The latest RMIT University's Centre for Urban Research Creating Liveable Cities in Australia report named Sydney as the most liveable capital city in Australia but, at the same time, showed how much further the city still had to go.
Assessing city policies against implementation, the research found that Sydney has the shortest distances between homes and activity centres, as well as the highest number of homes close to public open spaces such as parks. It also has the largest percentage of people who opt to walk or cycle to go to work, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.
One area in serious need of improvement, though, is the city’s public transport. Only 2% of Sydney suburbs and 38% of homes met the New South Wales targets for access to public transport. The criteria for these targets include every residence being within 400 metres of a bus stop serviced at least every 30 minutes or within 800 metres of a train station that has a trip scheduled every 15 minutes.
“They’re trying to deliver the best service possible to the people living in Sydney,” lead author and research fellow Lucy Gunn said. “But what we're finding is that while the policies are really stringent ... it’s not really being delivered.”
The report suggested that the problem is linked to the city’s low-dwelling density, as these targets are created with higher density areas in mind, which causes low density places in the outer suburbs to score lower.
Developing more walkable neighbourhoods will also increase liveability, as well as promote a more active lifestyle.
A walkable neighbourhood is characterised by high-dwelling density, institutions such as retail, school and healthcare, and streets designed for walking. However, with Sydney’s average dwelling density of 18 homes per hectare, this can be a difficult goal to reach.
Gunn also highlighted the need to improve housing affordability in Sydney if the city is indeed pushing for liveability, given that a lot of households are expected to make a choice between affordable housing or a liveable area.
“There needs to be affordable housing across the city,” Gunn said. “Particularly where infrastructure already is, to really take away that disadvantage that these people suffer.”
41% of lower income households suffer from housing affordability stress, according to the report, which is magnified by a lack of regular public transport and accessible services.
“In a sense their deprivation of livability tends to be amplified as there are quite a few things missing in the equation that could make their areas livable.”
While Sydney is currently outperforming all the other capital cities, the fact remains that there is room for improvement when it comes to the city’s liveability standards.
The report proposed that new objectives be considered, with detailed goals for implementation and enhancement.