Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Different cities, different stages

Austin was the most progressive city by way of strategic (long range) planning. With a 30-year plan known as, Imagine Austin, which was heavily guided by community input, with planning zones and overlays and a number of master plans, Austin is trying to facilitate but also guide coherent and sustainable development.

After a history of no government support for comprehensive planning in Houston sine 1913, the Comprehensive Plan has just been adopted for the City. With a heavy focus on community and technical industry input, The Plan has been produced to guide coherent and sustainable development. Within The Plan, a list of extensive core strategies, goals and key performance indicators have been developed to allow measureable outcomes for the City.

San Antonio has been heavily populated and influenced by Mexicans. After roaming both the main streets and the suburban streets of the City, its culture, people and some ancient architecture and history was prevalent.

Although the three cities are at different stages in planning, the lack of government funding or support for key infrastructure, development guidance and standards has been detrimental to built form, creating urban sprawl and expanding the gap between the poor and rich, in all three cities, through housing affordability, design and the lack of transit options. The market is purely privately driven and sustainability is a choice should a developer choose to act integrally, There is also a lack of existing efficient and practical transit in all three cities. While Houston may have plans for a bus route similar to a tourist tram route, its funding and route is questionable.

Innovation exists in the suburb of Mueller with their well-designed gated community that seemed to consist of the standard white typical sized family in the middle to upper class. The parks that have been created, or to be created, in partnership with design workshop have showed great design and depth, but without Council or State guidance or funding.

Texas needs coherent planning tools to ensure that the City can maintain its uniqueness but be sustainable and efficient, whilst catering to its citizens from all walks of life.

Renee De Alwis