Landscape architects meet government MPs

by James Grant.

Landscape architects converse with government MPs

Living Cities Workshop

Landscape architects are forging a Living Cities Alliance to advise the government on how to create more liveable, green cities.

Leaders from more than 50 urban planning, infrastructure, utilities and greening organisations met with MPs in Canberra, at a workshop hosted by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA).

James Grant, Principal at JMDdesign in Sydney, AILA National Councillor, Chair of the AILA National Advocacy Committee and Advocate of 202020 Vision, shares his perspective.

The Living Cities Alliance is a great initiative led by AILA to inform government policy and influence how our cities are shaped in the future. It has an emphasis on liveable cities, quality public space and green infrastructure.

Importantly it places landscape architects at the fore in the government’s mind when it comes to solving key challenges facing our cities.

The AILA workshop in Canberra aimed to develop key policy recommendations to inform the greening of Australian cities and the government’s Cities Policy position paper, which we expect to be released in coming months.

There was consensus about the positive impacts of greening cities, including reducing health and energy costs, increasing retail, sense of community and social equity, and the significant environmental benefits.

“Liveable, green and vibrant cities are absolutely critical to Australia’s prosperity,” said Greg Hunt, Minister for the Environment.

“Establishing a shared long term vision for each of our cities will rely on strong collaboration across all levels of government, informed by the knowledge and experience of industry and experts.”

The Hon Fletcher MP, Albanese MP and Bandt MP affirmed their commitment to industry consultation, with Fletcher firmly articulating his contribution to the city agenda.


It places landscape architects at the fore in the government’s mind.

A key outcome was founding the Living Cities Alliance, which will enable a consultative framework to inform the government’s policy development.

Landscape architects have previously been involved in Built Environment Meets Parliament (BEMP), but to my knowledge this is the first time federally. Landscape architects have led the way on influencing government policy on cities.

The Living Cities Alliance will develop five priority policy areas for the government’s consideration. Opportunities include:

  • A National Green Streets pilot program to support economic, social and environmental development in our urban and suburban centres.
  • Accelerating green roof installation using incentives such as the creation and trading of stormwater retention credits.
  • A national Grey to Green retrofit investment fund to help leverage private sector investment for enhancing green spaces in our urban centres.
  • Piloting creative financing mechanisms for precinct-scale green infrastructure investment, such as the Green Benefit Districts launched in the City of San Francisco. 

Since the event the Turnbull Government ministerial reshuffle has seen the appointment of Angus Taylor MP as Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation.

This replaces the role of Minister for Cities and Built Environment and moves from the cities portfolio in the Department of the Environment to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

While in reality this is a scaling back of the Minister for Cities role, it also presents more direct engagement with the Prime Minister’s Office in an area he has a keen interest in.

The workshop was presented in partnership with Engineers Australia, 202020 Vision, Lawn Solutions, Fleming’s Nurseries, Andreasens Green and AECOM.

James Grant

James Grant

James Grant is Principal at JMDdesign in Sydney, AILA National Councillor, Chair of the AILA National Advocacy Committee and Advocate of 202020 Vision.

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