Adelaide tram

By Tina Perinotto

23 January 2011 – Adelaide might have ranked best city in Australia to live and Sydney worst in a wide-ranging survey from the Property Council of Australia but among some controversial findings was encouraging strong support for medium density housing, especially in transport nodes and shopping centres.

More than half of respondents supported apartments and townhouses in middle and outer suburbs and even, by a slim majority, the inner city.

However there were scathing assessments of government performance on urban planning related, with low score given our issues such as services and affordable housing.

Findings of are contained in the report My City: The People’s Verdict, compiled from a survey of 4072 people in all capital cities by Auspoll for the Property Council.

Property Council chief executive officer Peter Verwer said: “Australians know what makes a great city and they rate our cities poorly in public transport, roads and traffic congestion, environmental sustainability and housing affordability.

“These results should shock governments into action to lift the performance of our cities.”

Among the most controversial findings were revelations that 71 cent of respondents supported a plan to “manage population growth” but that that 43 per cent of respondents want the federal government to come up with a plan “to stop population growth in Australia”.

On urban governance issues there were no surprises that the majority of people – 69 per cent – want the federal government to take a greater role in the planning of cities. Only 9 per cent opposed such a move.

And in what must be a strongly encouraging sign to sustainable planners the majority of respondents are happy to see the conversion of old industrial areas to apartments and townhouses, more medium density housing in middle and outer suburbs, and more apartments near transport and shopping centres and in the inner cities.

Among the findings:

  • 68 per cent either supported or strongly supported the conversion of old industrial sites to apartments and townhouses
  • 57 per cent supported medium density housing (like townhouses) in middle and outer suburbs
  • 55 supported more apartments at major transport and retail centres
  • 51 supported more apartments in inner city neighbourhoods.

An additional question asked whether respondents supported new neighbourhoods of freestanding houses on the outskirts of cities close to jobs.

As might be expected, a whopping 75 per cent said yes. There was no corresponding question, however, on support for such neighbourhoods not close to jobs, which is almost entirely the case to date.

In assessments of their own cities, respondents gave high ratings the following attributes:

  • recreational outdoor environments – 79 per cent average city approval
  • natural environments – 76 per cent average city approval
  • cultural entertainment – 74 per cent average city approval
  • school and educational facilities – 69 per cent average city approval.

Respondents were scathing, however, about their governments’ performance in the following areas:

  • roads and traffic congestion – 39 per cent average city approval
  • public transport services 36 per cent average city approval
  • environmental sustainability and climate change – 33 per cent average city approval
  • providing quality affordable housing – 31 per cent average city approval

On the issue of urban policy releasing land for homes, planning and managing urban growth, property taxes and housing affordability policies highest scores were:

•    releasing new land for homes: South Australia – 70 per cent approval
•    planning and managing urban growth – ACT, 63 per cent approval,
•    property taxes – Northern Territory, 49 per cent
•    housing affordability policies – South Australia, 50 per cent approval

“This survey is a great gift to all governments. It is the verdict of the people on what works and what doesn’t work, and it provides a blueprint for action,” Mr Verwer said.

“Australians want more liveable cities and they know that the performance of our cities is critical for our future prosperity.”

“We need a nation-wide effort to boost the performance of our cities to meet the challenges of the future: population, housing, infrastructure and climate change.”

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