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


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