Urban Taskforce Australia says IA report reinforces the need for urban densities

Urban Taskforce Australia says IA report reinforces the need for urban densities
Urban Taskforce Australia says IA report reinforces the need for urban densities

Peak body Urban Taskforce Australia has weighed in on the release of Infrastructure Australia's Future Cities report.

Future Cities tackles the planning issues surrounding Australia's sustained population growth and calls on the Federal Government to take a leadership role in the development of Australia's cities. While noting that the nation's four largest cities will see 75% of population growth through to 2046, the paper particularly focuses on Melbourne and Sydney.

The paper compares the performance of the three hypothetical scenarios for Sydney by modelling their respective impact on the performance of the city’s infrastructure. It provides evidence of the trade-offs which will be faced by Australia’s largest cities as they grow over the next 30 years, and presents an urban reform agenda for Australian governments.

Future Cities - Sydney

Along similar lines to Melbourne's differing growth scenarios, three separate models have been put forward for Sydney, for which Urban Taskforce Australia has identified its preferred ‘Centralised High Density’ model which best matches the emerging living options for a vast number of Sydneysiders.

The report on the future form of Australian cities is an excellent contribution to the discussions of how growth will be accommodated in Sydney and Melbourne. The presentation of three options, a Low Density, High Density and Medium Density scenarios is a good way to focus on the way forward.

The actual differences between these three options are not that great with the low density having 30% of new housing in greenfield areas, the medium density having 20% in greenfield and the high density having 10% in greenfield areas.

Urban Taskforce CEO, Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson goes on to explain that the three scenarios work in a band where 1.43 million new homes is the lower expected outcome, cycling up to 1.65 million new homes for the high density option. The majority of this new housing stock will account for infill sites across existing Sydney suburbs.

How this change translates to the physical urban environment and the possible consternation that many may experience in this new higher density Sydney is a pertinent issue.

Whether the infill is 70% (minimum) or 90% (maximum) it is clear that the existing suburbs of Sydney will have to change their character. The Urban Taskforce believes that centralised high density development around railway stations is the best way to accommodate new housing in existing suburbs.

Under this model most of Sydney’s existing low density suburbs will be retained as detached houses. A ring on medium density housing around the high density housing can provide a transition between the two urban forms.

The high density approach will better support investment into metro rail infrastructure which will be necessary as the city grows.

Any which way Infrastructure Australia's Future Cities report is interpreted or potentially implemented, whats's clear is that the urban character of Australia's major cities will further change. Sydney has traditionally been at the vanguard of higher density living, stealing a march on other Australian cities who have come to accept higher density living relatively recently.

The ‘Future Cities’ report also highlights the dramatic shift underway in Sydney and Melbourne to urban living which has different characteristics to suburban living.

The Urban Taskforce has recently undertaken research into Sydney’s emerging urban lifestyles and an understanding of the demographics of those now preferring urban apartment living will be important for planning bodies.

Lead image: Meinhardt

Urban Taskforce Australia Sydney Apartments


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