Mobbs' plan

Green Lifestyle magazine

A master plan to make a whole suburb sustainable.


Michael Mobbs' street in Chippendale, Sydney.

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“This is a no brainer. Why doesn’t everyone do this?” Sydney Council’s general manager Monica Barone asked me about my home, at the launch of my book, Sustainable House in October 2010.My response: Councils make it too hard and expensive. So Barone swung into action. Two months later she took a proposal to the city councillors who commissioned me to make a plan to make the Sydney suburb of Chippendale sustainable.

Then I swung into action. I opened up my house for tours for local residents and businesses. I conducted workshops to ask the community what they wanted. The overwhelming response was a sustainable suburb; composting, road gardens, streets for people to be safe in and where energy and water bills would be steady. By July 2011, the plan had been posted to Council.

But now, over a year later, the staff have kept the plan locked up and refuse to take it to councillors to have it published for comment. Why? They won’t say. So the plan is now published on the internet, and fast garnering support.

The plan is about how to get anyone, no matter their views or politics or level of wealth, to go make a suburb sustainable in around 10 years. The people who live and work in our suburbs do what is needed. Things get done because people want to do them.It’s expected to take about 10 years to have all the suburb’s water obtained from rainwater and to reuse all sewage. Over 30 per cent of food is to be grown in urban farms, road gardens and rooftops.

The plan gives priority to sustainable development so it’s cheaper and faster to get approvals. Some projects or sustainable systems are pre-approved, too. As well as things like road gardens, vertical gardens for cafes and businesses, and urban farms.

To meet Council’s legal obligations to create financial incentives to promote sustainable development, the plan gives rate rebates and other financial incentives to people who compost, garden near roads, build green, cut waste and use car share and bikes.

How will we pay for this? The plan redirects existing rates and council budgets. For example, car parking fines yield over $30,000 a month in the suburb; the plan quarantines that income to fund its implementation. The plan gives power back to ratepayers, residents, businesses by keeping their local money in their local economy in return for actions they take to sustain themselves and their community.

Since it’s stalling at Council, the Plan is on the internet now. Other councils are implementing its ideas so, just as was intended, the plan’s solutions are being applied anywhere anyone wishes to act to sustain our lovely, torn Earth.

For more info visit www.theplan.sustainablehouse.com.au