Best of the Rest: Housing and transport

Posted: November 25, 2011 in Transport, Urban planning
Tags: , ,

I’m a supporter of higher density, as my post last week on the Randwick Council housing plan decision probably suggested. I think it helps in building walkable communities, improved public transport and more sustainable living. But whatever your views on the pros and cons of density, there is undeniably a link between urban planning and transport. Where we live determines where we go and, more importantly, how we get there.

There’s a couple of articles/talks/documentaries which I think cover these topics really well, and I’d highly recommend them to anyone interested in contemporary housing/transport in Sydney.

Housing for Millions – This is a Background Briefing piece on how Australian cities will manage the challenge of finding sufficient housing for the estimated 10 million additional residents that are expected be living in Australia over the coming decades (not to mention those who are already here). It outlines the problem of housing affordability, the impact of NIMBYism, what constitutes good urban planning and what governments are currently doing to tackle housing.

Building Better Cities

This presentation by Rob Adams (head of urban planning for the City of Melbourne) at the TEDx conference in Sydney in 2010 is probably the most influential thing I’ve ever seen/heard/read when it comes to urban planning. It is why I think that higher density is good and urban sprawl is bad. Rob Adams outlines Melbourne’s plan to double its population without increasing the footprint the city, while only using 7.5% of the land.

NSW Off the Rails – Another Background Briefing documentary, this one is on the problems that Sydney has had with rail infrastructure. Unfortunately, this documentary is getting a bit dated, having been produced in 2008 and talking a lot about Labor’s later dumped metro proposal, but many of the problems and challenges still exist today.

Off the Rails – A Four Corners follow-up to the Background Briefing documentary from 2008. This was produced a year later in 2009 and overlaps quite a bit with the Background Briefing documentary.

  1. Bambul,
    Just a caveat on your glowing endorsement of Rob Adams’ plan. You’ve correctly noted he works for City of Melbourne (CoM). CoM is like the City of Sydney in the respect that it only covers the most inner urban suburbs and the CBD of their respective cities.

    So while his presentation is impressive (I’ve seen it about 10 times over the last three years myself), it is not the Victorian Government’s urban planning policy. However, it does represent an aspirational goal for Melbourne to aspire to. I’m afraid what little has been seen from the Victorian Government’s urban strategy seems to be ‘more of the same’: new land releases on the urban fringe and some urban renewal in old railway and industrial land near the CBD.


  2. Late response – you’re correct, Harold. The City of Melbourne does not cover Greater Melbourne, and control over most of this area is governed by other local councils and the state government. In fact, the strategy that Rob Adams supports in this video has not been hugely successful, from what I hear. Alan Davies talked a bit about this recently in a number of blog posts, links at the bottom.

    One major problem seems to be that you can designate areas as higher density, but it is actually quite difficult to then convert those lower density houses into medium density residential buildings. First, you need to buy out enough adjacent properties and then get the proposal past the local council. Local residents will often object, so this can be an expensive exercise that developers often don’t risk. The one exception appears to be single owners of large lots (generally old industrial sites, though things like car yards would also work). Here the transaction costs are lower and often there are few to no residents to raise objections.

    It’s an interesting counter-point to the proposals put forward by Rob Adams. Despite that, I remain supportive of the concepts and ideas he puts forward.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s