At a glance
Australian cities are generally characterised as low density, with a high proportion of detached homes, and with good amenity in terms of access to commercial and community services, and green space. Although considered generally good, the delivery of amenity in growth areas in Australia is recognised as a major challenge. Air and water quality are generally good.
Per-household energy use continues to decline, and aspects of water use related to the built environment (mainly industry) have become more efficient during recent years.
However, significant parts of Australia’s built environment have aspects that are considered poor. The Australian built environment consumes significant natural resources, including land, water and energy, and there is substantial waste generation, although recycling is increasingly a feature of our urban environments.
The fringes of Australia’s larger urban centres continue to be developed at low residential densities, central and inner cities have increased densities, and the middle suburbs have not experienced significant changes in densities. The average floor area of new dwellings has decreased since it peaked in 2008–09.
In the largest cities, traffic congestion remains a concern and will have a growing impact on travel times, although public transport use continues to increase in most major cities, and per-person car use is in decline. In the smaller capital cities and other urban centres with populations of more than 100,000, traffic concerns are far less significant, and the quality of the natural environment is higher. For smaller settlements, aspects of livability such as quality of housing and water can be poor.