The Beagle Editor, It is with considerable concern that each time I return to Batemans Bay I find more and more empty shops. The once vibrant foreshore looks sad and the town looks haggard. My friends tell me that Council is working on a new CBD design to revitalise the town that will bring back a "spirit of place" that is now lost to anyone who bothers to stop by on their way to some where else. Where should we be heading to? Let me quote from one Local Government visionary:
"Place making is not a new concept. While it began to be consistently used in the mid 1990s, it was an approach to city and land use planning in the 1960s. "Place making is based on the notion that the design of cities should be people focused and that social and cultural factors are important in creating lively neighbourhoods and inviting public spaces. "Well-designed community spaces contribute to people’s health, sense of belonging, connectedness and wellbeing. There are numerous place making reports and studies that have been undertaken in many parts of the world, including Australia. In simple terms and from a land use perspective, places we visit in our daily lives influence our health, well-being and productivity. They can encourage us to exercise, eat fresh food and participate in community life from a cultural, creative, leisure, economic and social perspective "An important concept of place making is the collaborative process whereby the broader community can shape and strengthen the connection between people and the places that they access and share. "Place making can inspire and encourage people to become involved and take ownership in the creation, redesign or reinvention of these places. Therefore, place making starts with the community and is not only the construction of a building, designing shopping centres or building roads for cars. It provides a focus on patterns of use, and the physical, cultural and social aspects that define a place and its future evolution. Place making can apply to parks and open spaces, central business districts, waterfronts, neighbourhoods, shopping centres and malls, streets, markets, educational facilities and public buildings. "Place making can also be defined and can incorporate issues of access to work and leisure activities, safety, general health, affordability of basic services, and facilitating more broadly the key elements of what can be described as an egalitarian and connected society. "It can equally apply to the cost and accessibility of transport to these areas, the affordability of participation and the sense of being welcomed and included. "Place making has been described as both a process and a philosophy. While as a philosophy place making can often sound like common sense, it is the process that frequently provides the challenges for all levels of government, relevant organisations, the community and the private sector.
"The process of place making can involve resources, time and an agreement that the disciplines of town planning, traffic management, urban design, architecture and economic return may take a second place to the priorities of the community. This is not always a realistic outcome and often a balance and an understanding of the mutual benefit and responsibility for all stakeholders is required. "Great places accommodate and invite people from all socio-demographics, abilities, cultures and ages to access and enjoy a place in a genuine and participatory way". Are these great words from a Utopian visionary that might guide a transformation of Batemans Bay with foreshore pontoons, open green spaces, vibrant businesses where place making is the collaborative process whereby the broader community can shape and strengthen the connection between people and the places that they access and share. Or are these the words of the General Manager of Eurobodalla Council written in 2017*** in a paper she wrote while on a Local Government Professionals NSW (Australia) Study tour of the USA with the focus of her study tour "to examine the concept of place making from both a land use perspective and a community building perspective, as a springboard for community wellbeing." In addition to the above Dr Catherine Dale also says "The study showcases examples of how governments and organisations have implemented place making by observing, listening and asking questions of the people who live, work and socialise in their local places and communities." If it is about observing, listening and asking questions then why is Batemans Bay looking more like a ghetto every day and why are Eurobodalla Council at such loggerheads with the Batemans Bay Foreshore Committee, the Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce, the Mackay Park Sunset Committee and now the community users of the Batemans Bay Community Centre? Where is the guidance General Manager? Are you Place Making Batemans Bay? Name and address provided **** read the full paper HERE