West Australian Beach Redevelopments

Figure 1. A redeveloped Leighton at Sunset, Bernard Seeber. Source: https://www.bernardseeber.com/projects#/leightonbeach/

Between 1980 and 2000 as development and redevelopment unfolded along the northern suburb beaches in places such as Mullaloo, Sorrento, Hillarys and Mindarie, a once popular beach in the 1960’s and 70’s lay ignored, forgotten. Almost. Residents of Perth’s eastern and southern suburbs would turn left over the Fremantle Traffic Bridge and arrive at Leighton Beach A beach with the most impressively white sand, but contradictorily nestled in amongst the semi industrial zone that included the Perth-Fremantle train line, the Leighton marshalling yards and the foul-smelling Shell, Esso and BP bulk fuel tank farms. All of this within sight of Fremantle wharves and container park. It was sort of a grunge surf hangout even before that phrase was coined. In 1980, Leighton was a beach for those with a bit more edge. For those with a bit more fuel in their tanks they headed north to the newer coastal precincts where there were cafes, shelters and modern amenities. Leighton’s sad brick and asbestos kiosk and crumbling concrete changeroom block was losing its allurement.

Figure 2. Leighton Beach, just north of the Wharf. Source: https://www.saltywings.com.au/products/sw0291

In 2004 Landcorp along with City of Fremantle hatched the Leighton Development Area plan.[1] It resulted in the annexing out 17ha of land from the former railway marshalling yards and from within this, 4ha to be zoned residential with the objective of: “creating an accessible, transit oriented  village of contemporary design, to accommodate 1000 residents with high quality landscape and buildings that address streets and parks including public open space and access to Leighton Beach.”[2]

Figure 3. Arial view of the oceanside redevelopment. Source: https://www.bernardseeber.com/projects#/leightonbeach/

As developers transformed the 4ha former industrial site into quality residences, the City of Fremantle looked to the remaining 13ha coastal strip and devised the Leighton Oceanside Parklands Masterplan. Landmarks within this patch at the time were the Leighton Surf Club, the Leighton Beach Kiosk and the concrete changeroom block where hardy beachgoers huddled out of the south westerly wind and cold. In the 1960’s the kiosk and the changerooms were also the home to the Poseidon Surfriders Club who in what was probably a lull between swells painted one side of the changerooms with orange paint.[3] It’s is a colour that would span the decades. In 2014 Bernard Seeber Architects were commissioned the create the built vision for the Leighton Beach Oceanside Parklands and the resulting $1.3 million development is now a revitalized, award winning[4] public beach front. Complete with a trendy orange clad café restaurant called, the Orange Box, a nod to the Poseidon boys who have been instrumental in offering community feedback into the design process.[5] The state of the art changerooms are just that, with a minimalist concrete interior and the landscaped grassed area, tucked and down below the dune line protected from the wind is surrounded with BBQ and shade facility.

Figure 4. Minimalist concrete interior design of the change rooms. Courtesy: https://www.bernardseeber.com/projects#/leightonbeach/


The redevelopment of the Leighton Beach precinct was primarily driven by the aim of creating a quality residential hub and a modern, attractive, accessible beachfront park. Unlike other developments where the goal of ensuring an economic and commercial opportunity, Leighton development was about finding, revitalizing and elevating the beauty of the Leighton coast line and creating an accessible space for the broader community to enjoy it.

Figure 5. The exterior of the change rooms and the Orange Box. Source: https://www.bernardseeber.com/projects#/leightonbeach/

[1] Leighton Marshalling Yards Redevelopment Program, City of Fremantle, accessed March 20, 2019. https://www.fremantle.wa.gov.au/sites/default/files/DGN12%20-%20Leighton%20Marshalling%20Yards%20Land%20Use%20and%20Development%20Policy%20-%20D.G.N12.pdf

[2] Ibid

[3] Mayor Brad Pettitt’s Blog, Accessed March 20, 2019. https://cofremantle.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/new-leighton-beach-facilities-openned-today/

[4] Leighton Beach Facilities, Accessed March 20, 2019. https://www.bernardseeber.com/projects#/leightonbeach/

[5] Mayor Brad Pettitt’s Blog, Accessed March 20, 2019. https://cofremantle.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/new-leighton-beach-facilities-openned-today/