The Future of Freo – Getting The Vision Right

The Future of Fremantle Planning Committee of the WA Planning Commission has just released its ‘Vision’ and three ‘Scenarios’ for the redevelopment of the Port to Leighton FoF Precinct. You have just 7 weeks from today, including the Christmas and New Year festive season, no time at all, to submit your comments to FoF. Perhaps the first thing FoF should do is extend the public comment period by a month. One thing’s for sure though, Freo’s population is due to at least double over the next decades when it all happens!

On Friday just gone, the Future of Fremantle Planning Committee of the Western Australian Planning Commission, chaired by Jane Bennett, released for public comment a ‘vision’ and ‘three scenarios’ for the FoF redevelopment precinct.

The FoF precinct takes in the current Inner Harbour location north to Leighton Beach.

Comments must be in by 15 January – just seven weeks from today. No time at all when you realise the seven weeks are punctuated by Christmas and New Year when most folk are focussed on many things other than FoF.

All this comes hot on the heels of the recently released Main Roads WA latest plan for the replacement traffic bridge that leads, more or less, into the FoF precinct.

As we have explained in our previous reporting on FoF, and as confirmed in the FoF media statement accompanying the release, with Westport progressing plans for a new container terminal in the Kwinana Outer Harbour, the FoF project is all about considering the long-term redevelopment of the Port precinct. It’s an opportunity to create a truly world class coastal precinct right here in Freo.

FoF has presented us with three scenariosa Harbour City, a Coastal City, and a Competitive City.

The scenarios are designed to explore different ‘ideas and possibilities’ about what could be achieved across the precinct’s 50-year planning horizon following the relocation of commercial port activities to Kwinana.

The scenarios explore different land uses and development intensities, housing types, job creation, green spaces, waterfront treatments, and transport and social infrastructure investment across the 260-hectare site – focussing on the land component only.

Each scenario poses a ‘different level of economic development and land use intensity’, with corresponding transport, community and civil infrastructure to support what is in mind.

Bear in mind as you look at these three scenarios that the current population of City of Fremantle is around 32,000. The scenarios therefore envisage at least a doubling and, potentially, nearly a trebling of Freo’s current population. City of Freo’s coffers will be overflowing if this happens!

Scenario One | Harbour City
− Potential for 15,000 – 25,000 jobs / 25,000 – 35,000 residents
− A sustainable and self-sufficient urban neighbourhood that supports the Fremantle
City Centre.

Scenario Two | Coastal City
− Potential for 30,000 – 40,000 jobs / 35,000 – 45,000 residents
− Prioritises landscape, public space and greenery to reposition Fremantle as a
major city in the southern region of Perth.

Scenario Three | Competitive City
− Potential for 40,000 – 50,000 jobs / 45,000 – 55,000 residents
− Enhances economic and population growth to position Fremantle as a key
metropolitan anchor to diversify the economy.

More information can be found on FoF’s Consultation Hub website as you navigate around it.

For example, you will find some discussion of the three scenarios under headings like Walkable and Connected, Diverse and Healthy, Celebrates Aboriginal Culture, Reconnect to Land and Water, A Unique Economic Opportunity, Place Economy, Mobility, Green and Blue Futures.

To get you in the mood, there are some glossy impressions of what, possibly, all this might look like on a Freo summer long weekend.

Here’s a gallery of some of these impressions. Interesting enough, but prompting more questions than answers.

While the scenario documents give you some estimates of how many folk might live in/work in the precinct and a rough idea of what sorts of uses might happen here and there, if you are looking for more detailed land use plans identifying the possible mix of uses residential, commercial and recreational, where open spaces might be, whether there are wide boulevards or narrow, straight streets or alleys, what the range of densities of this new part of Freo will be, just how tall buildings might go, how the precinct will connect by road or cycle and walkways to Stirling Highway or Curtin Avenue, and with the centre of Freo and North Fremantle, and so on – you will be left disappointed. At this point the exercise is strictly limited to ‘vision’ and ‘scenarios’.

This is intentional. In mid-2024 a final vision and preferred scenario will be recommended to the WA Government by the WA Planning Commission. If the Government decides to proceed with the new Westport at Kwinana, then the transformation of the Freo Inner-Harbour will be the subject of detailed planning. This would include attention to things like design controls, detailed land use, transport and infrastructure planning and so on. There would be further consultation with us Freo folk at these stages.

The vision and scenarios so far follow what FoF describe as extensive technical investigations and input from the FoF Planning Committee, the Aboriginal Reference Group, the Project Reference Group and considerable community and stakeholder engagement – the latter including over 350 attendees at a community visioning day, more than 300 participants at two Place Design Forums, and workshops with 80 Aboriginal Elders, in all more than 100 hours of direct engagement.

But, we are told, community consultation isn’t over yet. Over the next seven weeks, we, the community, are invited to provide feedback on the emerging vision and three scenarios.

Seven weeks, it has to be said, is not a long consultation period, especially when you realise it is punctuated by the Christmas/New Year festive and holiday season. One feels sure it wasn’t deliberately chosen by FoF to limit the opportunity for considered public comment, but it may well have that effect. It would make sense for FoF immediately to extend the period by at least a month.

A Community Information Pack comprising the vision and the scenarios outlines the main features of what the FoF Planning Committee are thinking and will help folk start to get a feel for what’s envisioned.

There are also two drop-in Community Open Days planned at the Fremantle Town Hall on Saturday 2 December 2023 from 12.00pm – 4.00pm, and at the North Fremantle Community Centre on Tuesday 12 December 2023 from 3.00pm – 6.30pm. The FoF project team will be available to answer questions and hear ideas and feedback.

The vision and scenarios are open for comment until Monday 15 January 2024, online
right here.

It is anticipated a final economic and land use recommendation will be presented to the State Government by the FoF Planning Committee in mid-2024.

Jane Bennett, the FoF Planning Committee Chair, rightly says of the current vision and scenarios that, with the proposal to relocate the container port to Kwinana, we have been gifted a rare opportunity to reimagine a new future for the city through the redevelopment of the port precinct. As she remarks, “It’s not often that we get to work on a project of this scale and transformative potential, and that allows us to reimagine how we might live sustainable and fulfilling lives into the future”.

So, what do we think?

Should we aim to get together soon to discuss it all?

* By Michael Barker, Editor, Fremantle Shipping News


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