New report highlights the need for improved infrastructure in Australia's big cities

There are currently several high profile public transport and infrastructure projects underway in Australia's cities, but will this be enough to keep our urban areas productive and prepared for growth?

This is the question at the heart of a new report released by the Grattan Institute, titled 'Productive cities: opportunity in a changing economy'.

Released over the weekend (May 5), the report explores some of the challenges currently facing city planners, which include ensuring that skilled workers have access to appropriate jobs and that there  are adequate housing and transport developments to support growing populations.

Commenting on the report (which is publicly available on the Grattan Institute website), Grattan Institute cities program director Jane-Frances Kelly said that there is evidence that our cities may not be well prepared.

"Our cities have served our economy well for a long time, but there are growing signs that our housing and transport systems are not keeping pace with the needs of an ever more knowledge-intensive and skilled economy," Ms Kelly said in a statement.

She added that one of the biggest problems is that research shows highly paid and qualified workers tend to live close to the city centre, while people on low incomes tend to live further out.

"If the trend continues unchecked, then many people risk being locked out of the parts of the city that offer the richest jobs," Ms Kelly explained.
This research serves as a reminder of the importance of effective city planning, particularly in regards to transport.  The accessibility of our cities needs to be improved in order to accommodate an influx of more people.

Spatial Vision big cities

Spatial Vision has been undertaking similar research including an in-depth 'Journey to work' spatial analysis about where people live and work based upon their industry type, drawing on information from the 2011 ABS Census.

This work initially focused on Melbourne’s peri-urban region that depicts the contrasting profiles of regions that act as ‘dormitory’ suburbs, where a large portion of the working population commutes to either the Melbourne metro area or large regional cities, and those that are more self-contained.

"The ability of an area to employ its own workforce, often described as ‘employment self-containment’, is one of a range of important measures that are analysed to understand the environmental sustainability and economic resilience of an area," said Spatial Vision’s Planning Manager, Bill Fish.

"Also transport infrastructure is critical, but reducing the need to travel long distances for work is of equal importance."

These issues were explored in a Peri Urban Futures Workshop recently held at Spatial Vision’s premises – please see link for more details.

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