Time spent reviewing Liveable Neigbourhoods (LN) brought about a recognition on how this design guideline is possibly used or misused by the Western Australian development industry. The employment of LN acknowledges a guideline with juxtaposed outcomes, a character that depending on the user posesses both strengths and flaws, or a split personality. Therefore let me introduce you to ‘LeN’, WA’s urban design guideline, whom depending on use or abuse, manifests contrasting Jeckle and Hyde characteristics.
The Unconsidered Site At the commencement of the guideline, LeN does refer to site analysis and the importance of the site responsive design process, however all too often this principle is overidden. Therefore in the same way that Socrates suggested… ‘a life unconsidered is not worth living’, similar could imply … ‘an unconsidered site, is not worth living in’.
An unconsidered response to site within the urban design process provides no correlation to enhancing ‘sense of place’ or building on ‘landscape memory’. Allowing for innovation and diversity It is the development teams’ response to navigate the ever changing development circumstance, be it economic, social or environmental that nutures innovation and diversity, and ultimately [sub]urban resilience. This is why Structure Planning is to remain a broad responsive framework. While the land development and associated designers are required to be informed by the buidling industry and current wishes of the end users, the market in turn should respond to diversity of responsive urban design. In many ways the development industry in WA is seen to be running the show, a situation where… ‘the tail wags the dog’. Qualitative responses Qualitative responses in urban and open space design fosters the idea of resilience. It is when a design team picks up on these subtle site nuances that encourages ‘sense of place’ and ‘landscape memory’.
In contrast Evil LEN endeavours to use a formulaic quantitative approach which dismisses site subtley, sensitivity, ignoring the design process and ultimately turning ‘urban design’ into a generic commodity.
Urban Water Management Best practice urban water management can only occur where design professionals seamlessly integrate. Language such as ‘WSUD’, ‘better urban water management’, ‘multi-use corridors’, ‘green infrastructure’, ‘treatment trains’, etc. are thrown around as valued concepts, however requires willing design collaboration for their successful application.
POS Credits The determination of POS credits is still a subjective process witin the planning approvals process. It is important to understand that open space has far more functions then providing generic active recreation (lawn). Open Space credits are to be considered within a broader values context. LN – Caution Use Only as a Guide In finishing LeN’s (Hyde) evil side manifests when the guideline is applied within a fictitious manner, ie in a way that is non responsive to context, site analysis or void of a rich design process. Most evil or worst case scenario is when LEN becomes a generic ‘tick the box’, a ‘ready-made’ urban design decision maker, only employed to consider maximum development controls.
The presentation strongly urges the WA design professionals to consider Liveable Neighbourhoods Version 2.0 to be considered only as a design guide, part of a designers tool kit otherwise we will surely see a continuation of banal urbanity in WA.