Monumentalism versus Organic growth in Christchurch, is there a solution to allow both?

Devastation in Christchurch has resulted in the central business district being the hole in an urban donut.  To fix the centre we have on the one hand the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) who have devised an anchor-project plan to re-energise and provide confidence to developers for the central city.

On the other, there is an agile and creative urban regeneration think tank called Studio Christchurch who are a ‘not for profit’ academic based organisation whose outcomes are about shaping the urban form by involving the arts, creative architects, engineers and the community to regenerate and stimulate a vibrant Christchurch.  CERA’s anchor projects are key civic, recreational and community focused developments with lots of public realm focus on the natural asset of the river Avon. Studio Christchurch are taking a bird’s eye view of how the city is reacting, emerging trends in energy and power, tourism, environmental effects, migration of offices, the supporting land uses to office developments, residential shifts and changes in land prices based on accessibility, infrastructure and financial opportunities.

Although complimentary there appears to be two methods to assisting the recovery of Christchurch which provides an interesting study about dictating and planning the urban landscape and letting it grow organically. Time will tell if we can build around the CERA anchor projects land use plan and facilitate good transport links whilst allowing developers to surround and infill between the anchor projects.  There does appear on the surface to be tension between a long term land use plan and what is needed over time to assist in rebuild and recover. In this presentation, Shaun will explore these initiatives further and discuss how dynamic zoning, that’s reflective and sensitive of time, may be a solution.

Shaun Hardcatle, Auercon, Christchurch NZ will speak at… the 6th Making Cities Liveable Conference, in conjunction with the Sustainable Transformation Conference, is being held from the 17th – 19th June 2013 at Novotel Melbourne St Kilda. The collaboration brings together National, State and Regional delegates to explore, exchange ideas and network.

Two Conferences! Three Days! 90 Presenters! One Location in 2013


Cutting cycling funding is economic non-sense

Jan Garrard, Senior Lecturer, School of Health & Social Development at Deakin University
Speaks @ The Conversation

In the current climate of economic uncertainty and fiscal restraint, governments are quick to reassure us that they are making every effort to “do more with less”. Providing mobility for citizens in Australia’s rapidly growing cities is a key public policy goal. When faced with alternative transport options, sensible governments will invest in measures that achieve maximum benefits for the least cost, right? Well, um, maybe.

In fact, governments of all persuasions in Australia have been slow to align transport policies with comprehensive assessments of the benefits and costs of alternative transport modes. A recent example of this mismatch is the Victorian Government’s decision to stop funding the VicRoads Bicycle Program. Funding for the program (which averaged $15 million a year over the last three years) has effectively been abolished.

A recent review of 16 economic valuations of transport infrastructure or policies reported a median benefit-cost ratio (BCR) of five for walking and cycling projects (that is, you get five dollars in benefits for every dollar spent). Based on this finding, reducing funding for bicycle infrastructure in Victoria from $15 million to zero means that the Victorian Government is, in all likelihood, foregoing an estimated $75 million in benefits.

To add insult to economic injury, the government plans to provide further subsidies for motor vehicle travel. In contrast to the favourable BCRs for bicycle infrastructure, many road construction projects struggle to break even. For some projects, the costs outweigh the benefits. Sir Rod Eddington’s 2008 report ‘Investing in Transport’, included an assessment of the economic benefits and costs of a proposed East-West road tunnel across inner Melbourne. The BCR for the road tunnel, which is expected to cost several billion dollars, was less than 0.7; that is, a net cost. Furthermore, the Victorian Government is now asking the Australian public (via Infrastructure Australia) for $30 million to develop a plan to construct this financial black hole.

The reasons for the large disparities in BCRs for bicycle infrastructure compared with road infrastructure are not difficult to unpack. In transport terms, it is hard to beat the efficiency of moving people by bicycle. A single-occupant car requires 20 times more space than a cyclist (see this image), and freeways cost about a hundred times more to construct (per km) than off-road bicycle paths.

Cycling is usually a faster mode of transport than car travel for trips up to about 5km in urban areas. For longer trips the travel time differences are small. In the morning peak (7.30 to 9.00 am) in Melbourne, average travel speeds in 2009/10 were 22.2km/h on inner Melbourne (approximately 10 km radius from CBD) undivided arterial roads, and 20.2km/h on arterial roads with trams. For a typical cycling speed of 20km/h, the average cycling trip to work (7.7 km) would take about 2 minutes (on undivided arterial roads) to 18 seconds (on arterial roads with trams) longer by bicycle than by car.

Read the full article at The Conversation here

Council adopts forest management plan

Lisa and Darren

Cnr Lisa Bradley and Cnr Darren Power

Media Release | Published June 26

A plan guiding the future protection of one of Logan’s largest conservation areas has been adopted at today’s Ordinary Council Meeting.

The Cornubia Forest Management Plan 2011-2021, which has been shaped by the local community, will play a key role in protecting the 196 hectares of valued bushland over the next ten years.

Health, Environment and Sustainability Committee Chairperson, Councillor Lisa Bradley (Division 1), said following two rounds of community consultation the plan had now been formally adopted.

“Council initially invited interested residents to attend an open day last July in an effort to gain the community’s thoughts and feedback in the shaping of an effective plan from the outset,” she said.

“Following the open day, Council developed a draft management plan for the forest which was released to the community for feedback late last year, as part of the second phase of consultation.

“In total, the draft plan received 63 submissions, the majority of which included wholly positive comments supporting the development of the management plan. Most of the concerns raised by the community were addressed by the plan itself or were able to be included in it.

“It is hoped this particular management plan will be used as a template for others in the future.”

Division 10 Councillor, Darren Power, who was instrumental in the acquisition of additional land parcels and who also played a role in protecting the land from further housing developments, said he was pleased to see a management plan aimed at protecting and maintaining the valuable natural resource was now in place.

“The comments and feedback from the community has played an important role in the development of this plan,” he said.

“In the future, Cornubia Forest will be protected under a Koala Nature Refuge Agreement with the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. Council’s management plan sets out a number of key actions for Cornubia Forest which will essentially protect its key values against current and future threats.

“The plan plays a vital role in addressing issues such as managing bushfire risk, weeds and pest animals while also maintaining and enhancing the area’s ecological assets.”

A copy of the Cornubia Forest Management Plan will soon be available on Council’s website.

Good planning plus affordable housing equals a liveable city

Carolyn Whitzman, Billie Giles-Corti
Appeared in The National Times – March 16, 2012

We have to tackle the liveability challenges in all parts of Melbourne.

FOR the 80 per cent of us who are urban Australians, we live in confusing times. Our capital cities with their high-quality parks and public open space, good schools, relative community safety and rich options for cultural life rate highly against international counterparts for liveability.

On the other hand, Australian cities have unsustainable per capita environmental footprints compared with other developed cities around the world. We are more car dependent, our cities sprawl over a larger proportion of prime agricultural land, and we have higher rates of obesity than most countries in the world.

Health and wellbeing, liveability and environmental sustainability are all closely linked. All three imperatives call for good-quality affordable housing. But a constant supply of housing alone is not enough for our cities to be healthy, liveable and sustainable.

Read more


The relationship between public health, built urban forms and transportation options in Australia is increasingly becoming a focus of research.

The presenation will provide a review discussing possible health indicators to be used in assessing future land use and transportation scenarios under differing climate change situations.

Urban form characteristics, such as density levels and mixed land uses are identified. These characteristics can be measured to determine the health impacts related to the transport choices they provide. The health benefits, and subsequent economic benefits particularly from health-related productivity, of walkable, transit orientated urban forms are well established and are measurable. Important health indicators include vehicle miles travelled, access to public transport, access to green areas, transportation related pollution levels, transportation related noise levels, density and mixed land use.

A comparison between a high walkability urban environment and a low walkability urban environment identifies various infrastructure, transportation greenhouse gas emissions and health costs. From this it is determined that infrastructure and transport costs dominate.

Greenhouse gas emission costs are small unless the social costs are considered, and then they become substantial but still lower than the infrastructure and transport costs. They are cumulative however and will become more important in future. The health costs are very small if considered to be those related to sickness however health-related productivity gains that are associated with highly walkable urban areas are substantial. Increased productivity considerably outweighs the savings of increased physical activity and reduced health cost reductions from active travel alone. Furthermore these productivity gains are additive to the other costs and together all of these costs provide a powerful economic rationale for developing urban forms geared towards active travel.

Dr Anne Matan, Dr Roman Trubka, Curtin University Sustainability Policy (CUSP) Institute WA

The 5th Healthy Cities: Working Together to Achieve Liveable Cities Conference – June 6th to 8th – Geelong, Victoria

Top Ten Characteristics of a Healthy City

English: Photo By Myke Waddy, Sept 5th 2006. H...

Image via Wikipedia

1. Fixed transit, preferably rail, above and below ground. Subways along all major travel corridors; buses or trams on all secondary corridors
Fixed-rail transit helps to guide development and keep the streets busy. When development happens around fixed-transit, it is easy to get around on foot because everything is closer together. On the contrary, when transit isn’t fixed, as with a diesel bus route, or it is designed around the auto, transit becomes impractical because everything is further apart. New York is an example of a walking city that grew up around fixed transit. Dallas is an example of an auto city built up around roadways. It is very convenient to get around without a car in a walking city built around fixed transit. This makes it so there are more people on the sidewalks, and businesses can thrive from walking traffic, without the need for parking. Fixed-transit can be light-rail, a subway, or a bus that operates from overhead wires. A busway built for diesel buses is also fixed transit, but because the bus can leave the busway it doesn’t have the same positive impact on development and density as other forms of fixed transit. If your city doesn’t have fixed-transit, advocate for it. It will take a long time to change the way things are built, but a convenient walking district can spring up in little time when fixed transit and high density are established in an area.

See the full list here: Top Ten Characteristic of a Healthy City.

Jason Corburn’s Keynote Address at The International Conference of Urban Health in 2010

Jason is Associate Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning and the School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley. He also co-directs UC Berkeley’s joint Masters in City Planning/Masters in Public Health degree program.

He is the author of “Towards the Healthy City”.

Jason Corburn at the ICUH 2010 from The New York Academy of Medicine on Vimeo.