On why there’s unexploded ordnance in the planning tent

News from the front, issue 515: Planning minister Rob Stokes released a lovely new human-centred planning policy last week. But two weeks before another change to the planning controls went unannounced. Few people, outside the inner circles of planning knew what was going on. The first SEPP (state environmental planning policy) last week was loudly […]

How our new loosey goosey zoning threatens our economy

According to the people who specialise in these fields the future of the NSW economy is not in the CBDs. It’s in the industrial and light industrial zones that can generate technology centred innovation such as bio tech, med tech, robotics and so on. Perhaps like Professor Veena Sahjwalla’s green ceramic micro factory that’s supplied […]

Is this house losing power? Someone somewhere is going to ask “why have we got two Powerhouses?”

Here’s a cynical take on recent announcements concerning the Parramatta Powerhouse. It’s getting sillier… Just as advertising has become the product – rather than the thing promoted – we recently learned that the newly approved Powerhouse is set to become Australia’s very own Smithsonian, as though this potential equates to its delivery. This is magical […]

Williams on Covid’s great “levelling out” between subs and burbs

Can the impact and premium of the agglomerated knowledge economy of a CBD really be replicated in the disaggregated city? Follow the money. While we can all imagine better ways to understand what’s going on in our towns and cities, you won’t go far wrong if you know what’s going on in the economy and […]

Why we need a betterment levy in NSW: better late than never

The NSW Productivity Commission in November released its final report on the Review of Infrastructure Contributions in NSW (PC Review). It controversially ruled out capturing a share of windfall gains made from rezonings or the granting of additional development, even though this is widely used in voluntary planning agreements (VPAs) and state infrastructure contributions (SIC). […]

What we did during lock down… according to our “digital chatter”

Interest in the great outdoors has spiked dramatically in Australia’s capital cities due to Covid restrictions. Recently released data from urban planning data analytics company Neighbourlytics shows that while online engagement – measured “digital chatter” across various different online platforms – with parks and other natural spaces increased across the CBDs in Brisbane, Melbourne and […]

Construction’s cowboys to get a shakeup in NSW

Dodgy NSW builders, developers and certifiers are expected to get a kick up the backside as sweeping new powers come into force, with the state’s construction watchdog aiming to shake up the industry to provide confidence for prospective buyers.

Cheaper forms of housing in more expensive suburbs? That’s an Orwellian “doublethink”

There’s a draft NSW State Environmental Planning Policy (draft SEPP) for housing diversity out for discussion and it’s sparked the interest of the property developer lobby group Urban Taskforce. The Fifth Estate welcomes thoughts and contributions from other readers on this topic. “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, […]

Why the RBA is wrong about zoning and house prices. Again.

Here’s one view why the Reserve Bank’s approach on zoning and housing prices is “conceptually flawed, relies on lobbyist input and doesn’t interrogate housing supply evidence or quantify the effects of planning controls”.

The Pandemic and city formation

Capital flow is moving Australia’s way – strongly. What’s the bet that well-managed cities are the winner in the aftermath of Covid? As the impact of Covid-19 advances are the old theories still good? Is urban life still viable and desirable?  Much of the response to Covid-19 emphasised distancing, avoiding gatherings and public transport.  In […]

Regional cities are doing well: but why?

Regional cities are outperforming urban capitals as national leaders in economic and inclusive growth according to a new study of 101 Australian towns. According to Polis Partners’ The City Report, key regional areas in New South Wales and Victoria such as Wollongong, Newcastle, Ballarat and Geelong, are surpassing their capital counterparts in investments, job growth […]

The Planners Declare movement is here

Australian planners have declared a climate and biodiversity emergency.

Transforming suburbia into “superbia”

With the pandemic upending normal work life, Australians are rediscovering their local suburbs and considering the bigger role they could play in a post COVID society.

Ponderings on a post-pandemic “Harbour City” pick-up

It actually seems that some of the environmental optimism accompanying the COVID-19 “rupture” is surviving into the recovery phase. How and where is it being expressed and are there opportunities for its extension?

Why Melbourne needs its own version of the Greater Sydney Commission

Melbourne’s global reputation for liveability does not resonate with many Melburnians. Its economy has slipped into per capita recession a couple of times over the past decade. Population growth has outpaced the provision of parkland and social housing. Many households must look to fringe areas to find housing they can afford. Read more: Our cities […]

How Amsterdam and other cities are adopting a new model to support their citizens and the planet

Last month Amsterdam became one of the first cities in the world to adopt the “doughnut economics model” as a means to help it become genuinely socially and ecologically sustainable.  Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon are amongst other cities following suit. In the words of the model’s inventor, Kate Raworth, “This takes the global concept of […]

Will we choose a bum-led zombie urban future?

Despite pockets of silliness, like the freedom ‘n’ gun-loving idiocy erupting in the US, sensible minds are turning to what happens once COVID-19 restrictions are eased. Already, tensions are starting to appear between resuming past urban policy settings and the need to rethink them deeply.

COVID-19 is an opportunity to reset our environmental future

You may have seen some of the discussions around environmental silver linings to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The overall environmental narrative is inconsistent, as policy and energy experts express differing opinions over how to interpret what’s happened so far. Certainly, there have already been short-term benefits. Local air and water quality have dramatically improved in […]