Victoria is an international leader in the arts and creative industries and is celebrated for its plethora of creative neighbourhoods, each of which make their own unique contribution to the state’s creative eco-system. Creative Victoria supports creative industries in a myriad of ways and this support is guided by their overarching strategy – Creative State, the Victorian creative industries strategy. This strategy is currently being refreshed and is to be informed by our research into the affordability of creative spaces in Victoria. Access to secure, affordable and appropriate creative spaces is critical to the long-term sustainability of creative industries in Victoria.
There is a growing understanding of the enormous contribution that the arts and creative sector make to community health and wellbeing, social resilience and the economy. The creative sector is under pressure, particularly in inner Melbourne as property prices increase and creative spaces are displaced as areas gentrify. State Government and Local Government are increasingly committed to reversing that trend as the value of creative industries to the community become more broadly understood.
Our work will focus on the analysis of creative neighbourhoods - neighbourhoods in which there is significant clustering of creative spaces. This approach recognises the importance of place-based solutions that are designed with a consideration and understanding of the community networks that lead to the establishment of creative clusters. The affordability of these neighbourhoods will then be analysed, both in terms of residential and commercial affordability.
This place-specific analysis will lead to clear recommendations on appropriate interventions to support the affordability of creative spaces at a local level. These will be informed by an assessment of international case studies that support best-practice interventions into supporting the ongoing affordability of creative spaces.
The outcomes of this work will enhance our understanding of creative neighbourhoods by focusing on their place specific qualities and the local challenges that they face. The recommendations will be focused on generating supportive conditions that allow creative neighbourhoods to flourish in the long-term.
Younghusband Woolstore Community Engagement
The Young Husband woolstore is a cherished heritage building located in Kensington in Melbourne's inner-north. It accommodates a wide range of creative businesses including photographers, dance studios, artists studios, web designers, recording studios and furniture manufacturers.
In 2011, the previous owners proposed to demolish much of the building and construct residential towers. This was met with outrage from the community and almost 400 objections to the plans. The development proposal was subsequently rejected based on the need to protect neighbouring industrial business rather than community concern.
In 2016, the Impact Investment Group (IIG) purchased the site and commenced a master plan and planning permit for Stage 1 of the rejuvenation of the woolstore. Their proposal included retention and upgrades of the heritage buildings and adaptive re-use of the interior spaces for an expanded mix of creative industries and other commercial tenants. IIG are focused on delivering positive social impact and prioritised community consolation in their planning processes.
Hodyl & Co became involved in the Younghusband development at a point where community confidence had been undermined by the traditional planning process which only required developers to engage with the community at the time of lodging a planning permit. This project presented an opportunity to re-assert the community into the beginning of the planning process which ultimately assisted IIG to deliver their vision for the regeneration of the site.
Hodyl & Co, collaborating with Renton & Co, established a ‘fit for purpose’ community engagement plan, aimed at regaining trust and establishing long-term relationships with local affected residents, businesses and tenants. The community were invited to guided walking tours, listening sessions and design workshops all focused on sharing the community's stories of the 100 year old woolstore and their aspirations for the community. This informed the master plan for the site.
This approach resulted in community proposals that were incorporated into the master plan, including community gardens, potential road closures and an emphasis on local businesses procurement. In broader terms, the process led to increased community trust in planning processes and a more connected community.
It is unusual for all parties (developer, community and Council) to be unanimous and satisfied with the outcome of a planning permit process. The community overwhelmingly endorsed the new approach with no objections lodged to the planning permit. The success of the public engagement process was recognised by Councillors considering the planning permit for Stage 1 of the master plan. The engagement process also significantly reduced planning costs for our client and ensured the planning permit was secured in a timely way.
‘This is one of, if not, the finest planning applications I have had to consider since I was elected…the consultation on all of those stages was remarkable but the way that conversations were held with all stakeholders, not just residents, is truly wonderful to see. I certainly hope we see a lot more of it in other areas in the the future.’
—Rohan Leppert, City of Melbourne Councillor
The Younghusband Public Engagement and Community Planning process transformed community outrage into support, through a best-practice consultative model than can be adapted and replicated in other development contexts.