May 2022

The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce strongly believes that the activation of Victoria Quay and connections back into the City of Fremantle is a priority for the realisation of the strategic goals of the region. The area has strong aboriginal and trade heritage values and has formed the backbone of Fremantle’s identity and development as a Port City over the last century or so.

The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce were an active participant in the Ministerial Victoria Quay Waterfront Steering Group Stage 1 Opportunity Assessment for the Victoria Quay Precinct from 2019 to 2020. This group highlighted the important role of creating better connections via Cliff St, the Train Station and the entrance to Peter Hughes Drive, wayfinding linking back to the City, improving amenity and links to the Fremantle Passenger terminal, as well as creating catalyst projects such as Gage Roads to generate investment interest. This work followed the initial Fremantle Waterfront Masterplan, endorsed by WAPC November 2001, the Phillimore St Masterplan, Enabling Precinct Plans by CODA, also endorsed by WAPC.

The State Government and Fremantle Ports released further plans and a funding package for the next steps to create a vibrant, diverse and successful civic and commercial precinct alongside the working port this week, It is Fremantle Ports intention that these plans embraces its heritage, character and connections with the waterfront and Fremantle in a sustainable way.

 

Fremantle Ports have commissioned engineering firm GHD Woodhead to provide high level concept designs and indicative costings for:
  • Public Plaza in the Western most carpark between Gage Roads, the Maritime Museum and Fremantle Ports
  • A promenade along the harbour edge
  • A pedestrian crossing near the train station
  • A Bathers beach pedestrian/cycle connection to better link Fishing Boat Harbour and the Roundhouse into Victoria Quay

Fremantle Ports have requested stakeholder feedback into the concept plans and requested a focus on action and delivery rather than regressing to further concept planning.

This paper presents the feedback from the Development & Infrastructure Committee following a brief presentation of the high-level concept plans developed by GHD and presented by Neil Stanbury, Head of Corporate Affairs, from Fremantle Ports.

Objective:

We understand the vision of the State Government and Fremantle Ports is to create a vibrant, diverse and successful civic and commercial precinct alongside the working port that embraces its heritage, character and connections with the waterfront and Fremantle is a sustainable way.

The Committee fully supports this objective and is pleased to see the commitment of Fremantle Ports to take forward these strategic projects for Fremantle.

The Committee also believes firmly that given the strategic value of these projects to the economic and commercial development of the region that further consideration is given to the following discussion points.

Discussion Points:

Independent Design Review Panel and Urban Public Realm Specialist Input

While the Committee support the choice of four priority projects and the overall objectives articulated in the proposals, it is felt that the overall concept plan design does need further refinement and in particularly closer consideration paid to the urban realm, the overlaps of land use, the context for the site, the needs of the future target users of the site, and a priority placed on the connections in and out of the site. It was also felt that the links to the context of the WA Maritime Museum forecourt should be a priority. The Committee felt that without this greater context analysis, the stand-alone priority projects cannot reach their full potential.

The Committee would encourage early engagement with the State’s Design Review Panel, and the City of Fremantle’s own local Design Review Panel.The Committee would also encourage once the concept plans and high-level concepts are costed that local Landscape Architecture or Urban Design experts, based in Fremantle, are given the opportunity to tender for further development of the plans to the implementation stage.

Connectors

Given the importance of the connectors in and out of Victoria Quay, the Committee believe that the investment priority should be given to firstly:

  1. The Bathers beach pedestrian/cycle connection to better link Fishing Boat Harbour and the Roundhouse into Victoria Quay
  2. The promenade along the harbour edge right through to the front of the WA Maritime Museum and down to O’Connor Landing
  3. Working with PTA and the existing land recently purchased by to ensure the best outcome for the pedestrian crossing near the train station

Once these projects are realised that the attention is then given to the plaza concept in the centre of the harbour.

The Committee would like to see stronger engagement with the City of Fremantle to ensure the link between Bathers Beach and Victoria Quay is achieved, and that visual connection is achieved. Along with tidying up the barb wire and unwelcoming elements of this entry through to Victoria Quay.

The Committee supports the proposed efforts to realign the carpark near the train station to maximise the number of bays available, and to create green corridors through the site. The Committee would also like to see a more concerted effort to work with PTA to ensure the best outcome for the pedestrian crossing near the train station, and to also look to integrate the existing land recently purchased by Fremantle Ports to create the perception of a wider more open entry from the train station into Victoria Quay.

The Committee also noted, although Cliff St connections are currently out of scope, there is an opportunity to visually connect Cliff St through to the proposed plaza a via appropriate landscaping and visual extension of the plaza concept towards Cliff St.

As noted above, the Committee emphasises the benefit of seeing a context map that demonstrates that broader connections to the rest of the City being considered. This connection from the historic and current civic centre in Walyalup Koort and its relationship to Market Street and then through to Victoria Quay is pivotal in defining any new secondary civic centres within the City – particularly in terms of user movements, desire lines and connections. There are many examples of new interventions into urban landscapes that have resulted in negative impacts on existing spaces so this project needs to ensure any new development is complimentary to the City’s existing fabric.

Articulating Commercial Drivers

The Committee recognises the brief nature of the presentation but would like to see further consideration of the commercial drivers for the project. In particular, the definition of what commercial means for the surrounding areas (i.e. is the expectation further F&B or does commercial include other target uses and what will this mean in terms of activation and design requirements).

The Committee is also keen to see some encouragement of appropriate emerging industries for the area such as tourism products, wellness businesses, innovative marine and technology businesses, commercial visual or creative industries and other such offerings. The Committee felt that without a commercial/activity overlay, it is difficult to consider the objectives of the concept plans. It was also felt that to become a destination the commercial overlay needs a point of difference, in the Committees opinion this should be more than F&B as noted.

Consideration of alternative funding and investment opportunities

To lift the options presented, the Committee has suggested consideration of alternative funding, investment and commercial structures (e.g. private public partnerships or joint venture), and the involvement of key stakeholders such as the Future of Fremantle Committee (or others as appropriate) to further realise some of the commercial activation objectives surrounding the priority. The committee considers this prudent to minimise budgetary constraints that may limit the ambition of priority objectives and consider the benefits of redevelopment that will extend to a broad range of stakeholders and surrounding precincts.

Further Consideration of Future Users Movements in and out of the Area

Most importantly though, the Committee would like to see all future users in and out of the site be given key consideration and these movements articulated in the overall concept plans, rather than just rely on the assumption that these users will fill the proposed plaza concept. These movements and users should include:

  • future superyachts (particularly in the slipway area if this lines up)
  • cruise passenger opportunities,
  • the Rottnest and other ferries movements,
  • other potential marine users into the future
  • The CAT bus movements
  • Coaches and tourist bus movements
  • Families, fishing and pedestrian movements – both current and desired through the site.

We again thank Fremantle Ports for the opportunity to provide these comments and look forward to working with Fremantle Ports to realise this priority projects in the near future.