The Com­pact City in Aus­tralia


The con­cept of the ‘Com­pact City’ has been around for decades in one form or an­other, of­ten in­flu­enc­ing gov­ern­ment in­fra­struc­ture choices, zon­ing de­ci­sions and con­struc­tion im­per­a­tives. And with over 60% of Aus­tralians liv­ing in only 5 pop­u­la­tion cen­tres, these un­der­pin­ning con­cepts af­fect the lives and well­be­ing of most Aus­tralians. Yet how have the prin­ci­ples and as­sump­tions of the Com­pact Cities model ac­tu­ally fared in re­al­ity, and is it time to have an­other look at how we shape the en­vi­ron­ments in which we live?

Over the years, the con­cept of the com­pact city has be­come for­mally cod­i­fied into three gen­eral prin­ci­ples: 1) dense and con­tigu­ous de­vel­op­ment, 2) linked by good pub­lic trans­port sys­tems, and 3) pro­vid­ing good ac­ces­si­bil­ity to ser­vices and jobs. But this char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion

1 took some time to de­velop and had a num­ber of sources.

In Aus­tralia the idea of ‘ur­ban con­sol­i­da­tion' devel­oped in the 1980s, ar­gu­ing for higher den­si­ties in ini­tial de­vel­op­ment, and seek­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for

re­newal and redevelopment across the ex­ist­ing ur­ban fab­ric.

There were two main rea­sons for this. The first was the as­sumed sav­ing in in­fra­struc­ture costs that had been such a heavy charge on state gov­ern­ments in the rapid ex­pan­sion of cities dur­ing the long boom. The se­cond was the need to pro­vide a wider va­ri­ety of dwelling types and tenures for an in­creas­ingly di­verse range of house­hold types.

Sus­tain­abil­ity had be­come a hot topic by the 1980s and a green pa­per by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion on the ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment in 1990 ar­gued that the com­pact city pro­vided both en­vi­ron­men­tal and qual­ity-of-life ben­e­fits.

2 An­other pow­er­ful in­put into the de­vel­op­ment of the con­cept was the pub­li­ca­tion in 1989, by two Aus­tralians, of a book draw­ing a sim­plis­tic cor­re­la­tion be­tween over­all ur­ban den­sity and car use, show­ing that higher den­sity cities around the world had much more use of pub­lic trans­port. 3

With these new driv­ers, a full-blooded ap­pli­ca­tion of the prin­ci­ple of in­creased den­sity to the to­tal form and struc­ture of the city took place, and the term ‘com­pact city' was in in­ter­na­tional use by the early 1990s. How­ever its spe­cific 4 and de­tailed char­ac­ter took time to de­velop and has sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences be­tween coun­tries and be­tween the cities within them.

Aus­tralian cities are among the low­est den­sity in the world, but ac­cu­rate com­par­isons are dif­fi­cult to make be­cause of dif­fer­ent def­i­ni­tions both of den­sity and the area used to cal­cu­late them. How­ever a re­cent study painstak­ingly cal­cu­lated com­pa­ra­ble den­si­ties for three Aus­tralian, and three over­seas, cities for 2011 ( Table 1).

Aus­tralian cities are among the low­est den­sity in the world.

The 1990s saw the shift from a so­cial-demo­cratic to a ne­olib­eral form of gov­er­nance in Aus­tralia. A Na­tional Com­pe­ti­tion Pol­icy was adopted by the Coun­cil of Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ments in 1995 whose key prin­ci­ple was that com­pet­i­tive mar­kets would gen­er­ally best serve the in­ter­ests of con­sumers and the wider com­mu­nity.

This led to the pri­vati­sa­tion of much of the in­fra­struc­ture sup­port­ing the cities, and the out­sourc­ing of some of their ser­vices. Ne­olib­er­al­ism and the com­pact city be­gan to feed one on the other, as the com­pact city was seen as more ef­fi­cient and com­pet­i­tive.

The shap­ing of the com­pact city

The 1980s and 1990s were a pe­riod when metropoli­tan strate­gies were in an ex­per­i­men­tal form, as plan­ners tried to ar­tic­u­late what a com­pact city meant in terms of so­cial, eco­nomic, en­vi­ron­men­tal and phys­i­cal at­tributes. Two sem­i­nal plans es­tab­lished this new genre. They were the 2002 plan for Mel­bourne and the 2005 plan for Sydney.

These were quite de­tailed and pre­scrip­tive strate­gies. As time went on, their fore­casts of fu­ture pop­u­la­tion and em­ploy­ment growth and its de­tailed dis­tri­bu­tion proved to be in­creas­ingly wrong, and they were su­per­seded

by later long- long-term term plans which were couched in more gen­eral and re­al­is­tic terms. Sim­i­lar plans of this kind were pre­pared for all cap­i­tal cities. 5

To ad­dress the com­plex­i­ties of the com­pact city in short form, this pa­per pro­ceeds by out­lin­ing the as­sump­tions be­hind com­pact city planning and how they have fared in prac­tice. A gen­eral pat­tern is that the as­sump­tions sup­posed sim­ple out­comes and ben­e­fits ben­e­fits from in­creased den­sity, while ex­pe­ri­ence has in­di­cated a much more com­plex pic­ture.

1. Eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and syn­er­gies would be pro­moted by a denser city

Aus­tralian cities are low den­sity, and with glob­al­i­sa­tion and the evo­lu­tion of ad­vanced in­dus­tries de­pend­ing on knowl­edge, in­for­ma­tion and con­nec­tion, denser cities with good in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal links will pro­mote eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

Denser de­vel­op­ment al­lows work­ers to live closer to jobs, re­duc­ing com­mut­ing costs and in­creas­ing the abil­ity of em­ploy­ers, es­pe­cially in cen­tral cities, to at­tract staffff. staff. Denser cities are more­are more at­trac­tive, vi­brant and fa­mil­iar for many skilled mi­grants and for for­eign ter­tiary stu­dents.

Ver­dict: In re­cent years the in­ner and cen­tral ar­eas of the ma­jor cities, par­tic­u­larly Sydney and Mel­bourne, have made an in­creas­ing con­tri­bu­tion to GDP. There is some ev­i­dence that Sydney and Mel­bourne have ad­vanced in the rank­ings of global cities.

How­ever this growth of ‘knowl­edge' and ‘ex­pe­ri­ence' in­dus­tries has been con­cen­trated in cen­tral and in­ner ar­eas, while outer sub­ur­ban ar­eas have seen em­ploy­ment de­cline in the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­tries that had lo­cated there.

These are char­ac­ter­is­tics that are shared with other global cities like Lon­don and New York. Higher den­sity de­vel­op­ment in the in­ner ar­eas of cities pro­vides more fa­mil­iar en­vi­ron­ments for many im­mi­grants and for­eign stu­dents.

2. In­fra­struc­ture sav­ings

States faced with bud­get stress sought sav­ings by by min­imis­ing min­imis­ing the ex­ten­sion of in­fra­struc­ture into the ur­ban fringe, and as­sumed spare ca­pac­ity in in­ner ar­eas that were, in the 1980s, ex­pe­ri­enc­ing pop­u­la­tion loss. Stud­ies cal­cu­lated cost sav­ings through tak­ing up spare ca­pac­ity, and as­sumed small ‘re­place­ment’ de­mands above then ex­ist­ing lev­els. 6

At that time state agen­cies did not re­quire devel­op­ers to make sig­nifi­f­i­cant sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to new re­gional-level in­fra­struc­ture such as mainas main roads and wa­ter and sew­er­age head­works, which in­creased the in­cen­tive to save pub­lic costs through in­creased den­si­ties.

Ver­dict: In­fra­struc­ture has had to be pro­vided for con­tin­u­ing strong green­fields fields de­vel­op­ment, with an in­creas­ing share of costs passed on to devel­op­ers and ul­ti­mately to new home­buy­ers. The ex­pe­ri­ence of in­fra­struc­ture pro­vi­sion in re­newed ar­eas has been mixed and de­pends, to a con­sid­er­able ex­tent, on the par­tic­u­lar lo­cal­ity.

There are of­ten sav­ings in en­ergy and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vices and hy­draulic ser­vices where mains do not need to be re- re-laid. laid. Stormwa­ter man­age­ment is of­ten an is­sue be­cause of more runoff from in­creased hard sur­faces.

One fea­ture has been the sale of school sites where it was as­sumed that not many chil­dren would live in higher den­sity dwellings. This has of­ten proved to be in­cor­rect and new school sites, some­times with ‘ ‘schools schools in tow­ers', have had to be pro­vided.

Lo­cal roads and park­ing were of­ten in­suf­fi­cient to han­dle in­creased traf­fic with most house­holds still own­ing a car. Lo­cal open space was of­ten in­suf­fi­cient,

Ne­olib­er­al­ism and the com­pact city be­gan to feed one on the other, as the com­pact city was seen as more ef­fi­cient and com­pet­i­tive.

There has been over-in­vest­ment in mo­tor­ways, the states’ de­fault so­lu­tion to city pop­u­la­tion in­creases be­cause they can be funded from pri­vate in­vest­ment.

and dif­fi­cult to pur­chase.

3. In­creased den­si­ties will en­cour­age travel by pub­lic trans­port

The case for denser cities was pow­er­fully strength­ened by the im­pact of New­man and Ken­wor­thy, in their Cities and Au­to­mo­bile De­pen­dence, to which pre­vi­ous ref­er­ence has been made. Their data sug­gested that if Aus­tralian city den­si­ties in­creased to­ward those of Europe and Asia, per capita car use would de­cline and pub­lic trans­port use would in­crease, with re­sult­ing road con­struc­tion and equity ben­e­fits.

As the global warm­ing de­bate in­ten­si­fied, this ar­gu­ment took on ex­tra im­por­tance be­cause such a change in trans­port use would lead to lower green­house gas emis­sions. How­ever pol­icy-mak­ers did not recog­nise the im­por­tance of other me­di­at­ing vari­ables gov­ern­ing choice of travel mode, most im­por­tantly the avail­abil­ity of ef­fec­tive al­ter­na­tive pub­lic trans­port ser­vices.

Ver­dict: Travel by pub­lic trans­port has in­creased as a pro­por­tion of trip­mak­ing. But this is a com­plex pic­ture with sev­eral vari­ables af­fect­ing choice of mode, par­tic­u­larly level, cost and con­ve­nience of pub­lic trans­port. In­vest­ment in pub­lic trans­port has been lag­gardly, in­suf­fi­cient and con­fused, with state trea­suries re­luc­tant to add to debt by bor­row­ing the cap­i­tal costs, and also re­luc­tant to sup­port on­go­ing sub­si­dies for pub­lic trans­port.

Most ma­jor cities are now play­ing catchup with over­strained rail trans­port sys­tems. There has been a no­tice­able pol­icy fail­ure in pro­vid­ing ad­e­quate trans­port aug­men­ta­tion to re­flect land use in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion, com­mon to all cities.

By con­trast, there has been over­in­vest­ment in mo­tor­ways, the states' de­fault so­lu­tion to city pop­u­la­tion in­creases be­cause they can be funded from pri­vate in­vest­ment. But the for­tunes of re­sult­ing pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ships have been mixed, with four such in­ner-mid­dle city mo­tor­way projects be­com­ing bank­rupt be­cause traf­fic es­ti­mates were too high.

4. More choice in hous­ing

As men­tioned above, the stereo­type of the nu­clear fam­ily in a three bed­roomed house on a quar­ter acre lot with a high level of home own­er­ship, had dom­i­nated sub­ur­ban growth dur­ing the long boom. The in­tro­duc­tion of leg­is­la­tion giv­ing ti­tle to multi-unit dwellings, and the con­se­quent avail­abil­ity of finance for their pur­chase, re­moved im­ped­i­ments to the build­ing of medium- and high-den­sity hous­ing.

Dur­ing the 1980s, loss of pop­u­la­tion in in­ner city lo­cal­i­ties led state gov­ern­ments to plan for higher den­sity re­newal of these ar­eas. This would pro­vide a much wider va­ri­ety of hous­ing stock, and in­creased hous­ing for rent in crit­i­cal lo­cal­i­ties.

Ver­dict: This in­creased build­ing of multi-unit dwellings, as ex­em­pli­fied for Sydney and Mel­bourne and shown in Table 2, has pro­vided much more va­ri­ety of dwellings in favoured ar­eas, nearly all of them in strata schemes and of­fer­ing much more stock avail­able

In many re­newal ar­eas, there has been an as­sump­tion that new dwellings would house cou­ples or sin­gles, and there has been lit­tle recog­ni­tion of chil­dren's needs in their de­sign and layout.

for rent. This could be seen as re­spond­ing to the growth of a wider range of liv­ing ar­range­ments and a need for in­creased mobility in a much more dy­namic and chang­ing econ­omy and so­ci­ety.

To a large de­gree, this has been un­der­mined by in­creas­ing un­af­ford­abil­ity of hous­ing in in­ner and mid­dle sub­urbs par­tic­u­larly, forc­ing low-in­come house­holds to outer sub­urbs where ser­vices and em­ploy­ment prospects are much poorer.

In many re­newal ar­eas, there has been an as­sump­tion that new dwellings would house cou­ples or sin­gles, and there has been lit­tle recog­ni­tion of chil­dren's needs in their de­sign and layout. The con­se­quent re­pop­u­la­tion 7 of these ar­eas by many fam­i­lies has led to less than op­ti­mal liv­ing con­di­tions. The pro­vi­sion of schools is an­other is­sue dealt with above.

5. Adding more at­tached dwellings to the hous­ing stock would of­fer cheaper hous­ing

Not only would medium- and high­den­sity hous­ing of­fer more va­ri­ety and choice in dwelling type, but there was an early con­tention that build­ing more dwellings on a small area of land would pro­vide cheaper hous­ing op­tions.

This re­lied on a com­par­i­son of sep­a­rate hous­ing with the then three-storey walk-up flats ar­ranged in six-pack form in a low den­sity sub­ur­ban set­ting, tak­ing into ac­count the land and con­struc­tion costs at that time.

Ver­dict: These as­sump­tions have proved in­cor­rect. Dwelling prices have risen sharply and hous­ing has be­come less af­ford­able. Higher land prices have ac­com­pa­nied re­zon­ing to higher den­sity in es­tab­lished ur­ban ar­eas, and also in more sta­ble ar­eas where wealth­ier and well-or­gan­ised com­mu­ni­ties re­sisted up­zon­ing.

Higher land prices have also oc­curred in green­fields lo­ca­tions where un­re­al­is­tic as­sump­tions in early plans as­sumed lower rates of pop­u­la­tion growth – fu­elled by in­creas­ing mi­grant num­bers – and hous­ing de­mand, par­tic­u­larly in Mel­bourne and Sydney.

Con­struc­tion costs for higher den­sity dwellings with lifts are high – as are their op­er­at­ing costs. Greater la­bor union­i­sa­tion in higher den­sity dwelling con­struc­tion also adds to costs.

6. Save valu­able land at the fringe

In­creas­ing den­si­ties were ar­gued to save land at the sub­ur­ban fron­tier. This was seen as not only ad­van­ta­geous in terms of in­fra­struc­ture sav­ing, but also in con­serv­ing good land used for farm­ing and mar­ket gar­den­ing.

The sus­tain­abil­ity ar­gu­ments for con­serv­ing fringe land for this pur­pose gained trac­tion with in­creas­ing con­cern about the need to re­place agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion dis­placed by ur­ban growth here, as trans­port from more dis­tant sources would in­cur many more ‘food miles’.

The con­ser­va­tion of sig­nif­i­cant nat­u­ral habi­tats was also seen as im­por­tant, to­gether with the use of fringe land for broad-acre recre­ational ac­tiv­i­ties. All these

re­tained uses meant the preser­va­tion of car­bon sinks.

Ver­dict: This as­sump­tion also re­flected early con­clu­sions (1980s) that am­ple land was al­ready avail­able for green­fields ex­pan­sion. But high pop­u­la­tion growth and grow­ing hous­ing un­af­ford­abil­ity has led to more con­sump­tion of green­fields land than en­vis­aged in later strate­gies, es­pe­cially in Mel­bourne, South East Queens­land and Perth.

This has re­quired the re­lax­ation of Ur­ban Growth Bound­aries, while tar­gets for in­fill and re­newal have proved to be un­re­al­is­tic.

7. En­ergy and wa­ter use would be less in medium- and high-den­sity dwellings

It may seem ob­vi­ous that wa­ter con­sump­tion would be higher in sep­a­rate houses, town houses and ter­race houses where there is wa­ter­ing of the gar­den, car wash­ing and some­times swim­ming pools. Sim­i­larly less en­ergy could be needed in denser dwelling forms for heat­ing and cool­ing.

Ver­dict: This is a com­pli­cated is­sue, with en­ergy and wa­ter use tend­ing to be deter­mined more by house­hold type, size, de­mog­ra­phy and in­come than by dwelling type. One study has


shown that on an av­er­age per capita ba­sis, res­i­dents in houses in Sydney do not use sig­nif­i­cantly more wa­ter than those liv­ing in flats.


Much em­bod­ied en­ergy is used in the con­struc­tion of at­tached dwelling con­fig­u­ra­tions, and where this ne­ces­si­tates lifts, de­mands sub­stan­tial op­er­a­tional en­ergy use.

In New South Wales, pro­posed res­i­den­tial developments have to com­ply with BASIX tar­gets for sus­tain­able wa­ter and en­ergy use against a state bench­mark. It also es­tab­lishes min­i­mum per­for­mance and com­fort lev­els of the dwelling ex­pressed as the an­nual amount of en­ergy re­quired to heat and cool the dwelling. The tar­gets vary with type of dwelling and lo­cal­ity and can be changed.

This is a much more ef­fec­tive pol­icy for con­serv­ing en­ergy and wa­ter use, rather than re­ly­ing on as­sumed in­di­rect per­for­mance at dif­fer­ent den­si­ties.

8. New in­sti­tu­tions and pro­cesses of gov­er­nance would be needed, to­gether with the adap­ta­tion of planning pro­cesses and metropoli­tan strate­gies to ad­dress chang­ing re­quire­ments.

An es­sen­tial need of the com­pact city was ad­e­quate leg­is­la­tion to man­age liv­ing in, and the func­tion­ing and op­er­a­tion of at­tached dwellings ar­ranged in com­plexes of medium- or high-den­sity form. Strata leg­is­la­tion has been en­acted in all states to do this.

With com­pact city am­bi­tions pur­sued by ne­olib­eral means, gov­ern­ments needed to take more con­trol over de­vel­op­ment. This has led to new con­cen­tra­tions, con­nec­tions and con­fig­u­ra­tions of power. The ex­ec­u­tive power of state gov­ern­ment has been strength­ened, and its con­nec­tions and in­ter­ac­tions with busi­ness, in­vestors and the prop­erty de­vel­op­ment in­dus­try ex­tended and in­vig­o­rated.

‘Un­so­licited pro­pos­als’ can be gen­er­ated by devel­op­ers and considered by state agen­cies of one kind or an­other.

But high pop­u­la­tion growth and grow­ing hous­ing un­af­ford­abil­ity has led to more con­sump­tion of green­fields land than en­vis­aged in later strate­gies.

Com­pe­ti­tion pol­icy main­tains that the planning, de­vel­op­ment as­sess­ment and con­trol sys­tem re­stricts com­pe­ti­tion, through its com­plex­ity, un­cer­tainty and de­lay.

State gov­ern­ments find an en­thu­si­as­tic ally in the prop­erty de­vel­op­ment in­dus­try in im­pos­ing stan­dard pro­vi­sions for the wide va­ri­ety of pre­vi­ous lo­cal planning ar­range­ments, and the part-re­place­ment of lo­cal gov­ern­ment de­vel­op­ment con­trol com­mit­tees by pro­fes­sional pan­els.

Ver­dict: State gov­ern­ments have in­creas­ingly ce­mented mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial re­la­tions and out­comes with busi­ness, in­vestors, and prop­erty in­ter­ests. The com­pact city is at­trac­tive to devel­op­ers be­cause it of­fers the pos­si­bil­ity of more large-scale projects. Ne­go­ti­a­tions with gov­ern­ment can yield high prof­its where up­zon­ing takes place, or floor space bonuses are ob­tained over ex­ist­ing lim­its.

There is a gen­eral fail­ure in value cap­ture by gov­ern­ments. This has been in part due to the re­luc­tance of gov­ern­ments to risk new hous­ing sup­ply by re­duc­ing devel­op­ers' prof­itabil­ity, re­in­forced by strong de­vel­oper

lob­by­ing. A re­cent cal­cu­la­tion has es­ti­mated that landown­ers' gains from re­zon­ing and other planning de­ci­sions are $11 bil­lion across Aus­tralia each year. The de­vel­op­ment sec­tor has it­self

10 be­come a sig­nif­i­cant com­po­nent of the ur­ban econ­omy, and gov­ern­ments are re­luc­tant to im­pose many of the costs of growth on them.

Strata leg­is­la­tion has been up­dated to re­flect ex­pe­ri­ence and new cir­cum­stances. Strata leg­is­la­tion in New South Wales has re­cently been com­pre­hen­sively re­vised and, for ex­am­ple pro­vides for 75% agree­ment by own­ers in the strata cor­po­ra­tion for its redevelopment, re­plac­ing the pre­vi­ous re­quire­ment for a unan­i­mous ap­proval.

Metropoli­tan strate­gies have not adapted to the new chal­lenges of the com­pact city and have con­tin­ued the path de­pen­dency es­tab­lished in or­gan­is­ing sub­ur­ban ex­pan­sion dur­ing the long boom. Ac­cord­ingly, de­fin­i­tive longterm plans are is­sued ev­ery few years. Yet there is a para­dox in im­pos­ing long-term vi­sions in pre­scrip­tive terms for such dy­namic, chang­ing and re­silient cities.

There is a gen­eral fail­ure in value cap­ture by gov­ern­ments. This has been in part due to the re­luc­tance of gov­ern­ments to risk new hous­ing sup­ply by re­duc­ing devel­op­ers' prof­itabil­ity, re­in­forced by strong de­vel­oper lob­by­ing.

Re­lated to this is a fi­nal ef­fect – the lack of lo­cal in­put into these top-down pro­cesses. This is ex­ac­er­bated by the lack of ex­pe­ri­ence in planning au­thor­i­ties to deal with these dra­matic redevelopment pro­cesses that re­quire com­pre­hen­sive at­ten­tion and tight co­or­di­na­tion. There is much lo­cal con­cern about the lack of at­ten­tion to im­por­tant de­tail.

The re­sult is that lo­cal streets be­come con­gested and choked by rib­bons of park­ing. More stormwa­ter runoff is a con­se­quence of the in­crease in hard sur­faces. Open space di­min­ishes de­spite it of­ten be­ing in­ad­e­quate al­ready. New higher blocks of hous­ing over­look sur­round­ing dwellings. Street char­ac­ter is de­stroyed. The ac­tual im­pact on the ground is the cru­cible of com­pact city poli­cies and is of­ten un­sat­is­fac­tory.

The out­comes of Aus­tralian com­pact city poli­cies sum­marised here point to pol­icy short­com­ings con­cern­ing the pro­vi­sion of suf­fi­cient and well-lo­cated

higher den­sity zones that would con­tain prices; ad­e­quate and timely trans­port in­fra­struc­ture to sup­port re­newal pro­cesses in these zones; apart­ments and places that cater for fam­i­lies; sen­si­tive man­age­ment in the re­newal of lo­cal­i­ties in re­spect­ing and en­hanc­ing their char­ac­ter; and con­ser­va­tion of valu­able peri-ur­ban green lands.

The so­lu­tions are not easy. Con­tin­u­ous mon­i­tor­ing and flex­i­ble re­sponse to rel­e­vant and up-to-date data and in­for­ma­tion is es­sen­tial to the sub­stan­tial trans­for­ma­tion of ar­eas.

This must in­clude full com­mu­nity in­volve­ment in planning de­ci­sions about where higher den­sity zones are to be lo­cated; value cap­ture from devel­op­ers who ben­e­fit from wind­fall zon­ing de­ci­sions, to fund bet­ter pub­lic trans­port and more open space; tighter planning codes that man­date min­i­mum amounts of af­ford­able hous­ing; and pass­ing on most or all of the en­vi­ron­men­tal costs of de­vel­op­ment where green­fields land is used.

AU­THOR: Ray­mond Bunker is semi-re­tired and is Se­nior Vis­it­ing Fel­low at the City Fu­tures Re­search Cen­tre at the Univer­sity of New South Wales. His ca­reer in town planning and ur­ban pol­icy has in­cluded both univer­sity teach­ing and re­search in Sydney and Ade­laide, and se­nior pol­icy po­si­tions in the Com­mon­wealth gov­ern­ment and the state gov­ern­ment of South Aus­tralia. He has a par­tic­u­lar in­ter­est in metropoli­tan planning.

AU­THOR: Glen Searle is Hon­orary As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor in Planning at the Univer­sity of Sydney and at the Univer­sity of Queens­land. He was Di­rec­tor of the Planning Pro­gram at both uni­ver­si­ties. Prior to that he held ur­ban planning and pol­icy po­si­tions in the NSW de­part­ments of De­cen­tral­i­sa­tion and De­vel­op­ment, Trea­sury, and Planning, and in the UK Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­ment. His main re­search fo­cus is metropoli­tan strate­gic planning.

Lo­cal streets be­come con­gested and choked by rib­bons of park­ing…open space di­min­ishes…higher blocks of hous­ing fre­quently over­look sur­round­ing dwellings.

Street char­ac­ter is de­stroyed.

IM­AGE: © Vi­jay Chen­nu­pati-flickr

Source: SGS Planning, July 8, 2016 at­li­ca­tions/ur­ban-den­sity-struc­ture-and-form-six-cities-com­pared

Table 1. ‘Con­ven­tional’ av­er­age, and pop­u­la­tion weighted av­er­age den­sity of se­lected cities in 2011. Con­ven­tional den­sity is that of the av­er­age place, while the weighted av­er­age re­moves the in­flu­ence of large ar­eas with small pop­u­la­tions on the over­all av­er­age.

IM­AGE: © Fran­cisco An­zola-wiki

Source: ABS Cen­sus, us­ing Quick­stats dwelling cat­e­gories

Table 2: Changes in pop­u­la­tion and dwelling pro­file 2001-2016 for Sydney and Mel­bourne


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