Online resource to provide urban planning transparency

A new website gives access to a virtual Parramatta, making planning proposals more transparent for both the public and private sectors.

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A new website will give users access to a virtual Parramatta, making planning proposals more transparent for both the public and private sectors.

Urban Pinboard enables the public, private and community sectors to contribute ideas, comments and proposals on all planning issues to a virtual, interactive, 3D model of Parramatta in real time.

The public can respond directly to development proposals by posting comments, while architects and developers can upload their concepts directly to the virtual built environment.

Developed by UNSW, the Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) NSW, Cox Architecture and AAM Group, Urban Pinboard allows users to look at details like overshadowing, building heights, zoning, property sales information and transport links.

The Urban Pinboard concept won the Connected Cities strand of the UDIA’s City Life project last year, receiving $50,000 worth of funding. City Life aims to tackle issues of affordability, livability and connectivity in Sydney.

The project development team was made up of architects, urban and computational designers, academics and a software development team with a quantity surveying background.

Through interviews with 100 potential users from the private and public sectors, and the general public, the team evaluated how to meet each group’s needs.

Project lead, Associate Professor M. Hank Haeusler, from UNSW’s Bachelor of Computational Design , said the website offers a ‘single source of truth” that has been previously absent in urban planning processes.

“A developer or architect can use Urban Pinboard to upload a proposed building plan which is then visible to the public, in 3D, and in context, and that then allows members of the public to see how the proposal will affect them through building overshadowing or traffic flows,” Haeusler said.

“We discovered that many firms in the private sector and some local councils are moving towards more open and integrated platforms in their everyday workflow, and that there is a need for more authoritative and centralised data sources.”

UDIA NSW CEO, Steve Mann said Urban Pinboard is the start of a new era in more collaborative urban planning.

“Until now, the consultation process has been stuck in the 20th century with the community having no choice other than sifting through documents, email writing and attending community halls.

“This app will allow developers to test design concepts by sharing their uploads so that feedback can be immediate and live,” said Mann.