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Planning key to good cities

FOR cities to be more vibrant places it is important to have a mix of uses within areas. When there is too much of one type, such as hotels or even houses in one area, it can cause social problems, according to visiting academic Ted Kitchen.

Professor Kitchen is in Perth to speak to a major international congress, Habitus 2000: A Sense of Place next week.

He said it was important that all people were given the opportunity to live in the city.

“We need to make it possible for people, whose resources are far more limited, to live in the city next to those with resources,” he said.

“And we have to make housing affordable for the next generation. It is very important for the lifeblood of the community not to drive young people out.

“Cities work best because there is a mix. The whole point of why people come to the city is to meet other people.”

He said one of the best ways for the government to ensure this happened was to impose conditions on developers to include affordable housing within their project.

“There is a lot of profit to be made, so some of that profit could be channelled into providing affordable housing,” he said.

He said the most important element of successful planning was for a proper consultation process so that the needs of the community could be better met.

He said this differed from 30 to 40 years ago when the authorities did what they felt was right.

In England this led to situations were hundreds of thousands of houses were demolished without consultation.

The government could now not get away with such blatant use of power, he said.

“I think it’s very easy to say we got it wrong in the past, when generally speaking people made the best judgement at the time based on the information available,” Professor Kitchen said.

But, most importantly, to make planning effective it was essential that there was a powerful agency to oversee planning and its implementation.

“If you don’t have regional planning it will undermine what you are trying to do in the city,” he said.

“You need a set of planning policies that will not only help to make sure that the city centre improves itself, but it also will stop other people in other parts of the urban area doing things that will undermine the city.”

Professor Kitchen said efforts by Perth developers to include new design concepts such as new urbanism was a step toward making Perth safer.

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