Designing our future should start today – strong support for new parliamentary report

The Australian Institute of Architects has thrown its support behind a new report that underscores the urgency to better plan and design for Australia’s future growth and help ensure prosperity, sustainability and liveability.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities Building Up and Moving Out report articulates the need for Australia’s cities and regions to be better planned, better connected, more diverse and more sustainable over the next 50 years.

It highlights the profound changes Australian communities are – and will continue – to experience because of population growth, urbanisation, an ageing population and an evolving economy, providing 37 recommendations aimed at setting the national agenda to connect, reinvigorate and integrate cities and regions.

‘Australia needs a national strategy to guide future growth, otherwise we risk losing the amenity and liveability that sets our nation apart,’ said the Institute’s National President Clare Cousins.

‘We are strongly in favour of the concept of a national vision for our cities and regions and a national plan of settlement for the next 50 years.

‘We don’t need a population policy, it’s not the size of the population that matters, but we do need a settlement strategy as it’s the characteristics and distribution of the population that is important.

‘The Institute welcomes the Building Up and Moving Out report and endorses a number of its key recommendations.

‘The development of master plans, the appointment of a senior Minister for Housing and a Cabinet Minister for Cities and National Settlement together with the creation of a statutory Office of a National Chief Planner and Cities & Regional Development NGO Roundtable are critical measures and should be complemented by the appointment of a Federal Government Architect.

‘Focusing on and supporting best practice design and planning is the only way for governments to assuage legitimate community concerns around congestion, meaningfully improve housing affordability and meet the challenges of inevitable population growth.

‘Importantly, the Committee recommended that the Australian Government re-endorse Creating Places for People: An Urban Design Protocol for Australian Cities and provide financial support for the purposes of maintaining and promoting these design principles.

‘Fundamentally, the report highlights the need for a national approach to ensuring Australia continues to prosper.

‘This means better governance arrangements between state, territory and federal governments, an accelerated City Deals program, stronger Commonwealth engagement in master planning at a national level, the formation of city commissions, as well as a national institute for cities research.

‘It also reinforces the need to attract and retain populations outside in our regions. To make this work, we need to implement strategies that ensure we have access to adequate schools, hospitals, housing, employment opportunities, transport and telecommunications.’