The Post War expansion of onshore manufacturing created nationally significant industrial precincts in regional Australia, each surrounded by large swathes of suburban housing to accommodate their blue-collar workforces. However, a shift towards offshore manufacturing over the past decade led to the closure of many Australian manufacturing precincts and the substantial economic decline of many regional cities. Knowledge and creative economy means of recovery are typically only possible in contexts privy to other means of economic stimulation. Thus, in regional contexts, where this often is not the case, strategies that deal with the distinct realities, conditions and opportunities of regional cities are necessary to facilitate regeneration. A study of two emerging initiatives in the former nationally significant industrial cities of Newcastle, New South Wales and Hobart, Tasmania suggest an alternative catalyst to trigger regeneration in regional cities. Facilitated by clever manipulation of ambiguous aspects of planning and building regulation, minimal start-up costs and low overheads, networks of smaller service and civic operations appeared in underused domestic and commercial properties adjacent to industrial precincts. To further understand the relationship between planning, built space and small-scale economic activity suggested by the alternative configurations in the case studies, and to test their broader applicability, design research-based methodologies were adopted in the speculative application of the identified semi-legal, bottom-up approach to Corio, Geelong the former home of nationally significant car manufacturing plants. By studying the manoeuvring tactics deployed in Newcastle and Hobart, and applying the lessons learnt to the design of mixed-use typologies in Corio, this paper demonstrates that distinct urban strategies, that may enable appropriate stimulus in similar contexts, exist in regional cities.
The author 2018
Proceedings of the 14th Australasian Urban History Planning History Conference 2018