Deja Vu-Fremantle Prison/Guildford/Liv
Deja Vu-Fremantle Prison/Guildford/Liv

Deju Vu- Fremantle Prison

What you are looking at here at the top is a Herald article from 18 years ago when two of the titans of Fremantle culture - the Fremantle Society and the Fremantle History Society, made submissions on the draft masterplan for Fremantle Prison. Both organisations were instrumental in helping formulate good policy for the newly decommissioned prison, and ensuring its heritage and historical values come to the fore as it gradually grew into the most visited tourist site in Fremantle. Both groups were also instrumental in helping the prison secure World Heritage Listing along with the hard work of Fremantle Council's heritage planner Agnieshka Kiera and other people like Rob Campbell. 

Fast forward to 2018 and the release of the Fremantle Prison Heritage Management Plan. The document states that there has been widespread 'community consultation', yet the Fremantle Society and the Fremantle History Society only found out by accident one day before submissions closed about the 189 page plan. The report mentions that the mayor of Fremantle and various council staff were involved in formulating the report among others, yet astonishingly the council and the prison saw fit not to bring the two community organisations into the discussion. The prison has allowed us extra time to make a submission, but 189 pages is a lot to digest and report on in a hurry.

Previous councils actively sought comment from experts in the community and respected their input. Today, things are very different.

Guildford and Heritage Council listing

Guildford was one of three towns set up in 1829 when Western Australia was established. Professor Gordon Stephenson recognised the significance of Guildford at the national level: "In a planning context, Guildford as a whole should be regarded as one of the most important towns of first settlement in Western Australia."

The Fremantle Society visited Guildford today to help the Guildford Society in their campaign to secure a meaningful heritage listing of the Guildford Historic Town with the Heritage Council. The second photograph shows the sensational rear garden of Guildford Association President Barbara Dundas, along with some of the Moreton Bay fig trees the Guildford Association is giving the Fremantle Society to help replace some of the Moreton Bay Fig trees tragically lost from King's Square because of poor maintenance by council. The trees are around 9 years old and while perhaps too small for King's Square, could be useful elsewhere.

If any Fremantle Society member has a suggestion where they could be planted, preferably in a location which embodies a Guildford-Fremantle link, please contact us.

The Guildford Society is having the same problems the Fremantle Society had when trying to get the Fremantle Historic Town listed - a developer led Heritage Council and a local council uninterested in an optimal outcome.

Of real concern is the draft Statement of Significance put together by the Heritage Council, which astonishingly does not include the unique colonial scale, height and design of Guildford's buildings as a significant part of the town character. The reason is the same reason Fremantle Council cut the West End area in half - to make life easier for developers. The Heritage Council has recently approved some appalling new development in Guildford and it is obvious that the development forces on the Heritage Council see Guildford as ripe for major new development, out of scale to the existing town and damaging to it.

In its history Guildford has been predominantly one or two storeys and that is an essential part of its character.

We ask that Fremantle Society members make a submission, however brief, to the Heritage Council by Friday 19 October. Guildford is of national importance, and even a very brief submission from you might help.

Email HCWA on

You can ask for the full documentation or simply write asking that the Statement of Significance be altered to include the unique colonial scale, height and design as a significant part of the town character and to keep future development to a similar scale.

Liv and let Die

Fremantle Society committee member Peter Scott  has strong feelings about the poor quality of development we are getting in Fremantle. He makes some suggestions:

"Unfortunately the Liv development is just another one of the growing number of developments in and around Fremantle, approved (for whom, the delveloper or for the people?) to proceed, on sites for which one can only conclude the architects were handed a brief to design a low cost, max unit numbers construct with apparently little or no consideration of the local landscape and environs!!

Have these people not read the likes of Lewis Mumford?

Imagine a supermarket built in close proximity to our parliament buildings or war memorials?

Is there no gazetted/approved Town Plan for the city of Fremantle to which all developers must adhere?

Do these "approvers" still not understand why tourists and WA people come to Fremantle? It's certainly not about "the unique shopping here; there is none".....or cruising the streets lined with glass, steel and concrete....their local shopping malls & towns have far more "shopping" of that ilk to offer.

Local developers would ultimately be richly rewarded for an adherence to local building styles and character.

Have these "approvers" not traveled to places such as Venice, Paris and London, or to  those quaint olde villages and towns scattered throughout England & Europe which attract millions of tourist each year?

And oh, about King's Square....more a triangle than a square....what a chance missed to demolish & move Council's "blot" to another part of town (lead by example?) such as Cantonment Street and really show how Fremantle can do it right!

And why fill "the square" with more glass, steel and concrete to create an even bigger (& costlier) "dead area" I fear in the heart of Fremantle?

There are many, many successful squares around the globe from which to model our own characteristic "square".

How will this situation ever change for the better?"

Copyright © 2018 The Fremantle Society, All rights reserved.

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