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 […]

The big plans to revive a blue-green spine through Campbelltown’s CBD

South West Sydney has plans to make the most of its unprecedented population growth, protect its bushland and build resilience to a range of environmental challenges. Campbelltown City Council has big plans for its central business district, the driving force behind the entire region. Key to a new masterplan for the township, Re-imagining Campbelltown’s CBD, […]

Guess what? Building a better world will also speed economic recovery

As we emerge from this global crisis we have an unprecedented opportunity to create a better world, a healthier world, a happier and fairer world, and a low carbon world. It turns out this also represents better value for money than not doing so.

How to green our cities without putting communities at risk of bushfire

The pursuit of greener urban areas in NSW will bring us resilience to climate change and increased liveability but if we’re not careful, urban greening policies could be the kindling for future bushfire events that destroy lives and property. The good news is there are a host of techniques that allow us to vegetate responsibly, […]

What Gen Z – and everyone – needs from the built environment

The property industry has caught onto the benefits of social sustainability and community-focused development, but for the incoming generation, Gen Z, it’s no longer a nice-to-have – they’re going to need it.

High streets and how to make them great people places

High Streets are the lifeblood of a city. They’ll be back after the current COVID-19 fears inevitably subside, but we need to ensure they’re designed for vibrancy and people.

Bushfire rebuild: to rise from the ashes – or not?

OXYGEN FILES: Yes, some of the communities devasted by bushfires are in high-risk zones but that’s no reason to not rebuild. We didn’t stop flying, driving or swimming because they are risky, “Instead we manage the risk through the most effective tools available; education, innovation, safety systems, warning systems, engineering, regulation.”