The business case for better streets and places

Electronic walking man on screen

One of many fantastic presentations at Walk 21, was from Living Streets London Manager, Tom Platt. He spoke about the business case for investing in better streets and places to deliver improved financial return for the high street (also known in other countries as the main street, downtown or shopping streets).

In the last decade, 16 per cent of high street shops in Britain have become vacant. During this time people have continued to move from short frequent shopping trips, to longer, less frequent car trips, with two thirds of shopping trips made by car.

The UK based study entitled the Pedestrian Pound, was commissioned by Living Streets and supports investing in the public realm as a means to increasing retail spending, reducing retail vacancies and creating an environment where people will walk for shopping trips. (This also contributes to other established co-benefits related to health, social inclusion and the environment).

The study findings include that:

  • Well planned improvements to public spaces can boost footfall and trading by up to 40%.
  • Investing in better streets and spaces for walking can provide a competitive return compared to other transport projects, with walking and cycling projects increasing retail sales by up to 30%.
  • Many car journeys are short and as the volume of goods is small, these trips could be made on foot.

The report is also supported by interesting case studies from the UK, including:

  • Sheffield, Heart of the City
  • Oxford Circus, diagonal crossing – where improvements to the pedestrian environment were found to result in an increased turnover of 25% for one of the major retailers facing this intersection.
  • Reinvigorate York, providing pedestrian improvements for the 7 million visitors that visit York annually.

To find out more about this study click here.

Walk 21 Sydney: How do we create walkable cities?

Sydney opera house with walker in foreground

A stimulating couple of days at Walk 21 Sydney, has drawn a whole host of research projects, concepts and innovative thinkers to our attention. Over the next month, we will highlight some of these people, publications and research to assist in spreading the word on how we can develop better urban environments.

If you would like to add a post, or links to relevant information please get in touch.



Festival of Urbanism: Health and high rise, is density bad for you?

Just in case there is not enough on your calendar, the Festival of Urbanism has just launched in Sydney! Running from the 15 October to the 6 November 2014, the festival is packed full with interesting of events. Tonight’s discussion is ‘Health and High-rise – Is density bad for you?

Expert panellists (see below) will address health issues related to increased density.

  • Associate Professor Stephen Corbett, Director of the Centre for Population Health in Western Sydney Local Health District
  • Dr Jennifer Kent, Urban Planner, Macquarie University
  • Dr Peter Sainsbury, Director of Population South Western Sydney Local Health District

To attend register here.

The theme of this year’s Festival of Urbanism is ‘Megaprojects’ for more information see the Festival of Urbanism.Tr


The Inaugural Paul Mees Debate

On Tuesday 14 October 2014 the Sustainability and Urban Planning Program at RMIT, Melbourne is hosting the inaugural Paul Mees debate, to honour one of Australia’s foremost transport advocates and planning scholars, Dr Paul Mees OAM

Panellists will consider the topic:  

That public transport planning is too important to be left to politicians

Debaters are:

  • Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens, former Mayor of Maribyrnong and co-founder and former Chair of the Metropolitan Transport Forum
  • Mr Rod Quantock, Melbourne comedian and self-professed ‘failed architect’
  • Councillor Jackie Fristacky, Mayor of City Yarra Council
  • Associate Professor Wendy Steele, Principal Research Fellow at RMIT University
  • Professor Carolyn Whitzman, Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Melbourne
  • Mr William McDougall, Consultant transport planner, engineer and economist.

The debate will be held at the RMIT Capitol Theatre, 113 Swanston Street, Melbourne at 6pm on Tuesday 14 October, 2014.

For further details, including how to register for the debate see:

Happy PARK(ing) Day 19 September 2014

Parking Day logo upside down car with park growing out of it

Temporary pop-up parks and artistic installations are occurring worldwide today in celebration of PARK(ing) Day, these will transform metered parking spots into temporary public parks.

PARK(ing) Day started in 2005 when the San Francisco arts collective ‘Rebar’ came up with the idea that paying a parking meter is a bit like renting a public space, so instead of parking a car, why not park something better?

On the third Friday of every September, designers, creatives, planners, architects, landscape architects and anyone passionate about new ideas for their city, temporarily transforms on-street car spaces into creative places that make the street more enjoyable, attractive and sociable.

park in a parking spot, lady on sun chairSource: Romania PARK(ing) Day website 

Here are some links to PARK(ing) Day events:

For more information see the PARK(ing) day website.



ady standing next to man with high vis jacket with arms out - Utopia mini-series

Utopia is a new mini-series on the ABC following the dramas and office politics of the fictitious National Building Authority.

Story lines vary from investigating the feasibility of a very fast train (no surprises there!), an endangered grass threatening plans for a new container terminal and accidentally announcing that a community garden will be included within a waterfront development.

The plot borders on reality and will cover some familiar territory for Australian-based urban planners. Discussions are peppered with phrases such as “compact urban form is the buzz word at the moment” and the satire is further lightened with sub-plots of office dramas, including a communications manager with more energy than sense, performance reviews gone bad and numerous jabs at Gen Y employees.

For anyone who has worked in a government office, on major developments or just enjoys a good laugh this is a great satirical mini-series.

Episode 5 ‘Arts and Minds” is screening tonight (Wednesday) at 8.30pm, or you can catch up on missed episodes on ABC’s iview.

two men with poster boards behind of the very fast train



Australian Urban Design Awards 2014

The 2014 Australia Awards for Urban Design (AAUD) were announced on Monday 14 July at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra. The Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) hosted the annual awards night, with 2014 Awards patron, Lucy Turnbull AO presenting the awards. Category winners were:

Delivered Outcome Award – Large-scale (two award winners)
New Acton Precinct, Canberra
Oculus with Fender Katsalidis Architects and client Molongo Group

Eagle sculpture in public space New Acton Canberra
Source: Oculus

Prince Alfred Park and Pool, Sydney City
Sue Barnsley Design and Neeson Murcutt Architects, created with the City of Sydney.

Palm trees at Prince Alfred Park and Pool

Delivered Outcome Award – Small-scale
Fremantle Esplanade Youth Plaza
Convic, City of Fremantle

skateboard arena FreemantleSource: City of Freemantle, Western Australia

Policies, Programs and Concepts Award – Large-scale (no award given)
Commendation: Pilbara Vernacular Handbook, Western Australia
CODA Studio with Landcorp

Pilbara Vernacular Handbook cover

Commendation: Darwin City Centre Master Plan
City of Darwin, Northern Territory Government, Design Urban Pty Ltd

aerial plan of Darwin

 Policies Programs and Concepts – Small Scale Award

The Goods Line, Sydney
Aspect Studios and CHROFI for the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority

Impression of the Goods Line precinct Sydney
Source: Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority

Commendation: Thinking outside ‘the box':
Key design elements for apartments in Ku-ring-gai
Ku-ring-gai Council Strategy and Environment Department

page of design guide for apartments
Source: Thinking Outside the Box 2011

Commendation: King’s Square Urban Design Strategy
CODA Studio with City of Fremantle and Creating Communities Australia

Renderings Kings Square

Sustained Contribution to Urban Design Award
Urban Voices – celebrating urban design in Australia
Editors: Bruce Echberg, Bill Chandler, John Byrne
For the first time, the judges were delighted to confer a special award for sustained contribution to urban design to the Urban Voices book.

The Australia Award for Urban Design was first presented in 1996 and is hosted annually by the Planning Institute of Australia (PIA), supported by the Australian Institute of Architects, the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects, Consult Australia, Green Building Council of Australia, the Property Council of Australia and the Urban Design Forum.