Nov 30, 2011

Australia’s first urban design ‘protocol’

There’s a new tool to improve the quality and useability of our public spaces and city buildings – a plain-English ‘how-to’ guide and check list for decision makers and professionals whose work affects the built environment as well as members of the public who care about the design of their local community.

Today at the fifth annual State of Australian Cities Conference being held at the University of Melbourne I launched Creating Places for People – an urban design protocol for Australian cities.

This document, along with the complementary website, is designed to help produce the attractive, high-quality sustainable places in which people will want to live, work and relax.

It sets out the common sense principles which underpin good urban design and provides sound, practical advice for avoiding the planning mistakes which too often create neighbourhoods characterised by high crime rates, poor health outcomes, social isolation, joblessness, poor housing and a lack of basic services.

We should not have to put up with badly-designed, unimaginative urban areas that do not serve their communities.

That’s why the Gillard Labor Government ended the Commonwealth’s self-imposed, decade long exile from our major cities and is again engaging with states and territories as well as local councils to bring about a much needed urban renaissance.

But building places where vibrant communities can grow and prosper is about more than providing Australians with a better quality of life.  There’s also an economic imperative.

Indeed as one of the most urbanised nations on the planet, Australia’s continuing prosperity in the globalised world of the 21st century will largely depend on how successful we are at making our cities work better.

Creating Places for People builds on our earlier urban policy initiatives:

  • Establishment of the Major Cities Unit.
  • A commitment of $7.3 billion to modernise and extend the urban rail infrastructure in Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Sydney as well as on the Gold Coast – more than all our predecessors since Federation combined.
  • Putting infrastructure planning reform on the COAG agenda with the establishment of the National Planning Taskforce.
  • Requiring all state and territory governments to have strategic planning systems in place for their capital city by January 2012 as a condition of further Federal infrastructure funding.
  • Publishing a regular State of the Cities Report to monitor the performance of our eighteen biggest cities over time so policy-makers can measure and assess what works and what doesn’t.

Creating Places for People is the culmination of two years of work by the Major Cities Unit within my Department in collaboration with stakeholders, academics and officials from all levels of government.  All up, more than 500 individuals and organisations had a say in its development.

A full copy of the document can be downloaded from: www.urbandesign.gov.au.