News and Media

8 months ago in Media release
(29/3/2018) Freo innovation creates better housing choice

The City of Fremantle has given its final approval to a ground-breaking new approach to infill housing in suburban areas, called the ‘Freo Alternative - Big Thinking about Small Housing’.

Council last night voted to change the City’s Local Planning Scheme and adopt a new planning policy to stimulate development of a wider choice of housing in Fremantle’s suburban areas while still maintaining what people value about their neighbourhoods.

State government has set density targets across the metropolitan area to cater for population growth and limit urban sprawl, but poorly planned or inappropriate infill developments are often met with a backlash from local residents, and don’t always match housing needs.

The proposed planning scheme amendment and policy will now be sent to the Minister for Planning for final determination.

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said the Freo Alternative was the result of more than three years of research and community engagement.

“Because of the widespread concern about the impact of infill development in our suburbs, we wanted to create a shared community vision of the future of housing in Fremantle,” Mayor Pettitt said.

“Housing in Fremantle’s suburban areas has been getting larger as smaller housing stock is being removed and replaced with bigger homes, but at the same time the proportion of households containing only one or two people has been growing. Council has also shared community concerns about the loss of tree canopy in our suburbs as lots are cleared for subdvidision.

“We needed to come up with a way of delivering more diverse and affordable housing while retaining the established form and feel of the streestcapes and neighbourhoods that people love about where they live.

“It’s been a long and complicated road but, as a result of the research and community engagement we’ve done, 73 per cent of the submissions we received on the scheme amendment supported the Freo Alternative approach.”

The Freo Alternative project began in 2014 when the Australian Urban Design Research Centre and local architects were engaged to model different small housing types and test if they could work in a Fremantle environment.

That was followed in 2016 with a widespread community engagement campaign to establish what attributes the community most valued about their suburb and the benefits and challenges of small housing types.

The key themes to emerge from the consultation included having a range of housing choices, good access to transport, retention of open spaces and trees, good quality design, sustainability, affordability and encouraging community interaction.

The proposed amendment to Fremantle’s Local Planning Scheme establishes seven special control areas throughout the suburbs with special provisions for small infill development, as an alternative to traditional single lot subdivision.

Key provisions include:

  • Only applies to lots larger than 600 square metres
  • Dwellings to have a maximum floor area of 120 square metres
  • Maximum of three dwellings on lots of 750 square metres or less
  • Minimum of 30 square metres of outdoor living area per dwelling
  • Developments to have higher than standard energy efficiency ratings, and include solar panels, rainwater tanks, grey water systems or meet best practice accessibility standards
  • A minimum of 70 per cent of the entire development to be open space
  • At least one large tree to be retained or planted for each dwelling
  • A maximum of one parking bay per dwelling
  • Developments to be referred to the City’s Design Advisory Committee to consider design quality.


Freo Alternative will initially be applied to specific locations within the City of Fremantle, in sections of White Gum Valley, Samson, Hilton, O'Connor, Beaconsfield and Fremantle that meet certain criteria regarding proximity to public transport, existing lot size and housing stock, and heritage streetscapes.

To be reviewed in four years, Freo Alternative may then be rolled out across further locations.