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.

Fremantle Network returns on Monday 27 March

The Fremantle Network returns on Monday 27 March featuring:

Adam Jorlen from enkel with an update on plans for the Naval Store and Adin Lang – Friends of Hollis Park and Landcare Australia.

enkel is a collective with a mission to create a new generation of change-makers in WA.

They do this through hosting events & workshops, supporting early-stage social enterprises, running open innovation labs, and much more.

Their plans are well underway to convert the Naval Store at the base of Cantonment Hill into a school for changemakers, including coworking, makerspaces, learning hubs, a climbing wall and café.

Adin Lang is working to establish the Fremantle Landcare Group; a collective of local “friends of” groups to pool resources, funding and share tools and expertise. He hopes to bring together the friends of Boo Park, Clontarf Hill, Cantonment Hill and others locals who love our parks and greenspaces to enable new projects and greater impact through collaboration.

Join us for the discussion from 6pm, Monday 27 March, upstairs at the National Hotel, Fremantle.


Freo’s Ride-In Cinema for Bike Week

To go out with a fun sweat Bike Week in Fremantle will wrap up on Saturday with the Ride-In Cinema. It will bring back all the nostalgic memories of visiting the Drive-in but with a Fremantle twist.

Ride in to Market Street Piazza, park your bike and get dinner from one your favourite spots before settling in to view a series of short films that are related to cycling in some way, shape or form. Don’t get too comfy though, this cinema needs some pedal power to operate.

San Churro’s will be there handing out some free samples and discount vouchers to keep the energy levels up.

Grab a group of friends, family or maybe your neighbours and get pedalling at The Ride-In Cinema to celebrate Bike Week and Neighbourhood Day.

26th of March 2017 at 6:00pm until 8:15pm

$3.1m Fremantle Town Hall restorations nearing completion

With conservation works nearing completion, scaffolding will gradually be removed over the coming weeks to reveal the Fremantle Town Hall’s exterior in all its original splendour – much as it looked 130 years ago in 1887 when first unveiled.

The  $3.1m works—which began in May 2016 and were extended into this year after specialist contractors found additional critical restoration work was required—included major structural repairs, a new slate roof with improved drainage and the refurbishment of the clock, which was taken apart to be cleaned and serviced.

The town hall restoration project is the largest conservation project we’ve ever undertaken and is the first stage in the transformation of Kings Square.

Throughout the restoration we’ve been very careful to respect the original intention for the town hall to look like a high-quality, finely-detailed stone building. This has involved removing the external paint which has been slowly suffocating the town hall since the 1960s to reveal its unique stucco finish, with natural variations in colour and texture that form part of this.

The end result will see the town hall not only look like it did in 1887, but also function like it was intended to, with the walls being able to ‘breathe’ again for the first time in decades to absorb and then expel moisture and salt.

It may look a bit different than what we’re used to seeing in modern times, but up until 1965 this is what people would have known the town hall as looking like. By doing this vital work we’ve ensured the town hall will be around for the next 130 years and beyond for future generations to enjoy.

This is another key part of our commitment to conserving and sensitively adapting Fremantle’s heritage buildings to underpin our future as a vibrant 21st century city where heritage and modern buildings coexist and complement each other.

About the town hall restoration

Before current restorative works were undertaken it had been almost thirty years since the last major capital expenditure on the Fremantle Town Hall.

Since mid-2016 a large team of skilled stonemasons, plasterers, lead workers and slate roofers with specialist traditional skills have transformed the exterior of the town hall building using traditional building methods.

Key elements such as the roof cladding and drainage systems needed to be replaced urgently to protect the building from ongoing deterioration prevent the loss of culturally significant features and address concerns about public safety.

Gutters and downpipes were too small to cope with current extreme weather events and have led to ongoing damage to the interior of the building. These elements have all been enlarged.

There were also ongoing issues caused by inappropriate surface treatments and repairs to masonry elements carried out in the1950s–60s. At this time there was little understanding of best practice conservation which had unfortunately led to the ongoing deterioration of masonry, embedded steel and timbers and decorative stucco work in the town hall.

During the works, it was discovered some inaccessible parts of the building were in worse condition than expected and extra works were required. To prevent further deterioration of the building and to make use of scaffolding already in place for the current restoration works, it was more efficient and cost effective to complete these additional works now.


From the Council Chambers. February 2017

On the Verge of Debating Rubbish (of the Bulk Kind)

There has been some interesting debate recently on what kind of bulk rubbish service the City of Fremantle should offer.

The last couple of years we trialled two verge pickups a year but this got mixed feedback. The main criticisms we got was that it was making some suburban streets look like a tip for too much of the year and that there was limited options for recycling the junk was put out as it was all been compacted in the back of truck and sent to landfill.

So this year we are trialling going back to one pickup but having more drop off days at the Fremantle depot on Montreal Street so more of the materials can be can be recycled.

Previously in addition to the bulk bins days residents could drop off to the depot each weekend the following:

  1. Metal.

2.Car Batteries.


4.Electronic-Waste such as TVs etc.





9.Mixed Recycling.


We are now seriously  looking at expanding not only the days and times you can drop off but also what you can drop off:

1.More capacity for Metal and Batteries .

2.More capacity for Clothes and Electronic-Waste

3.Introduction of Hazardous house hold waste.

4.Introduction of green drop-off.

5.Introduction of mulch pick-up.

6.Introduction of rubble drop-off.

7.Introduction of mattress drop-off.

8. Introduction of bulk junk drop-off every weekend.

The Fremantle Council have not made any final decisions on this as we are still getting it costed up and details worked out.

But what the we would be interested in getting your feedback on is would this expanded drop-off  service in addition to a bulk verge pick once a year and several green waste pickups be a better service than just the two bulk verge pickups we trialled the last couple of years?

After debating the different options it is pretty clear there is no perfect solution to dealing with bulk rubbish. All options have pros and cons in terms of ease of use, recycling rates, and how they make our suburbs look. But I do think with the right mix of services Fremantle can continue to be a leader in recycling whilst having less junk on our verges.

Fremantle Shipping News is In Port

Fremantle it seems is the land of good blogs. And an impressive new online magazine/blog has just been launched called Fremantle Shipping News.

It is all about Fremantle and in a nice twist each week will feature interesting vessels in Fremantle Port. Articles with a shipping or maritime flavour continue is the Shipping News department In the launch edition they feature an article about what is happening today one of Fremantle’s old established seafarers clubs, the Flying Angels Club. They also get to know the Mediterranean Shipping Company, the giant of global container shipping that has made a new home in one of Fremantle’s most significant heritage buildings, and take a peek inside their newly restored national headquarters.

They also aim to enliven an informed discussion about Fremantle’s built environment and city planning. The launch issue features an audio interview with me in which I addresses the future planning of the Port, the Fremantle Oval precinct, and the King’s Square development area.

There is also excellent interviews with Professor Len Collard, a senior Noongar man of the Whadjuk people. And architect and long time Fremantle resident Richard Longley on  spaces and places in Fremantle that have both inspired and disappointed him. And that is just the tip of the iceberg!

Finally, their Secret Fremantle department provides residents and visitors alike with a guide to what are sometimes hidden jewels of Fremantle written by Fremantle residents. Great idea!

It is ambitious and beautifully put together addition to online discussion about Fremantle and well worth checking out.