Can we regenerate older suburbs and make them better for everyone?

By Peter Newman, Curtin University and one of the authors of a new book, Greening the Greyfields: New Models for Regenerating the Middle Suburbs of Low-Density Cities

Cities are constantly needing to rebuild older parts as they become run down.

Our new book ‘Greening the Greyfields’* is focussed on Australian cities and especially those middle suburbs that were built from the 1950’s on. These middle suburbs are now being redeveloped and mostly this is contentious as for many people the standard is a back-yard ‘battle-axe’ subdivision that adds three or four units and little else to a neighbourhood whilst removing a lot of trees. Our open access book proposes how to green these greyfields where suburban infill has failed dismally.

We suggest that regeneration needs to be managed on a precinct scale to provide real rejuvenation that brings value to the whole area. The book introduces new planning concepts, models, tools and processes capable of regenerating whole precincts, integrating more services, infrastructure and amenity for the resident communities.

Greening starts by identifying the Greyfield Precinct Regeneration (GPR) precincts with the community. New partnerships need to be established between the community, local planners and state government agencies, along with urban designers, developers and builders keen to implement new models of urban regeneration at precinct scale.

The idea of bringing a trackless tram into the project so that it can help significantly improve the accessibility of an area is one key component of such regeneration. Some precincts may just need a new on-demand electric shuttle that can bring people to the shops, train or town centres.

All new development needs to be net zero in energy and have a mix of housing typologies and price‐points, water‐sensitive design, better walking and cycling infrastructure, community facilities, and enhanced green space. The WGV development in White Gum Valley is shown to be a good example of many of these features.

The book shows a survey that indicates the market is ready for this new approach to urbanism in Australian cities, with relevance to many similar cities around the world.

* Greening the Greyfields: New Models for Regenerating the Middle Suburbs of Low-Density Cities, Peter W Newton, Peter W G Newman, Stephen Glackin, Giles Thomson. Palgrave Macmillan, 2022

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