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LISTEN NSW Department of Planning and Environment: Movement and Place Framework

Smart Cities Chronicles
Submitted by Robyn Francis on June 16, 2022

A warm welcome to Mark Yee and Ben Cebuliak, from the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment. Jannat Maqbool sat down with Ben and Mark to discuss the new New South Wales Movement and Place Framework, which we are quite excited to learn more about.

Ben and Mark started off by giving us all an outline of the New South Wales Movement and Place Framework and how it came about.

So Movement and Place is something that's been going on for Transport for New South Wales for over five years now. We started back when it was a conversation between the Transport Agency and the Roads agency. So when we had Transport for New South Wales and, and Roads and Maritime Services, and really, it came about as part of a global megatrend towards realising that streets and roads have multiple different functions, and we need to understand all of those functions. First, understand that streets have a really important role to play in public spaces of cities, as well as the movement function. So, they serve those dual purposes. And really, it's along the same lines as, you know, if we were in the United States, we'd be talking about Complete Streets, you know, it's the Healthy Streets movement, NACTO, in the United States, so really, in Australia, and New Zealand, we've taken a lot of these concepts in all these overseas frameworks, and we've really made it our own. And so, the Movement and Place Framework in Australia and New Zealand, each jurisdiction, each state and territories is really developing their own now, but in 2016, Transport for New South Wales really led the charge to get the concepts of Movement and Place into the Austroads guides, and they are now being picked up. So, we've done a lot in those past five years in New South Wales, to develop up the Framework and iterate the Framework over time. In 2017, Movement and Place became New South Wales Government official policy, as it was adopted in the State Infrastructure Strategy as a recommendation that Infrastructure New South Wales put in; the Greater Sydney Regional Plan; and our long-term Transport Master Plan, which is called Future Transport 2056. So that's our long, long term Future Transport strategy. So in 2017, all of those three kind of long term strategic documents went through cabinet and Movement and Place was an underlying aspect of those. And the State infrastructure Strategy made a recommendation to Government which was then adopted, that the Government Architect lead the development of a practitioner’s toolkit for movement and place. And so that's what happened. And so it became not just a conversation between the Transport Agency and the Roads Agency, but a whole of government thing. And so that's when, people like Mark, who's on this call today, became involved. We set up a technical working group, right across government, including councils to develop up the practitioners Guide, which was put out at version 0.1 in 2019. And then, subsequently, we put out version 1.0, which is our website, which brings together all of the various aspects of the Framework that we're sitting across different government agencies, sites, Government Architect’s site, on Transport for New South Wales sites, on Infrastructure New South Wales, brings it all together under one house, one place which is and the website also brings things to life, so all of the concepts that were previously static PDFs are now explained in quite accessible videos, and our built environment indicators, which is an important part of the Framework, are now interactive web maps.

In terms of movement and place, one of the exciting things was the release of the website last year, it is whole of government, which is quite unique in New South Wales. So when we say whole of government, no one particular agency owns it. So the framework has been delivered in collaboration between Transport for New South Wales and Department of Planning and environment. We also have stakeholders that have included input, including the Greater Sydney Commission, Infrastructure New South Wales, Schools, Infrastructure, Health Infrastructure, so it's really across government, which is quite unique. And the reason for that sort of whole government and across government approach is to ensure the balance between movement and place, if it was just solely delivered by Transport New South Wales, there'd be a tendency to have a movement focus. If it was developed by the Department of Planning and Environment, it would be more of a place focus. So to get that balance between movement in place, which is really the primary purpose of the framework, that cross government approach has been great in ensuring that we have a balanced and cohesive framework.

Let’s delve a bit more into how the uptake of the Framework has been across application areas and some specific examples around feedback.

Yeah, so because we've been developing this over a number of years, it's kind of built on each publication that we've had as part of the Framework. And, and so the approach that we've taken is that before we put something out there for use more generally, we've tried to test it internally  within government and within agencies.  Certainly at Transport for New South Wales. And we're the agency that's been working with this framework for the longest, and we've really built the Framework out iteratively as we've tested different components of it on projects. So there's, plenty of examples, right, throughout the asset lifecycle, all the way from strategic planning through to operations. But I think the big thing for us in Transport for New South Wales is that by developing the Framework through doing on projects, were developing up the culture as well within our organisation of how to think differently about designing, planning, operating streets for multiple users. And, and so that's really the success when we see projects, like for instance, the Sydney Park junction project, which is reallocating road space around Sydney park, to provide better access to Sydney Park Station and to Sydney Park and King Street in Newtown. And all of that being enabled by a big motorway project, which is the M8 and WestConnex and the reconfiguration of the road functions t around Sydney Park. And this is kind of going hand in hand with giving space over where we don't need it for movement anymore back to the important place functions that Sydney Park provide. So I mean, that's one of many case studies that are applying the kind of tools and principles and guidance that we have in our Framework. Mark?

There’s been a take up. It’s been building and has been moving on recently, so schools’ infrastructure, so they deliver, they basically develop the schools within New South Wales, they've been applying the framework. Within Department of Planning, we're starting to see the application and the take up of the Movement and Place  as part of our precincts as part of our projects. And there's been quite a bit of interest in terms of Movement and place and the benefits of it. I would say, we’ve also received a bit of feedback from our teams that they're really excited to use it and, and take it up. But we really need to sort of demonstrate that this is a framework that doesn't result in additional work, really, It sort of can help underpin existing projects, and sort of build it out further. So as we're releasing throughout this year, we'll be doing more work with our teams, to really just help them apply the framework in an easy way and ensure that it doesn't result in additional work, and in many ways actually helps that work and reduces the potential workload by applying the principles. And then importantly, I think applying the practice of co- design and being vision led, so I think once we see even further take-up, and we build case studies and show it really works, we'll see, you know, take up accelerating further.

Where would you like the impact to be made first or the greatest? Are there any areas that you were quite interested in seeing this framework being applied to you where you see potentially, the greatest level, in terms of the opportunity to leverage the framework, let's say, from your own perspectives?

Yeah, so look for from, from my point of view, traditionally, you know, in the kind of emerging years of this framework, the challenge has been seen, where we have parts of the network streets on the network, that have both a very important strategic movement function, but also a high place intensity. And so they have what's often seen as two almost competing priorities, or uses of that particular street, with the movement function being about saving time, you know, getting through a place, and a place function being about spending time. And, and people, you know, in the past have seen those two functions to conflict with each other. And certainly, tradeoffs need to be made, and there's some of the more complex streets. And that's certainly been a focus of the framework in the initial years of development. But what I think we've seen through COVID  is an increase in the importance of the local, so people aren't no longer, you know, going into the office, you know, if they're, if they're office space workers, then they might not be going into the office five days a week. And that, hopefully, will be a permanent,  thing. And local, retail, you know, local businesses are benefiting from that. But also, we're seeing a big increase in local activity, you know, people spending more time during the day, around their local streets around their local neighbourhood. And that's often a more challenging area to focus on, you know, those main streets the kind of high streets of New South Wales are always the ones that are going to get the most attention, they're always going to get, you know, a council or business chamber wanting improvement and you know, getting urban design teams involved. It's those local neighbourhood streets really, in a post COVID world that are often the forgotten ones, the ones where perhaps, when we built the streets, we designed those streets you know, based on some standards or geometries that were really intended only for more of a main road type environment with very wide curb radii, wide carriageways, and are not really designed for the sorts of uses, we're seeing in a post COVID world, with an increase in, in local activity, local walking, and, and local trips, local use. So they're the challenge for me, and that's the majority of the streets on our network. So going forward, this is this is going to really be quite a useful Framework for councils, not just New South Wales government agencies. And, and the sorts of things we're developing in this space is, later on this year, we'll put out as part of the framework, a new roads and streets Design Guide, which will be a New South Wales supplement to the Austroads, guides, which will really fill in some of the missing pieces of Austroads, and you know, Austroads does a really good job at those, those kind of main road type high movement environments, but has quite a blind spot to the majority of our network, which is, which is the local streets. And, and so we'll be putting out some, some guidance on local streets to support Austroads and refer back to Austroads. So that I think is the next developing area. So yeah, so I mentioned two things, those main street type environments with the high movement significance and high place intensity, but increasingly, our focus will be on those local streets as well.


Yeah, for myself, I think there's a great opportunity where there's, investment in public transport infrastructure, so I think where our roads and  streets have had to do a bit of the heavy lifting in terms of transport. With the investment in public transport infrastructure, there's a potential for the modal shift, and for those roads and streets to sort of not do so much of the sort of the performing the transport function. So where we seeing sort of metro stations going in, railway stations going in the precincts around them, there's a real opportunity to sort of say, look at those roads and streets saying, well, now the focus will be within the precinct itself. And the roads and streets have less of a traffic function, it's really servicing the place there. So |LF|I'm pretty as Ben sort of mentioned, those main roads, there's some great exciting opportunities. The example I always give is Parramatta Road. So if you think about Parramatta Road, currently, it performs very much a network function. And the traffic can often result in poor place outcomes, with an investment of Sydney Metro West and more of a shift towards public transport, there's an opportunity to sort of look at that road and sort of say, well, what's its place function, you know, it's not just for servicing people to come from Sydney's west to the centre, … you can now potentially create great places along that road. So that's one particular way I see the framework been applied. I'd also say in regional areas, where you seeing bypasses being sort of introduced. So quite often for our towns in those regional areas, you'll have a sort of a wider network road going through the middle of the town, as you introduce a bypass, you can now look at the main streets of that town. As you remove that through traffic, and instead of say, how do we make this a better road for this town? How do we encourage greater pedestrian trips within the town itself? So yeah, they are for me two exciting examples of where we can see the framework being applied and really being creating better places.

What do you see as some of the opportunities for the private sector, when it comes to what you're talking about movement and place in this framework, that can really be something that the private sector can also be benefiting from and leveraging?

Yeah, so look, I see the framework and particularly the network planning and precincts guide, as representing our offer as the as the Transport Agency, in the New South Wales Government, for a new kind of a new partnership, a new way to be, to be a bit more joined up, and, and come to the party a bit more. So a lot of a lot of the a lot of the advice, I guess, that we've been providing to our colleagues through concurrence, and advice back to the development community, in terms of, you know, the transport advice that we're providing for, for new developments in, in precincts has been really based on modelling and taking a real predict and provide type approach. And what that's what that's forced to get developers over the line, or developments over the line is, is it's forced developments to, to support the transport, rather than the other way around, rather than, than transport supporting the land use. And, and so we see this as a real opportunity to kind of reset within our own organisation of how we work with developers and with our colleagues in, in the planning organisation, to first understand what is the vision for this place, and then how can transport support that, and that's, that's really the way we need to start working as government and certainly as a transport agency to support the community needs and aspirations because at the end of the day, transport is there to serve the community and the community is not there to support transport. So that's, that's really one of the biggest reasons for the network planning and precincts guide. And it's, and it's addressing a lot of the, a lot of the kind of problems that that that we've certainly heard from, from the private sector from the development community, but also that we've observed from our own practice, within government and within organisations. So, look, it's going to take a lot of work. But we've reached out, we're starting to reach out. And, and this is representing, you know, an opportunity for a bit of a reset a new partnership.


Yeah, for myself in sort of in planning with industry, they're really focused on the land use. So when we see sort of, you know, Greenfield precincts, industrial precincts, they're really focused on what the land use is and ensuring that the transport networks basically enable what's what they're proposing in the land use. So really, the framework will help industry sort of sort of say: Where's the road network we're developing isn't supportive that overall land use and that vision for it. One of the important aspects of movement and place is ensuring that, the assessment of our transport networks has achieved the vision. So, industry through their visioning process can set a clear vision for the land use, how that place is going to be and then this sort of movement function or road network services that vision so that's I think that's very important for industry to sort of be clear on their vision, to communicate it, and to really sort of sell it when we're looking at those road networks and understanding how are they servicing that vision as to what could happen in the past, but there's a bit of a session about in terms of the technical aspects of traffic and understand traffic volumes, it's really well, how did these roads sort of service these places. So I think that's a really great opportunity for industry. Also, sort of going back to this Co-design, which I mentioned earlier, I think with Movement and Place, there's the opportunity for that CO design and to bring people together earlier. So I think with Movement and Place, there'll be the opportunity for industry to be involved in planning at the early stages to really help shape that vision, and bring them into the into the fold for all sort of planning.

The private sector is also consultancies, who, you know, developers employ, but that we employ as government and councils employ. So really important to, to really upskill the professions involved in the in the planning, design and operations, and that includes consultants who work in the private sector, who consult with us. So, so there, we see, we see the consultancy community as a real partner, and really critical to the success of our framework. And, and, and there's, there's also, you know, when we, when we talk about the private sector, I think we can also think about the research sector as well. And certainly some of the partnerships that we've, that we've developed with, with universities, through our, through our linkages, they've not only informed the development of the framework, but our partnerships with universities have tested helped us test certain aspects of the framework as well, and will continue to partner with universities as we lead the development of, of different aspects of the framework to have that supported by an appropriate evidence base, that universities can, can provide us with.

How can we get more involved? How can the community get more involved to accelerate this? How can private sector public sector academia, and importantly, the people that are that are in place in that place? How can we get more involved? And how can we not only engage but help accelerate this work?

Yeah, so great question. We have we have a few suggestions. One is that we've just started to form a community of practice for the New South Wales Movement and Place Framework. And that's, that's open to any practitioner in New South Wales that that has a role in the in the planning, design or operations of roads, streets, and places. So it could be any professional in any profession that has a role in those areas could be an architect or a transport planner, a land use planner, an urban designer, landscape architect, community engagement practitioner. So, an engineer, so if you if you have a role in the in the planning , design or operations of road streets and places, please join us and our community of practice, you'll be able to sign up to our mailing list, and we'll send out information about when the community of practice meets to our regular mailing list. The form to sign up to the mailing list is right at the bottom of our homepage. So, it's Just scroll down to the bottom of that page, there'll be a sign-up form for the mailing list there. The community of practice, will meet either online or in a hybrid situation every two months. And we'll hear from from Council staff and developing parts of the framework as it progresses. But in the intervening time between those meetings, we're planning on using the community of practice, to help inform the development of the framework, but also to be a community in itself. So if you're if you're a council, staff, or you know, somebody that works in a council, maybe a Regional Council, and you have a particular issue, that you'll be able to use this community of practice, we can already use this community of practice to reach out and ask if, if there's another Council, in a similar situation, they might be in another corner of the state. And so certainly, we've,, we've already set up a few of those conversations already through this community. So in the intervening kind of time, between meetings, we have a live and lively discussion forum set up on LinkedIn, so you can join our LinkedIn group. And that LinkedIn group is has a link at the at the footer of our website, click on the LinkedIn in icon. And you can also contact us directly through as we as we progress, the framework and roll it out further, we will be rolling out some training  which will consist of, six modules of elearning will be rolled out, starting with the first two in the next few weeks. And that will be supported by some face-to-face training. So the elearning will be free and the face to face will be a one day workshop at a price, which we'll be rolling out to all of New South Wales, we'll be taking it regionally with us and try and get to, to a lot of the smaller regional councils with that as well. So there's, there's a lot, there'll be a lot of opportunities coming up over the over the next few months. And as we roll it out further, we do intend to continue to partner with councils across the State, as councils start to kind of pick up some of these concepts and use it in their own planning will be there as much as we can to support councils. And help them kind of think through the processes. Because we intend to use that knowledge that we gained from working with councils to iterate and update and improve the framework.

Yeah, look, I would say in movement and place, it's been developed across the government, but it's really for anyone involved in both either movement and place, or both them together. So I just encourage people to be brave and to start using the framework itself. You know, Ben mentioned, there's some great resources in terms of upskilling, but anyone can really pick it up and start applying to their project right now. So I'd say that people should feel brave to start using it, I would say be brave in particular, setting the visions for the area. So I think really, the strength of the framework is we're setting a vision, that should be aspirational. And this is a new approach where we, instead of relying on sort of modelling and technical studies, we really should be sort of setting that vision from the outset. And that vision could include things such as, you know, health benefits. So as we have modal shifts greater towards, you know, pedestrians and active transport, it could talk about sort of, you know, the social benefits of providing greater places, and we can even link that back to sort of things such as productivity, you know, it's proven that as we have, you know, promoted greater pedestrian activity, active transport socialization, this, this results in the great economic benefits for productivity and things along those lines. So I'd say to, you know, to implement the framework, be brave, be using it, and be brave in setting those visions and be aspirational. So I think that's probably one of the ways to use it, because we really do want to see it used by our own agencies, by councils, and by industry, certainly. Myself and Ben had a meeting with someone from regional council the other day, and they sort of said, Oh, look, I'm really excited to use it. I'm, I've been working here for a little while. And most of my colleagues are sort of traffic engineers who focus on sort of a traditional approach, I'm really excited to sort of use new approach that is sort of more place-based. So I'd encourage everyone to sort of challenge some of the older practices, it does represent a bit of a cultural shift in terms of the way we look at our roads and streets and how we integrate it with land use planning, but I think it's a step in the right direction. And I think we'll see this great approach as we move forward.

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