Planning Minister says mediocrity is the enemy of good urban planning

NSW Minister for Planning Robert Stokes has called for an end to “mediocre” urban planning calling it “the enemy of greatness”.


NSW Planning Minister Robert Stokes speaking at the City Futures 10th Anniversary celebrations at The Mint. Photo: Reece McMillan

NSW Minister for Planning Robert Stokes has called for an end to “mediocre” urban planning calling it “the enemy of greatness”.

Addressing UNSW City Futures Research Centre's 10th Anniversary celebrations at The Mint, Minister Stokes acknowledged that “good planning is instrumental to giving people better lives” while thanking City Futures for their past decade of research which has helped progress Sydney's urban planning beyond ordinary solutions.

“On behalf of the citizens of New South Wales I would like to acknowledge the work of the Centre which has in its brief ten years, become one of the most eminent centres of urban planning scholarship anywhere in the world.

“The government has aspirations for Sydney to become a great global city but the enemy of greatness is mediocrity and that’s what we see right across the built form of Sydney,” he said to the gathering, which included Shadow Minister for Planning Penny Sharpe, CEO of UrbanGrowth NSW David Pitchford and some of Australia’s leading urbanists.

Launched in 2005, the Centre, together with colleagues in UNSW Built Environment’s Planning Program, was acknowledged by the Australian Research Council as Australia’s leading university research centre in urban planning. 


L-R: President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Jacobs, City Futures director Professor Bill Randolph, NSW Minister for Planning Robert Stokes and Dean of Built Environment Professor Alec Tzannes AM. Photo: Reece McMillan

Centre Director Professor Bill Randolph said he wants City Futures to become Sydney’s ‘urban observatory’ over the next decade through its four key research agendas: city equity, productivity, renewal and governance.

“We are living in the urban century. In 30 years’ time 75 per cent of the population will be living in cities – this is surely one of the greatest challenges of our age,” Professor Randolph said.

“City Futures looks forward to working closely with the new Greater Sydney Commission, the wider NSW Government and city builders to provide the research and data from which all good decision-making flows.”

Minister Stokes emphasised that by 2050 an extra five houses will be needed for every four that are currently in Sydney, stating that the linkages between academia and government will be crucial to meeting that challenge.

“We have a job to take the lead in thought leadership, governance, liveability and sustainability of cities and to export those ideas to the rest of the world and I have no doubt that City Futures can take this challenge on,” he said.

The City Futures 10th Anniversary kicks off a week of public talks Cities@UNSW led by international experts:

  • Neighbourhood Planning in England: roots, development, potential – Professor Nick Gallent, University College, London. Tuesday, 10 November, 4.30pm - AGSU Room (2001) Red Centre West Wing Building, UNSW Kensington
  • Panel Discussion: Housing Market Drivers and Affordability Interventions: New York, London and Sydney – Professor Alex Schwartz, The New School, New York, Professor Nick Gallent, University College London and Professor Hal Pawson, UNSW. Wednesday, 11 November, 6pm, The Mint, 10 Macquarie St, Sydney
  • Big Data, Little Data, Real Time Streaming and the Smart City Professor Mike Batty, University College London. Thursday, 12 November, 5.30pm, The Mint, 10 Macquarie St, Sydney
  • Public Housing in the US: An assessment of the latest preservation efforts – Professor Alex Schwartz, The New School, New York. Friday, 13 November, 12pm, UNSW Business School Room 119, UNSW Kensington

Read Professor Bill Randolph's opinion piece on disadvantage in Sydney's suburbs in the Sydney Morning Herald.