News & Discussion: Adelaide Urban Sprawl & Density

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News & Discussion: Adelaide Urban Sprawl & Density

#1 Post by AG » Mon Oct 24, 2005 4:55 pm

Why hasn't this been posted yet? Does anyone here (other than yob) actually care about this old news that was published today?


ADELAIDE RISKS
URBAN DEAD ZONE:
Warning on the high
cost of city sprawl
EXCLUSIVE:
By KARA PHILLIPS
24oct05
SEVENTY-FIVE of the state's top scientists have issued an alarming warning that unless attitudes change towards Adelaide's environment, it will become an "urban wasteland" devoid of much of the plant and animal life existing today.

In a groundbreaking new book, to be launched next month, the team of scientists claims that by 2036 Adelaide's range of naturally occuring flora and fauna could be reduced from thousands of species to about 100.

Adelaide, Nature of a City is the largest biodiversity analysis of a city done in the world.

A team of historians, geographers, architects, biologists and social scientists spent the past three years documenting the city as a living, breathing environment.

Co-editor of the book and environmental biology professor Chris Daniels says a loss of biodiversity could make quality of life "appalling".

"Children could grow up in a community that's free of our natural environment, so they don't get exposed to blue tongues and tadpoles," he says.

"If we lose contact with the environment, our children could grow up thinking concrete and bricks is all there is. I don't think life would be worth anything, the quality of life would be appalling."

The study comes as Adelaide's urban sprawl - now stretching across 80km in mainly single storey housing - has reached proportions exceeding Rome, Mexico and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).

The book finds that if Adelaide continues to develop without being sympathetic to the natural environment:

WEEDS such as boneseed and feral olive trees will continue to overtake parks and open areas; NATIVE animals will empty from national parks;

Thousands of animal species today could be reduced to a meagre 50 species of birds, 16 species of mammals, 20 reptile species and as few as two frog species by 2036.

But the authors of Adelaide, Nature of a City stress while the predictions are dire, the 600-page book empowers people to do something about it - but we need to act now.

Dr Daniels said poor planning, a lack of open space, habitat clearance and new housing and city office developments which failed to consider biodiversity were killing the natural environment.

"For years we have been driving out our plant and animal life, building without thinking about how it will affect the ecology," Dr Daniels said.

"We are building sprawling developments, clearing native habitats and creating tiny backyards. And when we compare our open space to other cities it is not as impressive as we might think."

As the cityscape becomes more dense, residential blocks decrease in size and inner city living becomes more popular, there is less green space.

Already, Adelaide is the most urbanised Australian city with 1.1 million of the 1.3 million South Australians living in the metropolitan area between the Hills and the sea.

In order to avoid a desolate future, people had to realise their backyards and parks interacted with native ecosystems and had a profound impact on local biodiversity, Dr Daniels said.

"What you plant, clear, build and tear down could be the difference between a species' survival and extinction. To be visionary, we must be conservationists."

The book calls on government and councils to "massively conserve" bushland space outside the city as this space provides the reservoir of birds and animals that come on to the Adelaide plains.

It also calls on Adelaide residents to adopt a new seasonal calendar based on one used by the Kaurna people of the Adelaide plains for 40,000 years - instead of a European calendar totally unsuited to the city's unique conditions.

The book also suggests council planners and housing developers make provisions for the physical environment as well as energy efficiency.

"We are putting a lot of effort into energy and water and transport but we also need to consider our local environment and the animals with which we share our backyards," Dr Daniels said.

"Every house in Adelaide should have this book because you'll never think the same about your city or suburb again."

Environmental scientist and director of the South Australian Museum, Tim Flannery, believes there is time to sidestep a dire fate.

"Adelaide has the capacity to become the most biodiverse city in Australia, and one of the most interesting destinations in the world," he wrote in the foreword to the book.

This week, in an exclusive series, The Advertiser will feature extracts from Adelaide, Nature of a City and interviews with some of its authors.
_____________________________________________________________

Most of this is old news. We've known for years that urban sprawl has had a massive impact on the urban environment.

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#2 Post by Algernon » Mon Oct 24, 2005 5:31 pm

It's an assertive little piece, severely lacking in objectivity.

As much as this will annoy some of the readers on this site, there's a whole other side to the urban consolidation debate, namely that it has severe consequences for housing affordability. Sorry to offend everyone's god, but artificial restrictions on land supply in free property markets in the USA, NZ and Australia have propelled housing prices through the roof. Due to the complexity of how property markets function, it's not a simple matter of increasing density to bring prices down again - it can actually worsen the problem.

However, as the article points out, there are significant environmental arguments that favour urban consolidation.

2 sides to a debate. Both with substantial merit.

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#3 Post by Al » Mon Oct 24, 2005 8:30 pm

With Adelaide's infrastructure the way it is, I don't think we have the luxury of more urban sprawl. Yes, it's unfortunate that prices of houses are high (if you're trying to get your first home) but wouldn't it be fair to say that perhaps making better use of current land instead of allocating new land is the only real solution? In that article they point out that Adelaide's population per sq km is a lot less than Sydney, London and Rome... the people there still manage don't they? Another option is to perhaps offer more incentives (bigger first home owner's grant) to those willing to live in smaller homes or homes closer to the city. Surely that would be more economical than maintaining infrastructure that spans for 80km north and south.

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#4 Post by AG » Mon Oct 24, 2005 8:37 pm

chris wrote:It's an assertive little piece, severely lacking in objectivity.

As much as this will annoy some of the readers on this site, there's a whole other side to the urban consolidation debate, namely that it has severe consequences for housing affordability. Sorry to offend everyone's god, but artificial restrictions on land supply in free property markets in the USA, NZ and Australia have propelled housing prices through the roof. Due to the complexity of how property markets function, it's not a simple matter of increasing density to bring prices down again - it can actually worsen the problem.

However, as the article points out, there are significant environmental arguments that favour urban consolidation.

2 sides to a debate. Both with substantial merit.
Funny how noone else has added anything to the debate. I completely agree with you there yob. There are some points in the article that could be debatable though.

This quote: "As the cityscape becomes more dense, residential blocks decrease in size and inner city living becomes more popular, there is less green space."

Within the inner city there would probably be less green space, but it does not neccesarily mean that it will become a so-called concrete jungle and many residential buildings now begin to consider and incoorperate rooftop and skygardens. Not only that, but the shifting of growth into the inner city would reduce the amount of land required in the periphery of the city and give more space back to nature.

It is difficult to pinpoint a perfect solution, because there are none. All the potential solutions we know of have their problems.

In Sydney, much of the recent urban consolidation has occurred along the main rail corridors in suburbs such as Rockdale, Hornsby and Strathfield. All of these suburbs have had quite substantial increases in average property values.

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#5 Post by AG » Mon Oct 24, 2005 8:49 pm

Al wrote:With Adelaide's infrastructure the way it is, I don't think we have the luxury of more urban sprawl. Yes, it's unfortunate that prices of houses are high (if you're trying to get your first home) but wouldn't it be fair to say that perhaps making better use of current land instead of allocating new land is the only real solution? In that article they point out that Adelaide's population per sq km is a lot less than Sydney, London and Rome... the people there still manage don't they? Another option is to perhaps offer more incentives (bigger first home owner's grant) to those willing to live in smaller homes or homes closer to the city. Surely that would be more economical than maintaining infrastructure that spans for 80km north and south.
When your refer to current land, would you also include pockets of areas within metropolitan Adelaide that still haven't been developed (such as around Northgate), or only land that has been developed? I don't see anything wrong with developing some of the vacant land in such areas, as long as the infrastructure can take it.

Urban consolidation could well be one solution, but most of the existing major suburban centres would be able to handle a sudden influx of residents without significant upgrades to infrastructure, particularly water and transport. A lot of the urban consolidation that goes on in Sydney as stated before occurs along the rail lines. Even though there would be an increase on the use of public transport, there would also be a further increase in road traffic in surrounding areas, as seen in some areas of Sydney. We can maximise the efficiency of the use of our infrastructure, but we can also place too much additional strain on it.

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#6 Post by Algernon » Mon Oct 24, 2005 9:06 pm

Al wrote:With Adelaide's infrastructure the way it is, I don't think we have the luxury of more urban sprawl. Yes, it's unfortunate that prices of houses are high (if you're trying to get your first home) but wouldn't it be fair to say that perhaps making better use of current land instead of allocating new land is the only real solution? In that article they point out that Adelaide's population per sq km is a lot less than Sydney, London and Rome... the people there still manage don't they? Another option is to perhaps offer more incentives (bigger first home owner's grant) to those willing to live in smaller homes or homes closer to the city. Surely that would be more economical than maintaining infrastructure that spans for 80km north and south.
One way of overcoming transport infrastructure issues in sprawling cities is to decentralise economic activity. Or so the theory goes.

You raise a good point that cities with far higher populations seem to deal well with high population densities. I'm by no means an expert on world cities, however I suspect that prices in Australia could be more suscepitble to inflation because of the general Australian desire to both own and invest in property. Investment is a significant factor especially, as i've seen recent reports showing that Sydney based investors are having an appreciable effect on property prices in cities like Hobart and Adelaide. Those who oppose urban consolidation would argue that in order to overcome such inflation, more land must be released onto the market (which means more sprawl).

Can you explain what you mean by "better" use of existing land? I'm not following you there.

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#7 Post by Al » Wed Oct 26, 2005 5:37 pm

If local councils, especially well established ones, would be more willing to consider higher density housing (more than one or two storey) in areas which are being redeveloped (such as industrial Brompton/Bowden) then this will help make more affordable housing achievable. If four or five storey buildings were built on a area once occupied by one three bedroom house, then certainly it would be better for affordable housing even if it means sacrificing certain levels of luxury. Common areas such as parks could be maintained or expanded if more people were willing to live in smaller homes and I guess this is probably then norm in certain high density cities. It's not a perfect solution but at least something worth considering.

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#8 Post by Algernon » Wed Oct 26, 2005 5:49 pm

2 points:

Local councils

The buck doesn't stop with local councils. When they make their development plan, it has to be approved by the state government's relevant minister. The minister will take into account how the development plan adheres to the metropolitan planning strategy. So if the state government says an area should be higher density, but the local government's development plan doesn't implement that, then the minister has the power not to approve it.

Increasing density

In theory, individual apartment prices can be lowered if a development increases in density and packs enough of them in to bring the average prices down. However, there's a big problem - land value. When a higher density apartment building is built, the land value increases. And the big problem is that it increases at a higher rate than the savings you can make from putting more apartments in. Not only that, but the land around the development also increases in value. This is why increasing density makes housing less affordable.

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#9 Post by Al » Wed Oct 26, 2005 8:37 pm

Fair enough but surely there must be a point where increasing the density will make it more economical. Even if the price of a 1000m2 block of land increases four fold, if you put fifteen apartments (3 by 5 floors), each with three bedrooms, that should still be cheaper than building 15 houses elsewhere? I can understand your point though and I can see that a change of mentality is required as well for people to accept living in higher density areas.

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Growth dangers in fringe suburbs

#10 Post by AG » Tue May 08, 2007 8:22 am

Growth dangers in fringe suburbsMATT WILLIAMS
May 08, 2007 02:15am
Article from: Font size: + -
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NEW fringe suburbs and their communities will become the victims of poor urban planning unless state and local governments work together, council leaders have warned.

A Planning 4 Growth forum at the Adelaide Town Hall tomorrow will focus on urban growth in Onkaparinga, Playford, Salisbury and Mt Barker.

The State Government has set a statewide population target of two million by 2050.

Playford council general manager Cate Atkinson said it was local government's aim for people to buy into new residential areas which "met their (service) expectations".

"We want to raise the profile of what urban growth really means and we are trying to engage the State Government in a sustainable and integrated fashion," she said.

"The State Government doesn't seem to think local government has a view regarding urban growth, that we're just the recipients of urban growth, not its instigators. The reality is that it should be the other way around. There are small communities in our area that have been crying out for public transport and there are some people who can't even get to job interviews because they can't afford any other transport means."

Ms Atkinson said the poorest people tended to live in the least-serviced areas.

Onkaparinga Council chief executive Jeff Tate said there were "very good reasons" to have proper urban planning measures. "There is growing pressure on people including fuel prices and global warming, so it would be folly to use fossil fuels to travel longer distances to work," he said.

Urban and Regional Planning Solutions consultant Angela Hazebroek said there seemed to be a trend "towards a total abdication of State Government responsibility for providing human services in such isolated and challenging developments."

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#11 Post by Ho Really » Tue May 08, 2007 7:57 pm

Stop urban sprawl...build up not out.

Cheers

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#12 Post by jimmy_2486 » Tue May 08, 2007 8:20 pm

We do not have enough public transport to suffice outer suburbs. Everyone in the outer metro areas complain about their transport, it is no where as good as inner 10km (eg hardly any go zones, metro rail services etc). Urban sprawl will make it a lot worse, and until we make our proposed bonanza of cash off uranium it shouldn't happen. These extra outer urban areas will be unserviced and be full of trashy people. Outer urban areas are only good if it is worth living there!!

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#13 Post by shuza » Tue May 08, 2007 8:21 pm

I wish I could agree, but because of the extent of Adelaide's urban sprawl it has now become dispersed. So I think we should fill in the gaps between suburbs, and then concentrate on density.

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#14 Post by jimmy_2486 » Tue May 08, 2007 8:32 pm

Yes good point there, we do have a lot of gaps, especially 15-20km north and south.

However 15-20km north is very industrial so no one will want to live there. If we were to fill these gaps up we would need to service them well with transport, shops etc so it will be worth while living that far away from the CBD.

Then again you watch once Marion and Port Adelaide become major CBD's the gaps will fill fast.

You look at Sydney/Melbourne where you can live 30-40km away from the city and will be just as convenient as living in say grange or something because they have outer CBD locations that make it convenient to live far out. Most people that live that far out have professional jobs near their areas.

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#15 Post by rhino » Wed May 09, 2007 9:55 am

Outer CBDs is definately the way to go. As for no-one wanting to live near the industrial areas, if that's where they work, they'll want to live close - not next door to the factory, but not too far away either.

Imagine a mini-CBD at, say, Elizabeth (it's almost one now), which had tram and rail lines radiating out from it in 5 or 6 directions rather than a single rail route from Elizabeth to Adelaide. All of a sudden, your outer-urban poorly-serviced areas would become mid to inner urban to the new mini-CBD. They would become more attractive places to live, money would come into the area, and that would breed more services. As long as those places are way out on the fringe of our one-CBD city, they are not going to become choice places to live and will continue to lag behind.
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