Plan Your Brisbane Intergenerational Forum with Marnie Wood
A lack of understanding of current planning systems is leading to growing frustrations in our local communities.
This was evident during the recent ‘Plan Your Brisbane’ Intergenerational forum hosted by the Brisbane City Council.
The forum was designed to pick the brains of local Brisbane residents to find out what it is they like about their city, what challenges we face and what they would like their city to look like in the future.
To help us find inspiration and get the creative juices flowing a number of guest speakers were invited including Professor Greg Clark, an expert on New World Cities and Dr Katherine Loflin, the ‘City Doctor’ and placemaking expert.
The forum attracted a reasonable cross section of the community although there was a noticeable and disappointing lack of the younger generation.
Despite this, I was struck by the genuine love and care those attendees held for their city and its future.
The discussion was passionate and lively but soon turned to inquisitive once those around me discovered I was a graduate town planner.
Many of my fellow attendees vented their frustrations with the perceived complexities and contradictions within current planning laws and sought clarification on many of these issues.
Several reoccurring themes ran through much of the conversations throughout the day including:
- The perceived lack of greenspace in Brisbane;
- Community members not wanting unit blocks in their quiet suburban street;
- Community members wanting things to stay the same as they are;
- The need for cheaper, more efficient public transport; and
- The need for better quality of design for new buildings.
Some of these concerns are valid and others are perceptions people have developed over many years.
It struck me that at least some of the blame for this was my own… well at least that of my profession.
Along with the various councils, we have not done enough to educate the community on the many complexities of our planning laws.
We need to work with the community more to understand their concerns and help them make a more informed contribution to the planning debate.
Events such as the intergenerational forum will go a long way to helping achieve this.
The views and opinions of those involved will eventually go towards the development of a charter of principles to guide future decision making for Brisbane.
However, to get the most out of future forums I would suggest a couple of changes:
- Hold the forum at a more accessible time for those who have to work and go to school rather than the middle of the day on a Wednesday; and
- Regulate the ages of attendees and have an even mix of ages. The majority of the room were at the upper end of the scale. I felt the perspective of the younger generation was missing at times.
Despite this the event highlighted Brisbane City Council’s true commitment to involving the community in their planning process.
Admittedly this was the first community consultation event that I have attended in a professional capacity but I found it very eye-opening, rewarding and slightly frustrating.