The most outstanding examples of planning projects and the work of Australia’s best planners in 2017-18 were celebrated last week at the Planning Institute of Australia’s (PIA) National Awards for Planning Excellence in Perth.
Awards and commendations across 12 separate categories were given out with many of the 65 entries in the running involving revitalising aged and underutilised places, or applying cutting-edge research and innovation to resolve stubborn social, environmental or economic issues in Australia’s built environment.
Four councils were announced as winners in their categories for single or joint projects, and five more councils received commendations.
The City of Mount Gambier in South Australia won in the category ‘From Plan to Place’ for its Railway Lands project, which demonstrated the important role planning can play in transforming communities.
With a clear commitment to creating a major civic facility that enriches the cultural life of local citizens, the City of Mount Gambier applied a range of planning techniques and a collaborative approach with its community to achieve a new focal point for the city centre, transforming a historic, disused community asset into a multi-purpose and dynamic public space.
More than 10 years in the making, the project has evolved from a comprehensive and inclusive master planning process into an engaging and accessible place that encourages active participation in community events and passive recreation.
Importantly, the historic use of the railway lands has been reflected in the new urban form, through the use of public art which celebrates remnant features of the site’s historic past use, including the retention and adaptive re-use of the railway station, signal box and platform shelter.