Some thoughts on the ALDI development in Hilton

Let me star by saying I have no fundamental problem with an Aldi coming to Fremantle or Hilton. They are undoubtedly going to be a major player in supermarkets in WA in coming years.

That said, I think some of the community concerns around the particular plans for the Hilton proposal have merit. For me the main issues are:

  1. The development turns its back to the street and presents an unactivated, blank wall to South Street. If this side was wrapped with small scale retail like a hairdresser, post office and shoe repairer that would be a huge improvement;
  2. A mixed-use development of retail and residential would be far better. A couple of floors of residential above the retail would add to the residential mix in Hilton and give the development the presence a neighbourhood centre deserves. Even in Fremantle I think most people would say this development is not tall enough!

It may be not be possible to stop the development going ahead even though we can all see how it could be improved and add to the Hilton Centre.

So we’d like your feedback and an additional 14 days (28 in total) was added to the public advertising period – now ending Thursday 14 May 2015.

The plans and detailed information can be accessed at:

aldi 2 Aldi



WA Business News feature on Freo Ports and Transport

Last week WA Business News ran a 12-page feature on Port and Transport with Fremantle at the centre of these key infrastructure challenges. There were quite a few articles but I have posted one below by Dan Wilkie & Mark Pownall. Great to see this issue getting some in depth coverage.

You also would have seen Prof Newman making the case for an early investment in an outer harbour in the West

The worst result would be a road only freight freeway as far as Marmion Street as planned. Let’s hope we get some better long term planning than that for Perth’s most expensive ever road project.

Policy failure clogs city streets

CONGESTION remains the big urban issue for

policy makers in Perth, where the population hit 2 million last month, but

observers are wondering what is being done about it amid predictions

the number of residents is likely to more than double in just 35 years.

This week, a report by demographer Bernard Salt based on

Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed that Perth’s population

was estimated to rise to more than 4.6 million by 2050, bumping

Brisbane as the country’s third largest city.

While that news might elicit groans from Perth residents

already seeking to cope with crowded roads and packed trains,

attractions such as lifestyle and the relatively steady Western

Australian economy provided by resources are likely to keep

attracting people, albeit not necessarily at the pace of the past

decade. Importantly, the consequences

of congestion are a lot more than inconvenience for commuters – a

2007 federal government report estimated that by 2020, gridlock in

Perth could cost the WA economy $2.1 billion.

Motoring organisation RAC of WA backs spending on public

transport. It is critical of the shift from the visionary planning

that set the Perth development agenda in the middle of past century

to the short-term thinking of 2015, which has led to the state

government dropping the ball on infrastructure already vital to

meet current demand, let alone future needs.

RAC group chief executive Terry Agnew said the state government

launched a draft Public Transport for Perth in 2013 plan and talked

about a Moving People Network Plan, neither of which appears to

have progressed.

In 2011, when the draft public transport plan was launched, the

government suggested that more than $4 billion would be required

for public transport network and fleet expansion until 2031, and

that annual operating costs will have almost doubled from $690

million to $1.2 billion in 2010-dollar terms.

However instead of progress on these broader plans, the state

government has launched various piecemeal solutions, only

to then put some on the back burner as costs rose or political

will waned.

Some of those solutions that are either under way or soon to commence

include: widening both the Mitchell and Kwinana freeways at

key choke points; the Gateway WA project around Perth Airport; the

upcoming Perth Freight Link; and the $2 billion Forrestfield-Airport

rail link.

But Mr Agnew said even with those upgrades, Perth still had a

clear infrastructure gap.

“That gap will only widen, all projections show that,” Mr Agnew

told Business News.

“If you don’t have these long-range plans how do you get any

investment? “As a result you run the risk of

being reactive and short-term.” Mr Agnew said RAC had

watched the issue of congestion and infrastructure development

closely, even working with the state government on ways to use

technology to better coordinate traffic signals and improve flow.

He said the group was still working through auditor-general

Colin Murphy’s recent report, which criticised state spending

on main roads for not focusing on data that showed its efforts were relieving congestion.

While the report was a largely positive critique of Main Roads’

performance, it also underlined there was no clear plan forward

to deal with congestion issues.

The report showed that neither the Department of Transport nor

Main Roads had set objectives or performance targets to manage

congestion, while Main Roads also doesn’t actually know if its

road upgrade programs improve the issues.

However, Main Roads did develop a Traffic Congestion

Management Strategy in 2013, identifying 49 projects and initiatives

to address congestion, but the auditor-general said it was not

clear how those were selected or prioritised.

“One thing that initially hit us was this whole question of

coordination across departments,” Mr Agnew said.

“That goes back, again, to ‘where is the blueprint?

“There is not a lot in the past five decades that lays out that

sort of blueprint. “Are Main Roads doing that?

According to the auditor-general’s report they are, but it is part of the

issue that there is not grand plan that they can hook their decisions

back to.”

While the RAC wants to see a long-term plan, it also believes

there are immediate requirements, with the shelved light rail

line proposed from the CBD to Mirrabooka a project that ought

to be restarted as a priority.

In fact, apart from a few items, including spending on cycleways,

the RAC matches its rhetoric on the bigger picture by avoiding too

much project-by-project analysis.

It wants to see the curren ttransport network better utilised

by technology that offers a great deal more bang for the buck

across the whole of Perth.

The RAC also wants to see the federal government give back

more to the state in funds it extracts from WA motorists.

In a call reminiscent of the current GST debate, the RAC claims

just 41 cents in every dollar paid in motoring taxes such as the fuel

excise are returned to WA. The rest is spent on east coast projects,

mainly roads.

Port problems

Aside from the Mitchell and Kwinana freeways, one of the

bigger choke points in Perth is around Fremantle Port, as well as

the major roads that feed into it.

About 2,600 trucks access Fremantle Port each day, with delays

due to congestion becoming a serious issue around Stirling Bridge

and Tydeman Road, particularly in peak hour.

Improving access to the port is a clear priority of the state government,

through the Perth Freight Link – a $1.6 billion upgrade to Roe

Highway, Stock Road, Leach Highway and Stirling Highway.

The road has been flagged to become Perth’s first toll road,

although only heavy vehicle users will be charged to use it.

But Mr Agnew said he was wary of the introduction of toll

roads in WA without a ground-up approach to way roads are funded,

to ensure the cost was equitable and its use as a price signal was


“Otherwise it is just another tax,” he said. “It needs to start with ‘what is

the model’?”

Notwithstanding the toll debate, Fremantle Mayor Brad

Pettitt said the project, which has been facilitated by $925 million

in federal government funding, would do little to address congestion


Mr Pettitt said it was fair to say the Perth Freight Link was a

project that took all the key stakeholders largely by surprise.

“We’ve always supported having some upgrades to that

road, that certainly has to occur, but the level of upgrade

where we’re actually creating a freeway-style road though Roe

Highway, almost to the port, is one that has never actually been

entertained at any level of government before,” Mr Pettitt told

Business News.

“It’s extraordinarily expensive but it doesn’t integrate rail and

doesn’t actually reach the port; it’s a road that goes three quarters

of the way to the port and then stops.

“Stirling Bridge is already one of the key congestion points of the freight link, and this doesn’t

resolve that key congestion point.

“It merely means trucks can drive faster until they get to the

bridge, but they will get stuck on the same bridge.”

Mr Pettitt said the Perth Freight Link was a prime example of how

policy responses to congestion were missing the mark, largely

because they were narrowly focused on roads instead of an

integrated transport strategy.

He said the City of Fremantle was committed to keeping the

port as a working port, but access issues needed to be addressed

by putting more freight on rail, rather than roads.

“At the moment, the only way to get freight out of the port (on rail)

is over the passenger rail line,” Mr Pettitt said.

“That has to be shared with passenger rail, so that means freight

can’t run during the day most of the time because the gaps

between the passenger trains aren’t long enough.

“Then it runs through the west end of Fremantle and down past

South Beach, using some very nice coastal land.

“That’s no longer the optimum route for freight on rail, and it

should be looked at as part of an integrated transport plan, but

there’s been none of that.

Stirling Bridge is already one of the key Congestion points of the freight link,

and this doesn’t resolve that key congestion point – Brad Pettitt

“It’s simply a road project ._ all building bigger roads does is defer congestion

a couple of years into the future at great expense.

“The only way you can support this road as a good investment of public funds is if it

was actually part of an integrated transport

plan that included rail.”

Light rail saviour?

Another key plank of a whole-of-network approach to tackling the city’s congestion

conundrum, according to Committee for Perth chief executive Marion Fulker, is the

recently shelved light rail network (more details page 18).

The state government is examining the possibility of providing a link to Mirrabooka

through a rapid bus network, but a recent Committee for Perth research report

revealed light rail would not only provide more of a financial benefit, it would also be

more efficient at moving people.

The report predicted that, by 2031, the percentage of commuters travelling to the

city using public transport would increase from 47 per cent to nearly 70 per cent.

Ms Fulker said buses would not attract enough commuters to bridge that gap, while

they also would not have the knock-on effects to reduce congestion that building

a light rail network would.

“Light rail is not just a mobility solution, it also starts to facilitate density around

appropriate locations,” Ms Fulker said.

“Developers take their cue from the government.

“The government puts the infrastructure in the ground and developers know that’s

where the opportunity is. A bus system is not going to produce that.”

The City of Fremantle also recently floated its own plans for a light rail network,

to link the port city more closely with the Cockburn Coast, Murdoch and

Cockburn Central.

But Mr Pettitt said the launch of that proposal earlier this year had prompted no

response from the state government.

“We’ve been pragmatic in knowing that, given that MAX had been shelved, this project

wasn’t going to happen soon,” he said.

“But we realise that good transport planning is about mapping out your transport

routes for decades ahead, so when the political and the funding sources align that you’re

ready to go and you can do these projects.

“Having light rail running to the south and east of us is essential for Fremantle’s

future, and it will happen.

“It’s just a question of when rather than if, and that’s why it is important that we made

it really clear that it is one of the council’s key strategic priorities going forward.”

WA Business News

Fremantle’s 849 honoured for ANZAC centenary

This Saturday is going to a very special day in Fremantle.

One hundred years on from the Gallipoli landings, the City of Fremantle will honour Fremantle’s fallen servicemen with Western Australia’s only World War One plaque unveiling this ANZAC Day.

The twelve plaques–which bear all 849 names of the Fremantle servicemen who failed to return from World War One–will be unveiled at the Fremantle Dawn Service, as part of the City’s ANZAC centenary dedications.

Over 3000 men and women from the Fremantle region served in the Great War of 1914-1919.  It is extraordinary to think so many didn’t  return home.

To coincide with this anniversary researcher Andrew Pittaway (who also works for the City of Freo) launched last weekend his impressive book Fremantle Voices of the Great War which tells the story of the war service of Fremantle people through their own accounts taken from diaries, letters, oral histories and over two hundred photos, many never before published.

Extensive garden works and service upgrades to the Monument Hill have been completed in the lead up to the event, with free shuttle bus services and additional projection screens ensuring the Dawn Service can cater for the large number of people expected to attend,

For the dawn service the City has arranged two free private shuttle bus services to collect people from the Fremantle Train Station and overflow parking at Fremantle Park and take them to Monument Hill, using the existing bus stop on High Street at the base of the site (see map below).

Bike parking will be on the South (Knutsford St) side.


ANZAC Day 2015 events

Fremantle Dawn Service

From 5.50 am at Fremantle’s Monument Hill War Memorial. Includes a special unveiling of 12 permanent plaques to commemorate the 849 fallen servicemen from World War One.

Gunfire Breakfast

A free hot breakfast will be served to the first 800 visitors to Kings Square after the service.

North Fremantle Service

From 9.30 am at the Fallen Soldiers’ Memorial, Cnr Queen Victoria Street and Harvest Road, North Fremantle.

Commemorative exhibition

Saturday 25 April from 10.00 am to 2.00 pm at the Fremantle Town Hall Atrium. Entry is free.

Army Museum tours

Saturday 25 April, 11.00 am, 1.00 pm and 3.00 pm at the Army Museum of Western Australia, Burt Street Fremantle (this one has a cost).

Parade and closing ceremony

Commences 11.15 am from the Esplanade Reserve, Marine Terrace, Fremantle. The parade will travel through the main streets of Fremantle and along the Cappuccino Strip where a salute will be taken. There will be a short closing ceremony when the parade returns to the Esplanade.

For more information visit


Fairly Fashionable? is back Friday 24th, April at MANY 6160

Fairly Fashionable? Was one of my favourite events last year and it is back next Friday the 24th of April at Victoria Hall.

Fairly Fashionable? is a challenge to designers and consumers who question where, how and who makes their garments and under what working conditions. The challenge asks designers to consider the history, culture and ethics behind the textiles used in their designs by linking them to suppliers of ethically made fabrics.

What is the challenge? Fairly Fashionable? challenge will be launched on April 1st when designers will receive a piece of fabric that has been ethically sourced from around the world and traded by members of the Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand. This could be anything from a cushion cover from Kashmir to a hand-woven traditional textile from East Timor. Designers will then have just two weeks to come up with a design that incorporates this fabric and their own ethically sourced fabrics such as certified organic, Fairtrade, recycled, up-cycled or vintage.

The challenge will culminate on Fashion Revolution Day, April 24th ( April 24th marks the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory disaster in Dhaka Bangladesh, where 1133 lives were lost (with many hundreds more injured) – with devastating long-lasting effects on families and friends. The 2014 public fashion show attracted an audience of almost 300 people! fairly fash Supported by: Fair Trade Freo, WA Fair Trade Collective, Fair Trade Association of Australia and New Zealand, Fashion Revolution, City of Fremantle 10307421_637210166384285_3866366976053946831_n

PUBLIC 2015, City-making and the LRT/BRT debate


This week I have had the pleasure of attending part of the FORM symposium called PUBLIC 2015. This is the discussion behind the fabulous street art going up around Fremantle and other parts of Perth – all in the name of “building a state of creativity”.

The keynote speaker was Enrique Penlosa – former mayor of Bogota – who has an amazing story to tell in regard to transforming Bogota with dedicated bicycle networks and a focus on public transport. He is such an inspiring speaker and I love his egalitarian approach to city making.

“Public space is for living, doing business, kissing, and playing. Its value can’t be measured with economics or mathematics; it must be felt with the soul.”

The only thing I didn’t agree with him on is his claim Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is equally good to light rail in city making. The global evidence from Portland to Sydney is that light rail is superior in everyway except cost. As Lyle Bicknell, Principle Urban Designer at City of Seattle says, ‘Show me your transport system and I will show you your built form”

While I was in Adelaide I had the opportunity to experience this contrast first hand. Adelaide has recently extended its tram/light rail to Glenelg through to the North of the Adelaide CBD. Along this corridor is major new development including an expanded convention centre and hospital precinct.

But did you know that Adelaide was one of the first cities in the world have a dedicated BRT system? I didn’t so I decided to make the most of the opportunity ride on this BRT also.

What was interesting is that it felt suburban rather than urban in nature. The stop I got on was called Paradise but it really was just a giant parking lot (with apologies to Joni Mitchell!) with none urban density that you might hope for. From Paradise to the CBD the route was dedicated but through a nature strip with no urban density along the corridor.

That said, the BRT was almost as quick as a train or light rail between stoops getting up to 100km/h but it wasn’t as nearly as smooth or comfortable.

Enrique Penolosa is right that BRT does have its place especially where budgets are a major and ongoing constraint but BRT is no substitute for the legibility, comfort and city making potential of light of heavy rail as a whole. My experience of Adelaide only further confirmed to me that it would be better for Perth to start with smaller lengths of light rail rather than BRT if it really is to be a more liveable and sustainable city.

But as Enrique said himself: “new ideas are never born with majority support”



Future of Freo – Today Perth News

This morning Channel 9 took a closer look at what’s happening in Fremantle and some of the major changes designed to lure visitors and businesses back to the Port City. If you missed it here it is:

PUBLIC 2015 No more blank walls in Freo.

It has been wonderful today to see Freo’s blank walls turned into canvases for some of the world’s best street artists as part of FORM’s PUBLIC 2015. Below are some highlights and check out for more info.

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