Articles on Cities & Policy

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New housing estates on the city fringes might be soulless, cookie-cutter developments, but communities can invest them with layers of meaning that create a sense of place. Lukas Coch/AAP

How to turn a housing development into a place where people feel they belong

A sense of place matters for people and communities. When a suburb is created from scratch, close attention needs to be paid to the cues from the landscape and meanings people attach to the area.
Landcorp’s WGV residential development in Fremantle is demonstrating the benefits of making the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Josh Byrne & Associates

Cutting cities’ emissions does have economic benefits – and these ultimately outweigh the costs

The debate about the transition away from fossil fuels has focused on costs, but right here in Australia we have examples of the benefits of sustainable new energy sources for our cities.
When most inner-city apartment residents don’t use cars to get around, you can expect public transport to feel the impacts of new developments. Eric FIscher/Wikimedia

Crowded trains? Planning focus on cars misses new apartment impacts

Traffic impact assessments required of major building developments mainly focus on the movement of cars, but these account for only 30-40% of trips by inner-city apartment dwellers.
Parks are places where children make their own decisions, explore their imaginations and expand their abilities. Daxiao Productions/Shutterstock

Why suburban parks offer an antidote to helicopter parenting

Parents are more willing to let children do their own thing in parks. It's a chance for children to make their own decisions, explore their abilities and imaginations, and weigh up risks.
Walking accounts for about 90% of all travel in Melbourne city centre, yet pedestrians are allocated only 24% of street space. Adam Calaitzis/Shutterstock

Move away from a car-dominated city looks radical but it’s a sensible plan for a liveable future

A newly released ten-year plan for Melbourne aims for fewer cars, safer streets and more shared spaces. A significant amount of parking and road space would be reallocated to walking and cycling.
Pedestrians walking along Bridge Street to Erskineville station in Sydney could take advantage of an extra southern entrance, as could many people now choosing not to catch the train. Chris Standen, used with permission

How to increase train use by up to 35% with one simple trick

In Sydney, 44 of 178 train stations have a single side entrance. It adds up to 12 minutes of daily travel time for people walking the long way to their platform. It's enough to make some drive instead.
Indonesia plans to relocate its capital from the sprawling city of Jakarta – and it isn’t the only country with plans to build whole new cities. AsiaTravel/Shutterstock

Indonesia isn’t the only country planning new cities. Why not Australia?

Other countries are planning new cities using technological innovation to achieve more sustainable development. Such plans aren't new for Australia, but existing city growth is the focus of attention.
Australia’s new National Construction Code doesn’t go far enough in preparing our built environment for climate change. Sergey Molchenko/Shutterstock

Don’t forget our future climate when tightening up building codes

Fires and building failures highlighted serious gaps in Australian building regulations. But recent revisions and recommendations still fall short of preparing our buildings for climate change.
People expect drivers to stop for them at pedestrian crossings, but what if they know autonomous vehicles will stop any time someone chooses to step in front of them? Varavin88/Shutterstock

Nothing to fear? How humans (and other intelligent animals) might ruin the autonomous vehicle utopia

How will people respond once they realise they can rely on autonomous vehicles to stop whenever someone steps out in front of them? Human behaviour might stand in the way of the promised 'autopia'.
Podcasters can introduce new voices to the conversations about the cities we live in. Salim October/Shutterstock

Podcasts and cities: ‘you’re always commenting on power’

Podcasters are creating new conversations about who and what the city is for. But even in the podcasting world, powerful interests can make it hard for new and previously excluded voices to be heard.
Public housing in Paris (left) and Melbourne (right) has similar impacts on residents’ integration into the community. Wissem Felah, Sandra Carrasco

Paris? Melbourne? Public housing doesn’t just look the same, it’s part of the challenges refugees face

Whether in Melbourne or in Paris, African immigrants face social and cultural challenges, which public housing can either add to or help overcome.
The numbers of buyers able to celebrate moving into their first home are still well down on pre-GFC levels – and low-income renters are faring even worse. fizkes/Shutterstock

On housing, there’s clear blue water between the main parties

Housing policy is a stark point of difference at this election. While the government took promising steps to set up social housing finance, it has yet to give any sign it will finish what it started.
The burden of regulatory failure hasn’t just hit residents of evacuated apartments like the Neo200 building in Melbourne – it affects everyone living in a building with serious defects. Ellen Smith/AAP

Housing with buyer protection and no serious faults – is that too much to ask of builders and regulators?

Years of regulatory failure are having direct impacts on the hip pockets of the many Australians who bought defective houses or apartments. It's turning into a multibillion-dollar disaster.

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