NORTH WARD in Freo is facing unprecedented pressures over the next decade, from the repurposing of its container port to housing, developers lining up to take advantage of the sweeping views across the Indian Ocean up Stirling Highway, to the new traffic bridge that Main Roads wants to build across the Swan River. Two people reckon they’re up for the challenge and are standing for council; Ingrid van Dorssen and Mark Woodcock.
MARK WOODCOCK’S thinking big.
While he’s running for North Ward, he’s got a bigger vision he reckons could sort out Fremantle’s traffic problems permanently – as well as its neighbours.
Although a chef and cruise ship kitchen designer by trade, he’s long had an interest in planning and reckons a tunnel all the way from Bibra Lake through to North Fremantle has benefits that make the cost worthwhile.
Mr Woodcock says he was inspired by the A7 motorway which runs through the centre in Hamburg and has been sent underground for large stretches.
“They’ve got populations on either side and have turned it back into trees, parks and public spaces over the top.
“We should cut and cover, which is not as expensive as bore tunnelling, and take it straight along the road reserve.
“Then put it back and put in toilets and parks, a couple of little cafes and things like that.
“We could take it from Bibra Lake all the way to South Beach and have a green belt with a functional road underneath.”
He says it’s not something the council would ever fund or even design, but says with the discussions about Future Freo on the table, now is the time to be talking about how the city would manage traffic if its container trade moved south and North Quay was taken up with housing.
“Let’s say they go low-ball and put 20,000 people into the Leighton peninsula; that’s two-thirds of all Fremantle’s population stuck between Stirling Highway and the ocean,” Mr Woodcock said.
“How do these people move?”
He says any notion of turning North Quay into a car-free Utopia are nonsense.
“I don’t think too many people are buying in places where they can’t own a car in the area or walk 1.5 kilometres to get to their house from a train station.”
Mr Woodcock says a great deal of the traffic zooming down Stirling Highway isn’t bound for North Fremantle or Fremantle at all, but are heading south or east.
“If you took all that traffic off Curtin Avenue and took it all off Stirling Highway, straightaway you’d turn those areas back into what they’re supposed to be – suburbs.”
He’s also against demolishing the existing traffic bridge, saying the tunnel would allow it to be repurposed with a pedestrian and cycling focus, even opening it up for events.
“It’s a beautiful structure.”
Financial management at the city is another of his campaign platforms.
“He says the council has made a series of poor financial decisions over the last decade which has had a negative impact on the value of the CBD.
“I mean, start with Kings Square – it’s $67 million and still climbing.
“Why is land value going against the flow in the suburbs.
“There’s no land value going down in the suburbs, but in the CBD there is. Why is that?”
Mr Woodcock used the old Point Street carpark as an example, saying the council sold it off for around $10 million a decade ago, but it’s now changed hands a couple of times and is still undeveloped and worth exactly the same.
“So everyone who’s bought that site and tried to do something has lost money,” he said.
Mr Woodcock also wants Fremantle’s new police station built on the old South Fremantle tip site, saying it would get the state government involved in sorting out a contaminated council asset which otherwise will stay vacant.
He says with some infrastructure – particularly parking – it could become an important asset for encouraging people to visit South Beach.
stories by STEVE GRANT