A sense of place is one of many characteristics linked very closely to local identity. Local identity is linked to a sense of arrival. These are factors that make an environment physiologically and psychologically comfortable. The character of place is one with its own identity. Three variables of sense of place are: legibility and human scale; the perception of and preference for the visual environment; and the compatibility of the setting with human purposes.
Understanding of a sense of place helps to protect the region’s cultural heritage and promote cultural awareness and strengthen the affinity with place. The implication for built environment professionals: planning and design should involve sense of place and sense of arrival in four meanings: psychological responses to designs; preservation of the past of a place; creation of a sense of place for future environments; creation of a sense of arrival for future experience.
The entrance image of a town held by people contributes to a sense of arrival and sense of place. We should make every effort to maintain visual environments in harmony with the town’s defined character during ongoing community development. Local symbols reflect and enhance a sense of place. This knowledge may be used to maintain and enhance place identity.
For many people, the settlement or town region is their true life space. At the local scale, we need to know how well people can define, and joyfully identify themselves with, the places in their township: the home itself, the town centre, the workplace, and the recreation ground.
Thinking of the sense of place and time, I suggest that designers and planners consider norms for:
the ability of the elderly or the handicapped to traverse the region
the perceived safety of being alone at any hour in various areas
the image-ability of public spaces, as well as the limits of their spatial proportions, or the preferred degree of enclosure
the degree to which an area should contain visual reminders of its past use and form
the expression of current changes, future trends, and alternative futures
develop design guidelines to enhance the sense of place in new development
map areas to enhance character
analyse the legibility of the region and the sequential form of its main routes
study the underused areas of the region (rooftops, car parks, alleyways) to see if they can be opened up to public use
integrate a regional system of bikeways and footways, including their management and design
suggest how public access can be opened up to desirable areas such as waterfronts, nature preserves, streams, and fine viewpoints
encourage public celebrations of the seasons or special holidays
develop information centres where current changes and future possibilities are displayed
develop a plan for region wide historic conservation, and set up programs of public education in local regional history.
In conclusion, Victorian towns, many of which have a rich past or a unique present such as Nathalia, provide opportunities in an independent rural town setting. The challenge of balancing township character and growth with improvements in services and community facilities are important for regional towns’ future growth. In a place rich in cultural and environmental diversity, residents convey their sense of place through a myriad of cultural expressions, which planners can factor into their land-use decisions.