Last Wednesday the NSW Department of Planning and Environment held a well attended Local Character Symposium that explored local character in the state. The full day of programming included an address by the Minister for Planning the Hon. Anthony Roberts, a keynote speech by urban planner and designer Peter Bishop, and a range of panel discussions and talks from industry experts.
The importance of local character was at the forefront of discussions with key themes including understanding and assessing local character, local character and placemaking and how to embed local character in the planning system.
Methods of promoting and enhancing local character discussed included transforming underutilised spaces into a destination, encouraging the use of a place during the day and after dark, and designing places that are bespoke and respond to their social and environmental context.
Representatives from the Department also discussed the soon to be released local character guidelines. This generated healthy debate amongst participants as to the value of prescriptive design guides in establishing local character. The argument was put forward that such guidelines create places that lack character.
For more on local character visit the Department of Planning’s website.