News + Insights - Studio GL
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Context and Neighbourhood Character Training

Over the last nine months Studio GL has been running interactive training workshops in association with PIA NSW and various local councils, on how to assess context and neighbourhood character. The course clarifies the concept of “neighbourhood character” and “desired future character” and provides a simple framework by which planners can identify and analyze these issues.

The workshop helps participants to learn how to ‘read’ the context and neighbourhood character and appreciate the elements that can be used to ‘respond’ to a specific context. It focuses on defining what context and neighbourhood character means, using photographs to show the elements that contribute to different neighbourhood characters. An interactive case study is also used to engage participants and encourage debate.

If you are interested in the workshops to be run by PIA NSW, please visit

If you are interested in hosting bespoke training, contact Diana Griffiths at dgriffiths(at)

Studio GL are moving!

Studio GL is delighted to announce that we are moving. From mid-April we will be relocating our entire office to new premises in Chippendale. We will share the details here soon. Stay tuned!

Felicity Lewis LEA Chair Elect

Felicity Lewis has been elected as Chair Elect for the NSW Chapter of Learning Environments Australasia (LEA). She will hold this position for the next two years and will then take on the position of Chair for a further two years.

LEA is a community of professionals working together to plan and build better learning environments. It is a voluntary member organization, that serves its members through a focus on the key strategic areas of Advocacy, Sharing Best Practice and Research.

Felicity has been involved at a Chapter level for almost a decade, and has been the LEA NSW Awards Coordinator since their inaugural event in 2016.

PIA Award to Sydney Metro Moral Rights Study

Sydney Metro Delivery Office has been awarded a commendation in the Public Engagement & Community Planning category of the Planning Institute Australia Awards for Excellence 2017 – NSW Chapter. This work followed on from work undertaken by Studio GL in early 2016, which identified items that might be subject to possible Moral Rights, along the Chatswood to Sydenham Metro route.

Sydney Metro undertook an extensive process involving contacting architects, artists and designers and where necessary, their families, whose works may be impacted and this award recognizes the high quality outcome of this work.

10th International Urban Design Conference

Studio GL’s founding Director, Diana Griffiths was invited to speak at the 10th International Urban Design Conference held on the Gold Coast in November 2017. Her talk, titled ‘Moving beyond the Circle – Shaping Australia’s Future Cities’, focused on rethinking the analytical tools that Australian cities use for planning, at a time when many cities are transforming to accommodate significant population growth. Diana identified challenges in current planning systems which are designed to accommodate incremental, not disruptive change. Using various lenses including accessibility, efficiency and intersection density, she explained the benefits of thinking holistically about the challenges in order to enhance urban spaces and improve the long term desirability of our cities.

Nowra CBD Urban Design Development Controls Report approved by Council

Staff at Studio GL have been delighted to be back working with staff from Shoalhaven City Council, stakeholders and the local community on the Nowra CBD. Diana Griffiths and Brigitte Buchholz worked closely with Council, the community and the CBD Liaison Committee to develop a cohesive vision for the town centre in 2010-2011 and between 2014-2015 the entire Studio GL team returned to work on creating new development controls for the centre that would reflect the vision identified in the Nowra CBD Urban Design Master Plan.

Studio GL facilitated a series of workshops with Council staff, stakeholders and the local community to create the development controls that have been designed to ensure new buildings would improve the visual appearance and amenity of the CBD.

In April 2016, after public exhibition of the draft Development Controls Report, Shoalhaven City Council resolved to adopt the report. Feedback from Council’s strategic planner at the time noted “Thank you so much for all your hard work on the report. I am really happy with how it turned out and we have had nothing but positive feedback (which is a rare occurrence). So thank you, and please pass on my thanks to the team”.

Draft Town Centre Masterplans receive great feedback

Studio GL has been pleased at the general support shown by the community for the proposed Scone Town Centre Masterplan, Merriwa Town Centre Masterplan, Aberdeen Town Centre Masterplan and Murrurundi Town Centre Masterplan during the public exhibition phase of the draft documents which concluded in May 2016. During the public exhibition over 80% of respondents strongly supported or supported the draft master plans.

The final Masterplans will be presented to the Upper Hunter Shire Council for final approval towards the end of June 2016.

PIA Best Planning Ideas – Small Projects Award for The Five Dock Urban Design Study

In 2014 the Studio GL team were elated that the City of Canada Bay had won a PIA Award in the category of Best Planning Ideas – Small Projects for The Five Dock Urban Design Study . This award recognises the tools of the trade – the key outputs of the planning world – planning documents, reports, schemes, policies or projects that advance current planning practice. The project had been undertaken by Studio GL working in conjunction with Arup and HillPDA. Here is what the award citation had to say about the study:

“This excellent study for a local centre demonstrated a strong commitment to making it happen, with clear and concrete recommendations, supported by background evidence that included thorough community participation. The suite of recommendations creates a holistic revitalisation plan that improves connectivity, the public domain, as well as activity.

Unlike many studies, the improvements recommended here are significant, tangible, and achievable – increasing the core area from 300 to 750 metres, increasing crossings by 40%, 120 new street trees, quadrupling the amount of public open space, and adding 300 dwellings in the centre. This was combined with good economics and an evidence based approach.

The maps and graphics in the report are clear and communicate ideas and recommendations effectively. The report is split into two parts, recommendations and background evidence. In this way the recommendations are contained in a short concise format and the evidence can be referenced separately as required.

All recommendations can be implemented in a simple and practical way. The strategies and methodology employed here can be replicated in other neighbourhoods or small town centres across Australia. The study is an excellent example of how good planning can support design excellence in the public domain, potentially transforming a significant area into a highly welcoming space.”