3. Understanding the impact of strategic city shaping infrastructure

The traditional idea of integrated transport and land use planning sees the urban planning system as a means to reshape a city at the district and corridor levels to facilitate efficient and more sustainable transport operations. This suggests an urban planning approach directed at increased densities around high capacity public transport links or striving to balance land for local jobs and housing to reduce the need for travel (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: ‘Traditional’ concept of transport and land use planning integration ‘Traditional’ concept of transport and land use planning integrationSource: SGS Economics and Planning Pty Ltd

This cluster and connect model plays an important role at local and district levels, and contributes to the overall structure of the metropolitan area. For example, at the neighbourhood level, the cluster and connect approach generally has a strong place-making focus by consolidating important community facilities around public transport and, occasionally, using some forms of public transport such as light rail to calm traffic and promote local development activity.

This approach, while reasonable, underplays, the crucial fact that the transport network is more than a servant of a city structure; it can be the principal shaper of that city structure through the city shaping power of some major transport investments. Full integration of transport and land use planning must also recognise and harness the city shaping power of some transport investment decisions. This is an important new consideration in ITLUP.

This relationship is depicted in Figure 2.

This guidance acknowledges the traditional cluster and connect model and extends beyond that model by also recognising the emerging approach that harnesses the city shaping power of some transport investments. The guidance acknowledges that the city shaping approach and the cluster and connect approach are not in competition with each other; rather, they are complementary and should be coordinated.

Spiller et al (2012) have noted that failure to recognise the city shaping effects of strategic transport infrastructure will lead to sub-optimal urban outcomes, which then become ‘locked-in’ because of long gestation periods and reinforced planning efforts. To avoid this, practitioners should fully integrate transport and land use planning in a way that recognises the city shaping power of some transport investment decisions and take on a systematic approach to harnessing this power.

Figure 2: Emerging concept of transport and land use planning integration Emerging concept of transport and land use planning integrationSource: SGS Economics and Planning Pty Ltd

Once it is recognised that major transport decisions can redirect the pattern of urban development, or change its density and use mix, transport planning can become a proactive agent as a city’s vision is formed. This goes a step further than the traditional land use planning approach where optional land use futures are tested for transport efficiency, and transport investment largely responds to a cluster and connect framework.

This city shaping power is increasingly evident in a range of recent major initiatives in Australia. However, it is not well understood by practitioners and harnessing this power through integrated planning to achieve optimal urban outcomes is not yet mainstream practice. For example, Infrastructure Australia’s Urban Transport Strategy (2013) observes that:

“Large infrastructure projects are not the only issue in urban transport, but can be very influential on system performance and on land use over time.” (p8)

…and that…

An urban transport infrastructure strategy should aim for the best use of land and of transport via complementary land use and transport planning. This would include planning that considers the impact on the location of households, employment and industry” (p9).

The criteria adopted by the COAG Reform Council for its assessment of capital city planning systems in 2010 and 2011 allude to the need to better integrate transport and land use planning. Amongst other tests of the efficacy of metropolitan planning arrangements, the COAG Reform Council argued that these systems should:

  1. Be integrated:
    • across functions, including land-use and transport planning, economic and infrastructure development, environmental assessment and urban development, and
    • across government agencies; and
  2. Provide for a consistent hierarchy of future oriented and publicly available plans, including:
    • long term (for example, 15-30 year) integrated strategic plans,
    • medium term (for example, 5-15 year) prioritised infrastructure and land-use plans, and
    • near term prioritised infrastructure project pipeline backed by appropriately detailed project plans.

In applying these criteria to form ratings of planning systems across the country, it appears that the deliberations were based mainly upon qualitative evidence.

The cluster and connect model is already subject to significant guidance in terms of urban design and structure planning to achieve better integration at the district, corridor, suburb and neighbourhood levels. As a result, these ATAP Guidelines do not provide detailed guidance for applying the cluster and connect model, although a range of references are provided in Section 7.2. Instead, the main focus of these ATAP guidelines is on the emerging aspect of planning for strategic or city shaping transport infrastructure.

These Guidelines will help practitioners to identify the different levels of transport infrastructure investment and, by understanding the impacts on land use, will enable a stronger ability to implement the most effective plans.