Urban Conversations UNSW 2015 – The Australian Graduate School of Urbanism

UNSW Built Environment – https://www.youtube.com/user/unswbuiltenvironment/featured

On Wednesday evening April 22, The Australian Graduate School of Urbanism (UNSW Built Environment) and Cox Richardson held the first of a series of City Roundtables as part of a broader initiative to build engagement between the university and practice – research to improve practice and practice to focus and apply research.

Local Governance

Professor Tewdwr-Jones, Adjunct Professor, UNSW believes that there is an increasing demand by the community for a more local and meaningful form of participation in decisions that shape the city. Citizens have lost interest and trust in traditional forms of democracy and so called ‘consultation’. While there is cynicism and disinterest at the same time there is strong interest in cities themselves – Communities just can’t see how they can participate in the current system.

In Tewdwr-Jones view this requires a fundamental shift in UK planning culture, from a reactive to a proactive system that involves local communities as well as government. Professor Tewdwr Jones finished by calling for a stronger role for universities in shaping the city. They have an important role in civic engagement and need to have a strong relationship with the city.

Metropolitan Governance

Marcus Spiller spoke of his experience with a range of governance models. The role of the State Government is to ‘govern’ the state, not cities. Not surprisingly State Governments struggle with “place”. With 85% of taxes being collected by the Commonwealth these arrangements do not encourage investment in cities, as Commonwealth government is not the right level to be involved in cities. Taxes focus on income and consumption, not land – but land is the basis of development and infrastructure spending.

Current state planning is dysfunctional because it focuses on the ‘engineering of administration’, with plethora of separate departments rather than on governance that aligns. In Spiller’s view a good governance framework would align tax, services and infrastructure.

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