Globally the political landscape is changing; what happens in the US, Europe and China has real impacts on how decisions are made here in Australia. Globalism, the GFC and the breakdown of capitalism are reverberating within Australia and equally so at the Local Government level. Challenges confronting Fremantle also confront other Local Government Authorities such as Manly in Sydney and Sheffield in the UK.
Burgeoning Internet shopping, box shopping centres and mega supermarkets are having increased impacts on traditional high street the world over with many reaching a trigger point where their very survival is at risk. At the same time the growth factor that the western world relies upon is becoming unstoppable. Senator Scott Ludlam reminds us that even modest growth results in a doubling every decade and western society, on the back of that parabolic curve, is suffering the effects. People are asking why we need to plan for a doubling population within one generation, given the ramification that will have on density and built scale?
Local Government has a responsibility to plan for predicted growth in population, primarily in existing locations whilst simultaneously providing an environment for business to flourish.
Fremantle’s proposed Planning Scheme Amendment 49 is one of the options selected to achieve business stimulus and cater for increased population. Fremantle is also considering international efforts to address high street stagnation and has elected to support Business Improvement Districts (BID) as an option to achieve this.
As stated earlier, socio-cultural and economic issues confronting Fremantle are common across the western world, scheme amendments, structure plans and increased density are an everyday factor to many towns and cities. It is not surprising there is often community resistance to these changes, but the temptation to ignore community concerns as short-sighted and not in the areas best interest should be resisted. In the forward to the UK Bishop Review which examines the amalgamation of the Design Council and CABE, Martin Temple states: From all quarters there is a call for a way of ensuring that delivering economic growth doesn’t happen at the expense of the environment or against the wishes of local communities. This is a crucial concept, for such initiatives to succeed it is important that the community embraces them. The alternative is strong community pushback, delays in development approvals and a real lack of confidence in initiating development in the face of strong community opposition. In a similar vein, also from the UK, the Department for Communities and Local Government have introduced the ‘Localism Bill’ which states: Resistance from local communities to proposals for housing and economic development within their neighbourhoods is partly related to communities’ lack of opportunity to influence the nature of that development. A top-down and target-driven approach has alienated communities and stimulated opposition to development.
The path to change is by its very nature harder than doing nothing, but in my opinion doing nothing is no option for Fremantle, nonetheless in working for change I am committed to working with the community to achieve outcomes that are consistent with community aspirations and have broad community support.