Metropolitan Adelaide, a city of 1.1 million people, occupying a spatial extent of 1826 km2 at density of a mere 6.1 persons/ha (ABS, 2006), with the release in 2010 of the 30 Year Plan for Greater Adelaide (30YPGA) (GSA, 2010), is potentially at a pivotal point in its development. The vast spread of metropolitan Adelaide across the Adelaide plains, and into the Adelaide Hills extending approximately 80km north to south and 20km east to west has been made possible by state and national political imperatives since the Second World War to help Australians realise the dream of home ownership, which was easily accommodated by economic drivers such as cheap oil, great material wealth, rapid population growth and an abundance of easily developed and serviced land. In addition to this, whilst earlier metropolitan planning prior to 2010 did not intentionally set out to downgrade public transit, a lack of explicit constraints on the growth of car ownership, car oriented urban development (particularly with regard shopping centres) and an absence of urban growth boundaries for Adelaide’s metropolitan area, allowed car oriented urban development to completely dominate the city’s urban character (Hutchings, 2007). Despite Adelaide lacking an integrated intra-urban metropolitan orbital freeway road network that is commonplace in many modern North American cities such as Houston and Calgary, the level of car usage and pervasiveness of car oriented urban development is not dissimilar. Indeed, Adelaide’s economic livelihood is deeply reliant on its road network for the movement of workers and freight, and the city is home to General Motors’ Holden motor vehicle assembly plant at Elizabeth in the city’s northern suburbs. Recent and future road building projects such as the Northern Expressway (albeit currently exurban), the Port River Expressway, The Gallipoli Underpass at the junction of South Road and Anzac Highway, the elevated 6 lane Super Way, the Heysen Tunnels and the planned duplication of the Southern Expressway (currently a 2-3 lane reversible freeway), highlight the State Government’s commitment to enhancing the city’s road system, in spite of forthcoming massive investments in rail based transit of nearly $2 billion. Furthermore, the State Government has launched a program of building “SuperSchools”, large regional high schools that draw their catchment from across numerous suburbs which are likely to exacerbate the tendency of students of driving age to use a car to travel to school because of long distances and limited public transit availability.
The State of Australian Cities (SOAC) national conferences have been held biennially since 2003 to support interdisciplinary policy-related urban research.
This paper was presented at SOAC 5held in Melbourne from 29 November – 2 December 2011.
SOAC 5 was hosted by the University of Melbourne, RMIT University, Monash University, Swinburne University of Technology and Latrobe University as well as the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute and the Grattan Institute, the Victorian State Government and the City of Melbourne.
Three plenary panels brought researchers from across the country to address ‘big issues’: place-based disadvantage, the design and form of Australian cities, and metropolitan governance. Over 175 papers, in 46 themed sessions, cover topics ranging from planning and governance for environmental sustainability, to housing affordability and adequacy in the context of an aging population. Healthy communities, better public transport, high quality open space, participatory planning, and issues affecting the peri-urban fringe are also strong sub-themes within this conference.
All published papers have been subject to a peer reviewing process.