Byron Shire Mayor Jan Barham gave the opening speech at the ‘Urban Design at the coalface of regional development’ workshop, held at the new Byron At Byron Resort. She highlighted the need for respect for place and community, saying “This is a prerequisite for achieving quality urban design. It is vital that the development industry respects and recognises what others before have fought hard to achieve”.
The Northern Rivers Urban Design Awards have three categories – Commercial, Government/Community and Villages. The region has an unusual settlement pattern for a rural region with a large population, as over 60% of the population reside in about 300 villages, or small localities scattered throughout the region. There is no other rural region in Australia with a similar sized population and settlement that could be described in this manner, as “a region of villages”.
Recent planning studies throughout the region have indicated a demand for growth in rural areas, but noted the importance of maintaining aesthetics, character and community cohesiveness in settlement approaches. ‘So we have to acknowledge our village way of life in everything we do and through all our planning processes” says Ian Oelrichs, President of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, ‘because this is what we love about the place, this is why we all moved here’.