Creating a Vibrant Commercial and Community Hub

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Recently made live, the City of Fremantle’s Kings Square website is a tribute to an award-winning community engagement and urban planning process.

Proposed architectural image courtesy of The City of Fremantle’s Kings Square website.

Dubbed the ‘only formal town square in Western Australia that has evolved over the years as the needs of the community has changed’, this iconic location required a thoughtful, thorough and modern approach to planning its revitalisation.

The City of Fremantle undertook a planning process with the aim of producing an urban design strategy for Kings Square, revitalising the square and surrounding sites to create an important social and commercial hub in the heart of the city.

The result is amazing and has already spurred significant investment private sector to regenerate the core of Fremantle. The government commitment includes relocating 1500 Housing Authority employees from the CBD to the port city in 2020

Creating Communities was engaged to coordinate and deliver the community engagement process. Between March and May 2012, we worked closely with lead planners CODA and the City of Fremantle to deliver a comprehensive community engagement process, to best inform the development of the strategy.

A six-step process was used to engage the community:

1. Visioning Workshop

A four-hour workshop was held in the Fremantle Town Hall with stakeholders selected by the City of Fremantle from across local community groups, businesses and landowners. Participants were involved in interactive activities that sought feedback to determine the high-order aspirations and objectives of the Urban Design Strategy. Participants were also engaged in a walking tour at the commencement of the session, to gain a clear impression of the characteristics of the area being studied. An analysis of the positive and negative aspects of the existing study area was undertaken with the group, as well as the identification of any opportunities or barriers to its revitalisation. Following this workshop, a vision and a set of design principles for the project were developed, using the feedback provided by the workshop participants.

2. Design Options Workshop

A workshop was held where the project team worked with Councillors and land-owners from Kings Square and surrounding areas to collaboratively develop a number of strategies for the project area. These aimed to give physical and statutory form to the agreed vision for the Square.

3. Open Day and Walking Tour

An open day was held, where the general public could view the draft strategy concepts and ask questions on a one-to-one basis with the consultants and council officers. The open day was complemented with a walking tour that explained the strategies in context.

4. Community Workshop

An interactive workshop was conducted to ascertain the community’s perspective on each of the proposed design strategy options. The session included group discussion and feedback as well as the use of interactive Keepad technology to generate individual response data.

5. Citizens’ Jury

This included a variety of community members and stakeholders who represented the broader demographic of Fremantle. Witness presentations were made by a variety of stakeholders on the proposed design strategy options to the jury, who considered all the information and presentations and then reviewed and provided feedback on the proposed design strategy options.

6. Councillors’ Workshop

A workshop was held where elected members were presented with community feedback on each strategy and given the opportunity to amend the strategies in response.

Creating Communities and the project team won the IAP2 Core Values Award and a Planning Institute of Australia Commendation Award for the community engagement and consultation of this project.

To find out more about engaging effectively with community in your next project – email Andrew Watt.