24/08/2011 - 10:03

Hicks embraces Freo development challenge

24/08/2011 - 10:03

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Hicks embraces Freo development challenge

PERTH Waterfront Taskforce chair Stuart Hicks is pitting his alliance-building skills against Fremantle’s thorniest planning issues after taking on the chair of the newly formed Fremantle Union.

Set up by the City of Fremantle, the Fremantle Union brings together the four agencies with direct planning responsibilities for the port city with the aim of formulating a shared vision.

This alliance of the Fremantle Port Authority, the Western Australian Planning Commission, the Department of Planning, the Department of Transport and the Public Transport Authority will focus on two key precincts – the area around the train station and Kings Square.

The historic train station is marooned in a sea of bitumen and car parks, while several of the key buildings around Kings Square are in need of significant attention, including the Queensgate Complex and the Myer Building, which has been slated for a $30 million upgrade.

Mr Hicks has considerable experience in the field of urban planning, having served as director general of transport as well as his more recent responsibilities as chair of the East Perth Redevelopment Authority, and his lead role in the redevelopment of the city foreshore.

A Fremantle resident and advocate for the city’s unique features, Mr Hicks also warned the key to any success would be getting the government agencies to embrace “one agreed picture of where Fremantle should be going”.

“The nature of Fremantle retail and its commercial centre is quite different to the model in a lot of shopping centre areas, it doesn’t have a blockbuster centre at its heart,” Mr Hicks said.

“Retail is spread through its streets, and that is part of its appeal, but it can be a disadvantage.”

The Fremantle Union will support the design and development of a structure plan for the city that will incorporate retail, commercial and residential uses and provide guidelines for future development.

A community reference group will ensure Fremantle residents are actively engaged with the work of the union.

“The main challenge ... is to build an alliance of hearts and minds,” Mr Hicks said.

“The Fremantle Union will be powerfully plugged into the community, and if you can build that trust you can move mountains.”

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