Harbinger Consultants

Creative Sustainability :: Place, People, Product, Potential, Partnership + Pollinating

PLANNING | Aspley Active

Recently we attended a community information session about the BCC’s Aspley Active Community Project. This project will address Aspley’s walkability and cyclability and explore ways to enhance walking and cycling in our locality. It is one of several projects rolling out across the city. Linda has nominated for the Community Planning Team which will meet early next year. Through our side projects, like Enabling Projects and Placing, Linda has been undertaking research about Aspley, noting, for example, that Aspley has greater population, business and housing density than the more centrally located and privileged area of Bardon. It’s an indication that sometimes we can underestimate the potential for internal efficiency in our suburbs, even when they are disconnected from surrounding areas, which are in easy walking or cycling distance. Enhancing walking and cycling is one strategy for affirming that internal efficiency and relocalising activity. Coupled with the NBN rollout there are other opportunities for relocalising and redevelopment. One of the lost opportunities was the failure to develop the former QUT Carseldine campus in a way that promoted teleworking e.g. co-working and smart work centre facilities, which would have been accessible by train, bus, walking and cycling.

Our participation in the information session provided an opportunity to outline some preliminary thinking about this, particularly in relation to urban form, social inclusion and land use. The centre of Aspley, while once a suburban hub, is a significantly fragmented and divided area dominated by car parking, a highway, big boxes and fenced residential uses, like retirement villages.Older parts of the suburb, while considerably generous in portioning land, have reasonably ‘good bones’ with a legible and gridlike street structure. Newer subdivisions tend to be inaccessible, cul de sac ridden, footpathless and enclosed. Part of the issue here is the legacy of historic planning paradigms which divide and destroy communities. There also seemed to be a lack of political will to further invest in the social and urban fabric of the area, given the draining overinvestment in roads in sububan areas, and a Neighbourhood Plan that lacks vision and dynamism.

Major residential uses around the centre are retirement villages, social housing and caravan parks, which are home to the lowest income earners in our community. While we would like to see more coherence brought into the locality, triggering a design dividend or leveraging spatial capital through revitalisation and relocalisation, we trust that it will not be done in a way that causes displacement of these more vulnerable groups. Another challenge will be liaising with local business and land owners to improve, rather than destroy, the built environment, especially those ‘privatised public realm’ spaces and streetscapes. There’s more to landscape than hedging and there is a need to reaffirm the ecosystem services provided by local natural assets and remnants like the bush corridors and waterways. While the project seems focused on ‘hard infrastructure’, we also believe there is a need for grassroots actions and sticky soft infrastructure that draws people together to use the infrastructure.

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