In brief - Urban growth driven by amenities and social character
The recent Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) annual conference shed light on how councils can better serve and progress their communities. One of the issues examined was the role of creativity in driving urban growth.
Charles Landry addresses conference on the creative city concept
A keynote speaker at the LGAQ's annual conference was Charles Landry, a cultural planning consultant who developed the concept of the creative city in his 2000 book, The Creative City: A Toolkit for Urban Innovators. According to Landry, the creative city is a place which contains both the hardware (building, streets and areas) and software (thinkers, creators and implementers) that can generate innovation and growth.
Richard Florida argues that urban growth depends on attracting creative class
In The Rise of the Creative Class published in 2002, author Richard Florida subsequently called these people the creative class to distinguish them from the service class, which performs administrative and clerical roles, and the working class, which performs what is left of the industrial economy.
Florida argues that urban planning and governance policies intended to achieve growth should be focused on attracting the creative class (talent, technology and tolerance) through high-density development with a funky look and socially free areas, rather than mega cultural projects such as stadiums and entertainment centres.
Does the creative class make a city successful?
While Florida's ideas have been embraced in the United States by urban planners and developers, they are subject to strong criticism on the basis that the creative class does not make cities successful; cities that are successful attract the creative class.
Amenity and social character contribute to Australian urban growth
In the Australian context, the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics concluded in its 2014 report, The evolution of Australian towns, that amenity including services (housing, health, education and retailing), physical features (natural landscape and climate) and social character (demographic, cultural and entertainment facilities) have contributed to significant shifts in settlement patterns in the last 20 years.
Creativity develops social character
Florida's prescriptions for urban planning and governance, therefore, should not be seen as the silver bullet to growth. Rather, they are a set of tools to develop the social character of a town, city or region which will improve its amenity and attractiveness to an increasingly mobile and wealthy population.
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