• Black Twitter Icon


Creating Places for People: an urban design protocol for Australian cities (the Protocol) is a national reference for best practice urban design.

Developed in 2011 its aim is to create and measure “prosperous, sustainable and livable places for people, through leadership and design excellence” [1], in order to ensure that all Australian cities are well placed to meet the future challenges and growth of a globally competitive environment.

As such the Protocol provides the language, and a clear set of principles, concerning urban design and place, operating both as a framework and advocacy document for promoting liveability and quality of life in the planning of our cities.

Championed by every Lord Mayor of Australia, each State and Territory government, the Australian Government, and the peak professional and industry bodies representing the built environment, the Protocol was off to a promising start.

For Australia it demonstrated a built environmental milestone and became comparable with similar reference documents such as New Zealand’s Urban Design Protocol (2005), the United Kingdom’s Urban Design Compendium (2000), and in the United States’ the Congress for the New Urbanism Charter and Smart Growth Manual (2010).

The protocol was built from a two-year nation-wide development and consultation period with engagement from all levels of government, businesses and community stakeholders about what makes a quality urban place in Australia.

Its twelve founding principles recognise that urban design combines both:

(a) best practice processes to follow (i.e. leadership), and;

(b) characteristics or outcomes (i.e. places for people).

These principles can be applied to almost any project, or location [2] and operate as a free web-based tool accessible by anyone.

The principles have been incorporated into the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia’s IS rating tool , the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star-Communities rating tool and used in the selection criteria for the Australia Award for Urban Design, now in its 20th consecutive year.


In mid 2014 custodianship of the Protocol was transferred to the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC), along with the twitter account and website which was changed to a new URL (www.urbandesign.org.au). An Editorial Board has been established to manage the Protocol.

However, despite such a promising beginning the Protocol is in danger of fading into archival history, an example of what was once rather nice to have.

Building more liveable, sustainable cities is a clear priority for the federal government, along with the other tiers of government, and the private sector. With the emerging City Deals model of infrastructure investment and planning reform, the opportunity to embed urban design and place outcomes into major decision making processes is the best it has been in a long time.

The Protocol had an excellent start, and it is an important and useful framework that must live on, and thrive.

Not only is it a critical resource to hold future governments accountable for national liveability, it is a quality reference document for a body of Urban Practitioners who, whilst sitting at the nexus of architecture, landscape architecture and planning have no professional representative body nor formalised degree or training.

The protocol allows these practitioners and policymakers to lean on a respected set of guiding principles in an industry that has none. But it needs industry support from practitioners and place professionals.

As such, we are calling all interested urban practitioners to participate in a 1-day intensive workshop to discuss the role of the Protocol and its future in the planning of Australian cities.


  • A common problem for all – ‘Dealing with long term planning commitments in short term leadership cycles’

  • Understanding of the value and principles of the Protocol and the impact on Urban Design

  • How Councils, State government agencies, practitioners, professionals in place making and developers can incorporate the protocol into everyday practice.

  • Who is responsible for updating content and references so that Australia is kept up-to-date with high quality case studies and world’s best practice?

  • How can we use the Protocol be used as a collective tool, to bring together the multitude of disciplines all working in place aligned fields?

  • How do we empower its champions to advocate the Protocol?

  • How to ensure the Protocol is applied with practical tools that can be used by the general public.

If you are interested in participating in the upcoming workshop, please email info@Placeleaders.com to register your interest.


Sara Stace, a former Director in the Australian Government’s Major Cities Unit, and Adam Beck, a Senior Advisor on Cities with the Green Building Council of Australia, provided the central impetus for writing and editing the Protocol.

They led an editorial board of around forty professionals from around Australia. Around 500 people were also consulted through workshops held in Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Sydney.  A public discussion paper was released online for a three-month consultation period with responses from around the country.

At the end of the two-year development and consultation period, the Australian Government released Creating Places for People: An Urban Design Protocol for Australian Cities in November 2011.