Sydney liveability scorecard reveals urban wins and fails

A new report measuring Sydney’s liveability progress finds the city is struggling to meet its public transport targets, but other Australian capitals should aim to replicate its ambitious policies.

The scorecard and priority recommendations for Sydney builds upon the first baseline measure of liveability in Australia’s state and territory capitals, presented in Creating liveable cities in Australia.

This new research maps Sydney’s liveability policies against how well they are being implemented, and measures how the city rates on national liveability indicators in comparison to other capitals.

Lead author Dr Lucy Gunn from the Healthy Liveable Cities Group based at RMIT University’s Centre for Urban Research said while Sydney has the most ambitious and stringent public transport guidelines of all the states reviewed, not many residences actually met the guidelines.

“Transport for NSW aims for 100 per cent of Sydney residences to be located within 400m of a bus stop serviced every 30 minutes, or within 800m of a train station serviced every 15 minutes,” she said.  

“This is an excellent policy, yet only 38 per cent of residences and 2 per cent of suburbs meet the targets.

“Sydney’s public transport access and level of transport service policy should be applauded as it outperforms other cities in its aspirations and performance.

“However, infrastructure provision is not keeping up with short, medium and long-term targets, especially in outer-suburban areas.”

The scorecard also found more work is needed to create walkable neighbourhoods in Sydney’s suburban areas as they are crucial to the success of achieving liveable cities.

“Walkable neighbourhoods have shops and services and good public transport, but this can’t be achieved with Sydney’s density policy of 15 dwellings per hectare,” Gunn said.

“Sydney’s suburban development average of 18 dwellings per hectare is higher than other cities, but still very low, and well below the 25 dwellings per hectare required to create walkable neighbourhoods.”

The report is a collaborative project between RMIT University, the Australian Catholic University and the University of Western Australia, with The Heart Foundation as one of the key advisory groups for the report.

Director of Prevention at the Heart Foundation Julie Anne Mitchell says building communities with activity and health in mind is so important, as it provides opportunities for people to get moving.

“Well-planned environments where people can walk, cycle or enjoy green spaces can help decrease the overall rates of chronic diseases and mental health issues for people living in these communities,” she said.

This project is funded by the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes Hub of the Australian Government’s National Environmental Science Program, The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre, and the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Centre of Research Excellence in Healthy Liveable Communities.

The research team is releasing individual city liveability scorecards throughout 2018. 

Story: Chanel Bearder

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