To develop a plan, points of focus or themes for the issues we are going to face can help in interrogating ideas and solutions. Identifying the constraints and opportunities is manageable if we reference principles that can capture all the conversations that arise. These 12 principles have been formulated to help format a plan. Also, they can be used to interrogate documents and critically analyse if they draw from an integrated approach. The principles, based on “Design for Ecological Democracy”, assumes that planning processes are complex and multi-faceted and need an integrated process.
The principles are here in the briefest form introducing the concepts. Many planners argue that plan development is philosophy and sometimes even policy neutral: This is not the case. Planners have a significant impact on the way we live and how we invest our money. Planning in NSW is often called evidence-based or uses the principles of New Urbanism. Both of these rely on numerics and observation. Another language is the adaptation process, or sustainability planning, that draw on the ability to prepare for changing: economic, social and environmental circumstance. However, they also apply philosophical frameworks that are not enumerated and are sometimes quite confusing.
When preparing plans, the twelve themes outlined below will be used to measure the effectiveness and the integration of identified issues and solutions. The twelve principles are:
Drivers: what is driving the economic, social and environmental change or activity that is happening and is it a short term or a long term process? Is the driver an economic, social, policy or strategic objective and what environmental incentives or issues will arise? Are changes following a global trend or is this a more local thing?
Selective diversity; diversity is the backbone of adaptability and resilience; it provides for change and ensures long-term sustainability. Selecting out things that don’t fit into a place is just as important as choosing things that fit well. Its nemesis is conflicting diversity. In a complex ecosystem, a wide range of options and opportunities exist, and as a contrast where the economy or the natural environment is discrete, small changes in the economy or climate may have devastating effects.
Smallness; Building an environment to a human scale enclave is primarily about comprehension and definition. When design puts things together that go together, it adds significantly to appeal and character. Small units can be inserted into overwhelming places to humanise or compartmentalise them. Developing sites that are walkable and visible improves usability and access.
Access and movement are part of the planning framework. Roads can be a link between places, or they become spaces for activity. A link road needs to facilitate efficient movement, but a place gives priority to pedestrians. Define the relationship between mobility and access needs for each location that we plan.
Sustainability or continuance: Is this idea, concept, design or functional purpose something that will be needed and appreciated in the future? Is the proposal something that will serve the community for a long time or is it a stopgap solution or a short term need?
Resilience and adaptation: Will the things that we are creating be adaptable? Will the use, design and function change? Can an existing item be adapted rather than demolished? Does the proposal add to local diversity and the longer term resilience of the place?
Identity: What sets this place apart? Can we identify a practical level of status seeking? Are the purpose and functions clear and is it well located? What will draw people and engage them here?
Landscape; what are the natural, designed, aesthetically pleasing and visual characteristics that set this site apart?
Focal points and orientation: How do people find their way around and how well is it oriented to the environment and surroundings?
Ownership: Do the key stakeholders own the solution and the methodology? Who will take ownership and manage the site when the project is complete and do they have the capacity to continue to develop and maintain it? This issue is of particular interest when Council is going to become the custodian of the infrastructure, but also when it is a community facility, who will maintain it?
Achievable Outcomes: Are the solutions feasible, can they be broken into parts that are each feasible and are the time frames realistic?
The wow factor: What is it and how will it be developed and marketed? Why was this place chosen for this function and will it be clear that it serves its purpose?
In the next post, I will elaborate on planning processes and how that should be done and then I will link these things together.