National and international place leaders including Carol Coletta, US moderator of the debate on successful cities, Chris Leinberger, developer of sustainable and profitable urbanism, Neil McInroy, CEO of the UK Centre for Local Economic Strategies and James Kunstler, well-known author and social commentator, challenged current thinking to determine better ways to make our cities more liveable.
People at the heart
A key outcome from the conference was the importance of putting people at the heart of place-making. For many participants, walkable urban places were the key metric.
This conference was about transformational change in the way development is carried out: creating a new mindset and a new language for Melbourne around development. The place-making approach to urban development starts by asking what characteristics can be enhanced or added to deliver a neighbourhood in which more people choose to comfortably live their lives.
The conference attendees largely agreed that this people-first approach is more likely to deliver outcomes that are in keeping with positive attributes of existing neighbourhood character. Six months of lead-in events and online forums helped develop the conference program. They engaged representatives from the development, finance and community sectors unearthed some interesting viewpoints, including:
the need for a new set of metrics to ensure property valuations take into account place value; the investment in the characteristics of an entire area rather than the investment in just one individual building;
the need for much closer collaboration with the finance sector, with a typical comment being ‘what gets funded is what gets built’, in reference to a belief that new development models struggle to achieve finance;
the need for development professionals to develop understanding and skills in community engagement to better manage opposing viewpoints.
Growing community expectations around the design and form of places in which they want to live make these types of discussion vital. Hosted by VicUrban, in partnership with the Department of Planning and Community Development, City of Melbourne, Federation Square and Village Well, the series has amplified the idea of place making as a movement. VicUrban and the conference partners are keen to hear feedback on the conference to ensure momentum is maintained and stakeholders continue to be identified.
Presentations, videos and discussions are available on the Place Making website www.melbourneplacemakingseries.com.au. Conference participants developed eight draft action statements to advance the place-making community of practice. These make great reading and can also be viewed on the website under the Statement of Practice tab. Stay tuned for ways you can champion the place making movement in your day-to-day work and help raise the debate on city liveability and collaborative practice.