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The Forum > Article Comments > Leadership and the city form > Comments

Leadership and the city form : Comments

By Stephen Smith, published 24/10/2011

Australian cities can't keep expanding forever, and we need the courage to admit that and plan accordingly.

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Unfortunately, this is just another example of how urban planners ignore the fact that cities are entirely dependent upon enormous "foodsheds" to supply them with nutrition. Indeed, cities only exist when farmers produce food surplus to their own needs. In a future of declining supplies of oil, phosphate and other substances vital to modern agriculture, our ability to feed cities is threatened. People will need to grow food locally so that they can recycle human and animal wastes back to the soil and to reduce the energy required for mechanisation of agriculture and food distribution. In this light, "densification" of cities is just plain stupid! What is vitally needed is to stop increasing the number of mouths to feed (i.e. stop population growth) and then, as rapidly as feasible, to reorganise our habitation of the landscape to put food-growing land (with water) within easy reach of people. Densification and "TOD"s may, superficially, appear to have advantages in energy, but when you realise that the future continuation of our civilization also depends on other limiting factors, and that food production will be central to our survival, then it is clear that these urban planning ideas are misguided.
Posted by michael_in_adelaide, Monday, 24 October 2011 8:31:17 AM
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Stephen Smith wrote "Now more than ever as cities grow, we need leadership by our public representatives on the nature, form and shape of our cities and suburbs where 9 out of 10 of us live work and raise a family. This requires all of us however to engage the debate."

Stephen, Logic is missing in your article...please watch this video which applies mathematics to population(patience, author has kept it quite simple)...nothing more cold hard logical than mathematics...I understand, but conclusions using mathematics are also irrefutable...however unpleasant it may be...and of course it must be matched to reason eventually...

concluding...Point out this is my personal conclusion... more children
2.when time right, permits to have children necessary first, and the children belong to all the people of the earth, not current monopolization by women from birth, the results of which I see is broken individuals whom retain child_like 'obedience' in adulthood...
3.balance population with nature, the bank oligargs estimate this to be about 100million worldwide(dont ask)...

population and energy, this is becoming the largest challange to humans...and a solution is needed, or a solution will be forced upon I agree with author to this part, awake sleepers...

Posted by Sam said, Monday, 24 October 2011 10:18:09 AM
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Stephen Smith wrote 24 October 2011:

>... leadership to engage in debate about issues of density, place making, character and liveability ...

Simon Corbell MLA, ACT Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, will be speak on "Creating a Sustainable Garden City" at the University of Canberra, 5.30pm, 24 October 2011:

The ACT Government conducted community consultation on "Canberra 2030":

My suggestion was to triple Canberra's population, building up the existing town centers:

>... what does Sydney mean in relation to its near regional cities of Newcastle, Wollongong and for that matter Canberra ... fast train connection from Sydney to Melbourne via Canberra sits in the realm of the bleeding obvious. ...

Yes. The VFT will allow existing inland cities, including Canberra, to grow and take pressure off Sydney. It will also delay, or eliminate, the need for a second Sydney airport:

> Melbourne has run and won this very argument with strong rail connections to Geelong, Shepparton and Bendigo ...

Yes, the new Victorian trains are very practical, even though they are slowed down most of the time due to track limitations:

One point that I think gets forgotten in discussion of transport and population centers is the role of the Internet. As discussed in my book "ICT Sustainability: Assessment and Strategies for a Low Carbon Future", the Internet can replace some forms of travel and transport of goods:

Australia Post restructuring to deliver parcels ordered on-line. This need to be factored into the design of the transport system and cities. We will need to transport and store these parcels efficiently, but will need less space for retail outlets:

>... the future of your neighbourhood is at stake ...

Okay, I hope to see some Online Opinion readers at the Canberra talk this evening.
Posted by tomw, Monday, 24 October 2011 10:51:26 AM
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How I'd love to take the Planners bible off them. God knows who wrote it, but it must the worst bit of garbage being pushed around the place. It is even worse that the Global Warming scam, as it does so much injury to so many individuals.

If we could just take high density living, & bicycles out of their repertoire, they might have to go & think a bit. They might even manage to come up with something of some value.

These fools who want to turn us into a new Europe. Anyone who has watched the Tour De France would know what that's like, you don't need a $25,000 study grant. All those horrible little villages all jammed together, probably for mutual protection in the middle ages, is what they want for us.

Wake up people, it is because of the living conditions they have all those riots all the time. You sure can't blame French farmers for being cranky, having to live in those dreadful villages.

One long step out your front door, & you're under a bus, it may look cute, if you aren't thinking too straight. Well no thanks Stephen, I'd rather have the much hated developer design a suburb. They have to give people what they want, or go broke. Town planners seem to get payed no matter how badly they stuff up.
Posted by Hasbeen, Monday, 24 October 2011 3:04:51 PM
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The primary problem with Sydney is its geography and history (although having an incompetent State government for the last 15 years hasn't helped). The CBD, inner city and most of its major institutions such as its major universities and hospitals are located to the eastern edge of the city, whilst the demographic centre is near Parramatta.
Sydney is coping with its growth by decentralising within its boundaries. Large business parks like Norwest and Macquarie Park are become major employment centres. Alternative CBDs have developed in Parramatta.
Instead of building high speed rail to Melbourne and Canberra, costing anywhere up to $100 billion, it would be better to spend a fractionn of this on transport within Sydney and to its nearby centres. The Parramatta to Epping line, North West and South West lines and improved train links with the western suburbs and Central Coast are key to managing Sydney's growth
Posted by Anthony P, Monday, 24 October 2011 7:29:29 PM
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Stephen you state, quote "In a low carbon economy the value of a fast train connection with these centres becomes not only a provable business case but a case that can be won on the basis of promotion of regional development and sustainable growth."

Can you get a sense of reality please. We live on a finite planet, there is no such thing as 'sustainable growth'.

This is were urban planning, governments, business and individuals get it all wrong.

We are now at the end of growth, first evidence, debt(credit) fuelled growth since the '80s is over, financial deleveraging is going to be on-going.

We have hit the limits to growth, energy (net) is now in decline. Alternatives do not have the energy return on energy invested to take over from the growth energy (oil). Thus less energy, less growth, macro economics fails.

Food is going to be critical to sustain some sort of future, we have destroyed much of the farmland, water and pollution levels are getting out of control.

Put your urban planning hat away and learn some real facts about a very different future that is confronting us. Your whole article is based on the wrong assumptions.
Posted by Geoff of Perth, Tuesday, 25 October 2011 11:48:37 AM
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