Planning Freo Style

At last night’s meting Fremantle Council laid some good foundations for the future of our city, I congratulate the officers of the planning department on the work they did in bringing these matters to council to ensure Fremantle’s future is guided by orderly planning.  By the end of the evening we had made decisions on 4 scheme amendments and reviews to 3 policies.

Whilst some of these are minor in nature they do add clarity to planning in Fremantle.  Two such are the review of the policy on fences and the policy on environmental health and building compliance, involving ironing out some minor issues that have become apparent while applying the policy.  A far more significant move was the introduction of a policy to guide development in Wray Avenue.  I congratulate the community members who worked with offices in developing this policy.  Worthy of note is the statement of significance, which gives good clarity of the intent of the policy.  When the Council and community work together on projects such as this it not only develops good planning policy, it also builds bridges between community and council, bridges that are essential for the good governance of this city.

Scheme amendments are not embarked on lightly, they involve a lot of work and have eventually to be endorsed by the planning minister; the whole process can take many months to complete.  None the less some scheme amendments are done to refine the Local Planning Scheme rather than to change direction for the city.  The James Street amendment is a case in point, the intent is to better reflect the current uses in that section of town, under the current scheme the area is zoned residential which renders the businesses to being non-conforming use.  If the amendment is adopted and supported by the minister businesses in the section of James Street between Quarry and Tuckfield Streets will be acknowledged and supported under a mixed-use zoning.  Similarly amendments to the section relating to development not requiring approval are designed to remove red tape.

A scheme amendment in its embryonic stage is the consideration of extending the term of a planning approval.  The current time is 2 years, which is adequate for single lot applications; my personal view is that to extend that would risk an increase in vacant lots in our residential areas.  However the situation with large and commercial development is very different.  A developer requires an approval before they can secure funding for development; they also need the certainty of an approval before they can go to the expense of preparing full architectural drawings, in this case 2 years is inadequate.  The scheme amendment that is intended to change the face of Fremantle is SA49.  Unlike the previous examples that were developed to improve the application of the scheme and orderly planning, amendment 49 has the very specific aim of changing the face of the east end of Fremantle’s CBD.  Last month I was a lone vote against the item that decided on the built form in SA49, this was because there were aspects of it I did not support.  Last night I supported the adoption of SA49 because I believe Fremantle will be a better place with SA49 than it would be without it.

It would be very easy do nothing and maintain the status quo, but Councillors and Officers have worked hard to bring in these changes to make Fremantle a better place to live, work and play, and I for one wish to acknowledge that work.

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