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Australia is one of the most urbanised countries worldwide, but is that good? Recent studies have shown that all the outer suburbs in Australia are falling behind to access to employment, amenities, services and urban design, factors that all facilitate liveability. But what is it really like to live in these outer areas and be a victim of urban sprawl?
‘We’ve lived in this house for 6 years and the build-up of traffic is… I was familiar with getting from A to B very quickly in the city. I now have to prepare and take out more in my daily life to get from point A to point B, which may only be a matter of a few kilometres. There’s not many services and no public transport. I would’ve loved to live in a more urban setting, but this was all I could afford as widowed mum nurturing 3 young children. I have no one to turn to as my family isn’t near’ – resident of Goo-malling
The federal government must acknowledge that there is a limit to urban sprawl, we must start filling in empty spaces. We need to stop spreading and start infilling within our existing metropolitan area. We as citizens must put more pressure on this issue.
Urban sprawl is the expansion of poorly planned, low-density developments which spread over large amounts of land having many harmful effects. The rate that urbanisations increases can affect the rate at which urban sprawl occurs. Urban sprawl is caused due to the increase in the proportion of people living in towns in other words urbanisation. It is also caused due to lack of urban planning, rise in the standard of living, lower land rates, and customer preference. Urban sprawl has many negative long-terms impacts resulting in social and environmental instability.
Urban sprawl is a major issue in Australia’s modern-day society as our total population keeps increasing and urban sprawl causes many other issues. Australia has one of the highest population growth rates in the OCED causing the town planning systems to improve the functionality of our cities. If we cannot even keep up with our population right now, what are we going to do in the next 3 years when the population has increased by 4.8%. It is supposed that in 2046 the population would’ve increased by 11.8 million people which is equivalent to a few capital cities.
Urban sprawl can have many negative social impacts. It can have harmful impacts on human health as residents must drive to further destinations instead of walking. This increases the risk of mortality, some types of cancer and cardiovascular diseases as the level of physical fitness would be low. The regular use of many cars will also cause the atmosphere to be polluted causing more health problems. Greenhouse gas emissions have increased by nearly 60% since 1990. This has caused Australia to be ranked as the second-worst transport energy efficiency. Another impact is the decrease in social capi-tal. Residents would be further away from family and friends which can further affect their social be-haviour as a greater social capital is linked to healthier behaviours. Living in a more rural suburb can also increase public expenditure. Rapid price rises are threatening the Australian dream of owning a big home. We as tax-payers also have to fund more due to the amenity’s governments need to provide for rural residents.
Urban sprawl has the biggest impact on the ecosystem and the environment. Longer transportation distances increase traffic congestion causing more air pollution. This causes the ambient quality to be decreased and causes health problems for others. There is a loss of agricultural land and capacity, nat-ural land and surface water bodies as it is being destroyed and replaced with developments and proper-ties. More than 1 million acres of park, farms and open space is being converted to urban use at the expense of natural areas each year which is not ok. The degradation of natural lands can destroy spe-cies habitats causing some animals to become endangered or even extinct causing a ripple in the eco-system and threatening Australia’s biodiversity.
We must improve the quality of completed suburban infill to decrease the community’s resistance when facing residential density and infill. We introduce more infill in our metropolitan areas and devel-op urban growth boundaries ensuring that construction is prohibited beyond a specific area and limit the urban sprawl through innovative land-use planning techniques and community cooperation such as sub-dividing.
The Australian government has launched many campaigns such as the national campaign called, ‘Catch up with the outer suburbs’, launched by the National Growth Areas Alliance of local councils. Despite this effort, no action has been taken and this issue has not been one of their priorities.
The only efficient state that is on their way to reaching their huge infill target is Perth. WA is the most aware state and has taken action by releasing a report that proposed the boost of density in the Perth metropolitan. Premier Mark McGowan confirmed that thousands of new dwellings will be built to slow the city’s urban sprawl over 15 years.
On a positive note, these impacts won’t happen overnight, we still have time to make a change. We still have some hope if this issue is put under the limelight.
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