Taylor Burrell Barnett

A COVID Reminder on Planning & Design


Jesse Dunbar

13 Jul 2020

The COVID19 Reminder: Strategic Planning and Good Design are Important

It’s no secret COVID19 is expected to result in a shift in thinking in how we plan our neighbourhoods and communities – this has been well documented by various industry bodies and individuals over recent months.

There are some common elements that are being repeatedly spruiked the most valued components of a neighbourhood or home, including:

  • Good parks – places that people can exercise, play, relax and enjoy nature.
  • Accessible, well-connected footpaths for walking, running, cycling.
  • Local amenities – being able to take a morning stroll to grab a coffee, or pop to the local shop for a loaf of bread.

What’s more, these things all need to be available in a person’s local neighbourhood – preferably within walking distance of home.

But none of these concepts are new or revolutionary. COVID19 just happened to deliver a timely reminder to us all. What the team at TBB has learnt, is not that we need to reinvent the wheel, but that there needs to be a stronger commitment by development industry, and planning professionals more specifically, to strategic planning and good design.

As one of the key authors of the original Liveable Neighbourhoods document, dating back to 1996, TBB has always been at the forefront of planning and design – and we are proud that this is exemplified in many of the projects we’ve contributed to over the course of our 50 years of planning and design. To take a walk down memory lane, we’ve compiled a few great examples from TBB’s archive of projects where good design outcomes, informed through meaningful community engagement and participation, have been achieved particularly well.

Claremont North East Precinct

With the need for sensitive infill on everyone’s agenda, its useful to review the background and outcome of one of Perth’s successful urban revitalisation projects. On behalf of the Town of Claremont, TBB was tasked with preparing a Structure Plan to guide the future development of the Claremont North East Precinct, being the land surrounding Claremont Oval, to take advantage of this high amenity location immediately opposite the Claremont train station and Town Centre. Best practice planning and urban design fundamentals were applied when developing the preferred Concept Design for the project, which established the vision for the precinct to:

  • Create places for people, which are well-used, safe, comfortable, varied and attractive, and are distinctive and offer variety, choice and fun.
  • Enrich the qualities of the existing urban environment, encouraging a distinctive response that arises from, and complements its setting, with urban design that interprets and builds upon historic character and community values.
  • Make connections, for people to be integrated physically and visually with their surroundings, and to get around by foot, bicycle, public transport and car.
  • Work with the landscape, to strike a balance between the natural and man-made environment and utilise the site’s intrinsic resources – the landform, landscape and ecology – to maximise amenity and sustainability.
  • Mix uses and forms to create stimulating, enjoyable and convenient places that meet a variety of demands from the widest possible range of users, amenities and social groups and weave together different building forms, uses, tenures and densities.
  • Design for change, with development which is flexible enough to respond to future changes in use, lifestyle and demography, by creating flexibility in the use of property, public spaces and infrastructure, and introducing new approaches to transportation traffic management and parking.

Wellard Village

With the State Government’s investment and prioritisation of Metronet projects and the urgent need for better integration of transport systems and land use outcomes in suburban centres, we look back at the principles and techniques which have delivered one of Perth’s most successful rail station and town centre projects.

TBB worked closely with the partnership between Peet and the Department of Communities to create The Village at Wellard which is one of Perth’s first walkable transit-orientated developments (TOD), located on the Mandurah railway line.

The transit precinct contains a compact Main Street, with specialty retailers, a supermarket, family tavern and community uses, all surrounded by apartments and terraces, including the award winning Invita development.

The project faced some key challenges, including securing delivery of the Wellard station as part of the Mandurah railway line stage 1 works, minimising the impacts of the kiss/bus ‘n’ ride on the walkable catchment to the station, including minimising the amount of parking provided adjacent the station.

As a result, TBB was able to achieve an extremely compact planning and design outcome that seamlessly flows into the Wellard Village Centre.

Small lot, laneway serviced product and a greater range of housing diversity was introduced as part of the project, which was pioneering at the time, given the market and laneway product of the size proposed was relatively untested in this suburban location – a testament to the innovation and foresight of the JV partnership.

The product was well received by the residents and the project set a new benchmark in greenfield development. View The Village at Wellard project page here 

Better Suburbs

Strategic planning has never been more important than the current time as we seek to reinvigorate our established suburbs and ensure the quality of the public realm, neighbourhood and local centres and open spaces are providing the quality of life and amenity we so desire.

TBB led the planning and urban design and community engagement for the City of Stirling’s Better Suburbs project which emerged in response to strategic planning led approaches to urban infill in Perth.

Perth is expected to experience significant population growth through infill development. Adapting to change and the fear of density can be a complex and difficult concept for many people to grasp. In response, the project involved extensive community engagement involving varied interactive techniques with diverse community profiles at various stages of the project.

The planning framework seeks to addresses the challenges faced by the City in responding to infill development and poor development outcomes occurring under the current standards and requirements.

Combining strategic planning, urban design and effective community and stakeholder engagement in this process has created a platform to develop a shared vision for liveable places for the community, guided by the following Vision Statement: The Better Suburbs area will have a strong sense of place where development intensity is located along urban corridors and around centres to encourage revitalisation and investment in community facilities and services; where suburban neighbourhoods provide a choice of homes accessed by shady, pedestrian friendly streets and green links, with safe access to parks, schools and local employment.

The Better Suburbs area will have a strong sense of place.

A collaborative, co-design engagement process facilitated by TBB aimed to ensure better places, that have been shaped by the community. The capacity of TBB to harness effective community engagement will lead to outcomes that have greater community support and long-term sustainability.

TBB’s experience on the project has confirmed that the underlying conditions of an area, the unique qualities of a place, the demographic and socio-economic profile must be understood, engagement must be fit for purpose and methodologies must be meaningful and honest. Planning decisions affect whole communities, therefore good planning practice should involve and empower those affected.

As part of the project, TBB prepared a series of high-quality 3D visualisation imagery to help communicate redevelopment outcomes to the community and stakeholders, as demonstrated below.


Jesse Dunbar