What is social planning?
In a nutshell, town planning deals with built and natural environments. Social planning deals with how humans interact with these environments. The two must always be considered in tandem to meet community expectations.
By Barry Cotten
Social planning aims to meet the needs of the people who live in our communities, and it includes a range of considerations about how we live, how we work and how we play.
Social planning aims to promote wellbeing and equity regarding access to housing, public transport, health, education, employment, recreation, infrastructure and resources.
Social planning also aims to encourage social cohesion amongst the diverse ages, cultures and socio-economic groups that make up our communities.
Critically, social planning also includes enabling people to have a say about the communities they live in, which is why Development Application processes contain an element of ‘public consultation.’
Typically, local councils have a broad range of social planning criteria that needs to be met for new and repurposed buildings, whether they’re public buildings or for private use.
These tend to be along the lines of accessibility and mobility, community needs now and into the future, cultural considerations, heritage considerations, health and safety and recreation planning.
One recent trend that has been occurring over the past few years, particularly in cities, which has greatly impacted social planning, is the slow death of the Australian dream to ‘buy a home.’ While most Aussies still want to own where they live, soaring real estate prices have meant that many choose to purchase apartments or townhouses instead because they’re cheaper than the traditional family home on a suburban block.
As the property market continues to flourish, governments at all levels across the country are grappling with how to meet the increasing demand for affordable housing.
While many new subdivisions have opened up to cope with the increasing population and the demand for free-standing homes, typically, these new subdivisions are on the outer fringes of the cities where large parcels of land are readily available.
But this, of course, presents other challenges for our cities, such as access to work, cultural recreational experiences, specialist health services and adequate public transport.