Recently you may have heard that 60% of Sydneysiders said their city was full —no more new development please. A similar sentiment holds for many Australian cities where skyrocketing house prices and congestion are on everyone’s mind. But growth of our cities is inevitable, and new development, if it’s done right, will actually help solve problems and improve everyone’s lives.
Love it or hate it, our cities are always changing. Just like most of us, a skyline never sits still for too long. Towers pop up, buildings come down, whole mini-suburbs are created to accommodate all us crazy people. The key is density done right. What does that mean? It means smarter cities where transport is integrated into how we build and urban sprawl is countered by urban abundance, shops, cafes, green space that localises life, encouraging thriving micro-communities.
Interview with our resident planning expert – Josh Brydges
Should people fight the development of our cities?
What is density done right?
Density done right is development that adapts to the local community and takes into account its current state. It shouldn’t overpower the neighbourhood, but support the neighbourhood’s own unique flavour. It should be planned well, to take advantage of existing and future infrastructure, and it should work to reduce our impact on the environment. Again, it should provide amenity to the community, new shops, new opportunities, new transport options, new green space, new sidewalks. It should provide things that benefit day-to-day living. And, obviously, it shouldn’t flood the area with cars or strain the area in other ways. It should make our communities more sustainable and more livable.
How do we make the change of our cities work for us?
Get involved. I’m an urban and transport planning nerd so I’m biased and I care a lot more than the average person about this, and have probably bored the other people at GoGet to no end with minutia and ‘interesting facts’ about planning, but if you take some time to familiarise yourself with local planning rules and what that will mean for your community, you’ll be in much better shape when it comes to helping shape your community or choose the community you want to live in. We should all try to learn a little more. Not many people realise how cities develop —it’s all either ignored or a mystery until they are blindsided by something in their backyard they really don’t like, and don’t quite know what they can do. It’s funny that 80% of Australia live’s in cities and yet most of us don’t really know much about what makes them tick. But there has never been more resources available to learn about cities. You don’t have to agree with everything but it’s important to have the conversation, which is why we’re involving ourselves in this debate.
Vox Media also has a bunch of great short videos about urban issues and innovations like – Superblocks: How Barcelona is taking city streets back from cars – and – The high cost of free parking.
Or if Podcasts are more your bag check out this great one on the godmother of Urban Planning Jane Jacobs, and for a more Australian focus our friends at AECOM and the Committee for Sydney both have great podcasts specifically about Australian Cities.
I promise you, it won’t be as boring as you fear, and you’ll probably start noticing new aspects of your community when you’re out walking, driving or cycling around.