Leaders of Fast Growing Suburbs creating places from Far Out spaces

Summary of themes emerging from NGAA Congress 2019

15 November 2019

The 2019 NGAA National Congress, Far Out - Creating places and spaces in Australia’s outer suburbs, gave insights into leading practice and thinking on creating communities for people in our fast growing outer suburbs. Elected members and senior council officers were joined by policy makers and industry stakeholders including the Property Council, Planning Institute of Australia, Infrastructure Australia and Industry and Research partners including Profile ID, Lucid Economics and Astrolabe Group, to explore fresh ideas and approaches to get us from paddock to postcode - and get it right.

Creating Places for People is one of four core policy pillars that supports the National Growth Areas Alliance’s advocacy agenda. Our vision is for communities in the outer suburbs of every city to be resilient, liveable and productive places. 

The key themes that emerged from Congress included:


  1. Who are we planning for? It’s Complex!


According to Profile iD, growth areas are experiencing growth in every single age group.  Families are dominant, but not the only growth segment.  Cultural diversity is increasing with almost one quarter of people speaking a language other than English, and that rate is growing faster than the national average. The number of people living in one dwelling has increased by 25 percent ( again above the national average) and we need 42,000 new jobs per annum to match the growth!  So the demands for place are complex, diverse and changing! 


  1.  Take Places from Liveability to Loveability

To grow healthy communities, we need to create places which the community love and that they have contributed to creating.

Ethan Kent, Project for Public Spaces, provided the foundational thinking by leading with place-led approaches for growth areas. By starting with the community, places that people love  will emerge and  they will be places that people will want to continue to create.


  1. Growth has to be about Equity.

“Supporting growth is about equity”, said Romily Madew, CEO Infrastructure Australia. A community- led approach to city building focusing on “Access, Quality and Cost” will support outcomes being delivered for all people. As the recent Infrastructure Audit revealed, infrastructure poverty (where people haven’t access or can’t afford to access) is emerging as an issue of national significance.


  1.  Soft and hard Infrastructure Create Places

As described by the Dean Cracknell’s Town Teams Movement, the hardware of place is the physical attributes and is usually delivered by urban designers, architects and engineers and includes, roads, trees, footpaths, utilities and so on.

Software of place is less tangible: the people and the activity, the personality of place and is provided by the people, the businesses , the landowners, residents and visitors.

It’s about the vibe!

Balancing the delivery of transport, utility and social of infrastructure to growth areas is a constant challenge, and so too is nurturing the ‘vibe’ in new communities.  Congress brought together different lenses which can contribute to navigating this complex issue.  Jessica  Christiansen-Franks, Neighbourlytics, challenged delegates to understand social density of places  and how that changes over time – through understanding this, urban leaders can nurture activities which support positive growth; Michael Campbell, Lucid Economics, challenged delegates to convert “ place outcomes” to “ business outcomes”.  Increasingly firms and employers choose locations to work and invest in businesses because of the “ the vibe” – creating healthy social and economic economies which leads to more jobs.  


  1.  Paddocks to Postcodes?

Place-led integrated strategic planning, with the community (current or future) at the heart, will create not only a postcode, but vibrant, healthy places for people to live, work and play.

More in-depth analysis of Congress 2019 to come.



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