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What Role Does Community Planning Have in Economic Development?

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DBP411 - Community Planning

Assignment 2

Community Planning Practice Paper

What role does Community Planning have in Local Economic Development?

Lecturers: Fiona Caniglia & Stuart McLaughlin

Student: Andreas Faludi

Student ID: 02534955

Due Date: 4 June 2004

"Planning ahead is a measure of class. The rich and even the middle class plan for generations, but the poor can plan ahead only a few weeks or days."

Gloria Steinam, The Time Factor (1980)

INTRODUCTION

Unfortunately, it is true to say that many stakeholders within the broader development industry regard the bottom line of their balance sheets rather than the economic well being of locals (some of whom may be displaced during the development process) as the be all and end all. While the tangible rise in land value associated by proximity to quality developments is recognised by many, there are just as many whose economic situations become worsened. While these individuals or groups may already be homeless and residing in public housing that is to make way for new development, for example, the fact remains that their economic situation has suffered by virtue of their displacement. While community planning - planning for the community rather than just the built environment - involves all members of the community, it is more often than not focused on ensuring positive outcomes for those who are less able to voice their opinions. To continue the generalisation, these people are more often than not at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum.

As many of the students from the Community Planning unit will most likely go onto conventional town planning roles within either private practice or public service, it is most important that they not only understand how to apply good town planning principles to the built environment, but also how to achieve positive community outcomes through application of these principles. Further, within this it is essential that the economic well being of the community at large (and not just its captains of industry and business owners) is guaranteed along with the more traditional and typical desired planning outcomes being positive urban design, environmental sustainability and provision of relevant community facilities.

This paper will examine the role that Community Planning principles can play in Local Economic Development (LED). Importantly, this report will aim to identify the causes an consequences of economic disparity within communities, identify those individuals and groups that have the most to contribute to LED in their community and finally discuss and examine a range of policy initiatives that focus on sustainable economic outcomes for all members of the community network. It is also hoped that this paper may provide a guide for students of urban and regional planning, as to how human and financial goals need not be mutually exclusive of one another.

THE ISSUES

Economic growth, not just community bonding

In international business, the world is divided into developed and developing nations. The yardstick used to measure this difference is typically economic. How then do we know when we have crossed the line between a "developing" and a "developed" community? What yardsticks are available to us? Typically, successful communities are measured in terms of participation, support networks and a general willingness to action outcomes (more often human and intangible outcomes) for that community. But while in terms of participation, a community may be very wealthy, a large proportion may be just as poor in economic standards. Accordingly, it is submitted that having implemented a community plan that succeeds in uniting a local area is only part of the process. The other part involves identifying those within the community that may be classified (and the writer apologises for the generalisation) as the "have nots" and instilling within these individuals or groups, skills that will lead to them obtaining employment through existing community networks.

Direct links to land use planning

Another critical problem facing LED is that the principles behind it are not presented within standard planning documents for application by planning professionals on a daily basis. The introductory paragraph of the Brisbane City Plan 2000 reads: "The City Plan (the Plan) is a comprehensive statement of Council's intentions for the future development of Brisbane. The Plan provides guidance for builders, developers, solicitors and others to ensure development progresses in a way that will enable achievement of the vision for Brisbane." While the principles within the City Plan, and many other land use planning documents guide economic development in a loose fashion by allocating various land use rights strategically throughout the local government area, community development initiatives are left up to the individuals to implement. So where, through the granting of land use rights pursuant to the Planning Scheme, a Council allows the developer to introduce a development that may generate economic growth there is no requirement for the developer to ensure that this growth directly benefits the local community.

ANALYSIS

While on the surface it may be simple to identify communities or local areas that are in need of LED initiatives, the analysis to reach this determination must encompass the range of local factors as follows:

Employment data

The first key factor is employment, as this will largely assist the community planner in understanding the current strengths and weaknesses of that community. Accordingly, any local statistics must be compared to state or national figures so that a qualified conclusion can be drawn. For instance, some local communities may have experienced strong employment growth in manufacturing industries whereas nationally, these

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