Articles on Cities & Policy

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With more than 80% of Singaporeans living in state-provided housing, the city rates well for affordability compared to Sydney, where the figure is just 5.5%. Bill Roque/Shutterstock

Affordable housing lessons from Sydney, Hong Kong and Singapore: 3 keys to getting the policy mix right

A coordinated mix of policies does more to keep housing affordable for a significant proportion of a city's residents than the unbalanced approach we see in Sydney.
The benefits of ‘superblocks’ for Barcelona include better health, access to green space and other public space, and more transport-related physical activity. Orbon Alija/iStock

Superblocks are transforming Barcelona. They might work in Australian cities too

The Spanish city is remaking urban neighbourhoods by limiting through traffic in superblocks that give priority to pedestrians and street activities, not cars.
Where’s the shade? Trees are not an immediate or whole answer to keeping cool. Cameron Tonkinwise

Keeping the city cool isn’t just about tree cover – it calls for a commons-based climate response

Trees and the shade they provide are one of the best ways of cooling cities. But they also present challenges that are best resolved by managing this shared resource as part of an urban commons.
Digital communications technology means many high-skill workers don’t need to be in the office to do their jobs. MJTH/Shutterstock

Fancy an e-change? How people are escaping city congestion and living costs by working remotely

E-changers are the latest group to move from the big cities to escape high living costs and congestion. But because they remain very productive remote workers some employers are embracing the trend.
Allowing residents to remove trees within three metres of buildings or ‘ancillary structures’ could dramatically alter the green infrastructure of dense inner Sydney suburbs like Rozelle. Tom Casey/Shutterstock

Trees can add $50,000 value to a Sydney house, so you might want to put down that chainsaw

Greater urban density is making it harder to preserve, let alone increase, tree cover. It's vital, then, to demonstrate the full value of green infrastructure for healthy liveable cities.
During a heatwave in late 2018, Cairns temperatures topped 35°C nine days in a row and sensors at some points in the CBD recorded 45°C.

Urban growth, heat islands, humidity, climate change: the costs multiply in tropical cities

The world's fastest-growing cities are in the tropics. They are highly exposed to climate change, especially as urban heat island effects and humidity magnify the impacts of increasing heatwaves.
Australians want greater housing choice, including affordable compact homes that are neither large detached houses nor multistorey apartments. Markus J/Shutterstock

People want and need more housing choice. It’s about time governments stood up to deliver it

Australians' need for smaller and more diverse dwellings is growing. The planning system is not providing enough of this housing, and self-serving opposition to it should be resisted.
With the tensile strength of steel but six times lighter, bamboo can be used for ambitious buildings once it has been treated to ensure its durability. Courtesy of Green School Bali

Bamboo architecture: Bali’s Green School inspires a global renaissance

Bamboo has been used since ancient times for building, but only in recent decades has pioneering work in Bali inspired its wider use for substantial and enduring structures.
If more of us were free to work from home, fewer of us would be stuck in traffic. Daria Chichkareva, fkigali/Shutterstock

Flexible working, the neglected congestion-busting solution for our cities

Two-thirds of surveyed workers work from home one day a week on average, but could do at least half their work out of the workplace. If they commuted less often, congestion could be greatly reduced.
Increasing heat in Sydney and other Australian cities highlights the urgent need to apply our knowledge of how to create liveable low-carbon cities. Taras Vyshnya/Shutterstock

We have the blueprint for liveable, low-carbon cities. We just need to use it

The research has been done. The evidence is in. We know how to create cities that are sustainable, liveable and affordable. But we have yet to apply that knowledge widely across Australian cities.
The crisis of confidence in the safety and soundness of new apartment buildings won’t end without a decisive response from federal, state and territory governments. David Crosling/AAP

Would you buy a new apartment? Building confidence depends on ending the blame game

Unsafe apartments are being evacuated as confidence plummets – even the author of a report commissioned by building ministers wouldn't buy a new apartment. What will it take for governments to act?
Public opposition to plans for an Apple store was the trigger for the nomination of Federation Square for heritage listing, but it still had to meet the criteria. Andi Yu/AAP

How can a 17-year-old place gain heritage status? What this means for Melbourne’s Fed Square

A youthful Fed Square satisfied five criteria to be added to the Victorian Heritage Register. The listing protects the square as a public place, but doesn't prevent its continuing evolution.
Increasing numbers of older Australians face a harder time paying the bills when they retire because they’ll still be paying off a mortgage or renting a home. Art_Photo/Shutterstock

Fall in ageing Australians’ home-ownership rates looms as seismic shock for housing policy

People over 65 who still have a mortgage or are renting are projected to double in number by 2031. The trend is likely to hit government budgets and leave more retirees in poverty.
Show Works, based in the Melbourne suburb of Preston, makes dance floors, dance equipment and theatre scenery. Andrew Warren, used with permission

Three ways to fix the problems caused by rezoning inner-city industrial land for mixed-use apartments

Rezoning to mixed-use residential development drove small manufacturers and creative producers out of the inner city. The result is less diversity of land uses, jobs and services where we most want it.
The government intends to destroy Djab Wurrung sacred trees and sites to upgrade the Western Highway at the same time as it seeks heritage status for the Eastern Freeway. Allies Decolonising/gofundme

What kind of state values a freeway’s heritage above the heritage of our oldest living culture?

The Victorian government plans to destroy trees and sites sacred to Djab Warrung people to make way for the Western Highway at the same time as it seeks heritage listing for the Eastern Freeway.
Shared houses work well for 82% of people living in them in their early 20s, but only 25% see this as a long-term option. Earlyspatz/Wikimedia

First home buyer schemes aren’t enough to meet young adults’ housing aspirations

The housing aspirations of young Australians change as they enter their late 20s and early 30s. But having somewhere safe and secure to call home is the top priority for all young adults.
Fortitude Valley is unique in Australia for its concentration of live music venues, like The Valley Drive In, in one small neighbourhood. The Valley Drive In/Facebook

Tighter alcohol licensing hasn’t killed live music, but it’s harder for emerging artists

The good news is that the growth of live music continued under Queensland's liquor licensing reforms. The bad news is that venues rely on late-night alcohol sales to cover costs.
For young women in Queensland, the risk of unwanted sexual attention is high when they go out at night. vchalShutterstock

Unwanted sexual attention plagues young women going out at night

Rates of unwelcome advances haven't changed under Queensland's 'Tackling Alcohol-Fuelled Violence' policies. In one entertainment district, it happened to 26% of women the night they were interviewed.

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