Urban planning strategy

Three strategic documents were released within a year. One for climate change mitigation, one for transport, and one for urban planning. The ACT Planning Strategy 2018 sets the goals but not necessarily how to get there.

The strategic directions are laid out at the beginning of the ACT Planning Strategy 2018:

  • compact and efficient city
  • diverse Canberra
  • sustainable and resilient territory
  • liveable Canberra
  • accessible Canberra.

The issue here is that it is not clear what these goals mean. For this reason, each goal is broken into a number of more specific points – directions.

Compact and efficient city

1.1 Support sustainable urban growth by working towards delivering up to 70% of new housing within our existing urban footprint, and by concentrating development in areas located close to the city centre, town and group centres and along key transit corridors.

1.2 Investigate the potential for new residential areas to the west of the city to meet future housing need.

1.3 Use infrastructure efficiently to support our growing community

1.4 Continue to work with the NSW Government and Councils to implement joint initiatives to understand and manage growth
in the Canberra Region.

1.5 Protect the ACT and NSW border interface.

ACT Planning Strategy 2018, page 10

Comments

The 70% goal is in the 2020 Parliamentary Agreement and is a measure to prevent urban sprawl.

The protection of the ACT / NSW border is likely for environmental reasons. The NSW side is all private property and rural use. Forest is generally found only on the ACT side.

Diverse Canberra

2.1 Respect Canberra’s culturally rich and diverse community to foster inclusion and participation in our community.

2.2 Enhance the diversity and resilience of our centres to meet
the needs of the community, support economic viability and
improved liveability
.

2.3 Improve the character of our city centre to improve liveability and activity.

2.4 Recognise and protect existing industrial, commercial and service trade areas as important elements of a diverse economy.

2.5 Plan for adequate employment land in the right location that
supports a diverse range of uses including commercial and industrial land linked to supportive infrastructure, transport options and investment opportunities.

2.6 Protect and enhance infrastructure that supports the economic development of Canberra and the region.

ACT Planning Strategy 2018, page 10

Comments

This one is about diversity and resilience, whether cultural or economic.

Sustainable and resilient territory

3.1 Transitioning to a net zero emissions city through the uptake of renewable energy, improved building design and transport initiatives.

3.2 Reduce vulnerability to natural hazard events and adapt to climate change.

3.3 Integrate living infrastructure and sustainable design to make Canberra a resilient city within the landscape.

3.4 Plan for integrated water cycle management to support healthy waterways and a liveable city.

3.5 Protect biodiversity and enhance habitat connectivity to improve landscape resilience.

3.6 Reduce waste, improve resource efficiency and decrease our ecological footprint.

ACT Planning Strategy 2018, page 11

Comment

This is about the environment and building the city in an environmentally sustainable way, addressing the requirement from climate change.

Liveable Canberra

4.1 Deliver social infrastructure that meets community needs and supports strong communities.

4.2 Deliver recreation, open (green) space, and public spaces that support social interaction, physical and mental health and engagement in public life.

4.3 Strengthen neighbourhoods and support their diverse character by creating strong local activity hubs.

4.4 Deliver housing that is diverse and affordable to support a liveable city.

4.5 Encourage high quality design, built form and places for a changing climate.

ACT Planning Strategy 2018, page 11

Comments

This is about building community with climate change requirements added at the end.

Accessible Canberra

5.1 Enhance accessibility by better integrating transport and land use.

5.2 Deliver well designed, safe and sustainable streets and public spaces to create walkable neighbourhoods that are inclusive and fair.

5.3 Create a better experience for walking and cycling into and
within the city centre and our town centres
.

ACT Planning Strategy 2018, page 11

Comments

Accessible Canberra is the only goal which directly addresses active travel. This is a bit of a worry, as in the urban planning “Movement and Place” framework they are closely related. We create place by encouraging people to interact with each incidentally through their daily movement. Because we are engaging with each other, the environment is safe, too. Urban planning often talks about human scale infrastructure. As density increases, urban design should create a village feeling on the ground plane where people can gather and interact. Cars do not help create this, so that they are relegated to the edges, where the priority is on movement and not place.

Movement and Place Framework, ACT Planning Strategy 2018, page 87

Getting specific

It is easier to translate the strategy if the directions are explained in as much detail as possible. Strategy documents often fail in this regard, as the goals are not easily translated into directions required for the realisation. From the strategy document it should be pretty obvious what one should do. Actions are ideally logically implied.

Direction 5.3

Direction 5.3 is by far the most important for active travel, and the section that should flesh it out is the weakest of the ACT Planning Strategy 2018 document. This paragraph (see below) is too brief and too vague to be of much use for practical urban planning. Active travel here falls between the cracks. Ask yourself, what would the cycling infrastructure in the new suburb of Molonglo look like if you had just this paragraph as your instruction? Clearly, the urban planner would have to look elsewhere for guidance.

Walkable city centres are not only comfortable and safe to walk in, but also interesting, offering a range of activities and having a sense of buzz and liveliness. As Canberra’s city centre grows and changes, walking and cycling will be prioritised in the city centre to enhance amenity and liveliness, and urban design will contribute to creating better places and spaces.

ACT Planning Strategy 2018, page 91

Direction 5.2

This direction is more help. One has a better feel of what is required.

Canberra’s population is ageing. Maintaining accessibility for people as they age will provide for social inclusion and fairness. Prioritising people in the planning and design of our neighbourhoods will deliver age-friendly suburbs with supporting infrastructure, traffic calming and improved connectivity to schools, services and public transport it creates opportunities for social interaction.

ACT Planning Strategy 2018, page 90

Actions

The strategy allocates actions to the directorates EPSDD CSD, TCCS, SLA, HD, and EDU. Here is the example for ACCESSIBLE CANBERRA.

5.1 Enhance accessibility by better integrating transport and land use.

5.1.1 Support the integrated transport network by focussing urban intensification in town centres and around group centres and along the major public transport routes, and balancing where greenfield expansion occurs. EPSDD TCCS

5.1.2 Support the delivery of the government’s transport strategy to expand movement options (particularly active travel) and the delivery of the government’s Climate Change strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport. TCCS EPSDD

5.1.3 Investigate parking provision requirements to confirm they support broader government accessibility and transport policy. EPSDD TCCS

5.1.4 Plan and strategically locate community infrastructure, services and open space in order to optimise accessibility and meet the needs of a growing and changing population. EPSDD CSD, TCCS, SLA, HD, EDU

ACT Planning Strategy 2018, page 105

5.2 Deliver well designed, safe and sustainable streets and public spaces to create walkable neighbourhoods that are inclusive and fair.

5.2.1 Apply the Movement and Place Framework in future precinct planning to recognise people and place in the design and function of precincts. EPSDD TCCS

5.2.2 Support the Active Travel Office to improve walking and cycling network connectivity and urban amenity, particularly close to key transport corridors, local and town centres and education institutions. TCCS EPSDD

5.2.3 Through place making and improved urban design, deliver high quality streets and places to facilitate social inclusion, activity and improve accessibility. EPSDD TCCS, CRA, SLA

ACT Planning Strategy 2018, page 105


5.3 Create a better experience for walking and cycling into and within the city centre and our town centres.

5.3.1 Work with the City Renewal Authority and other partners to create high quality, lively and safe streets and public spaces in the city centre that encourage walking, cycling and public transport use. CRA EPSDD, TCCS

5.3.2 Support the development of high quality, lively and safe streets and public spaces in our town centres that encourage walking, cycling and public transport use. EPSDD TCCS

5.3.3 Review parking arrangements in the city centre and develop a city parking strategy.

ACT Planning Strategy 2018, page 105

ACT Planning Strategy 2018, page 10-11

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