The Coastal Towns Design Framework project is the largest urban design framework project to be conducted in regional Victoria. It comprises planning and design studies of 19 settlements and adjacent areas located along over 300 kilometres (approximately 40%) of Victoria’s coastline extending from Robertson’s Beach to the east of Wilson’s Promontory to Mallacoota near the New South Wales border. The Framework comprises three volumes: a Strategic Regional Background Report, the Between Settlements Strategic Framework and Urban Design Frameworks for 19 towns and settlements.
The project is to be commended for its sheer scale and the focus on landscape setting and values and the individual values and character of each of the villages and towns under investigation. With enormous demand for growth and change, the urban design assessments focus on identifying and protecting valued qualities while allowing for appropriate change and development.
Two and a half years in the making, the consultant team engaged effectively with local communities using innovative consultation techniques including workshops, a travelling “road show” with public displays, excellent graphics and, in some towns, 3D modelling of development proposals.
The Strategy is comprehensive, covering the urban settlements and the coastal environments between them. The urban design frameworks include strategic analysis, a master plan for each settlement, and Design Guidelines to assist in the interpretation of valued characteristics of the town and provide guidance in relation to approaches to new development. The judges were impressed by the fact that all design proposals were described, costed and prioritised over a 15 year time horizon, providing Councils with a comprehensive overview of the economic cost and benefit of the plans as well as a tool to plan implementation. In this way, the project gave enormous assistance to local Councils that ordinarily would not have access to this level of quality advice.
The jury noted that collaboration between all design disciplines now appears to be entrenched in urban design practice around the country, and many projects are focussing on achieving demonstrable economic benefits to cities, towns and regions – investing in urban design is clearly yielding dividends.
The Australia Award is hosted by the Planning Institute of Australia in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and Urban Design Forum. It is Australia’s only inter-disciplinary award recognising excellence in the built environment.