The lure of suburbia clearly remains strong. To deal with sprawl, planners need to increase urban density in a way that resonates with the leafy green qualities of suburbia that residents value.
Residents of the ‘leafy suburbs’ will continue to fear what they might lose to increasing urban density without an explicit planning approach that enhances green space in affected neighbourhoods.
Residents play Pimp my Suburb, an exercise in engaging the community in achieving higher density while preserving what they love about their neighbourhood.
Faced with local planning changes like infill development people often fear they could lose the neighbourhood they love. But serious games are proving effective in giving locals a say in their future.
Without medium-density housing being built in the established suburbs – the ‘missing middle’ – the goals of more compact, sustainable and equitable cities won’t be achieved.
Residents of established middle suburbs are slowly coming round to the idea, but governments and the property sector lack the capacity to deliver compact cities that are acceptable to the community.
For suburbs like fast-growing Tarneit in the Wyndham area, ‘hard’ infrastructure gets priority, leaving ‘soft’ social infrastructure to catch up later.
Traditionally, new communities first get hard infrastructure – schools, hospitals, transport – and ‘soft’ social infrastructure comes later. Liveability and public health suffer as a result.
A tiny house in the backyard appeals to some as a solution that offers both affordability and sustainability.
Think Out Loud/flick
New research has found a marked increase in people, particularly among women over 50, who are building or want to build a tiny house. However, inflexible planning rules often stand in their way.
Residents of high-density housing might value features such as balconies, but when roads get busy this increases exposure to pollution.
Many new housing developments are being built along busy roads and rail lines, but lack design features that would reduce occupants’ exposure to harmful traffic pollution.
The continued preference for detached housing in new suburbs is driving Perth’s urban sprawl and means two-thirds of dwellings built over the next 15 years need to be on infill sites to meet the state’s target.
Government and industry need to demonstrate the benefits of well-designed higher-density housing. Rich residential display projects may be the ideal catalyst for creating smarter cities.
Melbourne is being transformed by high-rise apartments, with some even being purpose-built for the Airbnb market.
If the sharing economy is here to stay, planners and designers must respond with imagination to spread the positive effects of the tourism economy for the benefit of residents as well as tourists.