July 3, 2012
Peter Newton in Unlocking the greyfields to inhibit urban sprawl at The Conversation that the NSW and Victorian state governments (and I would add the SA one) continue to encourage the development of new housing on the fringes of their cities.
In theses growth areas, the pace of development continues to outstrip the ability to provide public transport to employment, and the capacity of social infrastructure to meet the needs of the growing population. Households on our cities' fringes are most vulnerable to projected increases in mortgage and petrol prices.
Howard Arkley, Superb + Solid , 1997
In The Age Carolyn Whitzman and Billie Giles-Corti say that Australian cities have unsustainable per capita environmental footprints compared with other developed cities around the world. We are more car dependent, our cities sprawl over a larger proportion of prime agricultural land, and we have higher rates of obesity than most countries in the world.Health and wellbeing, liveability and environmental sustainability are all closely linked.
In the inner cities, new apartments and the increased density they bring have added to the richness of street life and cultural options. But these apartments have not been built for families and there is a shortage of schools. With increased density, there is also a need to provide more walking, cycling and public transport opportunities to ease traffic congestion.Many of these new city apartments apartments are small and poorly built.
In the face of sustained population growth, our big cities continue to sprawl into the greenfields, despite the now well recognised problems associated with higher infrastructure costs, lack of amenity, car dependency, poor job access, diminished agriculture and open space.
He says that the solution lies in the greyfields – those ageing but occupied tracts of inner and middle ring suburbia that are physically, technologically and environmentally failing and which represent under-capitalised assets. Here, attempts have been made to intensify housing and employment around activity centres and transit oriented development projects.
Though attempts have been made to intensify housing and employment around activity centres and transit oriented development projects in the greyfield middle suburbs little regeneration has happened in any systematic way. Newton says:
Most infill housing in the middle suburbs has been occurring in a fragmented, sub-optimal fashion. As greyfield housing comes onto the market (typically properties where 80% or more of the total value is vested in the land) it is purchased, demolished and rebuilt, typically resulting in yields of 1:1 and 1:2-4 dwellings.
Consequently, state governments continue to apply mid-20th century solutions to a 21st century urban problem. Hence the concern about the state of Australian cities.