Sustainable Planning & Design


Effective management of urban growth is one of the key factors which determines the success and sustainability of our settlements.

With increasing expectations on the livability of communities there needs to be a commensurate focus on ensuring these communities are also sustainable.

The planning and design community plays an important role as change agents and advocates for good growth management.  Sustainability Queensland recognises this role and gives voice to the information and debate surrounding it through the sustainable planning and design section of its website.

What are the principles of good sustainable urbanism?

Before we plan for our future we should first understand what we hold closest to our heart.  There are numerous lists of core principles and values of a good human settlement held by the community, developers and government. While they are all different, there are some consistent themes including:

  • walkable neighbourhoods
  • housing diversity
  • a strong sense of community
  • a strong sense of place
  • a sustainable economy
  • a mix of land uses that support exchange and vitality
  • integrated open space, rural land, natural beauty and critical environmental areas
  • transportation choice and diversity

Many of these themes are reflected in relevant policies, including the Queensland State Planning Policy and local government planning. However the application of the principles, in policy documents and in practice, varies considerably. Good design and planning addresses these objectives and conceptualises integrated solutions for achieving them.

Where, When and How?

With the myriad of opportunities and solutions presented for sustainable settlement it can be easy to miss the bigger picture.  Focusing our efforts is an important aspect of dealing with sustainability.


The Queensland Government made a significant step in managing our urban growth through the introduction of the South East Queensland Regional Plan which manages 70% of Queensland’s population. While its core principle of urban consolidation is sound it is still the fringe areas of our cities that contribute most significantly to our population growth and expanding urban footprint.  In these areas we have historically been focused on balancing affordability, transport, density and the natural environment.  As we move forward issues of health, biodiversity, resilience and identity will become more important.


Predicting and managing our settlements within our own lifetime is challenging. It is even more difficult to look beyond this. Many of the more extreme environmental impacts of growth such as global warming are now occurring within our own lifetime and we can see a greater degree of urgency in addressing contributing factors.


There is not one solution to achieving a sustainable state.  Human settlements are complex and their planning and design solutions need to engage with this complexity.  The multi-disciplinary nature of this forum aims to improve our understanding of the issues and solutions and to address complexity through collective interrogation and purpose.









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