Customs House Development Proposal

I (like just about everyone else in Fremantle) got my first glimpse at a new proposal for the former Customs House this week (see below). I am not surprised that this is scheme that has already divided community opinion.

Some have even said that it shouldn’t even be considered but that is not how the way the planning system works, however. Instead the City of Fremantle is required to process any lawful planning application and send it to the Fremantle Council and the Joint Development Assessment Panel (DAP) for consideration. So just because we are putting it out for advertising doesn’t mean the City of Fremantle planning staff or the Fremantle Council or DAP will support it going ahead. This is just the legally required process.

Another part of the legally required process is that like all of the Fremantle Council members must keep an open mind and not determine a view until it is debated in the Fremantle Council chambers. So I will do that.

All that said, it is important to note a few facts:

First, the buildings in question only remaining heritage are their façades. The rest was gutted in the 1980s when facadism was sadly considered acceptable. The internal additions from this period can certainly be improved on.

Second, five stories in the West End is not something that complies with Fremantle Council policy for this important area and the Council recently rejected it on the Notre Dame site on High Street on this basis.

Third, the whole of the West End is also now on the State Heritage List adding another level of scrutiny and protection.

Finally, it is really important that you have your say too so please do that by going to:

A community information session will be held on 27 April from 5.30 pm – 6.00 pm in the City of Fremantle Reception Room.

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

7 Responses to Customs House Development Proposal

  1. Phillip Ewen says:

    Honestly, I love the heritage of this city and have lived in it some 15 years now. I believe the city planning need to evolve with the times to adopt more projects like this. Heritage is important but modernising a city is all so just as important. Without developing what exists (tastefully) to meet both needs Freo won’t be moving forward and achieve the returning retail that has left. Happy to chat more Brad about this as it something I’m quite passionate about for Freo as I want my kids to have a future here aswell and we have so much going for ourselves here.

  2. Tim Viljoen says:

    The customs house has been such an important part of the arts scene for all of my life I struggle to think of it in any other way. It definitely could do with a refurbishment but why we can’t continue its proud arts support roll is beyond me. The push to develop any space into retail and residential so that people can come and enjoy the artist vibe that gives Freo so much character is flawed if you drive out all the artists. One example is the circus space we now have a 30 year tradition of circus training that is homeless. And while other arts hubs (caslemaine springs to mind) are actively creating large performing and training spaces. This is the best we can come up with?

  3. Paula Amaral says:

    What people in the community get to see is the external, visual impact these new proposals have on the old buildings and streetscapes. We seem to be moving in a direction where all 19th century buildings in the West End are allowed to have a modern building stuck inside and sticking up from it. I think people are beginning to agitate because they don’t want to see their almost pristine Historic Centre turn into a hybrid of dubious quality.
    Surely the City can see this as well as the rest of us. I think we need to stop it, but how do we do it?

  4. Peter mcglynn says:

    Thanks for posting this Brad. I’m tired of developers pushing the envelope in a heritage precinct. I will come to the public meeting to learn more about this but if the picture is accurate, the addition on the top level completely dominates the facade and that should be unacceptable.

  5. Matt says:

    Hi Brad, Having seen the demolition picture taken in 1985 on the “mysay” portal is sad. Maybe it was in a state of no salvation, but it has only been 32 years since our engineers and architects went all out to build something new behind it, it seems. I cannot differentiate this type of proposal with the one from 1985. Will it last?

    Real estate economics that have been of questionable nature over east with countless apartments in Melbourne and Sydney. Economists question the bubble. One of the reasons why Victoria and NSW build apartments is to create labour to avoid recession. It is a band aid and shows lack of innovation.

    Does there exist a demand for this supply? 122 dwellings in that space. Wow. It will not be a neighbourly area. It will likely be outdated and demolished again in 30 years. It does seem very ugly and dominates the facade. I don’t think the east end of Freo has benefited from higher rise apartments.

    Small apartments use way more energy than houses per capita, they isolate socially and will create lower living standards and enjoyment than creative innovation would. It is a paradox when comparing it to sustainable living.

    Our economics should concentrate on new business, innovation and potential entrepreneurship. If it were a hotel it would create a service industry. If it were an innovation high tech hub it might create a platform for future growth, which we do need. Instead it looks like card boxed low quality real estate that makes money for developers.

    Real estate economics of this nature prevents individuals to save money. It could be better to save and not just think of how we can make money by buying real estate with borrowings. More businesses to employ people at lower rates, is what we might need. Real estate bubbles prevent this. Freo could be a leading light in our state. Thank you for your continued and valued open mind when this is debated.

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