Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Opposition to forced high-density growing

We are faced with a growing population - the result of the increase of the world population and the Commonwealth Government's immigration policy. Whatever we do, there will be plusses and minuses. The high-density advocates claim it is better to cram us in closer together. But research undeniably shows that in Australia high-density is less sustainable than single-residential living. With high-density living greenhouse emissions per person are much more (additional operational energy and embodied energy use far outway any possible transport savings). Housing costs are also much more. We believe that in a continent-sized country there are much better options available such as sensitive greenfield site development, satellite cities and the rejuvenation of declining country regions. There is no necessity to convert our communities into high-rise slums.

Reports from around the world indicate that opposition to forced high-density is growing.

1. The Sydney Morning Herald of 30 June 2009 reports that nearly half of NSW councils have refused to nominate members to the dictatorial planning panels being set up by the Government. See:
Greg Bloomfield of FairGO has an interesting proposal to make on the composition of planning panels. See below.

2. In Victoria, it is apparent that policies are moving away from high-density. See
where the Minister of Planning calls planning critics ideologically opposed to growth suburbs "cultural snobs".

3. In Perth the WA Minister of Planning has announced, couched in carefully constructed phrases, that the previous high-density plan is being abandoned and less onerous plans will be implemented. See

4. The Governor of Texas has vetoed a program to create a new government body that would dictatorially impose high-density. He says policies should be based on the desires of the community. See:

5. You may have read about the controversy caused by Prince Charles' intervention in a high-rise project in Britain. Some interesting ramifications can be read in
The article states "Local people resent more bodies being crammed into an already overcrowded, teeming and increasingly dehumanized London........ Because (the) development offers the highest density, it ticks all the right boxes as far as the planners are concerned. But for residents, looking at results of cramming on their already limited space, 500 new flats squeezed in does not look so good. "

Meanwhile in New South Wales the Government is relentlessly continuing with its devastation of suburbs. Apart from unsustainability these policies result in some of the highest housing costs in the world. I believe this has been the major factor in the collapse of the NSW economy from being 35% of national GDP to the current 30% and for the NSW proportion of national bankruptcies having risen from 25% to 38%.


Greg (of FairGO, phone 02 9988 3312) suggests that the Joint Regional Planning Panels being set up by the NSW Government to approve regional planning developments and issues shall consist of:

Two state government representatives appointed by the minister
Two local government representatives appointed by vote of the local council
Two community representatives appointed by a vote of the presidents or senior unpaid voluntary officers of each voluntary community organisation with more than 30 registered/paid up members within the local government area and registered as such within the local council area, each of which presidents or officers shall have one vote.

A person shall be disqualified from membership of the panel if that person has any financial interest or is employed by any organisation with any financial interest in real estate or real estate development within the local government area except by virtue of owning or renting their own prime residential home, prime office space or voluntary community organisational premises.

In the event of an equality of votes on the panel the status quo shall prevail, ensuring that any approval is supported by two thirds of the panel.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sustainable city

It is obvious that many of these academics, architects and planners take the city's existence for granted. They see the city just as a sculpture. They take it's existence for granted and do not seem to understand that a city only exists because of it's people.
If a city is pleasant to live in, functionnal, beautiful, economically successful and offers affordable accomodation people want, then people stay. The city grows and lives on.
If a city is badly managed, unpleasant, offers low economic opportunities and unaffordable housing that does not meet the desires of it's population, then people will go and the city will die.
In such a way, offering accomodation such as high rises that people do not want to live in, is in itself the most unsustainable policy any planner could have for a city, regardless of the environmental impact. If Sydney goes with those policies, people will inevitably move to where their needs can be met. In the past people have left Sydney for the Central Coast, now they are leaving NSW for other states. In an economy more and more global, the alternatives to Sydney are not just in Australia, but also overseas.

Adrien Krebs