Australia

Houses in Bondi Beach

The root of Sydney and Melbourne's housing crisis: we're building the wrong thing

By Bob Birrell / Published by The Conversation.

AS is well known, the shortage of affordable separate housing in Sydney and Melbourne means that most first home buyers and renters cannot currently find housing suited to their needs in locations of their choice.

The dominant response from the housing industry and commentators is that governments must unlock the potential for more intensive development of the existing suburbs. From this standpoint, the recent surge in high-rise apartment construction in Sydney and Melbourne is part of the solution.

'Suburban sprawl', Sunbury

How should local government tackle its infrastructure backlog?

By Damien House / Urbis Insights.

All levels of government across Australia acknowledge that the backlog of infrastructure, both economic and social, cannot be satisfied without private sector participation.

That is the simple part. But how to deliver this backlog is more complicated given policy directives, budget constraints and process. The 'how?' is usually the responsibility of government and its agencies but the private sector needs to be 'taken along' too.

'New Units'

Inefficient tax slugs all homebuyers

By Lyndall Bryant / Published by The Conversation.

So developer charges were introduced as a "user pays" method of funding new urban infrastructure. These charges are levied on property developers by local authorities at the time of planning approval. Some think these costs are passed back to the original land owner by way of lower land prices.

But property developers claim these charges are instead added on to new house prices, with a negative impact to housing affordability. When new house prices increase, existing house prices are also dragged up, extending the housing affordability issue throughout the community.

'The lights of Broadway', Sydney

Speaking with: Crystal Legacy on the politics of transport infrastructure

By Dallas Rogers / Published by The Conversation.

As our cities continue to grow, it is virtually impossible to escape the tangle of peak-hour congestion. But with governments focused on reducing deficits, only one or two transport infrastructure projects are likely to be implemented.

So how are decisions about which infrastructure to build made? And how much of a say do the people who actually use the transport system have in which projects are prioritised?

Tiny House Village in Washington DC

Australians love tiny houses, so why aren't more of us living in them?

By Heather Shearer, Griffith University / Published by The Conversation.

Housing affordability is a perennial problem in Australia and has worsened significantly over the past three decades.

Multiple reasons exist for the the lack of affordable housing. On the demand side these include population growth and increased migration to urban areas, easily accessible housing finance, tax incentives and a "strong cultural preference for owner-occupied detached houses". On the supply side, affordability problems are exacerbated by inflexible and slow responses to the need for new housing stock, lack of infrastructure and generally inefficient planning processes and development assessment by local governments.

Car light trails in Sydney

Traffic congestion: is there a miracle cure? (Hint: it's not roads)

By Jake Whitehead, Queensland University of Technology / Published by The Conversation.

With our "infrastructure prime minister" and both sides of politics trumpeting the building of new roads to reduce congestion, you could forgive everyday Australians for believing that they might have a point. Let's simply build more roads, then there will be less traffic. Unfortunately, this story reads more like a children's fairytale than a visionary plan.

Many politicians have stood up with the ambition of "solving" road congestion by building a tunnel, highway or bridge. While they may be able to promote the initial time savings as proof of their success, the additional capacity created by this new infrastructure is filled relatively soon.

Chinatown, NYC

Higher-density living can make us healthier, but not on its own

Written by Jennifer Kent, University of Sydney, and Michelle Daley, National Heart Foundation of Australia / Published on The Conversation.

In cities across the country, the promotion of higher residential densities in certain areas has become an orthodox part of urban planning. Consolidation, as opposed to sprawl, is seen as a way to accommodate the apparent inevitability of larger cities in a more sustainable, economical, and healthy way.

But the advantages are not always entirely clear-cut. There is still debate, for example, over whether high density automatically cuts greenhouse emissions and is generally more sustainable.

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