Cities are where most of us live, work and play. The way they are organised and planned has an enormous potential impact on our economy, our wellbeing, and our environment.
The Council of Australian Governments has recognised the importance of cities – and of the long-term strategic planning of cities – to growth and productivity, sustainability and liveability, and accommodating demographic change and population growth.
The cities reference
In December 2009, COAG agreed an objective for reform of capital city strategic planning:
‘To ensure Australian cities are globally competitive, productive, sustainable, liveable and socially inclusive and are well placed to meet future challenges and growth.’
In August 2011, COAG highlighted that the ‘efficient and effective planning of our cities and towns is vital to productivity and investment’.
COAG gave the COAG Reform Council three tasks in relation to capital cities, to complete by December 2011:
- a review of State and Territory capital city strategic planning systems against nine agreed criteria
- support for continuous improvement in strategic planning
- building and sharing knowledge of best practice planning approaches.
Expert advisory panel
COAG appointed an expert advisory panel to assist the council in these tasks:
- Professor Brian Howe AO, Chair, Professorial Associate at the Centre for Public Policy University of Melbourne and Deputy Prime Minister of Australia from 1991 to 1995
- Ms Lucy Turnbull AO, Deputy Chair, 81st Lord Mayor of City of Sydney from 2003 to 2004 and Deputy Lord Mayor from 1999 to 2003
- Mr John Denton, founding principal of Denton Corker Marshall, and former State Architect for Victoria
- Ms Sue Holliday, Managing Director of Strategies for Change and immediate past president of the Planning Institute of Australia
- Professor Duncan Maclennan CBE FRSE AcSS, Director of the Centre for Housing Research at the University of St Andrews
- Ms Jude Munro AO, past CEO of Brisbane City Council
- Mr Rod Pearse OAM, past Managing Director and CEO of Boral
- Ms Meredith Sussex AM, member of VicUrban Board
The Hon. Dr Geoff Gallop AC, immediate past Deputy Chairman COAG Reform Council, served as the link between the council and the panel.
How the council completed the cities reference
Review of capital city strategic planning systems
The council analysed State and Territory government submissions on their own assessment of consistency against the criteria. We produced a template to assist governments to interpret the criteria and indicate how they were consistent.
We conducted further policy research, site visits and consultation with governments and industry.
There were two reporting stages - an interim report in June 2011 internal to governments and a final report in December 2011 to COAG.
This process allowed governments to improve their systems over the course of the review and/or provide further information to inform the council's final findings.
Continuous improvement workshop program
To support continuous improvement, the council organised a series of three workshops on common themes facing all Australian capital cities, for around 70 government and non-government stakeholders.
Continuous improvement research
The council funded research on agglomeration benefits in cities as one idea emerging from the continuous workshop program. The research paper is here:
The three workshops were on:
Community engagement in strategic planning
Frameworks for private sector investment and innovation
- Workshop program – PDF 321KB
- Think pieces by Gary White – PDF 130KB
- Think pieces by Geoff Daley – PDF 62KB
- Think pieces by Nicholas Gruen – PDF 192KB
- Think pieces by Roderick Simpson – PDF 144KB
Implementation and outcomes
- Workshop program – PDF 270KB
- Think pieces by Atkinson and Wall – PDF 33KB
- Think pieces by Peter Verwer – PDF 832KB
- Think pieces by Romilly Madew – PDF 206KB
- Think pieces by Pat Fensham – PDF 969KB
- Think pieces by John Stanley – PDF 523KB
Best practice highlights
The expert advisory panel highlighted examples against COAG’s criteria of some of the good approaches to strategic planning that governments had put forward in the review.
Report: Review of capital city strategic planning systems
The review was conducted through 2010 and 2011 in consultation with governments and the Expert Advisory Panel. The council submitted its final report on cities, Review of capital city strategic planning systems, to COAG on 23 December 2011 and will release the report publicly on 2 April 2012.
At its meeting on 19 August 2011, COAG indicated that it would respond to the report within six months.
For further information on the review, please contact the COAG Reform Council on:
Phone: 02 8229 7356
To read speeches delivered by members of the expert advisory panel, visit the Media centre.