What is The Freo Alternative?

As Fremantle's population continues to grow and change, there is an opportunity to provide a range of housing that best reflects the varied needs and aspirations of existing and future residents and retain the community diversity we value.

Providing diverse housing in established suburbs means individuals or small households that don’t need large homes, or want to downsize, can live alongside families and larger households within the same community.

Through the first stage of the Freo Alternative, the City of Fremantle is brought the community together to explore the benefits of providing more diverse housing options in suburban areas of Fremantle. We discussed the values the community wants to uphold and the challenges that will need to be considered when providing for alternative housing types. From this eight themes on which to base the planning rules were established.

Stage two of the Freo alternative explores how the eight community derived themes can be realised through planning policy. 

We would now like the community to provide feedback on the proposed planning requirements, or suggest alternative options, to achieve smaller housing for small households in suburban areas while protecting the character of our neighbourhoods.


Can i still subdivide and develop as i could previously or do i have to build a Freo Alternative house?

The Freo Alternative does not change the density (R-code) or zoning of your land. If you could subdivide or develop before the Freo Alternative, you can subdivide or develop after the Freo Alternative. 

The Freo Alternative give you a another alternative for how to develop your land, but does not take away what you can currently do on your land.

What are the eight community-derived themes?


Why is the City of Fremantle undertaking this project?

The City is aware that population growth, changes in household demographics and declining housing affordability have left many people unable to find housing that suits their needs and/or budgets in Fremantle.

A key theme identified through the Fremantle 2029 Community Visioning Project was: “We want Fremantle to be a welcoming place for all people; and a liveable city that serves its people’s needs”.

During this project the community said they wanted the City of Fremantle to address affordability and support aging in place by:

  • taking a proactive approach to implement affordable and accessible housing

  • engaging the whole community in planning for future types of housing services

  • actioning holistic and specific strategies to improve choice and affordability

  • changing the town planning scheme to encourage one and two bedroom housing options.

The Freo Alternative has been developed as a direct response to these suggestions.


What is alternative and small housing and why do we need more?

Compared to the Perth metropolitan the City of Fremantle has a higher number of single-person households and half the number of large family households. Despite this, most suburban housing built in the City over the past 20 years has been four bedroom or larger.

Providing diverse housing in established suburbs allows individuals or small households who don’t need large homes, or want to downsize, to access housing alongside families and larger households within the same community.

If housing stock continues to develop the way it has over the past 20 years in Fremantle, there will be even fewer options for smaller households to remain in the area.

Exactly what ‘small’ means will be part of the community discussion around The Freo Alternative. As a starting point the City suggests no larger than two bedrooms, or a small three bedroom home (roughly 120m2 in floor area). We would love to hear your feedback on this proposed floor limit.




What benefits would providing alternative housing bring to the community?

Having alternative forms of housing in established suburbs would mean individuals or small households (that don’t need large homes, or want to downsize), can live alongside their families and friends in larger households within the same community. It will diversify our housing stock, our community and enrich the vibrancy that is Freo.

Would an increase in allowable density (up-code) provide this alternative?

‘Up-coding’ is one way to increase housing density and is a useful tool for increasing housing supply and achieving infill housing targets. Increasing the density of housing in suburban areas, however, often results in more of the same housing, reduced open space, and building footprints to the maximum allowance. Overall, this doesn’t achieve housing diversity or smaller housing types.

The Freo Alternative looks at how small housing can be provided in established areas while retaining the features we value about the area.



Don't 'granny' flats already provide this alternative?

Through the Freo Alternative we are keen to explore alternative and small housing options that fulfil the gaps in the ‘granny’ flat and town planning rules without compromising the things we love about our established areas.

City of Fremantle and state town planning allows ‘granny’ flats to be located on the same property as a main house. The Freo Alternative project challenges us to think bigger and asks the question - Could we change our planning policy to allow granny flats to be subdivided and owned by a separate party? This is just one of many ideas the City wants to explore with the community.

What will Freo Alternative housing look like?

There is no prescribed style for Freo Alternative housing. Small housing can be attached, detached, or small apartment style – we want to hear your ideas! Community engagement is the starting point for developing these ideas and determining what features and design principles the community values in its established areas.



What if I am located in one of the areas and I do not wish to build a small house?

If approved, the amendment and policy would be additional to the existing planning requirements, and give landowners the option of building an additional small home(s) on their property that could be separately titled. Of course, there would be no need to develop in this way if a landowner does not wish to do so. The new rules would simply give landowners another development option.

Is the Freo Alternative a name for a proposed town planning scheme amendment and policy?

The first stage of the Freo Alternative was an invitation from the City of Fremantle to the community to think big about small housing and to identify how the small housing needs and aspirations of our existing and future residents can be achieved.

The second stage of the Freo Alternative isa proposed town planning scheme amendment and policy based on the community conversations and derived themes from the first stage.

The proposed town planning rules have been drafted in a way which responds to the community values expressed through this process. These are now open for community engagement and we would love to gain your feedback on what is proposed.



What work has already been undertaken by the City?

In a Western Australia first, the City of Fremantle revolutionised granny flat development in 2011 by making granny flats for all people, not just relatives. The small secondary dwelling planning provisions introduced into the City’s town planning scheme requirements allowed for granny flats to be built on the same lot as the main house with no occupancy restrictions.

The rest of the state have now caught up to the City of Fremantle’s ‘not just for granny’ granny flats, but the need for housing diversity remains. The City is now looking at other opportunities to provide housing diversity for the community.

Over the past 18 months the City has been looking into smaller housing in existing suburbs. Some modelling work has been undertaken to help develop ideas and graphics for discussion with the community.

Consideration has been given to several principles, including:

  • limiting the building footprint on the site

  • increasing minimum open space requirements for future infill development

  • dedicated deep planting zones to ensure mature trees are retained or can be accommodated in the future

  • retaining existing streetscapes

  • good design

This is just the beginning. The City would like the community to consider and explore ways we could encourage alternative housing in Fremantle.

We invite everyone to join the discussion and have your say!

Who makes the decision on the Freo Alternative?

The planning requirements in the Freo Alternative comprise of a Scheme amendment and local planning policy. The City of Fremantle Council will review the submissions received on the planning document and adopt them with or without modification. These two documents will then be sent to the Western Australian Planning commission for final determination. 

More about the Scheme amendment process here.


How can I get involved?

The City of Fremantle is running a series of pop up events in the suburbs. Come down and talk to a friendly City of Fremantle Strategic Planner.


Further events and updates on The Freo Alternative will be added to My Say Freo. 

To stay informed register or email communityengagement@fremantle.wa.gov.au