Leading property groups looking for political leadership on cities

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An alliance of leading business organisations has called on the major political parties to revitalise Australia's capital cities.

The Built Environment Meets Parliament (BEMP) alliance has called for a National Urban Strategy to boost economic growth and foster more liveable and environmentally sustainable cities.

The BEMP alliance also called for a Federal Cities Minister to join-up and better coordinate urban policy-making.

BEMP is an alliance of leading property industry groups that includes Consult Australia, the Australian Institute of Architects, the Green Building Council of Australia, the Planning Institute of Australia and the Property Council of Australia.

Neil Savery, President of the Planning Institute of Australia, says: "The need to continue to reform the nation's planning systems is essential if we are to deliver better economic, social and environmental outcomes for our cities."

Romilly Madew, Chief Executive of the Green Building Council of Australia, says, "If we want to create truly sustainable cities, then we need a national plan to promote greener buildings, energy efficiency and the transition to a low carbon economy."

David Parken, CEO of the Australian Institute of Architects, says: "In designing the cities of the future, we can draw on our best talents to lead the world to create productive, socially inclusive and greener cities."

Megan Motto, CEO of Consult Australia, says: "We welcome investment in infrastructure, but what we need is a 30-year plan that coordinates land use planning with infrastructure planning and makes sure that we provide the connecting infrastructure that our cities need if they are to be more sustainable and liveable."
Peter Verwer, CEO of the Property Council of Australia, says: "Australia's capital cities need long-term planning and a cooperative approach between all levels of government. A National Urban Strategy is vital if we are to lift the performance of our cities."

In June 2010, the BEMP alliance launched an independent audit of Australia's capital city planning systems by KPMG - Spotlight on Australia's Capital Cities: An Independent Audit of City Planning Systems.

The report measured each capital city against the performance criteria for effective city planning adopted by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on 7 December 2009 and provided an overall score and ranking. It found that Melbourne scored best, followed by Brisbane and Adelaide. Hobart was ranked last.

The report also made several recommendations, such as:

 an expanded role for the Federal Government in urban policy:

  • releasing a national urban policy with performance targets,
  • launching a refreshed Better Cities program to target infrastructure investment,
  • appointing a cabinet minister for urban affairs,
  • establishing a centre for design excellence.

 giving a single agency responsibility for coordinating the delivery of metropolitan strategies;
 streamlining planning by adopting the Development Assessment Forum (DAF) model for local development assessment processes;
 ensuring that metro strategies take precedence over other planning laws and have clear targets;
 adopting priority activity plans for land release and infrastructure priorities;
 adopting innovative and modern public funding mechanisms such as bonds and reforming developer contributions; and
 setting city based performance targets and national reporting on progress against these targets.

The full KPMG report and a summary is available at: www.bemp.com.au

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Media contacts:
Planning Institute of Australia, Neil Savery, President, 0417 734 749
Green Building Council of Australia, Romilly Madew, CEO, 0412 062 157
Australian Institute of Architects, David Parken, CEO, 0414 856 336
Consult Australia, Megan Motto, CEO, 0411 104 458
Property Council of Australia, Peter Verwer, CEO, 0407 463 842