Fremantle is lucky enough to have an abundance of public spaces ripe for improvement. Shopping should be just one of the attractions that gets people to visit Freo - ideally, our city centre should include great, welcoming public spaces where people go to “meet friends, listen to music, learn, entertain and be entertained by their kids, take part in civic life and much more”, in the words of place maker Julian Dobson.
Freo has always had a strong festival culture, which should continue to be encouraged. However, such intermittent influxes of visitors ultimately won’t be sufficient to address issues of economic stagnation. If Fremantle’s city centre can be made more permanently appealing through better use of its public spaces, it would go a long way to remedying many of our problems.
- Start with some small wins. Address the aesthic deficiencies of Freo’s public spaces: peeling paint and rusty chains on bollards outside the town hall, grubby bins and litter, lack of vegetation, lack of lighting, shabby frontages as a result of red tape holding up restoration…all of which combine to make Freo appear tired and unloved.
- Also in the short to medium term, look at making some bigger additions to our spaces. For example: public art (preferably interactive to engage children), interesting street furniture that doesn’t need to be taken in over the weekend, some better vegetation to encourage a village atmosphere, some better lights to show off Freo’s heritage buildings, and even a better skate park in a more appropriate area.
- Complete and publish a public spaces / public life audit of the Fremantle city centre to quantify the current state of play.
- Ask community members about what’s working and what needs improving in some of Freo’s key public spaces for some good, local ideas, and use the results to prepare a ‘Place Vision’ - an aspirational statement that details the desired outcome - to provide direction for place making plans. Each plan will be based on trialling small wins and delivering amenities and activities that people will use and enjoy.
- Prioritise the funding of creating great public spaces around Fremantle.
- Review Council's administrative setup to identify how it can deliver better place making.
- Ongoing monitoring and review.