The 2018 Australian Regional Development Conference will be held at Twin Towns Services Club, Tweed Heads, NSW this month over 17-18 September.

Joining us at the conference is Professor Marcus Foth, Professor of Urban Informatics at Queensland University of Technology who will present on ‘The Rise of the Lifestyle Town: An Opportunity for Regional Australia?’

Professor Marcus Foth


Many Australian regional cities and towns struggle in a post-industrial economy characterised by fast paced technology change and digital disruptions. Early examples of regional cities adopting metropolitan urban policy directions have not resulted in the promised economic development and regional prosperity. If anything, pushing urbanisation and gentrification without paying attention to the specific circumstances of regionality increases inequality and deepens segregation. Without new policy directions specific to regional Australia, regional cities and towns are only propelled to join their larger counterparts in the new urban crisis.

Yet, regionality brings clear liveability advantages giving rise to the ‘lifestyle town:’ communities that have more affordable real estate, scenic views, plenty of space and/or a potentially slower pace of life. While baby boomers have been the leading demographic group behind the tree and sea change movements, this more recent trend to leave metropolitan areas in search of lifestyle towns appeals to a broader demographic.

This paper reports on three main focus areas:

First, our main research question is to identify and better understand the specific demographic and socio-cultural profiles of people attracted to moving to lifestyle towns. How can regional communities position themselves to take advantage of these shifts in the relationship between people, place and technology, which carry with them risks and opportunities that require fresh policy perspectives.

Second, what are the new jobs and service models that are most likely to succeed in regional Australia?

Third, what placemaking strategies and urban design features are necessary and desired to enable people to work effectively in lifestyle towns that are suitable to regional Australia?

Insights are drawn from a collaborative research initiative led by QUT in partnership with state and local governments, and industry.

1. Fresh policy perspectives for lifestyle towns.
2. New jobs and service models.
3. New urban design.


Marcus Foth is Professor of Urban Informatics with the QUT Design Lab, Brisbane, Australia, and Honorary Professor with the School of Communication and Culture at Aarhus University, Denmark. Marcus has (co-)authored over 190 publications. In 2013, he received a Queensland Young Tall Poppy Science Award, and was made a fellow of the Australian Computer Society in 2017. The planning, design and development site Planetizen inducted him to the world’s top 25 leading thinkers and innovators in the field of urban planning and technology. He is also a passionate wombassador, beekeeper, and cyclist. He tweets @sunday9pm

For more information on the 2018 Australian Regional Development Conference this month and to secure your spot, please visit

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