This talk is about implementing good design in our cities, towns and neighbourhoods.It’s about Great local places, and how local governments can help make them happen.The inspiration for this talk is a programme I have been working on since 2012 called the Toowoomba Region Urban Design Initiative.I have also undertaken a quick survey of SEQ councils to understand the level of urban design skills, policy and activity in the region today, and I’ll talk about that too.
TRUDI exists to:Make better places. Make our lives better.Help do this through increased awareness and understanding of urban design amongst council planners and engineers, councillors, local consultants, developers and communityTRUDI came about in 2012 because:Local council wanted to focus on urban design and qualityNeed to improve design of residential areas and centresNeeded a policy but more importantly skills and encouragementCritically, the council just finished a new planning scheme – full of aspirational planning policy details – but knew they had to do more to MAKE IT HAPPEN
Toowoomba’s approachWe worked with TRC to: Develop an urban design policy > Provide training and capacity building across policy, planning and assessment staff > Implement urban design outcomes and placemaking through a broad programme of activities.These three elements formed the project’s starting point and the basis for a series of tailored services. These included workshops with planning and other technical staff.Training and workshops> Urban design 101: providing a background on the principles and practice of urban design> Design thinking and drawing: a hands on workshop giving staff a basic understanding and appreciation of drawing techniques> Urban design at a regional scale: looking at how regions ␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣␣> Urban design at a local scale: looking at neighbourhoods, centres and streets> Urban design and development: designing a residential project and undertaking commercial assessmentsSpeed urban design: applying urban design principles to everyday development applications.Also mentoring, DA advice and best practice tours
Hypothetical design workshops were used to develop urban design skills in council staff.Regional, local and site-scale urban design was used.A fun way to learn!
BYO urban design problem for speed urban design.
Further objectives for 2013 have recently been set.
The first seminar of the 2013 Toowoomba winter urban design seminar series.
In May 2013 I undertook a short survey of SEQ local governments to understand the extent of urban design activities in our councils.
AnalysisQ1.5 of 9 SEQ councils surveyed employ ‘urban designers’. About half.But 3 of 9 surveyed have 4, 5 or more than 5 ‘urban designers’ on staffQ2.7 of 9 councils have staff with urban design skills but don’t have the words ‘urban design’ in their job titleTwo councils surveyed have more than 5 skilled urban designers working in ‘other roles’5 of 9 have 1 or 2 people with urban design skills working in ‘other roles’
AnalysisQ3Four postgraduate qualified urban designers were identified in the survey.Four undergraduate qualified urban designers were identified in the survey (although undergraduate degrees in urban design are rare. This figure might be questionable.)Seven persons did a degree that included some urban design subjectsFour persons have undertaken short courses.Q4.Strategic planning is where most urban designers work (8 identified in the survey across SEQ councils)Followed by development assessment and park (5 each)One lonely urban designer in an engineering department was also identified.
AnalysisQ5About half of SEQ local governments have an urban design policy. Q6And about half have policies about specific urban design issues.
AnalysisQ7.7 of 9 SEQ councils surveyed undertake some kind of urban design promotion activities.Awards, and advisory panels, are the most common technique used (4 councils each)Only 2 of 9 councils surveyed offer training for staff in urban designAnd only 2 of 9 run events or training targeting consultants, developers or community
This book by former councillor Tony Hall describes how the English town he lived in developed an urban design approach to its planning and development.
I believe achieving good design in our cities, towns and suburbs requires a broad and proactive approach, sustained over time. This starts with raising awareness and understanding of urban design, and then building up a culture of good design.Local governments have a critical role to play, and skills, policy and practice in SEQ councils is emerging.Making great local places is not easy but it is what we all want and it can be achieved.
Find regular urban design commentary on my blog.www.mckeownplandesign.com.au
Great local places, an urban design initiative for local governments by Michael McKeown
Michael McKeownUrban planner and designerPeter RichardsDeicke Richards
“Urban design isabout making better,locally distinctiveplaces. This issomething we allwant, and all ourplans and policiesaspire to achieve.”Great local places
Urban design in SEQ localgovernments, a surveyGreat local places
0 1 2 3 4 5012345 orgreaterdont knowNo. SEQlocal governmentNo.urbandesigners1. How many staff employed by your local government havethe words „urban design‟ in their job title?0 1 2 3 4 5012345 or greaterdont know2. How many staff employed by your local government haveskills in urban design and practice urban design in their role- but do not have the words urban design in their job title?
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8Postgraduate urban design qualification or degreeUndergraduate urban design degreeDegree in related discipline with subjects in urbandesignshort coursesin house trainingdont knowCombined responses SEQ local governments3. What level of formal training do urban designers in yourlocal government have?0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8Strategic planningDevelopment assessmentParksEngineeringTransportMajor projectsCombined responses SEQ local governments4. In which area do the urban designers work?
Summaryof urban design skills inSEQ councils• A majority of SEQ councils have urbandesigners in-house• Many skilled urban designers work in otheror broader roles• Only four postgraduate qualified urbandesigners (the main route to urban designskills) were identified.• Most staff with urban design skills havethem as part of a broader education• Most urban designers work in strategicplanning, D.A. or parks
545. Does your local government have ageneral urban design policy (excludingthe planning scheme)?yesno546. Does your local governmenthave any policies (excluding theplanning scheme) about specificaspects of urban design (e.g. welldesigned streets)?yesnoGreat local places
0 1 2 3 4 5Urban design advisory panel or similarUrban design awards (whether stand alone orpart of a broader awards programme)Senior councillor or officer who acts as a„champion‟ for urban designTraining programme for staffRegular events or training to raise awarenessand understanding of urban design with staffand councillorsRegular events or training to raise awarenessand understanding of urban design withconsultants, developers or community groupsNo urban design promotion activities7. Does your local government employ any of the following topromote urban design?
Summary of urban design skills andtraining and implementation• Half of SEQ councils have urban designpolicies• Nearly all councils promote urban design insome way• Awards, and advisory panels, are the mostpopular techniques• Few councils surveyed offer training in urbandesign to staff• Only two run events or training targetingconsultants, developers or community
Michael McKeownUrban planner and designerPeter RichardsDeicke Richards
www.mckeownplandesign.com.auwww.deickerichards.com.auGreat local places