As ‘Green’ gets trendy, what can be said for the dirty word ‘Density’

7 03 2013


More people are choosing to live in Cities than ever before in human existence. Our new urban culture is driven by a transformation in the way we do business, the way we recreate, the way we connect with each other…. But are our Cities going to keep up?

For most people, when they think high population density, they think traffic congestion, increased pollution, antisocial behaviour… And of course, if manager poorly, they’d be right. But does it have to be that way?

Population density has been a key discussion topic at this years Greener Cities Conference. The experts are saying that high density cities are not only a desirable outcome for a sustainable future, but a reality that is coming to a City near you, whether you’re ready for it or not. It’s a global trend, and it’s happening, so we better start preparing for it.

The CEO of Green Cross, Mara Bun makes an interesting point, suggesting that as a result of this global shift towards Cities, our conversation needs to change around how our Cities are built. Instead of focusing on whether we want high growth or not, which is out of our control, we must shift to talking about what our Cities will look like in 30 years, and what decisions we need to make today to ensure that our Cities can maximise the opportunities created from growth, not just cope with it. This enables a more intelligent conversation, and one that will influence our decision makers to ensure a sustainable, thriving City for the future.

Mandurah’s population has been in rapid growth for some time, and while it has slowed recently as a result of the downturn in our economy, the reality is, our City will continue to grow.

This could mean a strengthened, vibrant economy, sustainable innovations, an intact and recognisable identity and culture, diversity in our people and a sophisticated and well planned City….. Or it could mean traffic congestion, urban sprawl and Mandurah simply becoming an outer metropolitan suburb of Perth.

But if all this talk of high density is still of concern, lets put our population into perspective. A quick bit of research on some dodgy Wikipedia figures (I can hear my university lecturer groaning from here!) demonstrates what Mandurah would look like, population wise, if we took the population density from a handful of Cities across the world:

If Mandurah had the same population density per square kilometre as the Cities below, here’s where our population figures would sit (population density per km2 of Cities mentioned below x City of Mandurah area):

Density of London: 903,241
Density of Sydney: 357,063
Density of San Francisco: 1.15m
Density of Gold Coast: 168,642

With a current population of 78,000 forecast to grow to 100,000 over the next decade… Let’s not panic just yet!

Let’s have the right conversation.



One response

22 04 2013
Don Pember

Mandurah will probably never be a New York, London in terms of population and one day it might be a city that never closes down – wouldn’t that be great when after the performing arts/ movies/ small bar experiences we could go off for a meal somewhere and not just McDonald’s.
Maybe one day we should close Mandurah Terrace through our CBD and allow people to reclaim it instead of cars and their exhaust fumes ( think 4WD) Having a vibrant city with a range of experiences 24/7 now that’s something. As for highrise I look forward to the days of 10/12 story places where people live and invigorate the area. Don P

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