Abstract: High density residential development in metropolitan Melbourne, where contradictory imperatives of neighbourhood character and urban intensification play important roles, remains an uncertain practice. One key issue for plan implementation is the lack of consistency between authorities, developers and the community in interpreting the standards, design guidelines, and state/local strategies, especially those relating to neighbourhood character. There is currently no mechanism to incorporate community perceptions and place experiences as subjective aspects of neighbourhood character in development assessments. There is also little use of micro-scale and multi-dimensional spatial analysis to integrate these subjective aspects with objective measures (e.g. building volume and height; streetscape) to communicate effectively—and in a limited timeframe—with all stakeholders. This paper explores the potential of two emerging geospatial technologies that can be leveraged to respond to these problems. Evidence in the literature suggests that volunteered geographic information (VGI) can provide community input around subjective aspects of the urban environment. In addition, a deluge of three-dimensional (3D) spatial information (e.g. 3D city models) is increasingly available for micro-level (building- or property-level) assessment of the physical aspects of the urban environment. This paper formulates and discusses a conceptual framework to link these two spatial technological advancements in a virtual geographic environment (VGE) that accounts for micro-scale 3D spatial analysis incorporating both subjective and objective aspects of neighbourhood character relevant in implementing compact city strategies.
Keywords: 3D city models; compact city; Melbourne; neighbourhood character; VGE; VGI