Peter Smith

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Building community capacity by developing place leadership and effective place governance to build co-creation and co-contribution to place solutions, is the single most important task of city governments.


Peter has over 30 years’ experience as a Senior Executive and CEO in the public sector Australia and has consulted globally on many place making projects.

He is internationally recognized as one of the world’s leading thinkers and speakers on Place Governance and Place Leadership.

As CEO, Adelaide, he founded the award-winning "Splash Adelaide" city activation program and implemented a ground breaking city place making strategy. He is leading similar work in his current role as CEO, City of Port Phillip in Melbourne. Peter is a past Chairman, Place Leaders Asia Pacific and a long term associate of PPS; including Advisory Board member for the Future of Places UN Habitat partnership. He remains a valued Senior Advisor on the setup and growth of PlacemakingX.

City of Port Phillip
PlacemakingX Role(s)
Senior Advisor
Thought Leader
Transformative Agenda Focus
Economic Development & Innovation
Place Governance
Public Markets & Food

Placemaking is...

Placemaking is the process of building place leadership so that place users can create and find solutions that make their local places more lovable and livable.

First placemaking encounter

I visited Broadway in the early years of it being temporarily activated. I was fascinated by the fact that if New York could give public space back to people then it was possible anywhere. Shortly after I met Fred and Ethan Kent. So many light bulbs went on at once as I realised the importance of place making in bringing the community together to around place to find solutions.

Favorite childhood place

Going to the beach in Camarthen, Wales with my brothers and sister, parents and grandparents, eating salty fish and chips on the rock wall and running barefoot on the wet sand, feeling like I could run forever.

Favorite Place

In my community, I love going to the local South Melbourne Markets and taking my time to browse and chat to people. I love the fact, that the market is leading the way in local waste reduction and recycling.

Fun Fact

I love writing and playing music with my band.


Splash Adelaide & Adelaide City Place Making

As CEO of the city council, Peter founded and led the award winning Splash Adelaide city activation program, a unique program at the time to engage the local community in activating and programming public space. The program tripled in participation over 3 years and pioneered a 'lighter quicker cheaper" approach in local Government, cutting regulations and red tape to build community capacity.Peter then led a strategic and "bottom up" place based approach to city development . His "Tapas Bar" analogy viewed the city as a restaurant with each "place" being a unique dish for citizens to choose from. This was realized by developing local place plans and place governance to engage the community in revitalizing the city centre.

Key messages

As our cities grow, increase in density and become more congested, the contest and citizen conflict over the use of public space will exponentially accelerate. Government's face increasingly wicked problems, (For example, social exclusion, car dependency, housing affordability, sustainability) which all converge for citizens in local public space. Past approaches, such as increasing regulation and "picking winners" are only likely to increase community conflict.

The truth is Government only holds part of the solution. We need new approaches that build place leadership and community capacity to find local place based solutions to these wicked problems. This is the single most important task of Government in this century.