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In 2013 a group of community leaders got together as the result of a conscious concern for the future of Avalon Beach and its surrounding areas. The group includes representatives from 12 community organisations including Avalon Palm Beach Chambers of Commerce, Avalon Preservation Association, Avalon Surf Life Saving, Avalon bowling club, Pittwater Natural Heritage Association, CAPRA and North Ward Councillors.

Sym Studio tailored a place making process to discover what is it that everyone loves about this place. The facilitation process translated the thoughts and ideas of the 12 community groups into an informing vision document that reflects the ‘essence’ of Avalon Beach, guiding future planning and development of the local area. The grass-roots initiative is potentially one of the first of its kind in NSW and an empowering move for the Avalon Beach Community.

Avalon Beach Placemaking PDF

WHAT’S CHANGING?

The NSW Government is reforming NSW Strata Titles Act in the first major reform since 1973. It is anticipated that the new laws will commence on July 1st, 2016. (http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au)

Amongst others, changes will include those to the default Stata By-laws to state that pets are allowed, provided that the strata committee approves.

Current Strata By-laws include three options:

A – Pets allowed on approval by owners’ corp (except fish)

B – Pets allowed on approval by owners’ corp (but cannot be unreasonably refused)

C – Not pets allowed

New Strata By-laws will include only one option:

Pets allowed on approval by owners’ corp (but cannot be unreasonably refused)

WHO’S AFFECTED?

This change will impact buildings that use the basic by-laws recommended by Fair Trading. Older buildings that have established by-laws as well as new buildings that write their own by-laws will not be impacted. But for the many buildings that just go with the basic by-laws recommended by Fair Trading, you can have a pet unless the owners’ corp has a very good reason for saying no.

The reforms will affect some 2 million industry professionals, strata owners, and residents in strata-titled townhouses and units. (http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au)

WHAT’S ARE THE BENEFITS?

Attract a greater diversity of buyers

According to the Petcare Information and Advisory Service (PIAS), more than 60% of Australian households enjoy the companionship of a pet. There is a real opportunity for pet friendly apartments to capitalize on this market shortage and attract a larger target market of potential buyers.

Competitive Marketing Angle

In America and around the world there is a huge trend developing for luxury living apartments that cater to pets. “Where it used to be differentiating just to take pets at all, now to be competitive, many buildings feel they need to provide a full service of pet amenities” says Carey Armstrong, (director of rentals at real-estate company Zillow)

Whilst we are yet to see this new pet design focus really take off in Australia – the 2016 By-law change will likely change the way we design for apartment living. The first signs of the trend can be seen in Melbourne’s new Garden Hill Luxyry Apartments in Doncaster to include an off-leash dog park (set for completion 2016). Over 80 percent of the 136 one- and two-bedroom apartments in the project have already been sold, which the director of Beulah International’s linking to the popularity of the dog-friendly design. (http://architectureau.com)

Save (animal) lives

One of the biggest reasons (RSPCA indicates more than half!) that pets get surrendered to shelters is the inability for existing pet owners to find pet-friendly housing when they move. More pet-friendly housing means less surrendering, more adoptions and less animal dying in shelters.

Improve wellbeing

As any pet owner knows first hand the joy that comes from having a pet. Studies have found that the therapeutic health benefits of owning a pet include lower rates of depression, lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol. (http://www.helpguide.org/articles/emotional-health/the-health-benefits-of-pets.htm)

WHAT ARE THE DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS?

Cost

  • Designing for pets, like any amenity, will incur extra upfront investments and maintenance costs. Some buildings add insulation between walls and floors to muffle pet noises (particularly barking), grooming rooms and rooftop dog parks. American models show that expenses are recovered with special pet fees. For example – At City Market in Washington there is an additional deposit of $500 for one pet and $800 for two, and the monthly fee is $60. Says Joel Regignano, City Market’s general manager, “The income we get is far more than the cost to maintain or clean up after pets. It’s absolutely a good return on investment.” (http://urbanland.uli.org/development-business/going-dogs/)

Option 1 – Private dog areas:

  • Ground floor apartments can be designed with dog friendly garden areas.
  • An emerging American design trend sees the provision of “pet decks” in some newly built luxury apartments equipped with artificial turf with a sprinkler system that cleans, sanitizes and deodorizes.

Option 2- Communal dog areas:

  • Apartment living ‘dog parks’ can be a real design feature and selling point of an apartment.
  • Design considerations include waterproofing, drainage of porous artificial lawn and sprinkler systems, security, surveillance, shade, noise, maintenance and space requirements.
  • Ideally within the park – a variety of spaces or activity zones should be created to offer a range of play opportunities. In larger areas, distinct zones for small and large dogs can be delineated.

Sym. Studio Director, Conrad Grayson presented at the 15th ICTC Conference and 5th National Mainstreet Australia Conference in Wollongong last month.

The conference “People, Places and Partnerships Creating livable & lovable places” called for a range of expert speakers to talk on the latest developments in urban design, opportunities and trends, place making, retail, planning, development, project management, main street marketing and management.

Conrad’s talk addressed the shifting nature of leisure and free time as a result of changing social demands.

Key Points

  1. As towns and cities densify (horizontal + vertical), the quantity of ‘leftover’

space is compromised and demand for its use increases.

  1. Greenspace previously used for passive recreation becomes programmed for active recreation.
  1. The leftover ’Greenspace’ (incl.waterways) are required to fulfill a more specialised ecological function.
  1. Specialised ecological habitats conflict with full scope of human recreational pursuits.
  2. ‘Open space’/Passive Recreation must become an integrated component of the everyday urban environment – ‘Urban Openspace’.

Sym determined six integral components that allow a space to realise its passive recreation potential. We applied these components (traditionally confined to greenspaces) to a main street, laneway & plazas to re-imagine the spaces as integrated ‘Urban Openspace’.

Using Avalon Town Centre as a case study – this approach to design and rejuvenation creates spaces that attract and engage both the young and the elderly to promote inclusion, health & economic prosperity.


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