Launching Grattan’s new report, Tomorrow’s suburbs: building flexible neighbourhoods, Ms Kelly said that within a generation these new developments will have residents with very different profiles and needs from those of today.
“If these suburbs are to thrive in the long-term we should make them flexible and able to change right from the start.”
Ms Kelly said that flexible suburbs contain land that can be used for different purposes, shopping centres that suit a range of businesses and shops, and buildings and homes that can be adapted as people’s needs change over time.
“But the communities being established in greenfield areas lack these qualities – even when they work well for current residents,” Ms Kelly said.
Instead, land tends to be strictly separated into commercial and residential uses, shopping centres lack diversity and offer limited scope for setting up local businesses, and there is a predominance of similar lot sizes with detached houses built on them, often right to the edges of the lot.
“A uniformity of housing options can make it difficult for residents to move house – into a smaller home, for example – as their needs shift over time,” Ms Kelly said.
“If housing cannot adapt, a suburb may struggle to attract new residents, and new businesses. It will miss out on the process of renewal that is essential to successful cities.”
Grattan’s report recommends ways to make new suburbs, shopping centres, buildings and homes more adaptable. It shows how a capacity to change has proved enormously valuable in existing urban areas, especially the older core of our cities.
“By pure chance, certain characteristics of these older areas made inner urban renewal easier,” Ms Kelly said.
“We are not saying we can reproduce these qualities in greenfield areas, but we can plan for flexibility right from the start. This report shows how.”
More info: http://grattan.edu.au/