Articles on Cities & Policy

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Will Gwynne walks through one of the nine Melbourne estates that is being sold in the public housing ‘renewal’ program. David Kelly

Voices of residents missing in a time of crisis for public housing

The problem with most public housing 'renewal' programs is that the residents have the least say in what happens to the places they call home. The evidence of housing research is also being ignored.
‘Soft fall’ surfaces are widely used in play areas where children might fall, but can also get very hot in the sun, which undermines this safety benefit. Brisbane City Council/Flickr

Materials that make heat worse for our kids demand a rethink by designers

Commonly used surfaces in play areas, such as "soft fall" materials and Astroturf, can heat up to 80-100°C in the sun. This makes them a hazardous design choice, especially as the climate gets hotter.
Overflowing bins are one way to spoil the amenity of public space, but sensors can now alert councils when bins need emptying. Wikimedia

Sensors in public spaces can help create cities that are both smart and sociable

Researchers are installing sensors to collect data about the use of public spaces. This can improve the management and public amenity of these places, but will users see the technology as intrusive?
Very wet weather is likely to persuade many regular cyclists and walkers to travel instead by car if they can. This is Bondi Junction after a storm hit Sydney. David Moir/AAP

Too wet? Too cold? Too hot? This is how weather affects the trips we make

The relationship between weather and our travel choices is complicated. We can't change the weather, but, with many other factors in play, good policy and design can reduce its impacts.
The Coomera Indoor Sports Centre, one of only two new Gold Coast venues built for the Commonwealth Games, has been open for community use since its completion in 2016. Ed Jackson/AAP

Building for the community is a win for the Gold Coast Games

The Gold Coast is mostly relying on existing assets, and most refurbishments and extensions were completed long before the Games, meaning the community has been able to use these facilities.
The research shows that barring people with a history of drug offences from public housing won’t reduce the risks of harm as NSW minister Pru Goward argues. Chris Pavlich/AAP

Public housing ban on people with drug records likely to do more harm than good, research tell us

The evidence is clear on the sort of support that is needed to reduce the harms of drug use. A punitive approach that denies people a second chance makes it more likely they will reoffend.
Exordium Apartments at Zetland, built by City West Housing, provide affordable, high-quality housing to key workers within the City of Sydney. Alan Morris

Mission nearly impossible: the City of Sydney’s efforts to increase the affordable housing supply

If local government is to deliver affordable housing, state and federal governments must assist. Even councils as powerful and well resourced as the City of Sydney cannot do it by themselves.
Fallen trees and power lines are two of the main hazards that could have been reduced with better planning for cyclones. Geoff Whalan/Flickr

Lessons not learned: Darwin’s paying the price after Cyclone Marcus

After Cyclone Tracy, you'd expect Darwin of all cities to be ready for the next one. But as the clean-up after Cyclone Marcus continues, it's clear more must be done to increase the city's resilience.
The Commonwealth Games is often dubbed the ‘friendly games’, but its history shows that friendliness applies only to ‘the right sort of people’. AAP

The Commonwealth Games of exclusion: what are authorities so afraid of?

Preparations for next month’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast are pushing homeless people out of town, and out of the state. Sadly, that's not unusual for events of this sort.
Third places are most effective when, like Waverley Community Garden in Sydney, they appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. d-olwen-dee/flickr

Many people feel lonely in the city, but perhaps ‘third places’ can help with that

Third places are shared spaces where people can informally socialise. As a potential antidote to the modern scourge of loneliness, it's worth asking what makes the best of these places tick.
The ‘Bicycle Snake’ in Copenhagen separates pedestrians and cyclists, allowing both to navigate the city more safely. Cycling Embassy of Denmark/DISSING+WEITLING

Cycling and walking are short-changed when it comes to transport funding in Australia

New analysis reveals just how little is spent on cycling and walking projects around Australia. No state's spending on cycling is more than 1.5% of its road funding.
Victorians who opposed the East West Link before the November 2014 election would have felt not much had changed when the new government announced the West Gate Tunnel in March 2015. Courtney Biggs/AAP

Sidelining citizens when deciding on transport projects is asking for trouble

Transport infrastructure has such an impact on what kind of city we become that more democratic planning is long overdue. But public consultation is typically limited and focused on design issues.
In both Indian and Australian cities, cyclists who deliver goods and services have to take it slow. Malini Sur

Slow cycling isn’t just for fun – it’s essential for many city workers

Cycling is a low-cost and non-polluting way to make deliveries in congested cities. Slow cyclists should be recognised as good for the economy and environment, not treated like second-class citizens.
Benjamen Gussen’s proposal for a ‘charter city’ in the Pilbara stimulated this imaginary depiction. Justin Bolleter

New cities? It’s an idea worth thinking about for Australia

Business-as-usual projections assume our four biggest cities must absorb three-quarters of Australia's population growth over the next 30 years. Might new cities be a better way to deal with it?
The argument that stronger supply will deliver more affordable housing isn’t borne out in areas where new unit and apartment construction is booming. Joel Carrett/AAP

Affordable housing policy failure still being fuelled by flawed analysis

The clichés about housing supply and regulatory restraints are distractions from the need to focus on expanding the affordable housing sector to directly meet the needs of low-income households.

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