Highlights from Council meeting on Planning Scheme Amendment 49

At the Fremantle Council meeting on Wednesday night 22nd February 2012, the principles of Planning Scheme Amendment 49 were passed. Before that, each Councillor spoke about his or her reasons for supporting the principles behind the amendment including economic and social revitalization of the Fremantle city centre, affordable housing,  and sustainable development. This film by local film maker Linda Blagg comprises highlights from those speeches. Enjoy.

Cappuccino Strip Street Club – this Thursday Kings Square.

Cappuccino Street Strip Club – performing random acts of placemaking to enhance Freo’s vibrant community life and spaces.


KINGS SQUARE (next to the Town Hall)

It’s back, and this time we’re teaming up with the Fremantle Inner City Residents Association to take over King’s Square!

BYO friends, family, games, creativity, picnic and anything else to enjoy with your community. Food, coffee and fun available with surprise entertainment and a local film premeire!

Watch the transformation of the ionic Woolstores building, from neglected eyesore into a beloved masterpiece, in the premiere screening of “Woolstore Rising” a 20 minute documentary by Linda Blagg at 7.30pm

Gimme Shelter tonight

The 2012 event to raise funds for homelessness will take place tonight  25th February at the South Lawn of the Fremantle Arts Centre, Finnerty St, Fremantle.

Tickets are dirt-cheap at $35 on the door. Under 16’s are $15 on the door and kids under 6 are free.

Doors open at 5.30pm. Entertainment ends at 10.00pm.

Should innovative façades be part of the new developments in Freo?

Interestingly, the Pixel Building (see last post) is only the first of several buildings planned as part of the major redevelopment of the former Carlton Brewery site on the northern edge of Melbourne’s CBD. The site will also include a number of other larger buildings and the plans for one of the buildings got me thinking about the aesthetics of new buildings and how it might apply to Fremantle redevelopment areas. Not only will these new buildings be green –waste, water and energy efficient – but they will start to capture what is special about the place they sit in.

In the case of the Carlton Brewery site, it sits at the northern end of Swanston St. At the southern end is the Shrine of Remembrance. As result of the importance of this site in Melbourne’s landscape a creative response to place was required.

Using innovative computer design, the architects designed the balconies each of the apartments slightly differently. Up close is reads as an interesting but not remarkable 32 level high-rise residential building. But back up a block down Swanston Street and the face of famous indigenous leader William Barak (from the Wurundjeri tribe) emerges from façade in a dramatic fashion. This simply but innovative method means that the buildings adds to a sense of place and history in a unique manner.

It made me think of some of the other innovative façades we are starting to see emerge from photo montages ( ie Sam Newman House and 2 Girls Building below) to solar shading (ie Pixel)  green walls (Copenhagen). Perhaps this can be part of the design policy for the East Ends of Fremantle that we will be developing together over the next few months? Of course the policy will exclude any references to Pamela Anderson.

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A tour of Australia’s greenest building the Pixel

I spent part of last week in Melbourne where I was invited to give a paper at a sustainability conference. While I was there I also took to arrange a tour of the Pixel Building which probably the greenest office building in Australia.

The Pixel building is the first carbon neutral office building in Australia. It achieved the highest Green Star score ever awarded by the Green Building Council of Australia and achieved a perfect score of 100 points under the Green Star rating system for building design.

The Pixel Building amazing features included a special type of concrete which halves the embodied carbon in the mix, a low water vacuum toilet system, an anaerobic digestion system and has water initiatives that mean the building could be self sufficient for water and free night air cooling through cross ventilation.

Its green roof re-introduces rare Victorian grassland species to the Melbourne CBD.

The distinctive looking sun shade system on the exterior of the building is designed to provide the maximum amount of daylight into the office space, while protecting it from glare and heat in the summer.

I was impressed and inspired about what might be possible in Fremantle . Some photos are below.


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Doing density differently – an opinion piece for Perth Now

Last week I was asked to write an opinion piece for Perth Now on development in Fremantle. The link and article are below.

It focused on density and it’s benefits and challenges. It is not an issue confined to Freo. Subi, South Perth, Cottosloe etc are all having the same debates across the Perth metro area. And the same debate is also happening from Europe to the US. Check out this excellent  article on density in US cities including Austin, Texas and Washington DC which helps put the Freo debates in a wider context.



The Fremantle article I wrote  is at the link and below:


The need to bring taller buildings to Fremantle

This week’s dramatically increased population projections for Perth and WA took many of us by surprise. By 2026 WA will crack the 3 million mark and Perth will be around 2.3million. This new projection is a staggering 400,000 more people than was predicted just a few years ago in 2006.

As Perth rapidly grows it is in danger of spreading incoherently from Dunsborough to Dongara unless we learn to stack instead of spread, go up up instead just going out.

If we are to address unsustainable urban sprawl then it is clear that we need to get more people living in Perth’s existing centers and embrace higher density living.

There are a myriad good reasons to do this from preserving bushland, to making us less automobile dependent, to creating greater housing choices.

The problem, however, is that many places established centres like Fremantle, Subiaco, Leederville and South Perth there is more often than not strong and vocal opposition to higher density proposals.

When you look at higher buildings of the past few decades you can see why. Density of the past has been dominated on one end of the spectrum by the cheap salmon-coloured brick flats of the 1960s and 70s that are scattered amongst Perth’s established suburbs or at the other end of the spectrum luxury apartments that are expensive, exclusive and elitist.

With these examples dominating our skyline it is no wonder that for the last 30 years Perth has had what some have labelled a “density hangover”.

The best cure for this hangover, however, is to do density differently and this time to do it well.

Density done differently would be more often than not be 4-8 stories and  have active ground floor frontages with a  mix of uses from cafes and small bars to local retail. Places for community to flourish.

Density done differently would be enable the building of more affordable and diverse housing in Perth’s increasingly unaffordable housing market. Instead of primarily building Australia’s biggest houses on the suburban fringes can build affordable apartments that average wage earners can afford in existing centres. This would create real housing choice.

Density done differently would also enable Perth to take the first steps to a  creating a lower carbon city. Perth currently has one of the  biggest per capita carbon footprints in the developed world.

Down in Fremantle we are doing our bit to create a denser, more sustainable Perth. We are planning to quadruple our CBD population through allowing taller buildings in the non heritage areas. But these height bonuses will come with the requirement that developers build green buildings with diverse and affordable apartments and high quality design.

This is a central strategy in Fremantle’s rejuvenation as Perth’s second city.

But doing density differently I hope won’t only be good for Freo but inspire other centers how they can contribute to a more sustainable and affordable Perth.

A quick summary of the changes we’ve made in response to public feedback on A49.

I thought that it would be useful for those of you not keen on wading through Fremantle Council agendas to provide a quick summary of the changes Council will be debating onScheme Amendment 49 this week and next.

In response to community and stakeholder feedback we have made quite a few changes:

1. The first is in response to the feedback that many were concerned about the bulk of bigger buildings as much as the height per se. As a result it now recommended that an additional requirement that limits the bulk of the buildings under discretionary additional building height controls to being no more than 40% of total development site area be included

2. There was also some confusion around the maximum floors on the Coles Woolstore and Westgate Mall suites allowed so an additional requirement that limits the maximum number of storeys from ground level within a development to nine storeys will be included. Some Councillors will also be arguing it be dropped to 8 storeys on these two sites at coming meetings.

3. Include a provision that specifically prohibits the approval of any development with discretionary additional building height until a local planning policy addressing the application of the criteria listed in clause 1.3.2 (f) of Amendment 49 is adopted by the Council and that should such a local planning policy not be adopted, development with discretionary additional building height will not be capable of approval.

3. We will also remove the discretionary additional building height from Area 11 ( the Town Hall and Library site) so it will stay as is under the scheme.

4. It is also recommended we modify and slightly reduce the building heights on the corner of Queen Street and Adelaide Street so they are the same as the rest of Queen St.

5. We got a lot of feedback on the potential impact of development on the Henderson Street Warders Cottages so there are reduced building heights for development with frontage to Henderson Street Mall:

6. We are also introducing some further safe guards to reduce heights for sites directly adjoins a heritage listed building.

This is not the complete list but it gives you a taste. If you want more the whole item is on the City of Fremantle website.

Of course I realise this won’t make everyone happy. It is the reality of these kinds of changes that some want heights to up, and some for it to come down etc etc but I think we are getting close to a good outcome.

This photo is from Portland’s Pearl District