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28 October 2021

Lunch fosters thriving neighbourhood discussion

The creation of thriving liveable neighbourhoods goes right to the heart of what UDIA is all about as we support our members in creating communities for the future.  Therefore, it was fantastic to have a platform to discuss the range of issues, challenges and opportunities for creating successful neighbourhoods at our industry luncheon event last Friday.

A key focus of discussion was around the 15 minute city and 20 minute neighbourhood concepts that were recently covered in the International Study Tour edition of UDIA WA’s magazine The Urbanist. (Read this edition here)

The idea at the heart of these concepts is bringing amenities closer to where people live and encouraging the ability to achieve daily tasks within a short walk or cycle round trip.

The main benefit of this is the reduction in car dependency and required parking infrastructure, which has several advantages from a reduction in carbon emissions to more accessible community spaces.

Hatch RobertsDay Co-Founder Mike Day kicked off the discussions with strong support for 15-minute cities highlighting it was a concept, in principle, used in the creation of the multi-award winning Ellenbrook development.

“We came up with the plan in 1993 and some have waited 30 years but what’s important is we conceived of a place that could grow,” he said. “It’s an interconnected network of streets and walkable neighbourhoods connected with the Cycling Network.

“We need to apply the same mentality to the CBD and our town centres, they are not just single use spaces, we’ve got to embrace the future, which is mixed use activity centres, shopping areas are no longer just pure retail, no longer just a big box surrounded by car parks.”

Mike also pointed to Jindee as another example of a well-planned walkable community.

Following Mike’s presentation Western Australian Planning Commission Chair David Caddy provided an update on the review of WA’s Liveable Neighbourhoods policy, which he said was the Commission’s primary operational policy supporting the design and assessment of urban development areas.

“Upon its introduction in 1997, Liveable Neighbourhoods was widely regarded as pioneering and innovative,” he said. “Originally considered an alternative approach, the policy successfully spearheaded a significant shift in the design of neighbourhoods and received national and international recognition.

“In particular, the policy promoted much greater walkability, and the move away from the 1970s suburbs designed primarily around cars.”

In referencing the updates he said the policy will be elevated to a State Planning Policy, set to be become SPP 7.1 Neighbourhood Design.  The draft discussion paper is being submitted for consideration by the WAPC this week and it is hoped it will be out for broader comment by the end of the year.

“The policy will align with the goals of the action plan for planning reform and the state planning strategy 2015,” he said. “Broadly speaking, the current review is to identify key strategic, operational and implementation issues and challenges presented by the current policy, mindful that any urban planning policy is only as good as the implementation.”

Mr Caddy said there were currently four strategic challenges that demand further attention and consideration in the way we design sustainable neighbourhoods for the 21st century. These are the impacts of COVID-19, climate change, sustainable infrastructure, and social equity but he said looking at concepts including the 15 or 20 minute city would also form the basis of the review.

RAC WA Manager Transport Planning James Brooks followed on with a presentation exploring the work RAC is doing to support vibrant, active and engaged communities.

James suggested that new technology will lead to a reduction in the number of vehicles on our roads, leading to cleaner, healthier environments and a feeling of being more connected to each other.

Following the formal presentations, Emerge Associates Director and Principal Landscape Architect Peta-Maree Ashford joined the speakers for an engaging panel session around what needs to change and how policy and decision making can support more thriving neighbourhoods.

Ms Ashford said the most successful way to deliver thriving neighbourhoods was to provide spaces that resonate with a multitude of people.  She urged the audience to think back to their childhoods and what they valued in a local community to help inform their work now.

“We need to be inspiring developers to actually pitch for a range of demographics to come into a space and not a singular one. That’s where I find a thriving community today,” Ms Ashford said.

UDIA would like to thank all of the speakers and panellists for providing their time and expertise and to our sponsors for this event, Western Power, Business Events Perth and our networking partner JDSi Consulting Engineers.

To view images from the event, click here.