RACV people: the planner

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Stuart Outhred takes a big-picture view of the way we move around our cities..

Stuart Outhred

A big part of my job is considering how the growth of Victoria changes the way people are going to move around in the future. I try to understand what’s happening in cities globally – new technology, trends – and boil that down into what matters for our community.

How people move around can be fundamental to their sense of freedom. Successful, liveable places offer diversity in their transport systems. If people are dependent on one mode of transport the system becomes very fragile.

I’ve got an urban planning background, and see transport and land-use planning as two sides of the same coin; You can’t decide where jobs and houses are going to go without thinking about how people are moving. And you can’t plan a big transport project without thinking about how that impacts where people live or work.

We can learn so much from other cities. I look to London for lessons about how to do public transport. They have a true network that they’re constantly adding to and improving. Melbourne’s growth happened post-war when the car was in mass production, so our car-centric development isn’t a surprise, but I don’t think it can continue.

People ask me what city I think Melbourne should emulate. I don’t think we can retro fit Melbourne to be another city and I don’t think we want to. We want to learn from everywhere else but then do the next phase better. We should be trying to lead the world in how we go about it, not playing catchup.

What do I love about Melbourne? Its amazing street grid network, which is the envy of a lot of other cities.  And it’s sport crazy, which makes me fall in love with it a little bit more.

A big part of planning is understanding the realities for different communities. Talk of Melbourne’s liveability often forgets a lot of the issues being felt in the suburbs and regional areas.

I’ve got two little kids and I want to see a Melbourne and Victoria that lets them be healthy and happy, where they can get to sport, the beach or wherever else without sacrificing all their spare time – and mine.

Interview: Jade Thrupp

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