Community place shaping and place making

Posted on June 25, 2012 by Western Suburbs Alliance

London architect Bernard Hunt has observed, ”We are good at putting up buildings, but we are bad at making places.”

Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Brian Dollery and Bligh Grant observe that the empowerment of local authorities and local communities through the devolution of local planning powers now being re-introduced in NSW echoes the ‘place-shaping’ approach to local government reform developed by the Lyons Inquiry into Local Government in England in 2007.

Creating communities involves far more than buildings and infrastructure. It is the residents that bring a place to life and help it to gain its own particular identity. However, much more is known about the physical and environmental challenges involved in development how to plan, design and places that enable residents and visitors alike to share common interests, agree on local priorities and work together to create a “there there” and bring pleasure and creativity and vibrancy to these areas.

Place shaping” or “place-making” is local groups working together to define, build and develop spaces that foster social and economic development and community cohesiveness, provide services that meet local preferences and are thus desirable places to live and work. It involves the diminution of central and state government oversight, encourages a far stronger role for political and administrative leadership at the local level, and advocates public-private partnerships and community participation in service delivery and design. And councils open consultations with residents, giving local people more say over their environment. What results is “place-branding” which can contribute to social and economic development.

Such an approach is clearly not welcomed by the property development lobby.

As Dollery and Grant observe, while local councils are obviously not perfect in representing the views of all members of any community, they do have the unquestioned democratic legitimacy to make local planning decisions on behalf of, and in conjunction with, the local people.

Link to Future Communities

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