The NSW government has released a 40-year strategy to divide Sydney into three separate cities by 2056. The plan includes a harbour-side city in the east; a central river city around Parramatta; and a parkland city west of the M7.

Photo: article supplied

Lucy Turnbull, the head of the Greater Sydney Commission, announced the strategy on Sunday. It’s titled Towards Our Greater Sydney 2056 and updates the existing A Plan for Growing Sydney. “Reshaping Greater Sydney as a metropolis of three cities – Eastern, Central and Western – will rebalance it, fostering jobs, improving housing affordability, easing congestion and enhancing our enviable natural environment across the entire region,” she said.

A separate transport plan, delivered by Transport Minister Andrew Constance, promises that two-thirds of locals will have a 30-minute commute between these three cities in 40 years’ time.

“Never before has planning and transport come together to actually map out a 40-year vision to make sure we grow properly in the future,” Constance said. “The three cities will each have improved transport facilities and will be interlinked through a technology-focused plan.”

The website for the plan states: “Walking and cycling will become increasingly important in daily travel arrangements with well-designed and safe paths in popular thoroughfares improving the sustainability of the region and the wellbeing of residents.” The plan flags a train link from Kogarah to Parramatta for future investigation, as well as a link between Parramatta and the north-west.

Turnbull described the commission’s report as a “landmark” blueprint, as Sydney moves towards accommodating six million people in 20 years’ time, and eight million by 2056 (when the three cities will be rolled out). The current population is 4.8 million).

There are 10 “directions” in the plan, including “a city for the people” which lists vague objectives such as “Greater Sydney’s communities are culturally rich with diverse neighbourhoods”. Another direction is about “valuing green spaces and landscape” with objectives of “the coast and waterways are protected and healthier” and “urban tree canopy cover is increased”.

This was originally published by Broadsheet.

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The first stage of the Murdoch Health and Knowledge Precinct has started to take shape as site works commenced, with aged care beds, affordable housing and Western Australia’s first Medihotel planned on the 9.6-hectare site.

Adjacent to Fiona Stanley Hospital, the precinct will be developed in two stages over 10 to 15 years to become a major hub delivering jobs, houses, and leading health and research facilities.

Work Officially Begins On WA’s First Medihotel | Liveable Cities

Photo: article supplied

Developer Fini Group’s plans for the first stage of the precinct includes WA’s first Medihotel, 175 apartments, a 150-bed aged care facility, a 6,480 square metre super-medical clinic, short-stay accommodation, and 6,080 square metres of commercial, retail and amenity space.

Fini Group is seeking medical and commercial tenants for 12,500sq m in its $200 million five-building development.

Health Minister Roger Cook said the Medihotel will become a specialist hotel designed to support patients discharged from hospital but who are still recovering, and will provide them with a comfortable, innovative and family friendly environment in which to receive ongoing care.

“It’s a simple solution to free up expensive hospital beds so more patients can be treated and wait lists shortened,” he said.

It is envisaged the broader Murdoch Activity Centre will eventually be home to 35,000 jobs, 22,000 residents and up to 44,000 students.

The land infrastructure and public spaces will be developed to build diverse, higher density, mixed-use buildings on the created lots in accordance with a project Structure Plan and Design Guidelines.

The precinct will help reduce car dependence by providing excellent access to the nearby Murdoch bus and train interchange, promote walking and cycling, with safe pedestrian links and bicycle pathways incorporated throughout the Murdoch Health & Knowledge Precinct. Excellent bus connections will flow through the project’s “Main Street” Barry Marshall Parade, which is planned to enable upgrading to rapid bus transit or light rail systems in the future.

This was originally published by The Urban Developer.

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Liveable cities mean healthier, happier residents. But policymakers must keep pace with development to make sure good urban planning leads to better overall health and wellbeing, writes Billie Giles-Corti.

The co-benefits of urban liveability for the economy, social inclusion, environmental and social sustainability, and public health are now well recognised by all levels of government in Australia and internationally.What Makes a City More Liveable?

But what does “liveability” really mean? While it may make headlines, this apparently simple question has no easy answer.

For more than 20 years, I and a multi-disciplinary team of researchers have been studying the impact of the built environment on health and wellbeing.

Our research shows that comprehensive city planning is beneficial to community health. The elements many of us look for in our neighbourhood are proving time and again to be good for our wellbeing.

Take walking for example. Whether or not an area is walkable, with access to shops, service and public transport, with trees and parks nearby affects residents in many ways. This includes whether they walk locally, how safe they feel when walking the streets, how mentally well they feel in general and whether they have connections with neighbours.

Our longitudinal study – the Residential Environments Projects (RESIDE) – evaluated the Western Australian government’s Liveable Neighbourhoods (LN) guidelines. This policy aimed to create more pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods while RESIDE examined the impact of urban design on health factors such as walking, cycling, public transport use and sense of community.

We found that implementing and enforcing the planning rules directly affected the community’s overall health. Importantly, the better compliance with the policy, the better outcomes for the community.

Then University of Western Australia PhD student, Paula Hooper, found that for every 10 per cent increase in overall Liveable Neighbourhoods policy compliance, participants were 53 per cent more likely to walk within their neighbourhood. They were also 40 per cent less likely to feel unsafe from crime and 11 per cent more likely to have better mental health.

This was originally published by Australia and the Pacific Policy Society.

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Achieving an economically and socially sustainable framework for the provision of social housing is vital. To meet this challenge, many innovative models are being explored both in Australia and internationally, including partnerships and financing arrangements involving a mix of public, private and not for profit agencies.

Dr Judy Kraatz: Valuing Social Housing

Dr Judy Kraatz

The key aim of our Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre (SBEnrc) Valuing Social Housing project is to build an evidence base to support investment across both housing and non-housing outcomes which addresses the return on investment from a broader economic, social and individual perspective.

Our partners in this research are the Western Australian Department of Housing, the Queensland Department of Housing and Public Works, the NSW Land and Housing Corporation, Griffith University, Curtin University and the National Affordable Housing Consortium.

A central element of the approach is productivity, for both the individual and for society more broadly. The research identified a broad range of housing and non-housing outcomes which can be attributed to having safe and stable housing, for example, improved resident well-being, better employment outcomes, stronger community ties and a sense of safety within a neighbourhood.

This has benefits across stakeholders and agencies, from the tenant to the housing provider, and to local, state and the commonwealth government.

Our project has delivered a Strategic Evaluation Framework to help build the evidence base for justifying further investment in social (and affordable) housing, including:

  • Domain Tables – across nine domains[1] including 53 outcomes and over 180 indicators: detailing over 60 academic references in support of the links between housing and non-housing outcomes; return on investment information across social return on investment (SROI), well-being valuation analysis (WVA) and life-stories; and details of over 40 relevant Australian datasets.
  • The Composite Return on Investment (CROI) approach for addressing the broad based potential for return on investment when building the case for investment.

More details are available in our project reports and YouTube video.

Watch our latest YouTube video here.

[1] The nine domains established in the previous Rethinking Social Housing project are: community, economy, education, employment, environment, health and well-being, housing, social and urban amenity

This article was kindly provided by Dr Judy Kraatz, Senior Research Fellow, Cities Research Centre, Griffith University.

Liveability reflects the wellbeing of a community. It also considers the many characteristics that make a place where people want to live now — and in the future.

Enhancing life and liveability – growing the social fabric of Melbourne

Before at WIlliams Landing

A liveable city or region meets the basic social, environmental and economic needs of its people. It also addresses community values and preferences for amenity, wellbeing and a sense of place.

For many decades Melbourne Water has looked after the health of our community by providing safe and secure drinking water, reliable sanitation and effective flood management.  Within our region we manage approximately 8,400 kilometres of rivers and creeks and over 33,000 hectares of land as part of these services.

We are now identifying opportunities to open our land and waterways for more community benefit, transform Melbourne’s landscape, enhance contemporary public health, and address wellbeing issues. This is the future direction of the business and is reflected in our vision of “enhancing life and liveability”.

We are planning for multiple outcomes on our waterways and land, and master planning for liveability services at key Melbourne Water sites. This includes collaborating with Councils and other agencies on new projects such as active transport links along our waterways to connect outer suburbs to the inner city.

Enhancing life and liveability – growing the social fabric of Melbourne

After at Williams Landing

Other projects include exploring alternative water sources, water sensitive urban design and green infrastructure to provide urban cooling and deliver creative, productive landscapes. We’ve also created an online data portal Our Space Your Place showing where our land is available for community use.

These approaches are realised in Greening the Pipeline, an innovative project that aims to transform a decommissioned sewer reserve into a linear parkland. This takes a more holistic approach to water management by activating a community sense of place, enhancing active transport and green links, and creating resilient open spaces.

Greening the Pipeline is a collaborative project with Wyndham City Council, VicRoads and City West Water, which successfully launched its first community park at Williams Landing in Melbourne’s west on the 29th April this year. The Williams Landing park was part-funded by a grant from the Victorian Government.

Around 300 people came along to the launch event to enjoy the new green open space, which is irrigated with captured stormwater.

This article was kindly provided by Melbourne Water, and is a follow-up to the original paper titled ‘Enhancing life and liveability – growing the social fabric of Melbourne’, submitted for the 2016 Liveable Cities Conference.



The suburbs located on the metropolitan edges of Australian cities are popular residential locations, but concerns have been raised about social isolation in these developing communities. This paper explores residents’ lived experiences of community in an outer-suburb of Melbourne using a phenomenological approach and photo-elicited interviews.

Nine participants photographed positive and less favourable aspects of their suburb and these images were used to guide in-depth interviews. Findings indicated that participants’ views on what it meant to be a community and how they went about making social connections did not align exclusively with concepts of community saved, lost or liberated, but included broad aspirations around community building, helping and being helped by strangers and online place-based relationships.

Overall, residents’ experiences were complex suggesting researchers, government and developers alike need to pay closer attention to how residents themselves create community in new and evolving suburbs.

This abstract was provided by Fiona J. Andrews, Senior Lecturer at the School of Health & Social Development at Deakin University

This is an abstract featured in “A tapestry without instructions.” Lived experiences of community in an outer suburb of Melbourne, Australia

Fiona J. Andrews, Louise Johnson & Elyse Warner (2017): “A tapestry without instructions.” Lived experiences of community in an outer suburb of Melbourne, Australia,

Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability, DOI: 10.1080/17549175.2017.1363077

Find the entire article here.

A team of UNSW researchers is trying to find ways to cool our concrete jungles down before they eventually become uninhabitable.

Nowhere is this more important than in areas such as western Sydney, where devoid of the ocean breezes that usually cool the coastal fringe, the city’s western half suffers from the urban heat island effect, thanks to building materials absorbing more of the sun’s energy, waste heat from car engines and air conditioners all conspiring to heat up the temperature.

Photo: article supplied

And this is not just a Sydney problem – over 500 cities across the globe are currently dealing with this problem.

“Urban heat islands are the most documented phenomenon of climate change,” says UNSW Built Environment’s Professor of High Performance Architecture, Mat Santamouris, who has spent the past 15 years mapping urban heat islands in 200 cities, including a collaboration with the European Union that led to the first complete study of urban heat islands in European cities.

“If we can’t find a way to make our cities cooler, they will eventually become uninhabitable,” he says. “It’s hard to remember that kind of heat when we’re in the middle of winter, but last summer the temperature in Penrith was above 40 degrees celsius for about 20 days, reaching even 46 degrees celsius.”

A significant portion of this research involves finding heat-mitigation technologies to help cool our cities such as the use of shading, cool roofs and new-generation, pavements that absorb less solar radiation and green roofs.

“The goal now is to develop heat mitigation solutions capable of reducing urban temperatures by five degrees, and in the case of western Sydney, it needs to be by seven degrees,” he says.

This was originally published by Architecture and Design.

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The global population is growing at a rapid rate and the way we live is likely to change.

The global population is tipped to surge 24 per cent by 2050, from 7.5 billion to 9.8 billion.

According to IKEA’S latest sustainability report, People and Planet Positive 2017, the ageing population is one of the reasons for the rapid growth.

According to the report, 22 per cent of the world will be aged over 60 by 2050, up from 11 per cent recorded in 2012.

New Report Predicts How Our Lives Will Change in 2050

Photo: article supplied

It will be the first time in human history that the elderly population outnumbers the youth.

According to the report, more than 60 per cent of Australians aren’t ready for an increased population and almost 70 per cent believed Australia was not prepared as a nation.

The report made some predictions about how drastically the country will have to change to be able to cope.

There’ll be new cities

To cope with the growing population, the report said Australia would need to create a number of new cities as people will start flocking to cities from regional areas.

According to the UN, 70 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050.

Simon Caspersen, from future-living innovation lab SPACE10, said to handle a 9.3 billion population over the next 40 years, there’d need to be new cities established quickly.

“To put it into perspective, that’s around six new cities for six million people every month,” he said.

“With urbanisation accelerating, there will be increasing pressure on natural resources like water, air, energy and food.

“This means the built environment needs to incorporate elements like spaces to grow food, systems to recycle waste and water, natural cooling and heating mechanisms and design that facilitates all of this.”

Everyone will have housemates

IKEA sustainability manager Kate Ringvall told urbanisation was a key trend that would affect the way we lived in the future.

“A likely scenario, we believe that the future will be more about ‘co-living’ — a shared economy where we make do with less space, surrounded by more people.

“From a retail perspective, we will continue to adapt our home furnishings to suit these future spaces. We expect to see smaller spaces, with clever storage solutions, greener spaces in our environments — inside and out — and home furnishings solutions which will be better for people and the planet.

SPACE10’s Xuan Teo said in the report co-living was the way of the future.

“The rise of the so-called sharing economy, coupled with the planet’s rapidly depleting resources and fast-growing population, is forcing us to rethink the concept of ownership and sharing in our everyday lives, including in housing,” he said.

This article was originally published by

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Connected, healthy, smart and affordable: these are the four factors that emerged as the most important to making our cities liveable, according to a survey of more than 2500 residents we released this week.

Stockland’s Liveability Index, now in its sixth year, captures the experiences of more than 40 communities across 20 local government areas. It offers insights for governments as they ramp up their efforts to deliver solutions to the challenges — and opportunities — posed by the growth of metropolitan centres.

The release of this research is timely, with the federal government’s Cities References Group continuing its work in partnership with industry to ensure we get this growth right.

walkable cities

Photo: article supplied

As the chairman of that group, Assistant Minister for Cities Angus Taylor told The Australian only last month: “If we can’t measure it, we can’t improve it.”

Liveability is something we must continue to measure and improve.

Far from being an abstract concept, livability is a tangible element critical to the success of both new and established communities. This is because of the flow-on social and economic effects it has on individuals and communities.

Obesity, for example, is one of the most significant challenges in relation to the liveability of Australian cities.

Aside from the personal and community toll, PwC estimated in 2015 that obesity and its related health effects would cost the Australian economy more than $87 billion in the next decade.

Simple measures in planning, designing and encouraging activity in communities significantly lower obesity rates.

This article was originally published by The Australian.

Click here to read the entire article.


Australia’s recycling sector is primed for continued growth. It must in order to keep up with waste generation, which is growing at a compound annual rate of 6.2%, that is 6x population growth and 2.5x economic growth. The market is there, and it is being serviced through a combination of regulatory intervention and technological innovation.

Mike Ritchie

Regulators are creating the setting for improved recycling through two simple steps: introducing high landfill levies to make dumping waste in landfill expensive (and increasingly more expensive than recycling), and reinvesting part of the funds raised into recycling infrastructure. Those two measures are staggeringly effective in driving recycling.

Contrast NSW, the lead state in terms of levies and reinvestment, with Queensland, that lags behind. NSW has high levies at $135.70/t, which enables the state to invest $465.7m to the Waste Less, Recycle More program over its first four years. With recycling rates in 2012/13 of more than 55% for MSW, and more than 60% for C&I, NSW recycling rates are high. They are showing steadying improvement, increasing from around 50% and 55% respectively in 2010/11. Queensland has no levies, no real investment in recycling, and its recovery rates are among the worst in Australia (30% for MSW and 40% for C&I in 2014/15). NSW has a vibrant and diverse waste economy, whereas Queensland relies more and more on landfill.

Regulators play a vital role in improving the economics for recycling. High landfill levies make it in everybody’s interest to reduce waste to landfill and therefore help plant the seed for investment in new technologies. This spawns innovation, both in waste processing technology, but also in technology to reduce and recycle materials before they become waste.

Technologies for the processing of waste are becoming increasingly mature. We are seeing more and more composting plants for source separated and mixed waste, coupled with anaerobic digestion plants generating biogas from clean organic waste. It is becoming increasingly common to sort C&I through “dirty MRFs”.

At the generation side, new weighing systems enable weight based charging for skip bins. This encourages business to recycle waste, and can lead to 30-40% reductions in waste generation.

The future for recycling is bright. Recycling is a key contributor to the green economy, creating jobs and local resilience. The future for recycling is helped by the improved economics fostered by high landfill levies and reinvestment into recycling infrastructure.

For more information on this and other resource recovery related topics, please visit ‘The Tipping Point’, MRA’s blog on all things waste.

Article supplied by Mike Ritchie

MRA Consulting – Company profile

MRA Consulting is Australia’s best small consultancy in recycling, waste and carbon (Inside Waste 2013, 14, 15 and 16). MRA provides services to large and small business and all levels of government. The MRA team includes engineers, planners, economists, lawyers and scientists.


  • Is a national leader in carbon reporting, compliance, planning, approvals and project development.
  • Develops strategies for technology providers, Councils and businesses.
  • Delivers tailored commercial advice including economic modelling, market studies and market entry.
  • Provides comprehensive education and consultation services.
  • Has a comprehensive audit and waste assessment program.

MRA is based at Drummoyne in the inner west of Sydney and has offices in Melbourne and Perth.

Mike Ritchie is the Director of MRA. Contact him at