A recent visit to Copenhagen led me to unexpected lessons in urban redevelopment of an inner city Port.
A friendly local told me about how 15 years ago the City of Copenhagen decided it wanted to make the waterfront the ‘living room of the city’.
The day I was there, thousands of people flooded to the precinct to enjoy markets, entertainment, water activities and food.
In Copenhagen, they relocated much of the heavy industry components of the port to the outer quay and reclaimed land off it, allowing the area adjacent to the city to be redeveloped.
Copenhagen’s new waterfront Opera House
There was a range of land uses introduced, including extensive residential development, commercial offices and retail as well as tourism, hospitality and arts. An exceptional new opera house was constructed on the waterfront, former port sheds were converted into wonderful food markets, new pedestrian and cycling links were built, historic ships were on display and cruise ships berthed close by.
spot the wind farm next to the port?
There was even a wind farm on the still functioning port side!
The result was a vibrant hub, where people could enjoy the waterfront in a range of ways with ideal tourism facilities that were also a great benefit to locals.
The City of Fremantle identified the connection of Victoria Quay to the Fremantle CBD, via a more open train station forecourt as a key Transformational Move for our city’s future. These ideas must be carefully considered as the State government continues to debate the proposed sale of Fremantle Port, so as not to rule out the possibility of making it happen.
These ideas are similar to recent experiences in many North American and European port-cities (eg: Baltimore, Boston, New York, San Francisco, Toronto and Vancouver; London, Amsterdam, Liverpool, Oslo, and Hamburg) that experienced waves of development as industry closed down or moved and shipping facilities relocated to deeper waters and where more land or better transport connections were available.
During the late 1980s, the national state, the local state and the port authority, undertook a number of planning and policy initiatives to create a process for transforming Copenhagen’s waterfront. A ‘Vision Group’ was formed, made up of four key agencies from different levels of government and with diverse objectives developed a common strategy.
In 2007 the company CPH City and Port Development was established, jointly owned by the City of Copenhagen and the Danish State. CPH City and Port Development operate in a similar manner to WA’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority (MRA).
Today, Copenhagens’ waterfront is a vibrant hub. I was impressed by the high quality building design and public spaces with new waterfront arts and entertainment facilities overlooking the ongoing port functions.
It could include a welcoming gateway for cruise ship visitors in an easy stroll to the CBD, the train and bus station. Perhaps a hotel, some residential and commercial development overlooking the working port on the North Quay and, maybe even a wind farm?
Fremantle is WA’s second most visited tourism attractions outside the Perth CBD, yet we have had no investment in tourism infrastructure in decades. If we want a more successful and vibrant city in years to come, we have to prepare for it now. Whether or not the ‘sale’ of the Port occurs, we must work to ensure the vision for an integrated waterfront port development is vision is not ruled out in the process. I invite the state government to work constructively with the Fremantle Council on these matters, so we can all win.