02/04/2019 - 12:07

Community engagement key to eliminate NIMBYs

02/04/2019 - 12:07

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Conflict and controversy surrounding ambitious or large-scale developments can be best avoided by involving the community at all stages of the planning process, according to new analysis of some of Perth’s most historically contentious projects.

Community engagement key to eliminate NIMBYs
Hotly debated while under construction, RAC Arena is now considered one of Perth's best assets. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Conflict and controversy surrounding ambitious or large-scale developments can be best avoided by involving the community at all stages of the planning process, according to new analysis of some of Perth’s most historically contentious projects.

The Committee for Perth today released its final report in its 'What we thought would kill us' series, which analysed the history of seven of Perth’s most controversial developments, including the Barrack Square Bell Tower, RAC Arena, Hillarys Boat Harbour and The Raffles apartment tower.

The report identified common factors around what drives communities to say 'not in my backyard' (NIMBY) and made 10 recommendations to avoid conflicts on future developments.

Top of the list was a recommendation that the community should be consulted throughout all phases of the planning process, and be given the opportunity to inform long-term planning objectives.

Committee for Perth chief executive Marion Fulker said Perth was at a phase in its history where it was crucial for the community to understand the benefits of density and well-designed development.

“Perth is at a point in time where a business as usual approach will not serve it well,” Ms Fulker said in the report.

“More of the same will not set the region up for a bright future, rather it will set us on the wrong track.

“Yet almost any change to the skyline or on the ground seems to be a hard-fought contest between proponents and objectors.

“In those very heated debates between interest groups, it is hard to hear the voice of the silent majority.

“For Perth to grow to accommodate 3.5 million people in a sustainable way, a better approach needs to be found to secure community support for a changing and adapting environment.”

However, the research showed that even with extensive engagement, some projects would nonetheless be viewed as contentious by some members of the community.

Common features of the report’s case studies that contributed to community unease included locations of high value or within established residential areas, planning processes that did not allow for community input or feedback, bold designs, and projects that are perceived to be poorly selected or lack analysis of social, cultural and environmental costs and benefits.

“Characteristics associated with controversial development projects are often also those that contribute to a project’s ultimate success,” the report said.

“Therefore, in some cases, conflict may be minimised but not avoided altogether.”

The report also found that while some projects may be controversial throughout planning and construction, once they are built they demonstrate significant community benefit, citing projects such as Perth Arena and Hillarys Boat Harbour, which were both widely panned in the early phases of their development.

The Committee for Perth’s 10 recommendations can be found below.

  1. Long-term planning informed by the community.
  2. Rigorous project assessment, planning and selection processes.
  3. Identify/consider potential for high public interest or opposition to the proposal.
  4. Assess conditions for community engagement.
  5. Identify an appropriate level of community engagement.
  6. Provide opportunities for community engagement and establish a mandate.
  7. Incorporate good design principles; maximise potential benefits; and deliver benefits for a broad spectrum of the community.
  8. Anticipate, identify and respond to community concerns.
  9. Rigorously assess and carefully manage environmental impacts.
  10. Successful project management and best practice project procurement and funding.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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