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Living Lab looks ahead with exciting future scenarios for Lismore

The Lismore App

09 June 2024, 8:00 PM

Living Lab looks ahead with exciting future scenarios for LismoreSouth Lismore. Illustration by Mark Gerada.

A revitalised floodplain that includes cultural land management, recreational trails, gardens and markets; commercial flood resilient retrofits in the Lismore CBD; new urban villages created above the floodplain; and a naturalised Brown’s Creek forming the spine of a new greenway connecting the CBD and urban villages. 


These are just some of the innovative ideas that Living Lab Northern Rivers presented to the local community at a public meeting in Lismore last week as part of Living Lab’s ongoing Look Ahead co-design process.


The exciting scenarios for a future Lismore were formulated by a panel of international and local design experts, brought together by Living Lab Northern Rivers, who responded to the outcomes of previous community meetings, visits to the city and intensive workshops. At the community meetings earlier in the year, clear opportunities for the future of Lismore emerged – a desire for safer and more diverse housing, greater connectivity, a vibrant CBD, active transport, increased food security, and a cleaner regenerated river and surrounding environment. Importantly, there was the need for confidence in a clearer future.


“Look Ahead is a design process that brings together local knowledge and aspirations, with technical expertise to co-design a sustainable future for Lismore,” said Elizabeth Mossop, Living Lab Northern Rivers Academic Director.

“The Look Ahead project is run by Living Lab Northern Rivers and backed by the University of Technology Sydney, Southern Cross University and the NSW Reconstruction Authority. We hope these scenarios will guide and form the basis for future planning work.”


Both Elizabeth Mossop and Dan Etheridge of Living Lab Northern Rivers were extensively involved in the recovery and rebuild of New Orleans post Hurricane Katrina. 


“In our experience of working in recovery and rebuild in other places, public sentiment and people’s views on these things are often incredibly influential in where government goes in terms of making decisions. Living Lab Northern Rivers is independent, we work in the public interest. It means that we can bring people together in a way that I think other types of institutions really can’t,” said Elizabeth Mossop.


Living Lab Northern Rivers proposed scenarios for a future Lismore include:


A vibrant Lismore CBD

All of Lismore’s CBD becomes a Special Activation Precinct focused on innovation. Three distinct precincts develop in Lismore’s CBD, improving economic and social resilience. Features include commercial flood-resilient retrofits, faster planning approval, business concierge and support.


Urban Villages 

New urban village centres develop in areas around Lismore Base Hospital, St Vincents, Southern Cross University and parts of the North Lismore plateau. 

(Looking Ahead at Molesworth Street. Image: Mark Gerada) 

Natural Connections

A greenway system is created to connect the CBD effectively to surrounding areas, running along a naturalised Browns Creek. 


A Nature Based North

After houses have been relocated or demolished, North Lismore is an opportunity for Indigenous land management, ecological restoration and large scale nature-based land uses. The rail trail corridor offers a great opportunity to drive new traffic through North and South Lismore. 


Southern Soul

A mix of residential, business, arts and manufacturing, new opportunities present in South Lismore through the rail trail and repurposed buyback land for a vibrant mix of art, recreation, gardening and gathering spaces. 


“These scenarios are an ongoing work in progress. They have been directly informed by community ideas from extensive consultation. There is a lot more work to be done to research technical issues, engage stakeholders again and develop formal proposals, but this is a great starting point for those final stages of the process,” said Elizabeth Mossop.


Watch a clip about Living Lab Northern Rivers Look Ahead process


“When we think about the best possible future for a wonderfully complex and diverse community like Lismore, it’s a really big project. There is no other way to start than with the people who live here,” said Dan Etheridge, Living Lab Northern Rivers Engagement Director.


“We’re excited to share the work that we’ve developed as part of the Look Ahead process. These ideas are important, but it’s not just about delivering a set of ideas and visions for future governments to implement. Going through this co-design process has already helped families, businesses and community groups to move forward with more certainty and make some decisions about where they want to be in the next year, three years and into the future.”


Next Steps 

Until 3 August, Living Lab Northern Rivers will be sharing these future scenarios in their Lismore shopfront, and online at, and welcomes everyone to access, explore and have their say.  Living Lab Northern Rivers staff are also on hand to explain the designs, answer questions and welcome feedback. All responses to these scenarios will be collected and shared with local and state government for their official planning processes.

Look Ahead: Ideas for a future Lismore

Living Lab Northern Rivers: Visit in person: 11 Woodlark St, Lismore, weekdays, Tuesday to Thursday between 1pm - 4pm.

Plus, late night Thursdays: 6 & 20 June, 4 & 18 July, 1 August between 5pm - 7.00pm. 

Saturdays: 15 June, 6 July, 3 Aug between 9am - 12noon  

Online at


About Living Lab Northern Rivers

Living Lab Northern Rivers is a space where research and community come together to create the solutions that will allow the region to thrive in uncertainty. A collaboration between Southern Cross University, University of Technology Sydney and the NSW government, Living Lab Northern Rivers brings a diversity of groups to the table to create new ways of doing things to help rebuild better and foster resilience for the future.

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