City of Fremantle

The Freo Alternative: Diverse Housing Strategy

  • Research
  • Allan Tranter
  • Andrew Watt

Finding a way to deliver the “missing middle” of housing diversity

The challenge

Across Australia, there are fewer and fewer traditional family households (two parents, two or more children) and more smaller households with diverse groupings (including single-parent families, young couples, single-person households, down-sizers, share-houses etc.)

However, new dwellings still tend to be large 3+ bedroom houses, or small 1-2-bedroom apartments. There is a lack of medium-sized housing on the market and many local governments are seeking medium-sized housing that that isn’t in the form of triplex or fourplex units that remove all the tree canopy on the site.

The City of Fremantle has more small and medium households than most places in Australia, but new developments in its suburbs are still typically large single houses or apartments.

The City of Fremantle, known for being one of WA’s most innovative local governments, wanted to engage with community members, stakeholders and housing developers to understand how the “missing middle” of housing can be provided.

The outcomes

Creating Communities worked closely with the City of Fremantle and Australian Urban Design Research Centre (AUDRC) to deliver a comprehensive community engagement process, to best inform the development of the strategy.

We held internal workshops, stakeholder meetings, a Dialogue Café, Focus Groups and an open day. We also conducted an online survey.

This input supported the projects thinking on the challenge of finding a way to deliver the “missing middle” of housing diversity and resulted in the City’s Diverse Housing Strategy and subsequent scheme amendments.

The City of Fremantle became the first local government to deliver a gazetted strategy around housing development that was an alternative to the State Government’s R-Codes.

This Diverse Housing Strategy ensures that new dwellings provide high quality open space; mandatory minimum affordable and diverse housing provisions; and development incentives such as density bonuses to provide further diverse and affordable housing outcomes.

The Freo Alternative has won the following awards:

  • Engagement Project – Planning Institute of Australia Awards WA (2017)
  • Minister’s Award – Planning Institute of Australia Awards WA (2017)
  • “Big Ideas – Small Project” – Planning Institute of Australia Awards WA (2019)

Key Milestones

3 awards

3 awards for the project.

500 people

Over 500 people were engaged.

22 initiatives

A total of 22 engagement initiatives, including one online survey, 12 stakeholder meetings, one dialogue café, five focus groups and three open days.

“On behalf of the City, and personally, I want to express my deep appreciation for all the support AUDRC and Creating Communities have given us to pull this off. I think we can all be justifiably proud of this achievement, which hopefully will not only deliver some practical benefits in terms of meeting Fremantle’s housing needs but also provide a template for how to have a mature debate with your local community about sustainability, sensible infill development and design quality.”

- Director Strategic Planning and Projects, City of Fremantle


  • Community and stakeholder engagement strategy
  • Community and stakeholder engagement
  • Facilitation
  • Events production
  • Photography
  • Copywriting
  • Data analysis
  • Engagement findings report


  • Anthony Duckworth (Collaborative Place Design)

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