$23 million committed to the adaptive re-use of heritage buildings in Fremantle

A good article in today’s West Australian articulating Freo’s commitment to the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings.

Courthouse hotel plans recommended for approval

The proposal to convert Fremantle’s state heritage-listed Police and Courthouse complex into a hotel and restaurant precinct has been recommended for conditional approval by the City of Fremantle’s planning committee.

The development plan includes a 62-room hotel on the police station site, adapting the courthouse into a bar and restaurant and adapting the lock-up and police quarters into shops and commercial units.

The original concept included a six-storey hotel but, following advice from the City’s planning and heritage officers, that was scaled down to five storeys which is consistent with the maximum discretionary height permitted under Fremantle’s local planning scheme.

The City’s recommendation will now be considered by the South West Joint Development Assessment Panel (JDAP), which has the final say on the proposal.

Should JDAP approve the development, it will be the third major development involving adaptive re-use of important heritage buildings to be approved in the past three months.

In December we saw the approval of a boutique hotel in the Warders Cottages, and in January the redevelopment of the Manning Buildings was approved. If the Courthouse proposal gets the green light from JDAP that will mean more than $23 million has been committed to the conservation and re-use of some of the most important heritage buildings in Fremantle.

Projects like this are an excellent way to attract the significant investment that is required to preserve these important buildings, while also adding the vibrancy of the city and giving people even more reasons to visit Fremantle.

The original Courthouse and Police Station on Henderson Street was built between 1899 and 1903, with further extensions and additions in 1957 and 1978. The complex has been vacant since Fremantle Police relocated to High Street in 2013.

Some of the conditions the planning committee recommended included measures to limit the impact of neighbouring noise on the hotel, the retention of original verandahs and ballustrades and a requirement to submit further details of all conservation works for approval before building work starts.


The Good and the Not-so-Good of Freo’s Economy

You might have seen that over the weekend the Fremantle Markets has had a record 12 months with more than 2.64 million people streaming through its historic gates last year.


This is a well-deserved acknowledgement of a wonderful part of Fremantle that has continually reinvented itself and got a lot better and more interesting over the past few years.

The Fremantle Markets are not alone in going from strength to strength: South Fremantle, North Fremantle, Wray Ave, the West End, Fremantle Fishing Boat Harbour and Bathers Beach are now more vibrant now than anytime in last 20 years (see green areas below).

While some thrive, other parts of Fremantle have clearly been going in the wrong direction. The areas around King Square, Westgate Mall, Coles Woolstores and Point Street have all lost their appeal over the last decade or two (see red areas below).

Then there are other areas that have generally maintained their vibrancy and slowly evolved but largely held their own. I would put the Cappuccino Strip and the High Street Mall in this category (see orange areas below).

Putting the green, red and orange together it is clear there is both good, bad and the in between happening in Fremantle’s economy. This is important to acknowledge – especially we hear people complain that Fremantle’s economy is dying. It is not. It’s just depends on where you look.

And of course, most of those areas in red are all undergoing or about to undergo major transformation and renewal. From Kings Square to the Coles Woolstores development to Little Lane and the Point St Hotel.

If we can turn the reds into green then Fremantle really will be humming.

Coles Woolstores Redevelopment Heading in the Right Direction

Last night the City of Fremantle Planning Committee considered what is probably one of the most important development applications in Fremantle in several decades.

The redevelopment of the Coles Woolstores with new retail, office, student accommodation, hotel, retirement living and public car parking uses has the potential to be transformative for what, most will agree, is a rather tired part of the Fremantle CBD.

City of Fremantle planning staff recommended that the overall form of the proposed development is capable of satisfying the development requirements of exceptional design quality subject to a range of design modifications being incorporated into revised development application plans.

In other words, we were not asked to provide a final approval last night but to advise on whether we thought this development was progressing in the right direction.

Not unexpectedly there was some opposition to this development and not unexpectedly this was largely around height. Parts of the development are tall at around 10 floors.

Respected architect and urban planner Ken Adams made a submission that made some worthwhile points but his key argument that: “The appropriate benchmark for the height of the development is the level set by the adjacent Goldsborough Mort Woolstores building, and that level should best be maintained consistently over the whole site. No protrusions above this level, other than minor necessary protrusions, should be accepted” is one that was not relevant to the decision before us. The allowed heights for the site were well debated and clearly defined via the Amendment 49 process several years ago.

City of Fremantle’s Planning Scheme 4 allows for heights well above 21 metres he advocates on portions of this site and allows for an extra floors if the quality of the development is deemed to be of exceptional design quality.

While the development proposal has not met this threshold yet we were advised by the expert Design Advisory Committee Chair Geoffrey London that it was heading in the right direction and with further modifications could be approvable.

Changes we have asked for include:

  • east and west facades of the proposed Hotel addition being developed with the primary use of Corten (or an alternative material with similar appearance) with the inclusion of port hole openings, that have depth to their design and are constructed within the building façade for windows to the hotel room and corridors on each floor.
  • the submission of further details of the proposed fins, including specific details of the proposed cladding material to demonstrate how the proposed curve and roof and soffit wrap can be achieved.
  • modifications relating to ground floor level of the Hotel building to Queen Street including the south facing ground floor elevation of the proposed Hotel building and entrance at the intersection of Queen Street and Elder Place being redesigned to present as a highly activated and attractive street frontage.

So the final design won’t be exactly as pictured but it will but will improve on this and then come back to Fremantle Council and the DAP for final approval.

Clarifying Pubs and Non-Alcohol Areas in Freo

There was a slightly odd headline and byline in The West today that got the recent Freo Council review of land use diversity and licensed areas weirdly wrong (the rest of the article was actually quite good though)


This Notice of Motion by Deputy Mayor Waltham is timely and worth looking into more fully.

So on this basis we had to put out the following correction:

The City of Fremantle is not considering a policy to have non-drinking areas in pubs.

At its meeting on 13 December the Fremantle Council requested the City’s administration to prepare a draft Local Planning Policy to provide guidance in the assessment of planning applications which include a proposal for a licenced area.

Acting Fremantle mayor Ingrid Waltham said that in considering a draft policy the intention was to provide guidance on what proportion of a development site should be used for a licenced premises and what proportion should be set aside for other uses such as short-stay accommodation, entertainment, commercial or retail.

“We want to ensure that when developers put forward a proposal for a site in Fremantle, it’s not just for a pub but also includes a range of other uses like shops, offices and accommodation,” acting mayor Waltham said.

“That way we make sure Fremantle offers a diverse mix of attractions that everyone can come down and enjoy.”

A draft Local Planning Policy will be developed by City of Fremantle officers for consideration by Council.

Burt Street Project EOI Released

The Housing Authority, which forms part of the Department of Communities, is seeking to collaborate with a private sector developer or consortium who embraces our Vision for the Burt Street Project, to create a new affordable community that enriches the unique character of Fremantle.

Reference #EOI HOU1450717
Enquiries: burtstreet@communities.wa.gov.au
Closing Date and Time – 2:30pm WST Friday 16 February 2018


ABC News: Subiaco and Fremantle: The two Perth ‘phoenix’ suburbs set to become vibrant again


The recent exit of football from Subiaco after the iconic oval’s closure has dealt the area a harsh blow. Across town, the number of empty shops in Fremantle’s city centre continues to grow.

The two communities have been struggling to draw consistent crowds for some time. But Curtin University urban planning expert Dr Shane Greive believes that “like a phoenix rising from the ashes”, Subiaco and Fremantle are on the way back up.

“We have an interesting concept in the academic world: creative destruction,” Dr Greive said. “The idea that something has to die first before you get the new birth coming out of it.”

“So yes, things are dying, but also I think that’s just the ground for things to grow again.

“Maybe we’re looking at Subiaco and Fremantle in winter and maybe we’ve got to think about that Subiaco and Fremantle in spring emerging.”

Death by gentrification

Dr Greive said while Fremantle had maintained a strong community vibe, Subiaco had in some ways lost its identity and both suburbs had been suffering from what he called “late-stage gentrification”.

Subiaco Fremantle talent composite

“Gentrification is actually a good thing in the first stages, it’s basically new money and new people coming into the neighbourhood — fantastic,” he said.

“It gets about halfway and you’ve got an older crowd, a younger crowd and a mixed-income crowd — also fantastic.

“Then what happens after that, the investors start to move in, the oligarchs start to move in and you end up losing people, values go up and they outprice themselves from the market and it takes them 10 or 15 years to figure out what went wrong.”

Penny Taylor recently won a six-way race for Mayor of Subiaco, replacing outgoing mayor of 12 years, Heather Henderson. She said she had a plan to avoid making the same mistakes.

“In my doorknocking and campaigning I was given permission to not just listen to the people with the loudest voices,” she said.

“The info that I got from that is valid for more than a week, that’s valid for some time, and I think I will continue listening.”

Ms Taylor said reducing red tape was a priority and that a recent change to alfresco licensing laws was a move in the right direction.

“If it takes you six months to get open that’s not great,” she said.

“But if you can open as quickly and efficiently as possible in a way that meets the requirements — that are there for important reasons — and also meets the owner’s dreams and vision for their own business, then that’s a way that the administration can be part of making Subiaco vibrant.”

Locals and tourists enjoy the sunshine as they dine along the 'capuccino strip' in Fremantle

Freo’s weekday problem

Brad Pettitt was recently re-elected Mayor of Fremantle for his third term and admitted the city centre in the port town had been struggling.

“It would be fair to say, over the last decade or so, the heart of Fremantle hasn’t really worked as a seven-day-week economy,” he said.

“It’s got this great vibrancy on the weekends, but Monday to Thursday it’s quiet.

“It needs more people living in it, more people working in proper jobs during the week and of course more tourists and more visitors.”

While retail has not flourished in Fremantle for some time, a $270 million redevelopment of the city centre will add 6,000 square metres of retail space.

The Kings Square project by the City of Fremantle and Sirona Capital will also include a new civic chamber, library and council office spaces for more than 1,500 public servants.

A building covered in scaffolding with palm trees in front of it.

Mr Pettitt said the retail space would be unlike any other.

“The reason I think retail will work in Kings Square is not only do you have 2,000 new workers in the precinct, but it’s also not going to be your traditional retail in some ways,” he said.

“There’s going to be lots of food and beverage, there’s going to be lots of destination retail, where people will want to come.

“It’s about actually thinking where is retail going, especially in this emerging post-Amazon kind of world of online shopping — it’s about creating spaces and places that people want to come to and have a real sense of connection with.”

The Kings Square project is expected the be finished in late 2019.