Planning and urban development has always been a significant player within the public sector and plays an integral role in Australia’s quality of life. However, amidst COVID 19 chaos and strict lockdowns, the notion of ‘liveability’ has become a huge focus, causing global and national leaders to accelerate urban planning policies. Suddenly, with the majority of Australia’s workforce working from home and a significant proportion of the population prohibited from leaving their suburb, people are forced to take a closer look at their local surroundings and the ease in which they can carry out their daily activities. Suddenly, catching public transport to your local Coles, can have severe repercussions.
Cue the rise of the 20-Minute Neighbourhood , the new gold standard in urban planning. The concept focuses on planning and developing a city around how easily it’s inhabitants can access daily goods and services via walking, bike riding or a short drive. Why 20 minutes? Research shows that the 20-minute mark is the maximum time people are willing to walk to meet their daily needs.
The Key Features of a 20-Minute Neighbourhood
Local Shopping Centres
Local Health Facilities and Services
Local Playgrounds and Parks
Local Employment Opportunities
Lifelong Learning Opportunities
Affordable Housing Options
The 20-minute neighbourhood has significant benefits for post-pandemic life as it minimises the need for travel and reduces transit crowding, particularly in relation to public transport. In theory you shouldn’t need to catch a bus across town to buy your groceries or go to school- these amenities are walking or cycle distance away, which should help reduce the chances of COVID 19 spreading throughout cities. Furthermore, 20-minute neighbourhoods can help rebuild local economies, as they present opportunities for small business and provide greater ease in citizens shopping locally. They would also require infrastructure to be built (more bike lanes, walking tracks, local parks etc.) which in theory should generate more jobs for the wider community.
In fact the international coalition of urban leaders, C40 has recently created a ‘Global Mayors COVID-19 Recovery Task Force’ which has taken the 20-minute concept one step further, encouraging the development of 15-minute cities. Global urban leaders have already begun to invest in the development of more parks and green space, micro mobility (lightweight transportation devices like bicycles and electric scooters) and pedestrian transit as part of the Task Force’s long-term strategy for financial rehabilitation.
Many international cities have swiftly launched into action with Paris beginning the installation of ‘corona cycleways’ to ease mass crowding, while Portland Oregon in the U.S, has fast tracked plans to turn 90 miles of roads into neighbourhood greenways.
Back on Australian soil, The City of Melbourne trailblazed ahead when they launched their metropolitan planning strategy in 2017. ‘Plan Melbourne 2017-2050’ dedicated a significant portion of its strategy to ‘living locally’ with a long-term plan to deliver 20-minute neighbourhoods in outer suburbs like Croydon South, Sunshine West and Strathmore by 2050. Developments have already started for community wellbeing precincts and education services in neighbourhoods currently lacking in these facilities. The City of Springfield in outer Brisbane has also recently taken up the 20-minute challenge, starting developments to integrate 20-minute characteristics into their wider council plans.
Meanwhile, inner-city Australian suburbs, particularly in older cities like Melbourne and Sydney already meet the 20-minute criteria, which is why they are such popular places to live. The catch-22 is that this popularity boosts property values and these inner-city neighbourhoods have become unaffordable for many Australians. Rising property values has caused a significant migration of young professionals and families to the outer-suburbs. Greater Western Sydney in particular is projected to reach 3 million people by 2036, making it one of the largest growing urban populations in Australia. Paramatta alone has one of the fastest growing new economy nodes outside of the Melbourne and Sydney CBD.
Despite this, construction for a 2nd international airport in Western Sydney is only just underway and believed to be finalised in 2026. There are still many pockets of the region which are ‘transport deserts’ and job density in comparison to the region’s employment rate is still very low. In 2018 it was believed that over 10,000 people leave Western Sydney each day for work. And herein lies a key challenge of the 20-minute neighbourhood; how do we create the same levels of liveability in these outer suburbs that exist within the inner-city? Moreover, how do councils and state governments ensure that affordable housing options exist in these inner-city areas?
Linda Corkery, a professor of landscape architecture at UNSW Australia shared her thoughts on the challenges Australia faces in creating more 20-minute neighbourhoods; ‘These neighbourhoods won’t happen overnight. Planning for them involves detailed analysis of existing facilities, businesses and services, local open spaces and activity patterns’.
While sponsored by State Governments, ‘living local’ initiatives are led by local councils and require detailed consultations with the community in-order to start the planning and development process. COVID 19 has presented a unique opportunity for councils however, as the self-isolation and lockdown measures enforced across Australia has caused individuals to take more notice of their local environment, reassess what they need from their community and become invested in how their neighbourhoods should grow and develop. If this interest can translate to an uptake in feedback, local councils will have the added pressure to make 20-minute neighbourhood initiatives a priority in future.
Senior lecturer in Urban and Environment Planning at Griffith University Tony Matthews, agrees with this sentiment “These are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary responses. It is not a time for planners and policymakers to plan for people; it is a time to plan with people.”
Ultimately, COVID 19 has presented innovative opportunities for the future of urban planning and what cities could look like in a post-pandemic world. However, for the 20-minute neighbourhood to become a reality across Australia, it will require the integrated efforts of many; planners, governments, engineers and most importantly us, as active members of our local community.
If you would like to hear more about the opportunities available within urban planning and design or want to keep abreast of future opportunities as councils forge ahead with their developments plans, don’t hesitate to reach out to our consultant Emma Murphy. Emma focuses on the planning and environment sector and is always happy to offer support and advice on the industry’s job market – email@example.com
PSP currently seeking a Senior Landscape Architect to work for a metro council on a contract basis until June 2021. Joining a busy council, you will be working on parklands and streetscape upgraded. You will be working on the design and delivery of these projects. Covering a period of long service leave, you will come on board and have an extensive hand over period. This is a Band 7 role and we are seeking an LA with local government experience who is competent with design, documentation and contract administration. The role will be remote working initially, with a view to returning to the office mid 2021. Requirements include: A tertiary qualification in Landscape Architecture, Urban Design or other associated profession. Contract administration and consultant management skills are a must. Previous Local Government experience. Benefits include: Secure work through to end of June 2021. Add to your portfolio with experience in a busy metro council. $50- $65 per hour, with flexible working hours. Remote working initially. For a confidential discussion regarding this position and other opportunities within Metropolitan and Regional Victoria, please contact Emma Murphy at PSP on (03) 8535 3111.
Public Sector People are seeking a Senior Strategic Planner for a six month contract for a metro council. Covering an internal secondment, you will be working on translating the planning scheme into the new format required by Smart planning program. You will also be working on planning scheme amendments and managing the exhibition and assessment of submissions. You will get the opportunity to work on the development of a new transport strategy and community plan. This is a long term contract opportunity, which could well go beyond six months. On the run up to Christmas the role will be fully remote and coming into 2021, there may be some requirement to attend the office for collaboration meetings, but will be mostly remote based working. We are seeking a strong Band 6 planner with local government experience. Flexible working hours available and competitive hourly rate. This is suited to a planner seeking a new challenge and a long term opportunity. Requirements include: Tertiary qualification in Town Planning, Urban Studies, Environmental Planning or related discipline. Strong communication skills, ability to meet deadlines and work autonomously. Previous Local Government experience at a Band 6 level. Benefits include: Remote working and flexible hours. Six month contract with opportunity for permanency. Competitive hourly rate. Work within a very busy metro council, with a variety of work to sink your teeth into. For a confidential discussion regarding this position and other opportunities within Metropolitan and Regional Victoria, please contact Emma Murphy at PSP on (03) 8535 3111. Alternatively, please e-mail your current resume in Word format using the link below.
PSP are currently working with an outer ring Council in the North East suburbs who require a Senior Planner for a contract role to start ASAP through until middle of January. This is a large metro based council but you will see a different caseload to other metro councils, you will be working on ‘rural’ planning issues, such as, sheds, bush fire management, vegetation overlays, etc. This is a contract role which is currently until January 2021, but likely to be extended. Given this is a short term contract, the successful candidate will be an experienced Local Government planner who can hit the ground running. You will be provided equipment to get set up to work remotely. Requirements include: Tertiary qualification in Town Planning, Urban Studies, Environmental Planning or related discipline. Experience working with Victorian Planning Scheme, ideally in a metropolitan context. Available for an immediate start. Benefits include: Secure work to start ASAP. Remote working. Flexible work hours and hourly rate negotiable. Please apply with your current resume. For a confidential discussion regarding this position and other opportunities within Metropolitan and Regional Victoria, please contact Emma Murphy at PSP (03) 8535 3111.
Public Sector People are working with a local council in the South Eastern suburbs on the recruitment of an Environmental Health Officer. This is a contract role which will take you through until the end of December 2020. You will be provided with ongoing support within this role, you will be working in the office alongside a Senior Officer. You will be able to demonstrate your excellent industry knowledge and previous experience working for a Local Council as an EHO. You will be able to competently complete registered premises inspections whilst communicating with local proprietors in a professional manner. You will be working on Customer complaint investigations Public Health and Wellbeing Act inspections Food Act inspections Pandemic Team support Health promotion support and program implementation and development Customer engagement and setting expectations Requirements include: Suitable qualifications – Bachelor of Applied Science or Health Science (Environmental Health) – or recognised equivalency Recent public sector experience as a practicing Environmental Health Officer, or membership with Environmental Health Australia Current Victorian driver licence. Previous Local Government experience as an EHO. For a confidential discussion regarding this opportunity or other Environmental Health roles within public sector, please contact Emma Murphy on (03) 8535 3111 | Emma@publicsectorpeople.com.au.