Urban Talks- Reflections on the New Urban Agenda in Canberra, Australia

urban talks.jpg

You can also RSVP through our facebook page with link below.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1115115388585437/

The Urban Synergies Group team is looking forward to see you there. The event will also be recorded and can be viewed later in the editorial section on this website.

USG Publication launch at UN Habitat 3 conference in Quito, Ecuador

img_2366

Urban Synergies Group (USG) launched today the booklet on “Right to the City” at the Habitat 3 conference in Quito, Ecuador. This conference was organised by the UN Habitat. The aim of this conference is to determines the future of urban development globally for the next 20 years. Our team at USG as one of the Global Assembly of Partners informed the development of the ‘New Urban Agenda’ document on three key issues:

  1. Right to the city – in line with our Perspective Statement on the ‘Right to the City’ that has been developed with the involvement from grassroots level.
  2. Health and well-being in planning and urban design.
  3. Child- friendly environment as part of the public space agenda.

Apart of being able to provide constructive input in a round table discussion at the Children and Youth Assembly infrastructure stream- one of our key highlights so far was the launch of the booklet on “Right to the City” earlier today.  As the only constituency Urban Synergies Group got exclusive access to the UN Habitat library in the UN Pavilion. Listen to our Founder and Director Gregor H. Mews on what he had so say by clicking on the video recorded live earlier today in the UN Pavilion.

This is your invitation to become part of our philosophy and contribute shaping healthy communities internationally.

Purchase a copy of our crowdfunded booklet and choose where your contribution should go. Support either to play space projects in Vietnam or to local  safe journeys to school project  “Tunnel Talk” in Australia.

Click here and follow three simple steps if you want to call this booklet your own.

cover-an-exploration-in-pictures

Our efforts here in Quito are not over yet. Tomorrow, 19th October 2016, we will participate in the discussions at the Transport day, support ISOCARP on “Smart Cities and the New Urban Agenda” from 12.30 -1.30 pm and will showcase our perspective at the “Moving from Habitat3 to Implementing the Right2City from 2-4 pm.

Be part of the debate and follow us on twitter for the latest updates and news on the New Urban Agenda – UrbanSynergiesGroup @usg_gregor.

 

Light rail in Canberra – who are the losers and the winners of the first stage

The debate about Capital Metro in Canberra, Australia, has focused on net impact (with analysis suggesting 60% of benefits consist of wider or indirect economic benefits). But who gains and who loses potentially?

Light rail done well in Potsdam, Germany (Source: Gregor H. Mews)

Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Canberra Health Research Institute undertook a literature survey of studies of existing light rail projects globally, identifying potential wider co-benefits (economic, social and health related) of such projects.  Assuming, as the literature suggests, that value uplift (increase in land value) directly attributable to light rail is marginal because so many other factors affect land value, but value capture (the capacity for attracting development finance) is strong, we offer:

(a) The likely biggest winners, from largest to smallest:

  1. The ACT government. Government-owned land value, and the number of dwellings along the corridor, will increase, driving up government revenues. (Netting out coverage of project costs). Of course ultimately these revenues will be spent across the ACT community but the benefits to individuals, dispersed across 300 000+ taxpayers, are difficult to extrapolate right now.
  2. Property developers. The property industry will enjoy the value capture benefits of the project by leveraging the public investment in light rail, especially with an improved ability to attract finance at lowered cost.
  3. Property investors. Property investors along the corridor will gain from higher property values in response to increased demand for apartment accommodation in the city. ABS data show that new unit development in the ACT had a 32 per cent increase in new projects between 2014 and 2015, highest of all construction classes.
  4. Gungahlin ‘edge’ residents. Research shows that single corridor rail projects such as the Capital Metro will actually benefit residents living on the outer edge of Gungahlin (and rural residential areas over the border), especially if the park and ride facility at the Gungahlin town centre terminus is free. A recent Australian Automobile Association study showed that in Canberra, the total cost of car ownership is just under $300 per week, the cheapest for capital cities. So Gungahlin edge commuters who currently travel the furthest to the city by car can benefit from travelling by car to the Gungahlin terminus, catching the light rail into town, then traveling to the terminus on uncongested roads and speeding along the tram route to their work. Over-the-border residents have light rail access without paying rates.
  5. Auto commuters along the route. Commuters who choose to continue to travel to work by car along the tram route will also gain a marginal net benefit from reduced congestion.

(b) The likely losers, from smallest to largest:

  1. Some ACT residents (excluding Gungahlin) living more than 1 kilometre from the tram. Those unable or unwilling to walk or cycle to a tram stop will contribute to the project through taxes but not benefit from either value uplift or enjoy tram travel time savings. (As the network expands beyond its first phase more residents will benefit).
  2. Already active travellers who currently live along the corridor (especially renters). The rate of active travel is highest in the inner north of Canberra. Many residents choose to live in these suburbs to be able to enjoy close proximity to employment and services. Light rail provides no additional benefit to them but does lead to higher housing costs.
  3. Some small and medium enterprises along the corridor. Research shows that one of the biggest economic effects of light rail is changing the mix of commercial activity along the corridor. Some firms will gain but the others will lose since some retail outlets and services may be forced to close or move out of the area.
  4. Rail users with complex travel tours. A travel tour refers to the number and diversity of activities that a user undertakes during a daily commute. The simplest tour is a return trip from home to work. More complex tours are undertaken by families with young children. The single corridor design of Capital Metro will not be able to cater for all the activities undertaken by families needing to visit many destinations during a typical working day. These groups will likely have to continue to own cars until most activities (e.g. afterschool activities) are relocated closer to the rail route – unlikely to happen any time soon.

Existing private renters, especially lower and fixed income. Research shows that economic activity along light rail corridors is largely captured by the gentrification of adjacent land up to 1 kilometre from tram stops. This is often facilitated by government policies to do with zoning and incentivising development. While governments can put in place programs to support those on public housing, residents in the rental market are often forced out through higher rates and therefore are the biggest losers.

About the authors

Dr. Andrew MacKenzie is an Devotee of Urban Synergies Group as well as a Assistant Professor with the Faculty of Arts and Design, University of Canberra and Dr. Cameron Gordon is an Adjunct Associate Professor with the Health Research Institute at the University of Canberra and both were principal investigators on the study above. Both can be contacted through info (at) urbansynergiesgroup.org .

Urban Synergies Group at Habitat 3

 

Post-7-Compact.jpg

Invitation

Meet us at Habitat 3. Come and discuss with us “Smart cities in the New Urban Agenda” at the ISOCARP side event of the Habitat 3 conference in Quito, Ecuador.

When: 19th October 2016, 12:30- 1.30 pm
Where: Room MR10, Casa de la Cultura Ecuatoriana “Benjamin Carrion”, Quito, Ecuador

Habitat 3 Implementation Plan

We don’t just talk we do…Urban Synergies Group committed more than 100.000 Dollars to implement “Shaping Spaces for Gen Z” over the next five years across the Asia Pacific region as part of the Habitat III Implementation Plan. Join and/or support us! Our Founder Greg Mews will be available to meet you after the side event session to discuss opportunities for collaboration. Alternatively you may contact him per email to make arrangements during the conference under gregor (at) urbansynergiesgroup.org.

Shaping Spaces for Gen Z- international Forum

Last but not least we are delighted to announce that we are hosting in partnership with the Health Research Institute, University of Canberra,  a International Forum “Shaping Spaces for Gen Z” on 7 December 2018 in Canberra, Australia.

Get involved and don’t miss out! Secure your ticket and click here for Tickets.