Hooray for the Urban Living Index: A new evidence base to help urban planners & policy makers

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The co-authors of the newly developed Urban Living Index – The Urban Taskforce and McCrindle Research – rightly state that the challenge in planning for Sydney’s future is to ensure that population growth does not compromise its “world-beating lifestyle”. By tracking five key categories that produce a measure of liveability in a city, the Index is a great first step in developing an evidence base to monitoring changes as the Sydney metropolitan area as it grows – both outwards and upwards.

A key theme in most media reporting about the Index is that upwards growth – through increased residential density – is the way to ensure high levels of amenity and accessibility are maintained as Sydney grows, and that a reliance on outwards expansion may compromise such liveability standards. Although the Index broadly shows that denser residential areas rate highly from a liveability perspective, we need to dig a bit deeper to understand what it is about these areas that make them liveable. It is not just a case of these highly rated areas being dense, which is actually just a relative measure of compactness. There are many more factors at play than compactness in making a place liveable and sustainable.

The structure of the overall city, with its public transport and road network and its layout of employment and retail locations, influences transport choice more than most other factors. At the local level, good walking and cycling connectivity to local shopping and public transport services is the key to how we move around. Of course, there is also the influence that individual behaviours, intentions and beliefs have on how a community might inhabit and use places and spaces. Density also plays a role, especially population density, as this helps underpin social and economic sustainability in local areas. But density is not the end game – far from it.

For example, the Index shows that Marrickville has a relatively low high density component for an inner city area (40%) but a very high liveability ranking. On the other hand, Woollahra has a higher high density component (50%) but a relatively low liveability ranking for an inner urban area. If one interrogates the rankings, you’ll see that Marrickville ranks highest for accessibility (which considers the factors I mention above), whereas Woollahra has a relatively low ranking for accessibility. This example, and there are many others across the metropolitan region, shows that higher density areas do not necessarily guarantee higher levels of accessibility.

The upshot of policy makers and planners thinking that increased density inevitably produces more liveable and sustainable urban areas has resulted in, until recently, a saturation of multi-level apartment construction in infill areas. And some of these areas have been bereft of the factors that the Index shows achieves high levels of amenity: within walking distance to rail or priority light rail and bus routes that connect to employment locations; within walking distance to a plentiful supply of local shops and services; well-connected and safe walking and cycling routes; and a range of different residential options that help create a vibrant social mix of different family types.

I think the Index helpfully shows that density is just part of the story. The Index is comprised of twenty separate measures- and many of these are not at all reliant on densification. As I’ve shown above, we cannot simply assume that areas of high density automatically generate liveable and sustainable outcomes. There are simply too many factors at play to make this conclusion.

Dr Michael Grosvenor, Principal MGC

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


norwest millenials Deaths society trends 2017 village James Ward meetings trends of 2017 ashley mckenzie thrive affordable speakers pack social analysis meals organisations train Gen X prince george media activity program weekly earnings commute government ipswich social life sydney speaker debt Duchess of Cambridge collaboration sun data manly Engineering Manager apartments alpha "know the times" Andrew Duffin technology unemployment ACF authenticity coffee leadership eliane aged care trades men potts point post rationalism office entrepreneurial generational trends forecast overcast education future report snapshot brands statistics lifestyle ACF2017 REIV Conference networking business performance townhouses social enquiry baby boom Macquarie University Births census 2016 FOMO cold hello fresh marriage speaker mccrindle research jobs of the future celebration crime young people storytelling demographic year 7 economic sustainable Sydney Hills Business Chamber responsive cost teachers owning a home organisational culture census data poker master VIC analysis vegemite seasons infographics data analyst New South Wales not for profit research learn Valentine’s Day impact global goal Sydney Population Clock NBRS Architecture millionth mateship results stats economy teleworking New Zeland online SRE February 16 community engagement real happiness tattoos emerging technologies Skilling research services screenage hills Australia street Bathburst personal growth world story teaching property price Crime Rates wealth investing future proof anzac Sydney keynote speaker workplace visualisation mccrindle tea renter of the future year 12 experience narcissism online shopping presentation communities rule keeper daily telegraph Real Estate Institute of Victoria global generations changing face of sydney research trends analyst Wodonga ethnography tea media commentary Res Vis wedding sunburnt country pharmacy society participants child care wealth and income Gen Y Australian Population twentyseventeen the hills ACT cultural diveristy public speaker aussie culture ACF 2016 names Love generation alpha demographic transformations Wellington keynote winter blues Netflix population map intern Australian Census training consumer trends divorce dreaming lalor park report challenge donate research visualisation pharmacies Australian Families employers video sports professional presenters sector wide study trend tuesday 2012 research report emerging trends focus group Generation Y megatrends menai in depth interviews social lives rental stress graphs Australian Home Adelaide Tuesday Trend litter entrepreneurs of today demographics house kate middleton blaxland Christchurch work-life leadership workshop micro deloitte Australian demographics HSC work low density sydney metro paying to work the great screenage charity public speaking families Canberra jobs thought leadership purpose Aussie priorities marrickville conference speaker criminal financial volunteer learner panel Charlotte award equip marketing professional SA recap pyrmont belief offenders urban Financial Planning Association of Australia residents gen alpha social shifts workplace culture demographic trends social national private wealth easter food home ownership suburbs divorce rate financial independence investor Wagga Wagga Australian Communities Trends friendship holidays omnibus royal baby gen z demography Australians acf15 women google environmental scanning education insights ageing population darwin student Queensland: QLD university degree culture learning styles VET proactive area school satisfaction Christmas lunch Australia Day 2017 educated poor vegetarian slideshare rich social commentator education sector states average aussie generation Z Word Up the hills shire bus contiki publication transport mortgage university census growing population Vocational education staff cloudy days faux-ciliser click McCrindle Speakers sector australians staying home more South Australia gold coast TDE baby name trends SMART capital cities VET sector grandparents gender case study mover and shaker WA non profit NT faith shopping centre event sydneycity Kiwi showreel balance rent easy rider social media australian real estate income EFF work mates volunteers Queensland Western Australia sydney event TAS students sentiments ACF17 futurist travel buildings sydney hills Northern Territory brand newspaper researcher friends parenting Australian community trends google for education hornsby summer victoria workforce Channel Seven Northern Beaches waverton cancelling plans skills tuesday education future resource water dare to dream innovation research pack faux-cilising wolloomooloo generations trends of 2016 optus my business awards safe increasing densification suburb cartodb New Zealand mobile future-proof communication australian communities forum ACT Report politics infographic engage financial planning national crime rates World Water Day urban living index youth unemployment hills shire faux-cilise gig ideas 2013 weather FPA shopping religion life education research 40 million stay home Australian schools not for profit culturally diverse breakfast census results survey design ashley fell future of work Mark McCrindle future proofing trend baby boomers millennials mentor state care support relevant ultimo quote sydneysider financial future leader CBD Northern Beaches Christian School 1975 annual income school tertiary education australian optimistic Royals christmas retirement future of education domestic Hills Shire Council hopes employment affordability baby names australia report healthy future social impact royal influence Aussies #censusfail social researcher baby name predictions earnings news know the times 24 million goals office opening housing growth giving business housing trends christianity baby name social researchers hobart gig economy professional speaker rising house prices christian DIY australian social research chairty Real Estate workshop high school insight school students 2014 property long weekend selfie facts teach high density apartments house prices Australian Bureau of Statistics tableau population ageing PSI Financial Planning Week 1968 spend baby names report internships NSW entertainment GPO rain January 26th research data population milestone office space IT Specialists earning city new office The Daily Edition volunteering Myth cancelling event growth greatness business index digital high density living australia 1994 Generation X 2015 new york times Australian Trends repayments Australia Day visual optus housing affordability winter speakers The ABC of XYZ TED bondi world youth day woolworths innovative relational Tasmania perth collaborative parents Melbourne customer tips change household car eliane miles cost of living supply and demand home huffington post group session daily commute father's day NEETs REIV National Conference Merry Christmas not-for-profit mythbusters tv typical australian dessert Geoff Brailey community event youth shopper's pick urban taskforce Financial Planning Association plans communications 2016 market research Education Future Forum Caregiver house price forecasting Assistant Store Manager high density housing market small business Christmas presents internet social research product neutral bay ABS Work place demographer charities volunteering data the average aussie living Australian communities cars live the dream cultural diversity children TED talk middle class investment 1980 holiday qualitative research global financial crisis moreton bay careers emerging generations sydneysiders socialising social issues survey group Territory local communities motivate conference home owner wealth distribution events 10 years the changing face of cancel plans language marriages staying in royal conferences national wealth CPI grave decision capital city choice workers consumerism cooking brisbane public holiday etiquette ferry 2020 bureau micro apartments wealth and income distribution cash career energy focus groups mccrindle in the media mother's day baby dream wellbeing financial fears media NBRS royal family media release toys local engagement schools students generation debate outsourcing Kirsten Brewer Northern beaches Event study keynote speaker wage 24,000,000 spirituality family follow renting future of shopping finance financial dreams local community schools educhat mythbusting sunny days monarchy mccrindle travelling property market define Christmas season earn young australians personalities money going out teacher aged care puzzle dreams 2016 census results socialites shbc data visualisation house price rise in the media shifts 2016 census social commentary future population growth Australian Dream Do It Yourself curiosity DESTEL professional services NFP event cica environment learning award winner conference presentation princess charlotte interactive identity urban living the australian dream social trends nfp Hornsby Shire Council fresh salary resilience builders mining boom SMSF unaffordable ease of travel land of the middle class church casual Social Trend budget australian communities trends report English clothing census fail medicine list baby names apartment average Australian Research Executive infographic wall community logan TEDx couple crows nest average sydneysider social change entrepreneur moderators guide rise of local presentations geomapping wealth inequality communicate brand experience donation 23 million commuters professional development fears forum housing Tuesday Trends suburban living Scouts Research Director internship households Channel 7 JOMO sector wide wages System's Architect australian community trends report