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urban renewal « Previous | |Next »
June 5, 2011

Margot Simons in Who should look after the cities? in Inside Story says that the current approach to urban renewal targets the retrofitting and regeneration of existing Australian suburbs--- what are called greyfields.

Brownfields are the industrial sites – docklands, old factories and warehouses – that were the main focus of the Building Better Cities program. Greenfields are the sprawling, easy-to-establish yet ecologically unsustainable developments on the edges of Australian cities.

In between are the greyfields: the middle suburbs lying within a radius of between five and twenty-five kilometres of city centres. Here, housing density is low – as few as eight homes to a hectare – and the houses, built after the war, are ageing as their occupants age. They fall a long way short of modern energy and water efficiency standards and yet, compared to the greenfields, they are rich in transport, services and access to jobs.

If Australian cities are to get better as they get bigger, it is the greyfields that have to be transformed. The plans are to increase the density of the middle-ring suburbs by building higher-density housing along public transport routes and in designated activity areas. The aim is generally to build more than half of new homes in existing suburbs.

In the urban planning documents all the big issues, from homelessness and the erosion of greenspace to the fate of people who have no access to public transport, are subsumed under headings like “strong communities” and “smart growth” that are overlain with urban photography of happy families and happy workers creating instant new communities. These are well-doctored planning glossies that don't tell us much.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:21 PM |