Monthly Archives: May 2017

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Half of the world’s people now live in urban areas. This creates competition for resources and increases pressure on already limited green space.

Many urban areas are still experiencing active degradation or removal of green space. To reverse this trend and ensure the multiple benefits of green space are realised, we urgently need to move toward on-ground action.

However, there is no clear guidance on how to translate the evidence base on green space into action. There is limited information to guide green-space practitioners on how much is “green enough”, or on how to manage and maintain green space. There is also a lack of guidance on how to deliver the multiple benefits of green space with finite resources.

Why we need green spaces

A recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report aims to provide guidance on how to tackle the uncertainties of providing such spaces.

There is a substantial evidence base to show that green space is good for us. It is associated with many health benefits, both physical and mental – including reductions in illness and deaths, stress and obesity – and a range of positive social, environmental and equity outcomes.

Providing adequate green space within our urban areas is therefore paramount. We need to preserve, enhance and promote existing green spaces and create new spaces.

Various political frameworks underscore the need for these spaces in our cities. For example, the New Urban Agenda calls for an increase in safe, inclusive, accessible, green and quality public spaces. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development pledges to:

“… provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular, for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities”.


Author provided

Moving toward action

The WHO report carried out a systematic review of the published evidence on green-space interventions. The review found a variety of intervention types have strong evidence for delivering a range of health, social and environmental outcomes.

These intervention types range from smaller green spaces, such as street trees and community gardens, to larger, more interlinked spaces, such as parks and greenways. This signals the need to think beyond the traditional urban park when considering how to meet the demand for green space among growing urban populations.

Article originally published by The Conversation.

Continue reading entire article here.

Fast-forward 14 years and it is envisaged almost 25,000 residents will cycle everyday and be able to ride in excellent air quality through tree-lined streets.

This vision was unveiled as part of Brisbane City Council’s first Brisbane. Clean, Green, Sustainable 2017-2031 report.

Opposition councillors were quick to label the report as nothing more than a public relations document that lacked substance.

Brisbane City Council has unveiled its first clean, green, sustainable report. Photo: Supplied

The 87-page report, which cost more than $30,000 to produce, was described by Lord Mayor Graham Quirk as council’s most ambitious environmental agenda in the city’s history.

“We have a vision of Brisbane being a top-10 lifestyle city globally,” Cr Quirk said.

“While we have achieved much already we recognise we still have more to do.”

The report identified future targets and commitments for Brisbane to make it more clean, green and sustainable.

Council’s opposition leader Peter Cumming questioned many of the policies.

He said the report’s biodiversity goals were based on guesstimates, the waterways priorities lacked information and shade targets very ambitious.

“The Brisbane. Clean, Green, Sustainable 2017-2031 document contains much flowery language that the reader could interpret to suit themselves,” Cr Cumming said.

“It is a PR document lacking substance.”

His colleague Cr Jared Cassidy (Deagon) also disagreed with much of the document.

“The reality is this administration has turned its back on the community in Brisbane when it comes to a whole lot of these areas and Cr Cumming is correct in saying this document is nothing more than a huge PR exercise, it doesn’t offer anything new,” Cr Cassidy said.

“It doesn’t back up any of these issues with new action. What it does is hide a whole heap of targets that were previously in place.”

Cr Cassidy said the lord mayor had not supported cyclists by providing appropriate infrastructure and had not invested enough in catchment networks or community gardens.

This article was originally published by the Brisbane Times.

Click here to read the entire article.

The 10th Making Cities Liveable Conference will be held at Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane on Monday 10th – Tuesday 11th July 2017.

Mr Anthony Franklin, Senior Town Planner for Brisbane City Council will be attending this year’s conference to discuss “Opportunities for Australia’s future: learnings from the old world for new world cities”.

It is widely accepted that higher density neighbourhoods influence transport choices, and increase opportunities for physical activity and social inclusion.

Anthony Franklin

Most European cities could not dream for the opportunities for Australia’s green and brown field development sites, yet Australian cities continue to struggle to make density work.

Density in Australia is often associated with public housing schemes (such as Fitzroy in Melbourne), exclusive and unaffordable locations (such as Bennelong Apartments in Sydney) or poorly considered suburban retro-fitting (such as Mount Gravatt in Brisbane).

This presentation makes the two key points:

The first is that Australians still have the opportunity to shape the future of their cities, will they look like Tokyo, Seoul and Los Angeles or will they look like London, Rome and Paris?

The second is that well designed higher density living can increase walking, and this will contribute to better health outcomes.

The presentation also addresses other themes relating to density, such as the potential to improve housing affordability, the social, environmental and economic advantages of density, and the improved equity for old and young in a well-planned dense neighbourhood.

The Australian political environment has consistently demonstrated a lack of leadership and vision on the topic of shaping Australian cities, so it ultimately falls upon the planning and health professionals, to put the future Australia’s towns and cities, and the link to public health, firmly on the public agenda.

The 10th Making Cities Liveable Conference will be held at Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane on Monday 10th – Tuesday 11th July 2017.

Mr Paul Edwards, General Manager of Workplace Experiences for Mirvac will be discussing “The intermix approach: activating a smart precinct”.

The evolution of digital technology has motivated the rise of some of the world’s most successful companies, including Uber and Airbnb. In a new discussion paper, Activating the Smart Precinct: The Intermix Approach, Mirvac and UNWORK discuss a new approach to making cities liveable, aiming to extend the successes of digital evolution into the development of ‘smart precincts’.

Paul Edwards

Between the smart building and the smart city is an often-overlooked area, the smart precinct. In his 30 minute presentation focusing on The Future of the Smart Precinct, Paul Edwards, General Manager Workplace Experiences at Mirvac, will encourage developers and planners to look beyond the footprint of the building they are developing to ensure they create smart, enabled mixed-use precincts.

The design of mixed-use developments incorporating workspace, retail, hospitality, leisure, residential, education, and transport has evolved to integrate physical experiences with smart technologies, to strengthen the community fabric of an area and support the emerging tech-led economy.

Paul will share international and local examples of smart precincts, such as Mirvac’s Australian Technology Park, to showcase the essential building blocks of urban planning to enable individuals to prosper, our community to grow, small start-ups to progress and large corporates to adapt.

He will also put forward thought starters to consider bringing The Intermix Approach from ideas to action for the future of our cities.

The 10th Making Cities Liveable Conference will be held at Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane on Monday 10th – Tuesday 11th July 2017.

Dr. Marjan Hajjari, Senior Project Manager of Fishermans Bend Taskforce for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning will be describing the journey ‘Toward a responsive community infrastructure plan’.

A community infrastructure plan is an evidence-based document that aims to assist decision-makers to formulate strategic directions to plan and deliver timely and adequate community facilities in the right locations. A community infrastructure plan is one of the crucial planning documents for the development of both greenfield and urban renewal areas.  The plans often use fixed approaches to identify needs and plan for the future population in growth areas, however, the complexity and challenges that face urban renewal areas requires a more flexible approach.

Dr. Marjan Hajjari - Fisherman's Bend Taskforce

Dr. Marjan Hajjari

Fishermans Bend is Australia’s largest urban renewal area. It is envisaged as a high-to-medium density development accommodating 80,000 residents and 60,000 jobs in the next 35 years. Land ownership in Fishermans Bend is fragmented and the government has very limited land in this area. Uncertainties in the projected population and demographics, as well as the future of service delivery models are the main challenges for developing the Fishermans Bend community infrastructure plan.

Employing Fishermans Bend as a case study, this paper presents a framework for generating a responsive community infrastructure plan that innovatively responds to opportunities that arise, and is robust enough to ensure community services and facilities are delivered in an adequate and timely manner. This paper provides a greater understanding of the consequences of a fixed approach to community infrastructure planning, and the advantages and challenges in developing a flexible and adaptable approach.

This paper also explains how adaptability and flexibility should be considered throughout the three main stages of planning, designing and delivering community facilities. This paper argues that employing multi-level analysis and multi-dimensional assessment will enhance the plan’s responsiveness. Provision of design guidelines and specifications for each type of community facility as part of the community infrastructure plan will assist in creating spaces which can accommodate services that will best meet current and future needs.

Visit for more information on the 2017 Making Cities Liveable Conference.

The 10th Making Cities Liveable Conference will be held at Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane on Monday 10th – Tuesday 11th July 2017.

Mr. Guy Luscombe, Director of Architects Johannsen + Associates will be joining us to discuss ‘Age ‘n’ Dem: Age and Dementia-Friendly Streetscapes Toolkit’. 

With around 95% of older people opting to live at home as they age and some 70% of people with dementia staying in their home environments, more needs to be done to enable aged and dementia (what we might call ‘age ‘n’ dem’) friendly communities. The evidence supporting the benefits of walking for  is widespread and seemingly incontrovertible but how do Government and policy makers use this information to practical benefit in the community?

Guy-Luscombe Architect Johannsen + Associates

Guy Luscombe

The evidence base, supported by over ten years of research; has resulted in few practical tools being developed.  As a local government with a high percentage of older people, Moonee Valley City Council sought and received funding to develop a toolkit to help them (and others, ultimately) to implement more age ‘n’ dem friendly streetscapes and encourage more walking.

Based on available evidence and working closely with Council and their reference focus group, the toolkit developed guidelines and techniques to assist those tasked with the responsibility of looking after the public realm for increasingly age’n’dem communities.  It was developed with four possible end goals in mind:

1. To be used by Council staff and contractors when designing, constructing or upgrading new and existing infrastructure

2. To inform various stakeholders about the importance of aged-friendly streetscapes and how to create them.

3. For use as an audit tool for existing streetscapes to guide improvement programs.

4. As a planning tool

Age ‘n’ dem aims to provide practical evidence based tools to help those with the responsibility of providing outdoor public urban places make local neighbourhoods more robust and user friendly for older people and people with dementia.

For more information on the 10th Making Cities Liveable Conference, click here.


Belen Zapata-Diomedi, Lennert Veerman.

Attributes of the built environment, such as street connectivity, diversity of land uses and transportation infrastructure can positively influence physical activity of urban populations, which results in health and economic benefits. However, decisions within the built environment are usually made without a full consideration of health outcomes. While health effects related to road trauma and exposure to poor air quality are included in the appraisal process in the transport sector, physical activity is not assessed on a routine basis. This incomplete picture may result in a bias towards built environments that are not supportive of physical activity.

In Australia, the population is estimated to further concentrate in capital cities, increasing from 16 million in 2017 to 27 million in 2053 [1]. This presents infrastructure and housing challenges, but also opportunities to create liveable places where people can be active and healthy. The research community can greatly contribute to a healthy expansion of Australian cities by providing evidence of the likely health benefits of built environments that facilitate physical activity. Hence, based on recent Australian literature, we estimated the impact on walking and cycling of changes in features of the built environment: density, diversity of land use, availability of destinations, distance to transit, design, and neighbourhood walkability.

Economic values were found to be greatest for increasing availability of destinations within the neighbourhood, which are associated with health-related benefits worth an average $14.65 per adult annually (range $0.41 to $42.51), depending on the type of destination. The economic value of increasing neighbourhood walkability was found to be worth an average $1.62 per adult annually (range $0.11 to $15.73). Most of the value was derived from gains in quality and duration of life. These results are based on study a study commissioned by the Centre of Population Health of the New South Wales Ministry of health ( They are expressed on a per person basis and in dollar values, and could serve as reference values in cost benefit analysis of built environment interventions.


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Capital cities: past, present and future. 2014 [cited 2017 28 February]; Available from:


Australia’s capital cities are getting more and more units, that are largely concentrated and come with a hefty price tag, a new report shows. And while these areas also have lots of jobs, the high price for houses means many on low incomes won’t be able to access that employment.

Between 2006 and 2014, more than 50% of new units were built in the 20% of local government areas with the highest number of jobs.

When compared internationally, it would seem that Australian housing supply has not been as weak as is widely believed. However, the report points to some stark differences in housing supply patterns, emerging across Australia’s capital cities.

In Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, new housing supply has lagged slightly behind population growth. In the other capital cities, housing supply actually outpaced population growth between 2006 and 2014.

Housing supply and house prices

The issue of housing affordability has traditionally been pitched in terms of supply failing to keep pace with growing demand, and house prices rising in response to the imbalance.

Yet, house price inflation has surged even in metropolitan areas where housing supply exceeds population growth. The evidence suggests a complex relationship between supply, population growth and price that is shaped by both supply and demand-side factors.

As prices and rents rise, housing costs continue to eat up larger shares of household incomes, particularly in moderate and low-income groups.

The study shows 80% of new unit approvals were located in the top 20% of local government areas with the highest unit prices. This is while 80% of new house approvals were in the top 40% of local government areas with the highest house prices.

There is very little new supply in areas where house prices are lower, where households on low to moderate incomes can afford to live.

Originally Published by The Conversation, continue reading here.

Join us this July at the 10th Making Cities Liveable Conference in Brisbane!

The 2017 Making Cities Liveable Conference will be held over 10-11 July in conjunction with the Safe Cities Conference, running consecutively over 3 days at the same venue. The conference is a platform for government, academic and industry professionals to discuss public health, sustainability, natural resource management, transport, climate change, urban design, biosecurity and more.

Topics Include:

  • The New Urban Agenda
  • Community Participation and Social Development
  • The Liveable Neighbourhood – Placemaking
  • Responsible Resource Management – Bringing Nature Back
  • Showcasing Regional Liveable Cities and Centres
  • Heritage Infrastructure and Liveable Cities

Download the conference program here.

Confirmed Keynotes

  • Laurie Buys, PhD, Professor, School of Design, Theme Leader, Infrastructure for Sustainable Communities, Queensland University of Technology
  • Amy Child, Senior Transport Planner, ARUP
  • Peter Ellyard, Futurist
  • Andrew Heslop, Social entrepreneur, commentator, community advocate, founder of Neighbour Day
  • Dr Melanie Lowe, Healthy Liveable Cities Research Group, Centre for Urban Research, RMIT
  • Cat Matson, Chief Digital Officer, City of Brisbane
  • Brent McAlister, Executive Director Sustainable Development, Lismore City Council
  • Peter Smith, Principal, Place Governance Partners
  • Marianne Taylor, Heritage Consultant and Historian

We’re looking forward to another successful year of the Making Cities Liveable Conference and hope you can join us, for further information please visit



Urban bushland has health benefits beyond being a great place to go for a walk. It filters our air and water, helps cities avoid extremes in temperatures, and is linked to lower rates of chronic disease.

But these and other health benefits are virtually never accounted for in local and state land development processes.

Urban planners need to consider these health benefits when making decisions about the future of our cities.

Urban bushland, like this in the Western Australian city of Joondalup, provides health benefits to locals who access it and the wider population. Author provided

What do we mean by urban bushland?

Urban bushland ranges from a bush park of native trees, to wetlands – in fact any native vegetation characteristic of the local region. With its undisturbed soils and associated wildlife, urban bushland is more diverse than other types of green spaces in our cities, like parks. So it adds significantly to neighbourhood biodiversity.

The more unfragmented the landscape, or unaltered the bushland, the more likely it will be to retain its biodiversity. Hills, watercourses and gullies, or a mixed forest, have greater biodiversity than flat land or a plantation of trees. Landscapes that change by the season add to that diversity.

The health benefits of green spaces (and urban bushland) partly comes from this biodiversity.

In cities, health benefits work at two levels. Not only do local residents receive health benefits when they use urban green spaces, the wider urban population also feels the health effects.

Originally Published by The Conversation, continue reading here.