Fremantle candidates weigh in on infill

Simone McGurk
Simone McGurk

CANDIDATES for Fremantle in the upcoming state election had a lot to say about infill.

Read their full thoughts below.

Simone McGurk (Labor):

It’s clear that Perth can’t continue growing in the same way it has in the past.

As the Member for Fremantle, I’ve seen many innovative housing projects emerge.

I believe State Government has a vital role in supporting councils to realise their infill targets in an innovative way.

With the Department of Housing moving to Fremantle and kick-starting the Kings Square redevelopment, we will see more people living and working in our CBD, which is an essential component of reviving business activity in Fremantle.

WA Labor released its Metrohubs policy last year, which aims to deliver jobs, innovative housing options and better transport connections through Metronet in Perth’s urban centres.

To do this a McGowan Labor Government would overhaul planning to provide uniformity for local governments, businesses and residents.

In practice that means ensuring infill is matched by adequate open space, housing, workplaces and entertainment options.

I believe better transport options are essential to improve quality infill developments, particularly in Fremantle.

Roe 8 and the Perth Freight Link cannot be part of that mix.

It will create a trucking funnel that will bring thousands of trucks without actually reaching the port-that is not the modern approach to planning and transport we need.

Hayden Shenton (Liberal):

The Liberal Government has taken the lead on orderly planning and density considerations looking into the future to ensure Perth and surrounding areas remain the best place to live in the world.

The Liberals are planning how communities can work, where jobs can be created and how our quality of life can be improved at the same time as our State’s population grows through to 2050.

Infill development is important as we cannot keep stretching the metropolitan area and it enabled better and more efficient use of resources.

The government is currently analysing more than 1,000 submissions made on the plan during its public consultation period.

A framework taking this into account will likely be released later this year and discussions about incentives or other mechanisms will need to be debated thoroughly.

With regard to incentives, at a basic level, the more development a local government facilitates within its boundaries the greater its rate base and, therefore, the greater its revenue base.

I would like to ensure however, that suburbs and local town centres on a metropolitan planning scheme are developed in a way sympathetic to the community’s needs.

Having said that, there is strong influence by local governments.

City of Cockburn has been very positive with infill and North Coogee is a shining example.

City of Fremantle unfortunately is grappling with many issues with a council and other local interest groups that have issue with worthy developments.

Martin Spencer (Greens):

Public Transport infrastructure is needed to better service all areas of the Metropolitan area not just the inner suburbs.

Without proper servicing of the outer areas and good interconnection of services we will continue to rely more and more on private vehicles.

This will thrust those who can only afford to buy housing in the outer suburbs into further debt as they struggle to service mortgages with a large transport budget eating away at their savings.

There are many inner city and inner urban areas that are ready for infill development.

Development around activity centres were there are shops, facilities and access to good transport services is a recipe for success.

This will utilise the existing infrastructure and reduce the need to invest as much in the expensive infrastructure on the edges.

The increased intensity of development allows for greater scale of investment in transport infrastructure such as light rail or bus rapid transit but also allows for better access for new innovations such as share cars, cycle boulevards and light rail.

The Greens have a strong integrated Planning and Transport policy (Transit City) that focuses on a sustainable mix of different levels of public transport connecting the Metropolitan Area.

The Policy promotes an increase in the heavy rail lines to create a circle around the City, some light rail along key transit corridors, ‘Rapid Transit’ Buses providing regular reliable services along strategic routes and suburban bus routes that are interconnected with the each other and the other modes.

The policy encourages development at connection points and allows for ease of connection so passengers can travel to where they want to go without taking long circuitous routes into the City centre and out again.

There has been a general groundswell of support for the increase in density close to transport, entertainment and employment both within the industry as well as in the community.

There is, however still a great deal of discussion to be had as to the best form that density should take.

The planning reforms, including Perth @ 3.5 Million recently introduced by the WAPC have made it easier for Councils to introduce housing targets to increase their population through infill.

The key benefits of the infill push is providing an opportunity for more affordable housing options and greater choice in housing type for the inner areas.

The focus on large 3/4 bedroom homes has shifted to correct the current oversupply.

The influx of apartments is catering to a latent market who want to live in smaller options with less maintenance.

In many ways the market is just re-balancing.

The focus for the Government should be to improve connections, prioritise public transport on existing roads and concentrate on moving people rather than moving vehicles.

The greens offer a genuine alternative that can be funded through innovative approaches including public private partnerships and value capture.

Chris Jenkins (Socialist Alliance):

Sustainable cities for the future require comprehensive planning at every level of government coupled with genuine community participation.

Providing adequate funding to necessary infrastructure projects is essential to its realisation.

Car dependent urban sprawl with a concentration of employment in a one or a few highly condensed central business districts and a lack of comprehensive public transport options cannot continue.

We need to actively decentralise our cities, providing work and leisure opportunities close to where people live, and to build quality public housing close to public transport to promote equal access to public amenities.

Higher density housing is a logical necessity for future local and state planning, however it must be done in a way that reserves communal green areas and creates new ones and It must be housing that is durable and sustainable.

It’s notable that the state government’s Transport @ 3.5 million projects no new significant public transport infrastructure for the entire Melville, Fremantle and Cockburn region, Instead they are proposing Perth Freight Link which would entrench car dependency and urban sprawl.

This must be scrapped and the funds used for public transport.

State government policy encourages councils to aim for 15 per cent affordable housing in new developments but in practice it’s weak and ineffectual.

Firstly councils can only encourage developers to meet the target through incentives, that is to say imposing 15 per cent in return for allowing a more intensive development.

The developer can choose not to opt for the incentive and councils can not impose an obligatory minimum percentage of affordable housing, and are not obliged to offer the incentive either.

Instead minimum targets should be applied across all of greater Perth.

The state government should provide a catalyst for and a guarantee of quality well designed housing developments near public transport hubs by investing in it through an expansion of public housing.

Back in the 1950s public housing was a regular housing option for working class families.

Since then governments, both Labor and Liberal, have deliberately under-invested in this sector, largely transforming it into welfare housing and contributing to the housing affordability crisis.

A reinvestment in public housing through quality sustainable buildings is the most effective response to the housing affordability crisis and will also create better privately owned dwelling where we need them.

Warren Duffy (One Nation):

Higher density housing close to public transport is common sense but at the rate the metropolitan area is spreading it would be beyond any government to keep pace so sooner rather than later would be a prudent move to start building upwards adjacent to current and future transport routes.

Personally I would like to suggest building over rail reserves North of Fremantle railway station from Queen Street to James Street along Elder Place and Beach Street providing retail space, medical and professional suites and accommodation for seniors with indoor lawn bowls, a library and roof top community gardens harvesting rain water whilst recycling grey water.

Much needed public parking for shoppers, visitors and travellers to be included in the developments.

Public-space artists to ensure the aesthetic is sympathetic to the area, and for solar panels, water heating systems & wind turbines to be included in the designs to ensure the buildings themselves are economically & environmentally sustainable.

The height of these buildings should be acceptable to attract plenty of interest from all parties but we must ensure it does not open the way for any moves on our heritage buildings and character of Fremantle.

Bringing seniors into the city would free up housing in the suburbs and improve their quality of life having Fremantle and all their health needs at their doorstep.

Family members and friends coming to visit would be of great benefit to the small business owners also.

The same goes for many railway stations across the metro’ area where higher density is a must with a mix of retail and accommodation over and nearby the facility.