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    NSW government launches major new urban design policy

    Branko Miletic

    NSW planning minister Anthony Roberts has launched his government’s urban design master plan, known as ‘Better Placed’.

    Speaking at the Bankstown Library and Knowledge Centre, Roberts noted that this was the “very first ever NSW state-wide design policy to ensure the delivery of high-quality urban design and better places for people across NSW.”

    ‘Better Placed’ was drafted from input from a wide range of sources including architects, urban planners, and other design professionals from across Australia and across the world.

    “Better Placed” provides clarity on what the NSW government means by good design and it’s not just how a place looks, but how it works, and feels for the people,” said Roberts.

    “This policy will assist everyone involved from the design phase through to DAs.”

    In a departure from what some consider as conventional wisdom, Roberts noted that, “Good design should be process driven and not outcome driven.”

    “At present, we are witnessing unprecedented levels of spending on infrastructure,” said Roberts, adding that, “quite frankly, this should have occurred decades ago”.

    “The new policy will help to deliver a higher quality of new development and great places as we meet the challenges of an increasing population,” said Australian Institute of Architects NSW chapter president Andrew Nimmo.

    “Investing in the design process at the early stage of projects saves time and cost and leads to more responsive, resilient, healthy, integrated and equitable precincts, towns and cities,” he noted.

    Chief Executive Officer of the Institute, Jennifer Cunich added, ‘The Institute would like to see similar quality-based policy throughout the country, as we believe that good design yields a dividend for all stakeholders, that is returned not just in the immediate term, but over the lifetime of a well-designed and delivered built environment.”

    Roberts said the policy would help councils, developers, architects and designers, engineers, builders, industry groups, local communities and businesses.

    “Great places and cities don’t happen by chance: they are designed, and continue to be designed as we manage the transformation of our cities,” he said.

    “We all have a part to play in the look and feel of our neighbourhoods and this simple policy which outlines a new strategic approach, written in clear language, will help,” noted Roberts.

    “The NSW Government recognises the challenges we face as we continue to grow and become a more highly urbanised society. This policy has been developed to manage the challenges ahead and anticipates a series of design guides to help address the opportunities and challenges of the future.”

    ‘Better Placed’ is the first in a suite of policies and guidelines to be created by Government Architect NSW (GANSW) that will be announced by the end of 2018. 

    According to NSW Government Architect Peter Poulet, the launch of this master plan means that now, “design has to be fit for purpose,” and is firmly tied to “wellness.”

    “This policy will now shape every city and every town in NSW,” Poulet noted.
    The NSW government says that the supporting documents will include detailed design guides, manuals and case studies.

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