Substantial planning, funding and governance reforms are needed for infrastructure in Australian cities to cope with unprecedented growth, a new Infrastructure Australia paper has said.
The latest IA’s reform series paper, Planning Liveable Cities, says essential infrastructure and services like public transport, roads, hospitals and schools are failing to keep pace with housing growth.
“It is absolutely possible to grow our cities and maintain their character and world-class liveability, but we need to be smarter about how we plan for it,” IA executive director of policy and research Peter Colacino said.
IA’s paper suggests the housing boom has led to poorly-planned development, where communities are not well integrated into their surrounding areas.
“Lags in infrastructure provision cost the economy, but they also affect people’s quality of life,” Mr. Colacino said.
“If we don’t get the timing of new housing and infrastructure right, our growth centres risk being characterised by congested roads, overcrowded trains and buses, over-enrolment in schools, hospital bed shortages and constraints on community infrastructure.”
IA’s paper recommends a greater focus from governments on strategic-level planning, with a focus on collaboration with the community to help identify economic and social priorities that can’t be compromised for growth.
“This approach will enable governments to link the delivery of infrastructure and housing,” Mr. Colacino said.
Sydney Business Chamber executive director Patricia Forsythe said the report should be considered by all three tiers of Australian government.
“Managing population is a challenge most major cities face and government, together with industry, need to work together to align a growing population with infrastructure and housing,” Ms. Forsythe said.
“There are many lessons that can be drawn from the report including the importance of using the new metro rail system as a catalyst for residential development aligned to the new stations.”