What’s in a name, what’s in a police station?

Well, we know what’s IN a police station.

Police officers.

And sometimes, if not often, folk in the nick.

After that it largely becomes optional.

Do you need lots of offices and cells?

Do you need lots of car parking spaces for the bosses cars and patrol vehicles?

And does it really matter what the building looks like?

Or should it follow a standard ‘police station look’ with a big ‘Police’ sign out front?

Should it have a cafe/coffee shop out front for visitors to have coffee as they hang about, connecting the new building to the rest of the nearby Cappuccino Strip?

Well, Freo folk are about to discover the answers to these questions over the next little while as the plans for the new Freo police complex in South Terrace, on the old Stan Reilly site between The Old Synagogue entertainment business and Fremantle Hospital, with Fremantle Oval and the Bulldogs Clubrooms just behind it, are unveiled and Fremantle Council have their say on it all. The Council only have a ‘say’ on it, we should add, as the State Government is the final arbiter of fashion in this case.

Just over three years ago there were at least five bidders wanting to see the mooted new police complex go on their land. For example, Silverleaf were hoping it’d be part of the Old Woolstore’s redevelopment.

The Silverleaf image for a Cantonment Street police complex 2020

But then then State Government intimated it would prefer to build on its own land – and that’s what happened.

In August 2020, Police Minister Michelle Roberts announced the State Government would spend $52.6 million towards the construction of a ‘state-of-the-art new police complex’ on the old Stan Reilly site controlled by the State.

At that time, then Freo Mayor Dr Brad Pettitt, now Dr Brad Pettitt MLC, was reported as saying, on behalf of the City, that the State’s investment in Fremantle was very welcome.

The City of Fremantle has been calling for a greater police presence in Fremantle for a long time, so today’s announcement is excellent news.

“Hopefully having a brand new, fit-for-purpose police station in Fremantle will mean we will see more police officers stationed here, which will be great for the community and for local businesses.

Dr Pettitt did add, however:

The choice of the Stan Reilly site does create some challenges for the City’s vision to redevelop Fremantle Oval and create a vibrant and active streetscape along South Terrace.

“We look forward to working with the government and the police to ensure we get the best possible outcome in relation to the design of the new police station in a manner that still enables the redevelopment of the Fremantle oval and hospital precincts and appropriate public access connections through the site.

Now three years on the first images of the layout and design of the proposed police complex are with us. Here’s a few more.

As before, there will be questions anew over its location on busy South Terrace between the hospital and The Old Synagogue and just over the road from where the ‘Suffolk Hotel’ is planned to be constructed.

But in reality, the location was decided three years ago and one can’t imagine any turning back from that call.

But there will no doubt be a range of views as to the design of the new complex. Does it respond sufficiently to its prime Freo setting? Is it something Freo folk will relate to?

Some will wonder if the design also represents a lost opportunity to progressively reduce scale from the hospital to the synagogue, rather than produce a single level height.

Every time a new, significant structure is built anywhere, creative minds like to dub the structure as something like The Brick, or The Dying Swan, or by reference to some phallic symbol. We will look forward to reporting on citizen suggestions on this design. Perhaps ‘The Uni of Freo’? It has that majestic sort of halls of learning look to it, no?

By way of interest here are some other fine buildings designed by the present police complex architects COX.

* By Michael Barker, Editor, Fremantle Shipping News


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