Open spaces key to healthy communitiesCouncils right across Australia are facing the demands of a growing population and the need for higher density housing, while recognising the crucial role of open spaces in maintaining healthy communities.
In 2011, the Shire of Capel in the south west of Western Australia adopted Public Open Space Strategies for the towns of Capel and Boyanup. These strategies were a response to Council’s increasing awareness that the provision of public open space (POS) within residential developments enhances the quality of life for residents, particularly in light of the reduction in private open spaces in higher density developments.
In developing the Strategies, Council also emphasised the multiple roles POS plays in the community. Open space is valued for its natural attributes, its contribution to neighbourhood character and community identity, its cultural heritage value, its benefits to tourism and the emotional connection people may attach to it, as well as the social and recreational opportunities it affords.
For the Shire of Capel, the Strategies provide a framework for guiding the provision and development of existing and new parks, conservation reserves, open spaces and recreation facilities within Capel and Boyanup, and ensuring the sustainable use of the Shire’s resources.
The next steps for Council, in implementing the Strategies, include the development of specific guidelines for developers; the development of operational and resource management policies; the development of a framework for organisational integration; further integration with financial plans and asset management systems and enhancement of strategic alliances with external agencies.
In South Australia, the City of Charles Sturt undertook a 12-month research project into open space provision and high-density developments, establishing a series of best practice guidelines that have national and international implications.
Charles Sturt Council engaged Suter Planning, Wax Design and URS to undertake the Best Practice Open Space in Higher Density Developments Project, which was headed up by Suzanne Suter. A steering group was formed to oversee the project, made up of representatives from state and local government agencies, and a number of workshops and meetings were held to obtain feedback and input into the various stages of the project.
The information gleaned from the research has been used to develop best practice principles for the provision, design and management of open space, enabling local governments to proactively respond to the demand for higher density urban development in line with the intentions of the 30-Year Plan for Greater Adelaide.
According to Charles Sturt CEO Mark Withers, “The Open Space Research Project has enabled us, and other local government bodies, to develop practical frameworks around urban planning and development.
“We can now respond proactively to the growing populations within our community, influencing the provision and quality of open space for our residents.”
The City of Charles Sturt’s Best Practice Open Space in Higher Density Developments Project report is available for download from www.charlessturt.sa.gov.au.
The Shire of Capel’s Public Open Space Strategies can be viewed at www.capel.wa.gov.au.