How to Fix Fremantle- The Sunday Times View

In the first part of a series called “Fixing our City” the Sunday Times took the lens to Freo with critics Natalie Locke from Nova (and formally my chiro), Sean Morrison from Future Perth, Andrew McDonald from Worst of Perth (great website) and marketer Graham Freeman. It is an interesting article and quite funny in places too. You won’t agree with it all though. I make a few comments at the end.

Who’s ya mumma? Freo’s latest small bar

It was great to see the new small bar on the cnr of Wray Ave and South Tce working so well on the weekend. It has got a minimalist industrial aesthetic and what might be Freo’s first internal green wall. Well done Clint and team. Here are a few snaps

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‘Fremantle Union’ to underpin Freo’s revitalisation

The City of Fremantle last night announced the establishment of the ‘Fremantle Union’. But it is not really a union – at least in the organized labour sense of the word – but more  a significant partnership/collaboration with the four key government agencies with planning responsibilities that are really important to Fremantle’s future.

Check out this background video by Linda Blagg and the full release and some media reporting is below

cheers, Brad.

Perth Now:

Media Release

The Union − comprising the City of Fremantle, Western Australian Planning Commission, Department of Planning, Fremantle Port Authority, Department of Transport and Public Transport Authority – has been established to provide an efficient, non-bureaucratic vehicle for facilitating the delivery of aspects of the City’s economic development strategy, leading to Fremantle reclaiming the title of Perth’s second city. A key role for the Fremantle Union will be to support the development of a Structure Plan for the Fremantle commercial business district and surrounds.

The announcement, by Fremantle Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt, was made during his presentation at the City’s inaugural Strategic Imperatives Presentation and Dinner, an event showcasing the significant steps being undertaken by the City to facilitate the revitalisation of Fremantle.

The nine-member Fremantle Union Board will be chaired by prominent Fremantle resident, Stuart Hicks.

“The City initiated the first discussions on the creation of the Union in June and rapid progress has been made since then. I thank all parties involved for their enthusiasm in taking what was initially just a good idea and making it a reality in such a short time-frame,” Dr Pettitt said.

Dr Pettitt said the Fremantle Union was established to enable each partner to participate in the resolution of longstanding planning challenges in Fremantle: “We make no secret of the fact that as a council we are committed to establishing Fremantle as a Primary Centre and for Fremantle to again be recognised as Perth’s second city. The Fremantle Union will aid in this process and will ensure direct lines of communication between the City and the key State Government agencies,” he added.

Fremantle Union Chairperson, Mr Stuart Hicks, said the level of collaboration arising from the Fremantle Union would provide the opportunity to resolve longstanding planning challenges and provide a solid platform for converting plans into actions. “This is a logical next step in Fremantle’s revitalisation efforts and is centred on the need for a collaborative approach to planning,” said Mr Hicks.

Fremantle Commercial Business District and surrounds Structure Plan

An important function of the Fremantle Union will be supporting the development of a Structure Plan for the Fremantle Commercial Business District and surrounds. The Structure Plan will provide a sound foundation for guiding major future development opportunities in Fremantle.

The Structure Plan will lead to a shared vision for future development in Fremantle.


The Board of the Fremantle Union will comprise:

  • Mr Stuart Hicks, Independent Chair
  • Dr Brad Pettitt, Mayor, City of Fremantle
  • Cr Andrew Sullivan, City of Fremantle
  • Cr Josh Wilson, City of Fremantle
  • Graeme Mackenzie, Chief Executive Officer, City of Fremantle
  • Gary Prattley, Chairperson, Western Australian Planning Commission
  • Eric Lumsden, Director General, Department of Planning
  • Reece Waldock, Director general, Department of Transport
  • Chris Leatt-Hayter, Chief Executive Officer, Fremantle Port Authority


Community Reference Group

A community reference group will also be established as a way of engaging with the Fremantle community on the activities of the union. The reference group is proposed to include representatives from local business and industry groups, community organisations, residents and the media.

City of Fremantle Chief Executive Officer, Mr Graeme Mackenzie, said he was looking forward to working together with the Fremantle Union and the community reference group to ensure Fremantle’s standing as one of the great port cities of the world.

“This is a fantastic initiative and will not only help to generate great economic outcomes for Fremantle, but will also enable the community to be part of the exciting projects being encouraged by the council,” he said. “The council has a vision – and now through the Fremantle Union we have the support to achieve the vision,” added Mr Mackenzie.

The formation of the Fremantle Union forms part of the City Of Fremantle Economic Development Strategy which can be viewed on the City’s website at

The challenge of good debate in our city

Last week’s front page of the Herald was a disappointing piece of opinion/journalism as the Herald have often played an important role in public debate in Fremantle and for them to get so much wrong on one of the most important changes in Fremantle’s planning since the America’s Cup  doesn’t bode well for a sensible, balanced public debate over the next few months. It was not a piece that I could just let slide given its inaccuracies so I penned the following response which may or may not get printed – either way is is important to put it on the public record.

thanks, Brad


Last week’s front page typified the Herald’s own unique blend of inaccuracy, negativity and sensationalism.

First there was the vote. Cr Thompson might be wondering how I managed to see his raised hand given he was in our sister city in Croatia with Wasamba. Cr Haney was also reported to have voted for the Working Group recommendations when in reality she voted against it – twice. Councillors Coggin, Wainwright and Grey-Smith all voted “yes” but the Herald somehow missed that too.

But the failure of Herald to get even the simplest details of who voted for what correct is overshadowed by the inaccurate and sensationalist claims that “…council have decided upon developer-led unlimited high-rise.” Every single part of this claim is incorrect.

1. This process was not “developer-led” but was led by a community working group of leading local architects, urban designers and community representatives. There were no developers on this working group. To suggest that the working group report was based on the requirements of developers above the needs of the Fremantle community is simply offensive to these community members.

2. Council is not considering “unlimited high rise” in the CBD. I and other Council members have been very clear that there will be height limits and these are likely to be a combination of performance based limits in conjunction with more standard planning height caps. I would expect a new local planning scheme that allows new buildings that are predominantly 4-7 stores with a few extra floors allowed only if the building is of exceptional quality.

3. Finally, Council has not “decided” anything. We have merely agreed to start a process based on the Strategic City Centre Sites Working Group report that after more than 20 meetings recommended how we might reinvigorate the CBD through changes to the planning scheme.

The Herald offers its readers a false choice between the bleak, windblown high- rise of St Georges Tce and a low-rise Fremantle no higher than the West End. There is a sensible third way of innovative, high quality, transit-orientated, medium-density, mixed use development that embodies the city’s vision for more diverse and affordable housing, sustainability and a mix of uses to enliven our CBD seven days a week.

There needs to be a sensible and considered debate on new development in Fremantle and  all the feedback I am getting is that the Fremantle community is ready for this. I hope the Herald is ready as well.

Unbuilt Fremantle

Over the past 100 years there have been many proposed developments that would have changed the face of Fremantle as we know it – proposed developments that were never built.

Murdoch University student, Allison Pepper, will be working with the City of Fremantle over the next few months to research and uncover these major unbuilt Fremantle development proposals. This research will culminate in an exhibition entitled “Unbuilt Fremantle” exhibiting up to 20 key plans of these proposed developments.

For this to be a success we will need your help. Do you have drawings or plans of any of the proposed developments below?:

  1. 1950 Fremantle masterplan
  2. Alcoa Building (1980?)
  3. Casino on Waterfront (1985?)
  4. Bond tower on Esplanade Hotel site (1985?)
  5. Woolstores tower (1980s)
  6. Original Northbank proposal – marina (1985?)
  7. Sealanes housing redevelopment (1995?)
  8. South Fremantle tip site eco village (1999?)
  9. Performing Arts Centre on Italian Club Site (1998)
  10. ING Victoria Quay development (2005)
  11. North Port Quay proposal (2007)

Do you know of any other major developments planned for Fremantle that were never built? If so please contact Allison at or me at

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Photos courtesy of the Fremantle Local History Collection

Stephenson, Gordon (1955), Plan for the Metropolitan Region Perth and Fremantle Western Australia. P. 192 (LHC 711.0994)

Proposed Harbour Photo – LHC Photograph collection Print No. 777, c1950 (it was proposed as part of the original Town Planning Scheme).

Myer Building – upgrade plans submitted to Council

The planned $30million upgrade to the Myer Building recently submitted to Council were made public today. It is an exciting looking re-development of one of WA’s least loved buildings with a mix of specialty shops, offices along with a department store. It must be stressed that Myer have not yet signed a new lease and those negotiations are still underway. I should also add that the reopening of Newman Crt shown in the artist’s impression are not part of the plans before Council.

‘local talent’ with Geoffrey London

Check out this interesting interview with Geoffrey London who is not only the former WA State Government Architect and now the Victoria State Government Architect but is also the Chair of the City of Fremantle’s Design Advisory Committee (DAC) who provides professional design advice on development proposals in Fremantle. Th film was put together by Linda Blagg who has been putting together some great material on Fremantle people and issues.