Goals For Planning A New Urban Development – Or Home…

Picture of bland medium density development and street

Recently completed residential units in Kingston, ACT, Australia. (I could have chosen some even newer and more boring ones in the same suburb, but these were handy.)
Image by Gillian King, CC BY-NC-SA

In my last post I wrote about the current and emerging complicated and complex challenges for urban planning and development and how collaboration can address these challenges – and get good outcomes.

If you were planning a new urban development – or a new home – what would be your goals for addressing these challenges?

Think about it for a moment.

If you were living or working in – or visiting – an urban area, what would you be looking for in it?

Your goals might include:

  • comfort
  • amenity
  • opportunities for local community, retail and employment interactions, both
  • formal and informal;
  • shelter from the impacts of weather…and climate change.

Where I live, that particularly means buffers from westerly winds, heat and fire as well as protection from cold.

Your goals might also include local conservation of:

  • uncontaminated soil;
  • nutrients (for example, from prunings, leaves and household organic matter);
  • vegetation;
  • biological diversity;
  • ecosystems and ecological processes; and
  • wildlife corridors

Such local conservation can be particularly important with ‘greenfield’ developments.  (‘Greenfield’ developments are those where land is being built on for the first time.  It usually takes place in areas that are in their natural state (eg forest) or are used for agriculture.  This means that it is unsustainable in the long term.)

Did you know that local nature conservation can also be important for developments in existing urban areas?

As well as recycling important resources such as nutrients, a development can be planned and constructed in such a way that it actually increases vegetation, biological diversity and wildlife corridors.

Appropriate vegetation not only increases amenity and comfort for humans in the area but it can provide corridors in which wildlife can live and move.  This is increasingly important natural habitats become more and more fragmented and subject to climate change.

If we are looking at our health, amenity & community while reducing our environmental footprint, our goals for our development would also include:

  • active and public transport being the obvious transport choices,
  • with infrastructure for cars focussed on serving the needs of people with impaired mobility.

And if we are looking at lowering our environmental footprint while increasing our urban and community resiliency and mitigating against climate change, then our goals could include the area being self-sufficient in a range of areas, such as:

  • electricity;
  • heating and cooling;
  • water;
  • stormwater management; and
  • sewage management.

We could also look at self-sufficiency in food.

Yes, food.

With clever planning and implementation, many urban areas can become self-sufficient in food – at least in fruit, vegetables and fish.

Achieving goals such as these will be particularly important for mitigating against and adapting to climate change. And, of course, for being more sustainable.

In turn, they contribute to our well-being…and to economic performance.

And the result?

It might be very different to what we see around our cities today…

Take a look at my Pinterest board about Sustainable Urban Design for some great ideas.

What would be your goals for a new urban development or a new home? Just leave a comment in the box below…or send me a voice message by clicking on the tab on the right.

Till next time…be gentle to yourself and our world!

This post is an edited extract from a talk I gave on ‘Doing Density Properly’ at a Canberra Urban and Regional Futures forum at the University of Canberra on 22 September 2014.