K2K: Integrating Infrastructure Delivery with Urban Planning

Mrs Stella Agagiotis, Coordinator Strategic Planning at Randwick City Council will be joining us this November at the 2017 International Urban Design Conference, discussing “K2K: Integrating Infrastructure Delivery with Urban Planning”.

Kensington and Kingsford town centres in Sydney’s East are undergoing major transformation with the Sydney CBD to South East Light Rail under construction, scheduled to open in 2019. Not only will this new transport infrastructure be a key driver of population growth, but it will also create opportunities for public domain improvements that will shape the character and function of both town centres.

Randwick City Council has undertaken an innovative and proactive approach to managing both short and long term change and planning for the future of the two centres, recognising that the precinct can benefit from having greater accessibility and planning for improvements to local infrastructure, urban design excellence, sustainability, innovation, new public spaces, green streets and buildings and diverse and affordable housing.

In the short term, collaboration between Council and the NSW Government has delivered temporary public domain interventions (such as Meeks St Plaza and a creative public art program) to improve the public domain and support the local economy during construction of the light rail.

To address the corridor’s long term planning needs, a strategic vision has been established through an International Urban Design Competition that called for fresh ideas to enhance the community’s quality of life, create sustainable growth and drive economic prosperity.

The design competition process, which recently won the Greater Sydney Commission’s inaugural award in 2017 for “A Great Plan”, was undertaken with a high degree of community participation ensuring that outcomes would reflect local aspirations for the town centres.

Council’s bold planning and consultation process has established a best practice approach to integrating infrastructure delivery with urban planning to create well-designed and liveable places.

The 10th International Urban Design Conference will be held at Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort & Spa, Gold Coast, Queensland from Monday 13 – Tuesday 14 November 2017. This year there are optional tours available on Wednesday 15 November. These will include visiting two of the precincts that have been designed and built for the 2018 Commonwealth Games held on the Gold Coast in April 2018.

Find out more here.

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Liveability and Water in Sydney – A Clean River is a Fun River

When I presented at the International Urban Design Conference last year, it seems a lecture by an unknown urban water guy wasn’t exactly considered a “must see” session amongst the throng of planners and designer types.

Still, it appears that there has been enough interest in the slide pack that I have been asked for a chaser on where we are up to with liveability and urban water. I want to use the same “liveability game changers” from my presentation. So for this first post (one more to come) I’ll stick to “a clean river is a fun river” in this unashamedly Sydney focussed post.

Iconic waterways have always been essential to the Sydney-ness of Sydney. But as the city progresses west, small waterways previously ignored and hidden within a tangle of light urbanism, are becoming important landscape features. They can provide open space to break up density and allow recreation zones, contributing to the wellbeing of communities whilst reducing reliance on accessing Sydney’s beaches.

Phillip Birtles, Sydney Water

For the first time, waterways and city welfare are being recognised in city planning in Sydney. Each of the six Draft District Plans released by the Greater Sydney Commission (GSC) in December 2016 have sustainability targets that include waterway improvement.

Our Living River is an impressive collaboration of local and state government who have set the goal to bring swimming back to the Parramatta River. Their 2025 Masterplan work includes water quality, urban ecology, community survey, risk and economic assessments to detail a nuanced view of what “swimming in the river” means. From splash sites to offline pools to open swimming, all the options are being considered in some leading design work. This project is one to watch and is already influencing town planning policy for this region.

In the West, South Creek has emerged as “a key organising design element” for the GSC’s western city. Sydney has experience organising development around estuaries (like the harbour) but we haven’t done so well with small streams in suburbia that don’t have waterviews. It will be a true challenge to bring the South Creek vision to life. An exciting time for urban designers and water professionals alike.

Stay tuned for more next post exploring “all the water we need is already in the city” and “healthy communities are connected to their water”.

Article supplied by Phillip Birtles, Urban Water and Waterways Manager at Sydney Water

Growing Food in Green Infrastructure

Green infrastructure has many purposes. Among them is food production, but do we use green infrastructure for this as much as we could?

Given proper management, there is plenty of scope to make better use of rooftops, walls and water sensitive urban design assets as sites for growing edible plants. These opportunities range in scale from modern twists on traditional home vegetable gardening to behemoth commercial operations.

Rooftops

A typical city rooftop is under-used. It is wasted space, wasted light and wasted rainwater, and an obvious site for urban gardening or farming. Rooftops can be used for food production in at least three ways:

1.   Commercial rooftop farms

Many commercial rooftop farms use soilless hydroponics systems. There are impressive examples internationally, in cities such as New York, Chicago, Montreal, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Amsterdam and The Hague, and it seems to be only a matter of time before they flourish in cities such as Guangzhou. Commercial rooftop farms are yet to take off in Australia where, despite frequent discussion over the last decade, we still lack a practical understanding of what it takes to establish rooftop farms in Australian cities.

Photo: Pexels.com

2.   Rooftop community gardens

Community-style rooftop vegetable gardening has sprung up in many places, many of which feature a traditional type of container-based gardening, albeit at greater heights than most gardens. In a residential setting, a rooftop community garden is an opportunity for residents to connect with nature and to each other. In a commercial setting, it provides health and well-being benefits to staff, great marketing for the company, and direct benefits for the community if the produce is donated to charity. One of the key challenges in managing a rooftop community garden is keeping enthusiasm among the gardeners high, because their active participation is critical to success.

This article was originally published by Sourceable.net.

Click here to read the entire article.

Cities for Healthier Lives

We are sitting in worsening traffic jams, breathing in car fumes, living in isolated suburbs with no shops or services to walk or cycle to, and spending hours travelling to work because jobs are concentrated in unaffordable inner city areas.

The way we are planning our cities is causing a host of preventable health problems, from respiratory and cardiovascular diseases to diabetes and stress.

But we now have a blueprint for change. An international team of researchers, led by the University of Melbourne, have quantified for the first time the massive potential health benefits to be had if we finally just started planning our cities around the needs of humans and not cars. The researchers say it is a call for politicians to take action and set targets.

Published as three papers in The Lancet medical journal, the research was launched by the United Nations in New York on September 23, 2016, where the authors addressed a meeting of the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

Planning cities around cars is damaging our health and is unsustainable. Picture Pexels.

Central to the research is the promotion of “compact cities” in which people live in higher density neighbourhoods closer to local shops, public transport, services and jobs, and complemented by increased infrastructure for walking and cycling instead of relying on cars.

If the compact city blueprint was implemented they calculate that a car-dependent city such as Melbourne would cut the burden of cardiovascular disease by 19 per cent and cut the burden of type-2 diabetes by 14 per cent. Overall the equivalent of 679 years of extra healthy life would be gained in Melbourne per 100,000 people.

The gain for Boston in the US would be 826 healthy years, in Delhi the gain is 620 healthy years, and in Sao Paulo 420 healthy years. There is no set size for a compact city – what matters is the planning and design of safe walkable local neighbourhoods.

“For the first time this research quantifies the relationship between land use, urban design, population density and transport systems, and the impact they have on our health,” says lead author Professor Mark Stevenson, epidemiologist and Professor of Urban Transport and Public Health at the University of Melbourne. “It shows that by adopting a compact cities model that places an emphasis on active transport, we can achieve a huge reduction in the burden of chronic disease.”

The compact city model is based on increasing land use density, and the mix of uses on that land, by 30 per cent, while decreasing the average distance of housing to public transport by 30 per cent and increasing the use of non-motorised transport by 10 per cent. For example, jobs and services should be accessible within 30 minutes of home by public transport. Homes should have bus and train stops nearby, within no more than 400 metres and 800 metres respectively.

Originally Published by Andrew Trounson, University of Melbourne, read the full article here.

Green cities are not just for the elite

Green cities have become a key goal of urban development. They are environmentally friendly, provide clean water, protect green space, and offer an enhanced public experience.

However, they’re not perfect. In fact, some of the different needs of citizens may have been neglected amid all the attention lavished on green cities. A green city in many real-life cases is neither green everywhere, nor green for everyone. Also, a green city does not guarantee an economically strong city, nor a livable place for people of all income classes.

Seen from the perspective of urban dwellers of different socioeconomic status, there are five urban development objectives that can be considered as ascending stages on a scale of livability.

First, in its most basic form, urban life needs to ensure a livelihood for citizens.

Second, it should enable accessibility, allowing its residents to participate fully in daily urban life.

Third, urban life should be affordable, ensuring that urban infrastructure, such as housing, and urban services, such as health care, are affordable for citizens.

Fourth, it requires resilience, enabling people to withstand social threats such as crime or environmental impacts like extreme weather events. Finally, at the highest stage, urban life has to provide for livability, which allows people to fully enjoy what their city has to offer.

Published by Eco-Business, read the full article here.

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