Category Archives: urban development

bureaucrats lack empathy

Costigan-P1120577It was during a recent North Canberra Community Council meeting that I realised I was hearing something very rare. The presenter was talking about fairly matter-of-fact issues to do with changes to local traffic lights and footpaths and it sounded as though she identified with the issues being dealt with.

Continue reading bureaucrats lack empathy

Dickson Parklands – Land Grab

Article Lead - wide998573026gija9aimage.related.articleLeadwide.729x410.giivvm.png1437707368480.jpg-620x349The North Canberra Community Council (NCCC) has expressed both surprise and disappointment at yesterday’s shock announcement by the ACT Government proposing residential development in Dickson between the Dickson Pool and Dickson Playing Fields. It is known formally as Dickson Section 72 and informally as Dickson Parklands. click here for the full media release from the community council.

Dickson Shops

An update on development in Canberra

Looking to the next elections for resident friendly solutions

dickson-shops3 The Dickson residents continue to be disappointed with the ACT Government for allowing so many inappropriate development proposals to be taken seriously. The latest let-down is that local politicians look as if they are allowing a supermarket and residential proposal to progress even though the evidence indicates how wrong it is for this inner suburb.

Continue reading Dickson Shops

Yarralumla Development

Development to alter the Yarralumla ambience

Master-plan-Feb-2015_The following is a slightly longer version of a post I uploaded to RiotACT. This post concentrated on the new development sites which will replace much of the greenery around the southern edge of this part of Yarralumla. I have left comments about the redevelopment of the former brickwork’s sit for another time.

Continue reading Yarralumla Development

Dickson Planning Consultation Dilemmas

Development dilemmas: part three
The future of the Dickson Precinct and beyond

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This is the third of several posts on planning and development issues for Dickson in Canberra. Residential groups around the country share similar frustrations, dilemmas and challenges in dealing with planning and development bureaucracies.

Continue reading Dickson Planning Consultation Dilemmas

Dickson Parklands

Development dilemmas: part two
The future of the Dickson Parklands

Section72-DicksonThis is the second of several posts on planning and development issues effecting the local residents of Dickson in Canberra. The issues are not unique to Dickson. Residential groups around the country share similar frustrations, dilemmas and challenges in dealing with planning and development bureaucracies.

Continue reading Dickson Parklands

Dickson Shops

Development dilemmas: part one
Residents and the future of the Dickson Shops

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This is the first of several posts on planning and development issues effecting local residents. The stories and issues are not unique to Dickson in Canberra. Many residential groups around the country share similar frustrations, dilemmas and challenges in dealing with planning and development bureaucracies.

Continue reading Dickson Shops

Dickson Shops

Planning and Development of the Dickson Shops

A bad case study in community engagement

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It was just days before Christmas (2014) when local residents may have noticed that a development application with big ramifications for their precinct was now available online for comment – with a month in which to submit any comments.

Continue reading Dickson Shops

Seven Myths About New Urbanism

Re-Posted from ThisBigCity blog

brooklyn-bridgeSeven Myths About New Urbanism: Joel Kotkin, a fellow at Chapman University and an untiring defender of the suburbs, begins a recent column in the Washington Post with a valid question: “What is a city for?” He then proceeds to get that question completely wrong. But really, we should be thanking him. In his article, he neatly sums up many of the key myths emerging from the anti-urbanism set, making the job of debunking these myths a lot easier. Click here.

section 72 Dickson – the future

An Opinion Piece

The Future of Dickson Section 72 as a Community and Cultural Site

The Dickson Community Cultural Parklands.

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I wrote a piece yesterday about the disappointment expressed by residents about the manner in which the ACT Government is dealing with the local communities over the future of the community site officially known as Section 72 Dickson. Click here.

Continue reading section 72 Dickson – the future

section 72 Dickson

An Opinion Piece

Dickson Section 72 – Community Consultations – 20th Oct 2014

P1080436On a cool Monday evening, more than one hundred local residents from surrounding suburbs gathered in the Dickson College hall in response to the invitation to attend a workshop staged by the ACT Government.

Continue reading section 72 Dickson

LA for bikes

Los Angeles a city for cyclists?

LALA wasn’t always a driver’s town. In the 1920s, it had the longest urban rail network in the world, and innovative infrastructure was built for cyclists as well. Despite this, Angelenos fell in love with the car early on and moved for more highway projects, making it the road-based city it is today.

click here for the story.

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Paul Costigan, 19 August 2014

Urbanity: Canberra Planning & Development

Commentary: The problems of Canberra’s Planning & Development

watson-House-P1030003Canberra, as with most major centres in Australia, is caught up in complex and sometimes nasty urban planning debates.

On the one side there is the property council groupings that include the gung-ho developers*, and their colleagues amongst the architects, planners and the planning authorities.

Continue reading Urbanity: Canberra Planning & Development

Public Art City of Sydney 2

Reviewing City of Sydney’s public art commissions

1406603825907.jpg-300x0I had previously posted about the City of Sydney’s announcements for three new works for Sydney’s public spaces. click here.

I have just read online the views of the Crikey urbanist, Alan Davies. There’s a lot more to say about this guy’s reviews and some of his strange views on urban issues . He has some serious problems! More on some of his comments later – watch this space. Continue reading Public Art City of Sydney 2

National Capital Authority

The NCA is no longer relevant

An opportunity has presented itself with the Commonwealth Government’s announcement to allow the National Capital Authority (NCA) to open up the Parliamentary Triangle to more commercial opportunities. (CT 12 July, Page 1, Shopping in the triangle? It’s a private matter)

I have no problem at all with more commercial activity happening within the Parliamentary Triangle. The question is just how to intelligently implement such a change to this landscape that presently serves as a national monument.

Continue reading National Capital Authority

Trees and sustainable settlements

Comment on the Art of Trees

 

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I have said it before and am happy to say so again, I live in a suburb in Canberra that has a fabulous amount of trees. The amount of trees in the public arena, streets and parks etc, combined with those throughout the residential properties delivers an ambience that is hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced it.

Continue reading Trees and sustainable settlements

Urban Trees

Comment and Link to UK article on Urban Trees

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I have the benefit of living in a suburb with plenty of tree cover. In fact the view outside onto the streets is almost as if the street is a parkland. The concept that any suburb should have an abundance of trees and shrubs and associated bio-diversity is simply so logical that one wonders why would anyone think otherwise.

Continue reading Urban Trees

Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane, Part Two

Review: Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane
Part Two: The Urban Development Atrocities

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The Queensland state government spent millions on the Roma Street Parklands. This parkland was set to add huge value to any apartments built around its edges. One would have thought that the City would have insisted on at least some higher levels of design for such buildings. Continue reading Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane, Part Two

Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane, Part One

Review: Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane
Part One: It is about creative Garden Design

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I first visited these gardens and parklands back in 2004 and was very impressed then. This parkland project was a major commitment by the then state government to re-develop a former industrial site and to join it to the existing Albert Park to form one larger parkland, the Roma Street Parklands. I highly recommend anyone and everyone visiting Brisbane to allocate at least an hour to wander about these parklands ten minutes or more away from the Brisbane CBD. (click on any image to enlarge it)

Continue reading Roma Street Parkland, Brisbane, Part One

Value the Landscape

How can we work with the landscape to make liveable places?

A video, about six and half minutes, introducing the concept of valuing landscape and the link to liveable settlements.

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see also – Sustainable Sites Initiative

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Paul Costigan, 24th June 2014

 

Canberra Urbanity and Development

Recent Canberra Government development announcements

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In recent weeks and months there have been several significant development proposals announced by the territory (ACT) government in Canberra. If all the government’s ambitions come to fruition then residents about to witness some very serious alterations and additions to the make-up of several parts of the inner city urban fabric.

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity and Development

Just Say No

Comment: on being True to the Planet can mean sometimes you have to just say no.

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How are we being served by our professions in their provision of buildings and landscape projects? The highest priority for the future of the planet remains that every action be taken in the context of addressing climate change adaptation.

Continue reading Just Say No

Sydney Botanic Gardens Threat

An Open Letter to the Honorable Mr Paul Keating
about the proposed redevelopments within The Sydney Botanic Gardens.

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If I were to write to the former Prime Minister about the Sydney Botanic Gardens Master Plan consultations, I would most likely say:

Dear Mr Keating,

I am writing in response to news articles reporting on your comments to the proposals being canvassed as part of the Master Plan for Sydney’s Botanic Gardens.

Continue reading Sydney Botanic Gardens Threat

Brisbane Ugly Part Six

Urbanity: More on comments by Alain de Botton, Part Six of Six

That parts of Brisbane are ugly and the local government has allowed this to happen

Part Six of Six  – some final words

See previous:  Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart Five

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Brisbane definitely would not win any ‘most attractive city award’.

Continue reading Brisbane Ugly Part Six

Brisbane Ugly Part Five

Urbanity: Following up comments by Alain de Botton, Part five/six

That parts of Brisbane are ugly and the local government has allowed this to happen

Beauty in urban development is something we should insist on!

Part Five of Six  – South Bank and West End.

Links to all:  Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart Six

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There is no doubt that there are aspects of Brisbane that a far more interesting than the city centre. South Bank and the West End are such places. South Bank Parklands have been managed well for years up till now – but I am not so sure about the current management.

South Bank is a place for leisure, for the family, for picnics, for food and cafes and the cultural centres, for events, and especially for culture such as visits to the state gallery.

Continue reading Brisbane Ugly Part Five

Brisbane Ugly Part Four

Urbanity:
Following up comments by Alain de Botton, Part Four of Six

That parts of Brisbane are ugly and the local government has allowed this to happen

Beauty in urban development is something we should insist on!

Part Four – nearby the Brisbane Central District

Links to all:  Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart Six

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There are aspects of Brisbane are beautiful. The river is magic. The photo above, taken some years back illustrates this. The evening lights enhance the unfortunate placement of major roads along the river’s edge. These freeways are transport engineering successes but are barriers to any hope of joining the city to the river.

Continue reading Brisbane Ugly Part Four

Brisbane Ugly Part Three

Urbanity: Following up comments by Alain de Botton, Part Three

That parts of Brisbane are ugly and the local government has allowed this to happen

Beauty in urban development is something we should insist on!

Part Three – Brisbane Central District

Links to all:  Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart Six

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The central area of the city of Brisbane has evolved into a modern city with many historic buildings surviving. These heritage buildings are now surrounded by an over abundance of glass and concrete walls of taller office building. It is not a pretty sight.

Continue reading Brisbane Ugly Part Three

Brisbane Ugly part Two

Urbanity: Following up on comments by Alain de Botton, Part Two

That parts of Brisbane are ugly and the local government has allowed this to happen

Beauty in urban development is something we should insist on!

Part Two – arriving from the airport

Links to all:  Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart Six

tunnel_729-620x349 Continue reading Brisbane Ugly part Two

New Acton Precinct, Canberra

Review: Urbanity
New Acton Precinct, Canberra

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There was much ado about this whole precinct development when it was being built and this continues through to today. Having visited the site a few times now, to meander, to eat, to meet for coffee and the occasional business, I have to say that it is a very mixed result. It is worth a visit on a busy day to see for yourself. But it does not match some of the rhetoric that has been put about – click here for an example of some project-porn spin*.

Continue reading New Acton Precinct, Canberra

Brisbane Ugly Part One

Urbanity:
Following up on comments by Alain de Botton, Part One of Six

That parts of Brisbane are ugly and the local government has allowed this to happen

Beauty in urban development is something we should insist on!

Part One – commenting on the News and its response to Alain

Links to all:  Part OnePart TwoPart ThreePart FourPart FivePart Six

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A mild storm recently broke in the media around comments made by Alain de Botton. To view one Brisbane local news piece on this and see Alain respond – click here. I was alerted to there being something wrong here when certain commentators responded. Oh the media just did not read his new book on the media!

Continue reading Brisbane Ugly Part One

Democracy and Tecoma

Opinion: Democracy at work – or not

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The McDonalds versus the town of Tecoma story as reported earlier, click here, has come to a sad close with the locals having lost the battle. Despite the majority of the citizens not wanting to have a McDonalds outlet within their village like precinct, the planning regulators ruled that what the citizens requested had no bearing on the outcome.

Continue reading Democracy and Tecoma

Los Angeles in 2033

From The Huffington Post

The Huffington Post presents a wonderfully optimistic report about a city that is often regarded as being a terrible example of urban development. I disagree. It has many things wrong with it but if you spend time there you can see that there are some really great things happening. All cities have their problems and many do not much to boast about.

Continue reading Los Angeles in 2033

wetlands

Comment: Wetlands and Climate Change Adaptation

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Australia has a very mixed understanding and relationship with wetlands. I happen to be fortunate to live close to one. This came into existence just a couple of years ago when the local government transformed a disused and degraded parkland into a wetland attached to an old style concrete drain.

Continue reading wetlands

Canberra Urbanity – Fast Track Developments

Opinion: Proposals on fast track development precincts
Introducing democracy into ACT planning and development

crowd-P1020498Feathers have been quietly ruffled locally as the ACT Government (local government for Canberra) has announced it is to introduce a new proposal that would see identified precincts developed using a fast-track development process. This change to planning has been reported on in the Canberra Times and should be read before reading my comments that follow below – click here

What follows was edited down as  a ‘letter to the editor’ on this subject.

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity – Fast Track Developments

Equity and Parks

Urbanity: Parks for everyone

glebe-P1000979There’s many a piece of research and publication about the links between access to parks and people’s health and wellbeing. Any urban area that includes ample public green spaces will always be sought after and the benefits are evident in the community attitudes towards their residential areas. Parks enhance the sense of community.

Continue reading Equity and Parks

The Farrell Review UK

Report: The Built Environment

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In January 2013 the UK Minister for Culture, Communications and the Creative Industries, commissioned a review of architecture and the built environment. The report is now available online.  The recommendations covered: Education, Outreach and Skills; Design Quality; Cultural Heritage; Economic Benefits; and Built Environment Policy.

See our other blog for more details and comments click here

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Paul Costigan, 2 April 2014

Happy City

Reviews: Book

Happy City, Charles Montgomery, 2013

From the blurb online:

“A brilliant, entertaining and vital book. Montgomery deftly leads us from our misplaced focus on money, cars and stuff to consider what makes us truly happy. Then everything changes – the way we live, work and play in humanity’s major habitat, the city.” – David Suzuki

Continue reading Happy City

Leadership in Design

Leadership in design of the built environment

watson-House-P1030003 I was attending a meeting of combined community council two years ago, when to members of the public who were in attendance made very similar appeals. Both were very upset with the quality of the redevelopments that had appeared within their street, despite the local communities objections about key aspects of the developments.

As far as I could ascertain, they were not necessarily opposed to the infill of their suburb. It was more about the nature of the apartments being built.

Continue reading Leadership in Design

Leadership in Landscape Design

Leadership in Landscape Design
Online Presentation:
The Best Planned City: Olmsted, Vaux, and the Buffalo Park System

olmstedDespite all the evidence and all the advocacy, our political leaders are still not up to the challenge of dealing with something that is a threat to life as we have come to know it here on this planet. True leadership seems to be in short supply these days.

Continue reading Leadership in Landscape Design

Urban Heat

Opinion: Urban Trees and Heat
A case study of neglect and willful blindness?

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There was a routine piece in the Canberra Times about the current heat wave, temperature around and above 40 Degrees Celsius, and backyard trees or in some case about the lack of them. The article pointed to the now well established reality, that during such times those residential properties that lacked shade were suffering higher temperatures.

Continue reading Urban Heat

Tecoma

Urbanity: A tale of community action

Tecoma community objects to Big Mac development

Occasionally in Australia it still happens that a community gets their collective act together to take on the local authorities over some stupid planning decisions. I have been involved in such an action – the Great Marsden Street Battle.

It also happens that communities take the ‘shocking’ decision to say no to the invasion of one of the big box retailers, or in this case one of the big fast food giants.

The outer Melbourne community of Tecoma was awakened one day in 2011 to the imminent invasion into their picturesque community of Macdonalds.

Continue reading Tecoma

Central Park Sydney

Review: Urban Development

Sydney’s Central Park development, Chippendale, Sydney

view-P1020666photographs by Paul Costigan – click on image for larger

The Central Park development of the old brewery site opposite UTS in Sydney, has attracted much attention in the last couple of years. Most of this was in the form of churnalism, being column space based on using the developer’s media releases. There has also been the expected paragraphs of praise by ‘industry’ experts in profession’s trade magazines.

Continue reading Central Park Sydney

Urbanity: Green Infrastructure

Opinion: The Realities of Urban Green Infrastructure

montalbanoIt has been while watching the episodes of that wonderful program (on DVD),  Montalbano, that the beauty of the Sicilian cities has been revealed. They are just fabulously charming. (see footnotes)

These are very Mediterranean city scenes with off white buildings, tight streets and plenty of lanes and hill-side stairs.

What is missing are the trees. There are the few decorative ones and those on the surrounding hills. But for one brought up with the luxury of lush street trees, green front yards (lawns) and sidewalks, these streets and lanes are very devoid of greenery.

Beautiful – but bare.

Continue reading Urbanity: Green Infrastructure

Canberra Urbanity: Marsden Street

An Anniversary

About two years ago, during 2010 – 2011, this quiet residential area in the inner north of Canberra was the battle ground over a very silly proposed redevelopment of two blocks of land.

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Once the residents had been through the tribunal process, and before the decisions were handed down, the complex chain of events was documented. It is called Do Onto Others.

It is a long read – click here.

Canberra Urbanity

Climate Change adaptation falters in the suburbs

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Dealing with the complex issues of climate change adaptation should by now have become a priority and part of the everyday for any local government in their oversight of design, planning, development and the re-development of our settlements.

Here in Canberra we have been the subject of a decade or two of pronouncements from newly appointed chief planners on how they are to oversee development that is sustainable and .. lots of other spin that always sounds so sensible!

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity

TREME

Review: Treme on DVD

There is a series in my local paper about how the new Chief Planner has a wonderful vision for her role with the city of Canberra. The interviewer is a local architect. The piece reads as a conversation between two people who have no idea how patronising their comments are towards residents. It reminded me of one of the themes that David Simon‘s had structured into his TV series TREME.

 

Continue reading TREME

Canberra Urbanity: Jack Ross Park

Review: Landscape Architecture/Parks

Jack Ross Park, Kingston Foreshore, Canberra

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This is a first venture into the new park within the slowly evolving foreshore development at Kingston , Canberra. First impressions are of lots of detail, very contemporary and any park besides the lake is to be a welcomed addition to local amenities.

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity: Jack Ross Park

Architecture & Awards

Opinion Piece on the state of Australian Architecture Awards

frontNGA-P1020039 It was while standing in front of the National Gallery of Australia (NGA), that it occurred to me that the extension, which includes the new entrance, had not figured in awards. I am fully aware of the controversies about how these extensions came about. Should any of that have excluded this architectural addition to the nation’s art gallery from being the recipient of awards.

I intend to write more about the NGA in the near future, but for now I my curiosity has turned to the architecture awards as run by the national professional body, the AIA. These awards are lauded nationally, so why not apply a reality check as to how their award winners really stack up.

Continue reading Architecture & Awards

Singapore Bishan Park

Review: Landscape Architecture/ Park Design

Bishan Park Singapore

Question? Can a professional in a large bureaucracy bring about change?

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The above image is of Bishan Park in Singapore until a senior landscape architect within the Parks Board had a great idea. Why not change this unattractive engineered solution back to being part of the river? Apparently he pushed hard for the idea to be taken up and eventually won the day. We visited this park in 2012 and were impressed by the difference a great idea and determination can deliver to the local population.

Continue reading Singapore Bishan Park

Canberra Urbanity

 Canberra’s Champs-Elysees? Get Real!

The redevelopment of Canberra’s Constitution Avenue has been long in coming and the ACT Government has today announced its plans for the next stage.

Unfortunately someone has bravely announced that it will be Canberra’s Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Does that mean there will be an equivalent of the Arc de triomphe, the avenue is to be lined with large international expensive shops, huge crowds day and night, massive amounts of traffic (four lanes each side) and a host of ever-present scammers and pick-pockets.

Continue reading Canberra Urbanity

Canberra Urbanity

Anzac Parade: A mixed tale of Trees and Lights

Trees are important in our urban environments. They are part of our urban green infrastructure and perform important roles assisting in health and well-being as well as climate change adaptation.

And they are just beautiful.  I like trees.

Anzac-trees01 Continue reading Canberra Urbanity

Climate Change

Reform failed – so let’s try Revolution

The Australian politicians were called on to address climate change over a decade ago (at least). Local community groups have recognised the need for climate change adaptation and have been frustrated with the lack of meaningful leadership that should be offered by elected officials.

The mainstream press, as led by Murdoch, and the ABC have provided their own biased information on these complex topics. The general public has received mixed messages instead of meaningful and useful information based on the overwhelming scientific evidence.

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Continue reading Climate Change