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The pandemic has created an opportunity for urban developers and designers to improve issues such as the liveability of Australian neighbourhoods and access to public spaces.

There has never been a better time to develop strategies to complex living issues to ensure communities are more equitable, greener, and self-sufficient, according to Lucian lacob, a Perth Principal and urban designer at RobertsDay, a multi-award-winning urban planning and design consultancy with studios in most Australian cities.

“The pandemic will leave behind a generational shift in our collective mindset about the fragility of life, our vulnerability, interconnectedness and the need to adapt quickly,” lacob said.

“Together with the ongoing challenge of climate change and environmental action, the effects of COVID-19 have solidified the importance of creating more sustainable, resilient and livable communities.”

Conventional patterns of suburban sprawl have become a topical issue especially in relation to car dependency, energy consumption, limited lifestyle choices and impacts on the natural environment.

lacob said developers should focus on creating self-sufficient neighbourhoods that reduce emissions and support a more sustainable way of living.

“With the world in a temporary pause, now is the best time to take a new approach to urban design,” he said.

“We should promote self-sufficient living. The convergence of COVID-19 and climate change has heightened our awareness of the importance of self-sustainability.

“Neighbourhood designs should incorporate a more pronounced range of lot sizes and do so in a way that is compact and efficient to ensure easy access to local services and amenities. This could result in lower-traffic congestion and reduce our carbon footprint.”

Developers often overlook street design, they are typically just spaces for vehicles with little consideration given to pedestrians or cyclists.

“Building more equitable streets – spaces that can simultaneously accommodate a range of transport options and activities – will promote community connection and can be linked to green design interventions to address broader environmental issues,” he said.

“Developers and planners should embrace bespoke street designs with informal places to sit, staggered lot boundaries and breakout spaces on street corners, shared carriageways, no truncations, reduced kerb radii, generous street tree planting, edible plant and tree species, and creative approaches to engineering, drainage and landscape designs.”

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