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AU Perth's urban sprawl 'at breaking point'

Property Here - Sunday, April 14, 2013

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Jemma Green

Curtin University researcher Jemma Green with former Prime Minister John Howard. Source: PerthNow

PERTH is at "breaking point'' and the city's current format of urban sprawl will not be able to deal with future global pressures, experts say. But what do they recommend to make Perth a greener, leaner city?

Experts will get the chance to tell land developers and Government representatives the best ways to build a sustainable city which can cope with climate change, Perth's population explosion and other global trends at a sustainability conference in Perth next week.

The conference, run by Curtin University and the Urban Development Institute of Australia, will focus on how global mega-trends will affect where and how people live in Perth - the least sustainable city in Australia according to the Australian Conservation Foundation.

According to local expert Curtin University researcher Jemma Green, who is speaking at the conference about the benefits and pitfalls of developing medium density housing, one of the best housing options for Perth would be pre-fabricated multi-story apartment blocks of about five levels.

Ms Green said putting new sustainable technology in this type of housing would be more affordable than in single houses.

She acknowledges locals might be reluctant to embrace new forms of housing but said the best way to encourage local support would be for high quality examples to be built as soon as possible.

Dr Karl Kruszelnicki will discuss how sustainable living won't be affordable for most Australians unless the Government mandates change.

ENV Greencap manager of environment, sustainability and biological sciences Jim Singleton will discuss how the WA urban development industry will need to consider food scarcity, population growth and climate change among other global megatrends trends when developing housing over the next 10 to 15 years.

Mr Singleton said Perth's current product - single residential houses - would become less viable as the city grew.
Representatives from the CSIRO and global design company ARUP will discuss new ways of generating energy and how Perth's current headache - transport - will affect how and where residents live.

Curtin University associate professor Reena Tiwari said with rapid population growth in the next few decades, more and more Australians were likely to find themselves living in medium or high-density precincts.

Dr Tiwari said the introduction of this kind of housing could be seen as a threat to a lifestyle and cultural identity held dear by many Perth residents; something development stakeholders would need to consider.

"The fear particularly lies in the risk of an impingement on the suburban dream of home ownership and the freedom, flexibility and lifestyle that it affords.''

Dr Tiwari said a 'business as usual'' approach of building inner-city apartments and detached housing on big blocks at the city fringe raised questions about environmental sustainability and desirability but a "one size fits all'' approach of higher density living would raise questions of affordability, social equity, issues of ageing-in place and fears of creating "Vertical ghettos''.

The conference aims to bring different stakeholders together to debate and attempt to find a consensus on tough questions like, 'How high we can go?' and 'How dense can it be?'.''



Read more: http://www.news.com.au/realestate/news/perths-urban-sprawl-at-breaking-point/story-fndbaln9-1226619662430#ixzz2QUeH8QX9