Aug 17, 2015 - Development, News    1 Comment

So what can Council do about Light Rail?

light rail freoThis month’s Special Projects Committee progressed changes for Hilton local centre along South Street and in doing so, increased the viability of light rail.

South Street was identified as a desirable light rail route in the future to better connect Murdoch train station, the university and hospitals to Fremantle with fast efficient public transport. Despite this already having a high frequency bus route, the state government (and some detractors) don’t think there is enough patronage growth or activity along this road to justify planning for light rail.

As always, it’s a chicken and egg matter.

Which comes first? The light rail, or the development?

The City of Fremantle is looking beyond the short-term election cycle view and undertaking long-term land use planning and zoning changes that will serve us well in decades to come.

We have identified three locations along South Street (see page 66 on of the council agenda) that could be light rail stops in the future, featuring mixed-use multi story developments. This would provide local shopping, employment, entertainment and residential opportunities for many people; these liveable neighbourhoods are becoming highly sought after and can co-exist on the fringe of existing residential areas along major transport routes like South Street. They are also essential if we are to curb the suburban sprawl annihilating Perth’s Swan Coastal Plain.

With higher density living in a well-serviced local neighbourhood that adjoins a frequent public transport services, you can see the patronage justification for light rail being met in time.

The high capital costs mean Council could not deliver light rail on our own, but we can play a key role that will perhaps sway a sympathetic (or visionary) state government.

I’d like Council to create a Future Fund for our city so that in 10-20 years time money is available to leverage other investment in the project. This fund could be a tiny fraction of the parking revenue raised over the next 20 years (with compounding interest) similar to that used in the City of Perth to fund the CAT buses. It could be boosted by a development levy, so that each time major development occurs in the area, a small contribution is made towards the fund.

When the time for light rail comes, the City of Fremantle can sit at the decision making table proudly with ‘skin in the game’ rather than our hand out begging.

Our light rail future fund could go towards streetscape upgrades that would enhance the light rail project and the local area. It could be used to create wonderful public plazas and safe, comfortable walkable precincts around these light rail stops in Fremantle’s suburbs. This is the kind of high quality, sustainable and liveable urban environment members of our community said they wanted through the visioning process. We listened and we’re getting on with the job.

Light rail needs people to work. Light rail is not the role of Council, but people are. It is our job to make places people want to be. We need to plan for those people now, so we can create the kind of city we want in 20 years.

The role of a councilor is to make decisions that support the long-term benefits of our citizens, and gets us closer to realising the community’s vision for our city. And I am proud to be a part of a council doing just that.

To make sure there are also short term improvements to the Hilton town centre, I moved an amendment  so that plans will be drawn up – in collaboration with local retailers, residents and property owners and our Economic Development staff – to encourage redevelopment and beautify the area as soon as this re-zoning process is completed.

With a couple of major commercial properties currently for sale in this precinct, it couldn’t come at better time!

1 Comment

  • That was very inspiring and positive to read, sounds like very smart forward thinking going on in our council, thank you for describing it so well Rachel.