Freo keen to realise port potential

17/02/2020 - 13:44

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A long-term vision to create a world-class destination at Victoria Quay is close to being unveiled.

Freo keen to realise port potential
Waterfront land at Victoria Quay has the potential to become a serious drawcard for WA. Photo: Fremantle Ports

A long-term vision to create a world-class destination at Victoria Quay is close to being unveiled.

While there is much debate and conjecture over the future of Fremantle Port as the state’s main import-export facility, a development plan is being formulated to better capitalise on the tourism, hospitality and commercial potential of the south side of the port.

Early last year, the state government put in place a steering committee to create a plan for development of Victoria Quay, featuring high-level representation from DevelopmentWA, the City of Fremantle, Fremantle Ports, the Department of Transport, the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce and Tourism WA, among other organisations.

The group has been tasked with identifying potential development precincts and integrating them with the working port, while also providing a better link to the Fremantle town centre.

(click here to read a PDF version of the full special report)

A comprehensive redevelopment of Victoria Quay has been a long time coming, after financial services company ING shelved a $350 million proposal to create a commercial and residential precinct in 2010.

In more recent years, Fremantle Ports has initiated a strategy to change Victoria Quay from its primary function as a pick-up, drop-off point for freight and passengers. The evolution of the area would include a diverse arts and hospitality destination, with activities such as outdoor markets, art exhibitions and pop-up bars and concerts enhancing its recreational offering.

City of Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt told Business News the city’s council held a long-term vision of freeing up the southern side of the port, with its current use not close to the highest and best use for the waterfront land.

“The council’s vision is to have a working port continuing for the foreseeable future on the north side, being a container port, but then whatever you build would have to be compatible with that,” Dr Pettitt said.

“But certainly it would be a mixed-use precinct, we would like to see some hospitality and some functions like museums or galleries alongside residential and office. 

“These sorts of precincts only really work well when they have got a good mix of uses, that’s the international experience.”

Dr Pettitt said a big focus of any redevelopment of Victoria Quay would be to enhance the arrivals experience for cruise ship travellers, following a $3.25 million refurbishment of the Fremantle Passenger Terminal in 2018.

“At the moment you’ve got an absolutely stunning, heritage-listed 1960s passenger terminal, which is beautiful on the inside, but as soon as you step outside you are suddenly in this weird, stark, glary sea of cars and there’s a lack of wayfinding for how to make your way into Fremantle as well,” he said.

“Instead of coming into that, imagine coming into a series of bars and restaurants overlooking the port, hotel accommodation and the like, and some retail even in that precinct. 

“You could really have a great arrivals point that leads people into Fremantle, both from a tourism point of view for cruise ship arrivals, but also as an attractor for people to come down and have a really unique experience.

“That’s why part of our vision is keeping the container port on the north side. I think this offers a globally unique experience.” 

A spokesperson for Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk, the chair of the steering committee, said the group’s findings from its first year of discussions would be revealed in coming months.

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