Enhancing liveability through good design

A submission to the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission's 'Inquiry into Enhancing Victoria's Liveability'
Design Sustainable development Public spaces Victoria
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This paper addresses some key aspects of the scope of the inquiry, as described on
page 5 of the VCEC Issues Paper 1, where they intersect with the charter of the OVGA.
In particular, and in the context of the design of the built environment, it will address:

  • the advantages of good planning and community infrastructure, and the costs of poor urban design;
  • the planning, design and implementation of sustainable urban systems in other jurisdictions that are focused on achieving liveability goals; and
  • opportunities for government action to enhance the liveability of Victoria.

"Arial",sans-serif;color:black">In its Issues Paper, the VCEC discusses a number of measures of liveability, and points out the fact that varying criteria or characteristics are used to evaluate liveability and quality of life. The view of the OVGA is that liveability certainly involves fundamentals like access to affordable housing, public transport and community infrastructure but it also relates to the quality of the services, the facilities and the environments which are accessed.

"Arial",sans-serif;color:black">The focus of this submission is on the quality of the built environment and its importance for enhancing liveability. In relation to the liveability measures referred to in the VCEC Issues paper, these use criteria or indicators which include ‘culture’ and/or ‘environment’, however none of them include criteria which capture the quality of the built environments or how those physical environments are intrinsic to culture. While ‘quality’ is used extensively in the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) Liveability Ranking categories, it is applied to a range of services or conditions, not to the built environment in which those services operate or on which they depend. One exception is ‘quality housing’, but what is meant by quality here is not clear.

"Arial",sans-serif;color:black">We believe the quality of the built environment has a significant impact on the success of many community services and infrastructure, in terms of community acceptance, ‘takeup’ or use, in facilitating community engagement and contributing to social, ecological and economic sustainability. In addition, the quality of architecture and the public realm significantly improves or diminishes the cultural relevance, resonance and attractiveness of places for people, thereby enhancing or detracting from liveability.

"Arial",sans-serif;color:black">Liveability, for us, requires acknowledgement of the complex, sometimes less measurable aspects of our environment which impact on our well being and our ability to thrive in any given place. Good design in our built environment underpins many of the liveability indicators which are commonly used, including those referred to in the VCEC Issues Paper, but good design is not articulated as a key factor or indicator in itself.

font-family:"Arial",sans-serif;color:#4D4D4D">Good Design is not an added extra or luxury, it is essential. There is an enduring connection between the state of our society and the state of our civic realm. It was Churchill who said we first shape our buildings but thereafter they shape us.

color:black">Sir Stuart Lipton, CABE Chair, 2003


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