The Council of Capital City Lord Mayors (CCCLM) today released the Unlocking Smart Growth in Australian Cities report by Urbis Australia.

CCCLM Chair, Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Robert Doyle, said it makes sense for city planning to focus on locating people close to jobs and using existing infrastructure.

“Our capital cities are home to an increasing majority of Australians, more than two-thirds of us live in one of our capitals and numbers are growing, but stretching city borders to accommodate more people is not the best option,” Lord Mayor Doyle said.

“A Smart Growth approach to increase populations in established areas means people living in those communities have easy access to jobs, a range of housing and transport choices and public spaces.

“Building in established parts of a city is cheaper than building new developments on city fringes and therefore reduces the pressure on federal and state governments to provide the required infrastructure.”

Lord Mayor Doyle said the decline of employment in conventional industries means capital cities have to take the lead to cultivate our employment industries of the future.

“By making smart investment choices in city infrastructure, we can meet the needs of communities and set in motion significant private sector investment, creating new jobs as traditional employment sectors dwindle,” Lord Mayor Doyle said.

“The CCCLM would like to see all levels of government work together on a new approach to development that will ensure the long term prosperity, liveability and sustainability of Australia’s major cities.

Unlocking Smart Growth in Australian Cities is the first report to explore the Smart Growth concept in an Australian context.”

The report presents a number of principles to guide smart growth in Australia including:

  • building only on the land we need and making the best use of existing and future infrastructure investments;
  • creating connected places that are easy to move to and through;
  • supporting resilient and adaptable communities that offer healthy lifestyles choices for current and future residents; and
  • offering opportunities for involvement and collaboration between government, communities and the private sector.

Report author and Urbis Director, Michael Barlow, welcomed Australia’s capital city Lord Mayors in initiating a conversation about smart growth in Australia.

“Smart Growth has been proven by cities in the United States, Canada and Europe to be an urban management alternative that really works by valuing long-range sustainability over short term rapid expansion and growth,” Mr Barlow said.

“The many examples in this report show that Smart Growth is possible in Australia – it’s already happening to varying degrees across the county – but its potential is so much more.

“A coordinated effort to implement smart growth across the whole country and with all levels of government will reap real benefits.”

The report calls on the federal and state governments to locate new urban growth in the right places to optimise infrastructure investment, productivity and quality of life and make connectivity and accessibility key components for all new urban development.

The Lord Mayors have also asked the federal and state governments to adapt a ‘whole of government’ approach to their significant investments in Australian cities and create a new infrastructure funding model that aligns investment around cities.