Planning is in the spotlight! What’s your call to action?
Planning at state and local levels is in the spotlight – and for good reason. We should be planning for the complex challenges we are experiencing with much more agility.
Sometimes, I don’t think local governments adequately acknowledge the uniqueness of their places and communities, in order to build on their strengths. Local governments’ corporate and strategic plans are too similar. Standard, zoning-based planning is not sophisticated enough to deal with rapid social change or the challenges of the new and next economy.
Long-term plans, set in stone, may give certainty, but sacrifice the agility needed to respond to emerging trends and opportunities. We need to make more informed decisions on evidence-based stories of “place” to better plan.
We need to forecast the future of places, and ask ourselves: “if this forecast future is not desirable, how can we intervene to make a better future?” The future of local planning is about understanding the changing role and function that places are likely to play, and how places can adapt. High levels of connectivity between places is a huge challenge for a nation as large and dispersed as Australia.
However, local government is having to plan for, and consult communities about rapid change, in the absence of a national narrative or sufficient funding required to plan for growth and change. I believe the challenges facing local government could be halved, in terms of difficulty, if we have a frank, consistent and compelling national narrative about our nation’s economic and demographic future.
My call to action is not to local government, but to our national leaders, to do some frank truth-telling, and share a compelling, fact-based story, not only about our demographic, economic and environmental future, but also about our indigenous past. That would set the context for all of us to participate in improving the quality of life across Australia.
What’s your call to action?