31 July 2019

2060: What will our cities look like?

Australia has enjoyed nearly three decades of economic growth, but a new report from the CSIRO warns that we face a slow decline if we don’t tackle the challenges posed by urban sprawl.

The Australian National Outlook 2019 report identifies key shifts required across industry, cities, energy, agriculture and corporate culture to ensure Australia has a bright future. Gathering insights from more than 50 leaders across business, non-profit organisations and universities, it warns we need to take action now to ensure we’re on the right path.

Contrasting two scenarios – a base case called Slow Decline and an Outlook Vision that represents what Australia could achieve by 2060 – the report aims to kickstart a national conversation about where our country is heading.

While the Slow Decline is essentially business as usual, in the Outlook Vision, Australia takes strong actions to address future challenges.

But achieving the outcomes in the Outlook Vision won’t be easy. Australia will need to address the major challenges it faces, including the rise of Asia, technological disruption, climate change, changing demographics and declining social cohesion. This will require long-term thinking and a bold shift in five major areas: industry, urban, energy, land and culture.

The report outlines the major actions that will underpin each of these shifts, but it’s the Outlook Vision’s posited Urban Shift that’s of particular interest to the real estate industry. Under the Urban Shift, Australia will have well-connected, affordable capital and satellite cities that offer equal access to quality jobs, lifestyle amenities, education and health services.

To achieve the Urban Shift and realise the vision of world-class cities, Australia must:

  • Plan for multi-centre cities. A robust program of infill concurrent with land zoning changes will result in the average density of major cities increasing by 60-88 per cent. With a greater proportion of the urban population living at high density, multiple city centres will grow, creating hubs that are well connected through comparably populated economic corridors.
  • Diversify housing and land use. In both capital and satellite cities there needs to be a greater variety of housing types. This will allow more people to live closer to a richer set of urban jobs, services and amenities. More than simply increasing the supply of housing, there will also need to be a supply of high-quality places to live.
  • Enhance transport infrastructure. Better planned cities will enable conditions where less travel is required, with urban vehicle kilometres travelled per capita predicted to reduce by 33-45 per cent. Better ways to journey will also be available, including mass-transit, autonomous vehicles and active transport like walking and cycling.

To download a copy of the Australian National Outlook 2019 report, go to csiro.au

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