Food Sensitive Planning and Urban Design

Linking different areas relevant to food security and sustainability to facilitate urban life.

In 2008, VEIL articulated the concept of Food Sensitive Urban Design as a way of beginning to think about, and plan for, food systems in urban environments. This articulation of the concept recognised both the urgent need for a changed approach to urban food systems (for health and environmental reasons) and the opportunities that could be created through an integrated approach in planning and urban design.  This concept was developed with the support of the Victorian Heart Foundation, who funded the Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab (Kirsten Larsen)and David Locke Associates (Jenny Donovan) to prepare an introductory publication – Food Sensitive Planning and Urban Design: A Conceptual Framework for Achieving a Healthy and Sustainable Food System (FSPUD) – which was released in early 2011.

In May 2011, Darebin City Council contracted VEIL to run a workshop on FSPUD with Darebin’s planners and others in the Good Food Alliance. The objectives of this workshop were to: Engage a range of people from across different parts of council and planning areas in conversation about the importance of food in urban environments, and the possibilities of achieving other outcomes through planning for food; and explore application of FSPUD thinking and ideas might influence a specific development underway in Darebin (Reservoir structure plan).

Workshop outcomes

  • Comments and feedback were overwhelmingly positive and suggest that a valuable learning experience did take place.
  • The FSPUD matrix is a useful tool for engaging people in the breadth and depth of planning and urban design impacts on the food system. There may be possibilities to use it as a tool for development of policy implementation plan. We are happy to provide templates etc for Council’s further use if helpful.
  • The workshop revealed a good spread of initiatives and ideas. Although many groups ended up building ‘compendium’ initiatives that had a bit of everything, a reasonable amount of consideration was given to more systemic implications and possibilities (i.e. got beyond urban food production).

Small, Smart Moves

While further development of some ideas (e.g. Central Park) would clearly rely on staging of the Reservoir redevelopment, many of the activities identified within could be commenced in other areas. Similarly, there are very interesting opportunities for custom-designed spaces within the Central Heart for community food enterprise hub and transit centres and these may be focus areas for further FSPUD work. However, there is also existing infrastructure, community activity and other opportunities for Council support that could see some of these activities developed in the shorter term. A number of staff in attendance expressed excitement at their new perception of possibilities and the realisation of how much they could impact from within their existing roles.

Publications