23 Aug 2019

Urbis and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage have collaborated to develop the new State Planning Policy – Precinct Design, with the aim of setting an industry-leading framework for urban development across the State. 

In a first for WA, the Precinct Design Policy involves a performance-based approach, identifying relevant criteria that will reflect not only the site but the context in which it sits, ensuring design solutions that are responsive to the existing and desired character of each precinct.

Ray Haeren, WA Regional Director, said, “Excellent urban development is about creating outstanding places and communities for now and for the future. The Precinct Design Policy has been developed to consider a precinct in its entirety with people at its centre. It’s about whole precincts and more importantly about their context and purpose – a holistic approach that ensures best practice urban design through bespoke solutions.”

First Contact, Kelwin Wong – Public artwork in Elizabeth Quay, Western Australia

At the core of the new policy is community participation. The framework is designed to support engagement early in the design process, enabling the community to work together with the developer and government to assist in defining a clear vision for how a precinct will progress.

What has been evident throughout is the importance of community participation, and this policy provides more opportunities for the community to actively shape precincts through early-stage involvement.

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Mr Haeren commented, “There are many voices that are critical in shaping our urban areas and ensuring thriving communities, and this was reflected in our research for the policy. What has been evident throughout is the importance of community participation, and this policy provides more opportunities for the community to actively shape precincts through early-stage involvement. To put it simply, it is hard to create a place for people without involving the people who live in it, work in it or visit it.”

Urbis, in partnership with the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage led a multi-disciplinary team of experts across architecture, property economics, transport, landscaping, heritage, sustainability, engineering and urban design to shape the policy. The team identified and analysed examples of best practice urban design both locally and internationally, applying key lessons learnt to the policy.

One local example of good precinct design is Montario Quarter, an award-winning development in Perth, involving the former Shenton Park Campus of the Royal Perth Hospital transitioning to an infill residential village and shopping precinct. The development focused on creating a clear vision and precinct plan, a heritage conservation strategy along with early and consistent community conversations, achieving optimum design outcomes reflective of important site features and local character.

A national example of good precinct design is Howard Smith Wharves in Queensland. The historic site is being transformed into an entertainment and lifestyle destination with retail, green spaces, picnic areas, indoor event spaces, a boutique hotel and riverside restaurants. The re-imagining of the iconic site was achieved through a similar process to what is required under the Precinct Design Policy, and included a context analysis (incorporating key characteristics such as the heritage conservation strategy), community consultation, inputs from a broad project team and implemented via the planning framework.

The Precinct Design Policy forms part of a planned suite of new WA design policies, delivering an agreed and comprehensive approach to planning and designing across the State, and providing a framework for excellence where design is a centre driver in all decision making.

The Minister for Planning launched the new policy today at a Planning Institute of Australia event. The Western Australian Planning Commission is now inviting industry and community consultation on the Precinct Design Policy.

To discuss any of the above or for more information, get in touch with our expert team. 
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