8 June 2011 – The Manly Council’s 2015 master plan is a great initiative but the plan could be improved if the council considered Green Building Council of Australia Green Star ratings and sustainable intensity metric benchmarks.

Proposed by McGregor Coxall (landscape architecture and urban design) and architects Choi Ropiha the plan is an important first step in revitalising the CBD, and one that can tempt developers towards the benefits of green star designed buildings.

It really is time that future Manly planning is defined by green star sustainable development which complements our natural landscapes.

The CBD plan prioritises social sustainability in preparation for a clean-carbon economy.

Council will need the full support of the community for the plan to succeed. So it must address existing parking concerns, vehicle access for Eastern Hill residents, and be able to plan for the expected roll-out of small, lightweight, safe cars featuring electric and a manufacturer’s preference for hybrid electric-hydrogen powered engines of the future.

Attracting high calibre retail to satisfy local shoppers with a new piazza is way overdue. Unfortunately, our uncompromising reliance on cars and our reluctance to accept change poses a single dilemma that could easily derail this opportunity for Manly to become the first sustainable CBD on the northern beaches.

Manly’s plan can easily accommodate a managed expansion of alfresco dining experiences in front of cafes, pedestrian and cycling routes that radiate out into residential and public spaces to connect all corners of the municipality with the CBD – schools, sporting grounds, and workplaces .

Imagine the reconfigured spaces that a creative urban designer could provide if given an opportunity to redesign existing travel routes currently allocated to uninspiring footpaths, non-utilised council cross-overs, car stacked kerbs and roads.

The type of car, and the times of day that people choose to drive their cars needs to be integrated into the new plan.

For example, council must lead the community with programs to encourage sustainable car usage such as rewarding residents that drive small cars and ride bicycles to reduce emission intensities per person, and optimise car parking availability to engage the Chamber of Commerce.

Specifically, I would like to see a car parking ticket system levied on a vehicle’s combined weight and length at the boom gate, rather than the simple “one size fits all” approach.

Council must also seek state government assistance to increase parking capacity for the purpose of diverting more commuters away from the Harbour Bridge and onto the Manly ferry in an effort to reduce car congestion in the city and support Manly retail.

Also under consideration is Manly’s first tri-generation power plant to generate on-site electricity and air and water conditioning.

My view is that, council would be advised to err on the side of caution as the emissions savings in favour of tri-generation are based upon a comparison with electricity generated from coal-fired power stations – soon undergoing conversion to gas in a carbon-taxed economy, as speculated by the Beyond Zero Emissions group.

Manly’s master plan offers a great vision by those who have worked on the design, allowing future expansion, and the beginnings of a connected community.

To show your support for the plan be vocal and communicate your position to the council so we can achieve the type of sustainable CBD that we all want to see.

David Burns is a sustainability advisor and analyst. His website is  www.sustain450.com.au

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