Three Community Planning Trends Worth Your Attention

Few professions need to be as proactively forward-thinking as planners. Professional planning firms and their teams are responsible for constantly surveying the market and identifying areas of growth as well as key ideas that are attracting the attention of decision-makers in both the government and in the private sector.

The problem lies in the evolution of cities and the ongoing stream of community planning trends. Trends generally come and go, making it difficult to determine which ones are going to stick around and which are just a passing phase.

As a planning firm, we completely understand the challenge. That’s why we’ve listed the three leading concepts in planning and areas of growth that are longer-term trends worth noting:


1. Partnerships Between Public and Private Firms

Also known as Public-Private Partnerships (PPP), joint ventures between governments with private sector organisations are becoming the leading way to deliver large scale planning objectives in a cost-effective manner.

Governments at every level have a number of financial commitments, including defence, education, welfare, pensions and – you guessed it – infrastructure. The competition to determine which gets the most attention is fierce, so drawing in private sector businesses to share in the building and construction costs involved in completing large projects is an elegant solution.

The Federal Government considers PPP proposals for any large projects projected to cost over $50 million. Through PPP, governments and communities aren’t the only ones which stand to benefit. Private sector companies involved in the project can make a nice return on their investment based on the percentage of their contribution towards a project.

For example, let’s say a $1 billion toll bridge is built via PPP. The government puts $750 million of public funds towards the project, while a private sector partner fronts another $250 million of their own funds. The tolls collected would be split 75:25.


2. Commercialisation Hubs and University Growth Precincts

Commercialisation hubs are growing in number, as they help divert traffic from CBD areas, support job growth, and have the potential to increase business formation as well as profitability.

Hubs are built based on the research and development derived from an innovative idea or concept. Planners take these findings and create a product that can be developed, marketed, and then sold at a profit.

Because commercialisation hubs are based on attractiveness and profitability, it’s often beneficial for them to be built near innovation and research communities like public research bodies and universities. These centres can be set up to provide a variety of services, from user testing and focus group formation to small scale manufacturing.


3. Future Proofed Communities

Through future proofing, planners can predict future trends rather than react to them. This planning concept ties in what both demographers and population planners aim to do to troubleshoot and solve issues before they become a problem.

With the advancements made in planning techniques and data collection over recent years, planners can now “future proof” effectively by making more intuitive plans that will eliminate challenges down the road. Here’s one example of future proofing:

A local planning authority gathers census data which reveals the average age of a large community has increased from 37 years to 48 years over the past 10 years. With this knowledge in hand, planners can extract a number of valuable insights.

With an ageing community, for example, the need for primary schools in the area will decline. What will be in demand, however, will be medium-density aged care and independent housing options as residents age and downsize and their desire to stay within the same community grows.

New trends crop up every day, and balancing which of these are worth following with which can be forgotten is a constant challenge. What may work well for one community may be a detriment to another. Making data-backed decisions is what will make all the difference in not only having a bid accepted but in making a valuable contribution to our communities.


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