Elevating the Role of Design: NSW Announces Design Policy

A state-wide design policy to ensure the delivery of high quality urban design across New South Wales has been launched by the state government.

"Better Placed" A design-led approach

 was drafted with input from architects, urban designers and planners to set out the principles and directions essential to creating great places for new developments in built environments across Sydney and the regions.

“NSW is rapidly growing and changing as more people decide to call our state home, but our cities and towns must remain liveable, healthy and sustainable as they develop and grow,” NSW Planning Minister Anthony Roberts said.

“Better Placed provides clarity on what the NSW Government means by good design and it’s not just how a place looks, but how it works and feels for people. This policy will assist everyone involved from the design phase through to DAs.

“We need to provide more housing for our growing population and to help first home buyers break into the market, but that has to be balanced with open space, trees, parks, connectivity and developments that take advantage of sunlight, fresh air and views. This policy will do that.”

Roberts pointed out that for 200 years the NSW Government Architect’s office had shaped some of the most valued buildings and spaces in the State and he was confident that, along with Better Placed, they would continue to have a leading influence.

  1. Contextual, local and of its place

  2. Sustainable, efficient and durable

  3. Equitable, inclusive and diverse

  4. Enjoyable, safe and comfortable

  5. Functional, responsive and fit for purpose

  6. Value-creating and cost effective

  7. Distinctive, visually interesting and appealing

Prince Albert Park Pool by Neeson Murcutt is included as a best practice case study in the policy documentThe Australian Institute of Architects has welcomed the launch of the design policy.

“New South Wales needs to continue to become a better place to live in,” the Institute’s NSW Chapter President Andrew Nimmo said.

“The new policy will help to deliver a higher quality of new development and great places as we meet the challenges of an increasing population.

“Investing in the design process at the early stage of projects saves time and cost and leads to more responsive, resilient, healthy, integrated and equitable precincts, towns and cities.

“Architects are highly skilled at applying the process of research, analysis, collaboration and concept testing described in the policy," Nimmo said.

“The seven objectives in the policy establish the framework for assessing new projects as part of the design review process.

“The policy also provides the rationale for the ‘good design’ object we anticipate will be introduced into the planning legislation later this year.

“The policy is a significant achievement by the Government Architect NSW following the office’s move to the planning portfolio and its strategic focus on design as the key to transforming and improving the NSW built environment.

“We applaud the Minister for supporting this holistic and innovative design policy, and through our members are ready to work with the Government to help ensure that the ambitions of this policy are fully and properly realised.”

Chief Executive Officer of the Institute, Jennifer Cunich added, “The Institute would like to see similar quality-based policy throughout the country, as we believe that good design yields a dividend for all stakeholders, that is returned not just in the immediate term, but over the lifetime of a well-designed and delivered built environment.”


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