Image: Minister Albanese kicked the workshop off by announcing an urban policy forum. The role of the forum will be to advise the Government on the implementation of the National Urban Policy. It will also be a conduit to the broader urban sector - so that forum members can promote dialogue between the sector, the community and the Government.
PS in response to a question, the Minister stated that he would like to tie Commonwealth funding to delivery of the UD Protocol! This could have a significant result for roads, hospitals, schools etc...
Posted by: Andrew Hammonds
Monday 23 January, 2011
Was the The National Urban Design Workshop last Friday a success?
Remember that the purpose was to develop a governance and implementation framework for the ongoing promotion of urban design in Australia through the Creating Places for People – an urban design protocol for Australia cities.
In short - yes, we developed a framework.... but it relies on national coordination of urban design and at the end of the day we had no volunteers. Before we talk about champions, let's look at the overall outcomes.
1. Along with several high end urban design activists, it was good to meet representatives from:
- Green Building Council of Australia
- Council of Capital City Lord Mayors
- Australian Local Government Association
- Water Services Association of Australia
- Australian Green Infrastructure Council (AGIC)
- Property Council of Australia
- Consult Australia
- Heart Foundation
- Australian Council for New Urbanism
I hoped the workshop brought these new people up to to speed, even it it meant covering a little bit of old ground. As someone said to me afterwards, "it felt like 1990 and we are trying to convince everyone about urban design". A key point was the continued need to involve new stakeholders - like the financiers of projects - who play a critical role in influencing urban design.
2. Our facilitator Kevin Nuttall led us through a useful process of identifying a future and a path to get there. We started with key considerations for the next 10-15 years:
- Economic, Social and Environmental Case for Good Urban Design
- Understanding and Ownership
- Effective Linkages
- Aligned Economic Decision Making
- Political Leadership and Champions
- Real Clarity of Desired Outcomes
- Real Behavioural Change and Action
3. We identified elements of the protocol’s success in +15 years time:
- Many Australian World Class Demonstration Projects and Case Studies
- Advantage Across Centre, Middle and Outer City Rings
- Better Community Health and Well-being
- More Productive Infrastructure Investment
- Recognised as Core Discipline For All Built Environment Professionals
- Urban Design Embedded As the Cultural Norm
- General Public Informed and Vocal Advocates
There are several actions flowing out of these including a review of education of built environment. We have previously blogged about the need for planning to strengthen its relationship with design (perhaps in priority over other disciplines of engineering, surveying etc.). It appears that the opposite is occurring?
4. We formed an extensive list of accelerators and inhibitors to us reaching the 2027 Outcomes which could form the basis of actions for evaluation.
5. After leading us through several tasks we proposed a focus for the next 12 months:
- COAG and Inter-Government Agreement to formalise funding being tied to urban design outcomes and to coordinate cross government initiatives. Minister Albanese hinted that future Commonwealth funding for hospitals, infrastructure, etc could be tied the delivery of the protocol.
- Research and Business Case for urban design based on evidence based policy. What are the real financial, social and environmental benefits.
- Establish an alliance program - likely and unlikely allies.
- Communications and Website - why me, case studies, tool kit, forum, campaigns, etc.
The big question with this relatively clear path forward is who is going to coordinate it? Keep in mind the several of the participants (including yours truly) partly or fully paid for their time or expenses out of their own pocket.
Major Cities Unit - an obvious, although relatively new, contender. Unfortunately, they are justifiably reserved about taking on more responsibilities within their current budget. We also need to consider the longevity of this unit given the limited funding urban design has received from previous Coalition Governments. And finally there is a small detail associated with the Constitution - as Dorte Ekelund stated it clearly lays responsibility for urban planning with the States (although the cynics might argue that urban planning is not urban design!).
Informal network of Government architects - a possibility. While great to see many of the States represented at the workshop I am not sure many of the States would invest their money in a national intiaive? In addition, while they are performing an important role within Government, urban design is inherently multi-disciplinary and shouldn't be dominted by one discipline.
UDAL - unlikely. Urban Design Alliance of Queensland, is an organisation of built environment professionals, institutions and related groups, as well as individuals, interested in urban issues. We are committed to improving the quality of Urban Life throughout Queensland. While we have been gathering momentum in Queensland for 11 years there is yet to be interest from other states. Unless UDAL is National it makes it difficult to successfully lobby.
Any other suggestions?