LUCY Turnbull is urging the youth of the Gold Coast to be "big city thinkers" and says their input is vital in the future success of the city as a vibrant urban hub.

Speaking at a YP Gold Coast event, the wife of federal MP Malcolm Turnbull, gave her views on how the Gold Coast can grow its economic success through urbanism and highlighted key elements that create lively liveability, innovation and dynamic business.

The former Lord Mayor of Sydney says to create these conditions there needs to be ongoing dialogue between everyone including the younger generations, and they all need to share a common goal to make the city "fit for the future".

Turnbull says that the future success of urban regions is driven by educated and highly trained youth.

"Often this aspect of wide and genuine community conversation and engagement about what will drive a region's future is lacking," says Turnbull.

"One of the biggest challenges in my experience when trying to get wide community involvement in discussions about a region's future is that young people who represent the future are often missing from the conversation. This is a big deficiency which good government should try to redress."

Turnbull says the Gold Coast not only needs to be liveable but it also needs to be lively.

"The conversation is sometimes dominated by people who think liveable means dead quiet - dead quiet drives out the very sense of urban dynamism that is essential," she says.

Looking forward, Turnbull says an important goal for the Gold Coast should be to continue diversifying the economy towards greater opportunities and job creation in education, healthcare and personal services, as well as hospitality and accommodation. She says these industry sectors will be fundamental building blocks and drivers of the Gold Coast's urban success.

Turnbull also says that when a single issue for the city is being addressed, it needs a deliberative process which considers how well it fits into the need to create a successful city region.

"Ask yourself how well it will work to attract and retain young educated people, to what degree it supports the idea of building a big, always growing, dynamic and opportunity-filled city where human talent, aspiration  and creativity is the beating heart of the place," she says.

"I think the Gold Coast is on the cusp of really becoming a very big city which already has considerable big-city thinking but, like everywhere else, needs more if the future is going to be as good as it can be."

Turnbull describes the construction of the light rail as a perfect example of big-city thinking.

"Hopefully it will be extended greatly over time, and link up with the airport and the Brisbane train network which extends to Robina. That would be spectacular.

"Being successful and competitive as an urban region without good public transport is now unthinkable.

"Building and extending the light rail network is one of the most important ways of addressing the urban challenges posed by the long and large spatial footprint of the Gold Coast."

According to Turnbull, another area of planning that will be vital to the city's future is the development of dynamic dense villages which include coffee shops, small bars and restaurants.

"Think about clustering urban precincts near educational institutions and wherever liveable urban precincts already exist," says Turnbull.

"Good early clustering begets more clustering. Start with seeds that are already planted if that is possible. This will, or at least should, create good and strong pockets of urban street life and street activity for everyone, starting with the locals. If it works for the locals, the tourists will come for sure."

Turnbull was the first female Lord Mayor of Sydney and recently accepted an appointment as patron to the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka. She is also a member of the Mayor of the City of Gold Coast's Arts and Cultural Advisory committee.

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