World Town Planning Day on Sunday, November 8, is an opportunity to recognise the significant role the industry plays in shaping the world around us through the creation of strong communities that are vibrant, well connected and sustainable.
The theme for World Town Planning Day is Housing Regeneration: Strengthening Communities, which considers the challenge of international housing supply. In Australia, one of the major challenges is managing urban growth through the establishment of effective settlement patterns; the ABS projects our population will double to 46 million by 2075. Ongoing population growth makes strategic and consultative, future–planning imperative to ensure people have places to live, work, study and play, as well as the infrastructure to connect and support these spaces. It is also important that there is a variety of housing options for people including affordable choices. A project such as Home:LIFE, a prototype web–based tool, is an exciting example of new technology that could have a positive impact on managing urban growth.
The tool enables personalised assessment of potential housing choices and allows planning professionals to influence housing choices to deliver more sustainable urban outcomes. The innovation recently won the Policies, Programs and Concepts – Large Scale Award at the Australia Awards for Urban Design. The creation of vibrant and connected communities is not only dependent on the places we live but the development of innovative and accessible community spaces which provide places for recreation, social interaction and enjoyment. An excellent example of this is the Port Adelaide Renewal: Hart’s Mill Surrounds project which has transformed an old mill complex into a fabulous community precinct. The project turned the former industrial site into a vibrant recreational space with a design that complements the site’s heritage values, and for that it was awarded the Delivered Outcome – Small Scale award at the Australia Awards for Urban Design. The Brookfield Place development in Perth was a joint award winner in that category that saw the transformation of a vacant city block into a commercial, retail and entertainment precinct in the city heart. The project delivered an attractive, mixed– use precinct which celebrates the site’s heritage elements and is well connected for ease of access.
Another award–winning community precinct is Jezzine Barracks in Townsville, which won the Great Place Award at the National Awards for Planning Excellence 2015. The project has seen the 15–hectre former defence site revitalised into a beautiful public parkland on the city’s foreshore. These are great examples of planning projects that are creating public spaces within the heart of communities for the enjoyment of future generations.
It is integral that these public spaces are well connected to other precincts, amenities and residential areas to create liveable communities. Securing and improving transport infrastructure is vital to ensure people can access to employment and amenities easily and this needs government support and funding. Smart planning considers the connectivity of a development in the planning phase and will create stronger communities with benefits such as shorter travel times to work.
An example of this is the Glen Waverly Station Precinct – IKON Development which received a commendation in the From Plan to Place Award category at the National Awards for Planning Excellence 2015. This transport–orientated development not only delivered a mixed use precinct of residential, commercial and retail space with public transport on its doorstep, but included an upgrade to the train station as part of the project plan. Each of these projects are examples of planning excellence that achieves social, economic and environmental outcomes through smart and innovative design.
Planning shapes the places we live, work, study and play and is an important part of daily–life of every Australian. While the significance of planning is often overlooked, World Town Planning Day presents an opportunity to celebrate the industry which designs our communities, cities and regions.