the group, which will also include representatives from Fremantle Ports, Landcorp, Fremantle council, the local chamber of commerce, the Westport Taskforce and the departments of transport, planning, tourism and heritage.
It will look at which of the quay’s precincts are ripe for development while respecting the needs of a working port and linking the project to Fremantle’s CBD.
There was initial concern that the ministers had effectively quashed the council’s South Quay plans by limiting the steering group’s scope to the western end of the quay, however that turned out to be a blunder in the ministers’ release.
“The 13 hectares on the western end of Victoria Quay are the priority in terms of activation and development, but the whole 30 hectares will be looked at in terms of planning,” Dr Pettitt explained.
“Opening up the whole south side of the port may lead to better development outcomes for the western end, which has previously been constrained by a firm operational boundary.”
Ms MacTiernan says there were plenty of international examples to follow.
“We can do the same in Fremantle and mastermind the development of one of the world’s great inner-city port developments,” she said.
“Our goal should be achieving a transformation in a staged manner that is world class.”
Ms Saffioti said they’d not ignore a swag of reports and plans drawn up over 20 years: “We are not starting from the beginning–the challenge is building upon that knowledge bank and seizing the moment.”
by STEVE GRANT