Australia is increasingly linked to a fast-growing global population. The populations of Sydney and Melbourne are both expected to exceed 8.5 million by 2061. What will Australia’s cities look like then? Will they still be among the world’s lowest-density cities?
Such sprawling cities result in economic (productivity), social (spatial disadvantage) and environmental weaknesses (including a very big ecological footprint). Can our cities transform themselves to become more competitive, sustainable, liveable, resilient and inclusive?
Australian governments at all levels aspire to these goals, but they require multiple transitions. The prospects of success depend on the transformative capacity of four groups of stakeholders: state government, local government, the property development industry, and community residents.
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Metropolitan planning and development of Australia’s cities has been strongly influenced by what could be termed the “North American model” of low-density, car-dependent suburban development on greenfield master-planned housing estates. But this is all set to change.
A major challenge for urban Australia and its fast growing cities in particular is the provision of an adequate supply of appropriately located, affordable and sustainable housing across a range of dwelling types. A related challenge involves attempts by the metropolitan planning agencies in the capital cities to restrict residential sprawl and deliver more compact cities.
The green agenda for cities and the economy in general is a major focus of global institutions and is increasingly a major national and urban priority. Core issues and best practice for built environment businesses were collated from published studies and used in a survey of Australian firms to see how committed they were to the green economy.
Due to the unsustainable nature of urban sprawl, Australian metropolitan strategies have increasing been pushing for increased levels of infill: the redevelopment of existing urban (typically residential) land. However, the current infill models of Brownfield and lot-by-lot redevelopment are largely incapable of generating the volume or range of future housing needs.