Rarely a dull moment – Monument East, again; Wide Open Spaces & Friends with Green Places

Welcome back to our new feature, Rarely a dull moment with Gayle O’Leary and Michael Barker, where we report on the highlights of Council’s regular, now fortnightly, meetings. We would have titled the feature Never a dull moment, but didn’t want to over-promise!

As the agenda for the meeting of Freo Council meeting last Wednesday, 13 March 2024, will tell you, it was a meeting especially for architecture and history buffs.

By the way, have you noticed the Council’s calendar has had a shake up? No more committee meetings. Instead, the Council now meets every fortnight! My my. It’s not for the fainthearted!


The Monument East subdivision proposal and development application was on the agenda, again. This time the Council awarded it with a favourable recommendation following a substantial community engagement process.

The Council also waived the required payment of Cash in Lieu for Public Open Space due to the POS and landscaping the development is already providing and the different context in which the structure plan required that contribution. This seems a fair outcome, especially given the proponent is responding exactly to what the community asked for years ago and recently.

The City will now advise the Western Australian Planning Commission and the Joint Development Assessment Panel of their conditional support for the subdivision and the DA, respectively, leaving the WAPC and the JDAP to finally consider the urbanising of this now wonderfully quasi-post-industrial Freo precinct and the design merits of the proposal overall.

You will recall Gayle’s recent article about this development and how it was substantially reworked after the original 56 Grouped Dwelling proposal attracted the ire of planners and architects alike, many of whom reside in the very same precinct!

It’s also timely to see this project go forward given that the State Government recently (finally) released the revised Residential Design Codes (R-Codes) incorporating new Medium Density provisions. They’re intended to promote better quality design without breaking the bank, and will become law by Easter. (Unless they’re put on hold again.) The Freo planners in their report to Council noted the non-gazetted status of the R-Codes but considered that the proposal broadly achieved the principles, and overall complies with the current version.


Another reason it’s timely is that the City has just adopted its freshly minted Public Open Space Strategy – on 28 February 2024. The Strategy guides the City’s approach to governing new and upgraded reserves, provides direction on how to address the identified shortfall of open space in 4 of its 8 suburbs, as well various related factors including but not limited to the projected squeeze in providing –

* sufficient sporting facilities for a growing population
* the ever present issue of rising temperatures and limited tree canopy, and
* growing costs of irrigation and playground maintenance.

You might say, it’s no walk in the park to deliver a park – but we wouldn’t, would we…

Boo Park

On the topic of parks, those of us who live quite close to Booyembarra Park enjoy hearing the chirping of its local microbats. It’s a vulnerable species that assists in controlling insects and it roosts in Boo Park, as astutely pointed out by Mr Robert Dobson during the discussion of the privatisation of Fremantle Golf Course at the City’s previous Council Meeting in February.

There’s a question whether radar used up until midnight in the proposed driving range could affect their ability to hunt. If it risks an increase in mosquitoes, then we concur with their concern!

For Monument East, there’s the question of the merits of the public open space incorporated in the design: three appealing and verdant linear spines that add some green relief to the built form and address the community’s original wishes in the Knutsford East Local Structure Plan to provide green corridor connections to Booyembarra Park shortly due east of the site.

We know we need more parks overall and we’re running out of opportunities to deliver them, but
* who bears the cost of maintaining smaller pieces that might feel like they’re exclusively for this site’s residents?
* how will people navigate it safely at night if it’s partially hidden from the street?

All enduring questions. Are they insurmountable? (Ask a planner.)


A stroll through history now. The City of Fremantle boasts an impressive 2,380 places on its Heritage List!

Truly impressive in WA, particularly as this is a State that has only required the keeping of Local Heritage Surveys for just 30 short years. A blink of an eye in an ancient land.

Quick reminder: Local Heritage Surveys are a record of recognised places of heritage significance dating generally back to 1829 (other instruments respond to heritage predating this and whether they should be incorporated is a topic for another day).

Heritage Lists take a select, special portion of these and protect them from adverse development outcomes. Usually.

Places in the Heritage List require planning approval for most works including demolition, alterations and additions. Exceptions include:
– Removal of trees or vegetation not included on the Significant Tree Register, as in the case of 195 High Street.
– Internal modifications
– Wall and roof mounted electrical fixtures [but importantly not including digital LED signs visible above landmark buildings]
– Water tanks
– Most free-standing flagpoles
– Minor structures such as clothes lines.

The City recently reached out to the community to get their thoughts on heritage places and of works within the City’s 18 Heritage Areas, asking what they think via the latest periodic update, and whether the survey and the list needs a few more items on it. Or less?

Quite a few are no longer considered to make the cut and were recommended to be removed, with recognition of their heritage significance only denoted by “Historic Record” instead. Including the former Fremantle TAFE in Beaconsfield, now mostly demolished and slated for future housing.

Places recommended to be added as ’Level 2’ Categories include the charming Blinco Cottage at 8 Blinco Street, Fremantle, Stewart & Lloyds Administration Offices at 140 Stirling Highway, North Fremantle, and 8 Swanbourne Street, Fremantle.

8 Swanbourne Street, Fremantle

They also considered whether the City should align its approach to heritage places in South Fremantle more closely with the Heritage Council of Western Australia, which considers heritage places according to whether they are “contributory”. The City received 53 responses to its substantial community engagement on the topic, most in favour.


For any avid gardeners and conservationists out there, the City also considered its updated Verge Gardens Policy and Friends Of Groups Policy.

The key question was how much funding and resourcing the City should invest in such initiatives to help greenify and cool these spaces. Such as teaming up with ReWild Perth, awards, offering workshops, labour assistance, grants, plants, paraphernalia, and creating a unique staff position: a Greening Officer.

The Friends of Groups Policy aims to formalise what we already have and assist in funding them. To the tune of $22,000, to be exact. Did you know that for every dollar invested in volunteers you get a return of $4.50 on average, according to Volunteering Australia?

In passing, the Council has renamed the Friends of groups, to ‘Friends of Natural Areas’ – Ho hum. Where’s the poetry in that?!

We have some truly wonderful streetscape gardens and parks in our port city, and dedicated locals plus groups such as Friends of Booyembarra Park, Friends of Cantonment Hill and Friends of Samson Park just to name a few to thank for it.

Thanks to Jean Mackay for these recent pics of Friends of Booyembarra Park and Friends of Samson Reserve hare, but lovingly, at work.

But perhaps not City-provided mulch for the time being while we have the pesky plague of Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer. (Good luck saying that quickly, doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Supercalifragilisticextrialidocious though).

By the way, if you’d like to pour through the Minutes of the meeting of 13 March, here they are!

That’s it from us until next time!

Report by Gayle O’Leary and Michael Barker


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