Right to know

FREMANTLE is a special and unique place that deserves good-quality new buildings, refurbishments and restoration.

New development in Fremantle is desirable and is to be encouraged, provided it fits with Fremantle’s unique sense of place and overall character.

To that end, a Design Advisory Committee was set up three years ago. For years the council had an excellent heritage committee, probably the best in the State, but councillors repeatedly ignored its advice as they thought they knew better.

It was thought that councillors would take advice coming from a paid committee more seriously, so the heritage committee was disbanded and replaced by the Design Advisory Committee. Each member of the DAC is paid $200 an hour to give professional advice.

The committee meets regularly, reviewing many large and small projects in the city. However, it seems its ability to operate effectively is hampered.

Over the three years, the minutes of the DAC have never been made public, let alone have they been made part of agendas going to full council meetings.

Attendance at planning committee meetings will reveal that DAC advice is interfered with and recommendations altered before going to full council meetings.

This begs the question, why have a paid committee of experts when the planning committee and others veto their advice?

Fremantle should not keep lowering the bar of development standards just to see development happen.

When the Design Advisory Committee has concerns about development applications and design qualities, then all councillors should properly hear these concerns.

This committee and its advice need to be treated with respect and taken seriously.

The minutes of the DAC should go in full to council meetings without internal interference.

The public has a right to know about the workings and suggestions of this well-paid committee of experts whose primary role is to maintain a high quality of building design in Fremantle.

John Dowson, Fremantle