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Urban ecology, innovations in housing policy and the future of cities: Towards sustainability in neighbourhood communities

Scheurer, Jan (2001) Urban ecology, innovations in housing policy and the future of cities: Towards sustainability in neighbourhood communities. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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Innovations in housing policy with an ecological edge can look back to a quarter century of experience with the incorporation of resource-saving technologies in buildings and utilities. Community-oriented urban design and housing administration can be traced even further into history. While significant, however, these goals appear insufficient in defining whether a particular residential area, or an urban region as a whole, performs well in relation to sustainability objectives. Examining the prevailing patterns of urban development and movement, exploring the underlying principles of how activities are organised in space and time, and illuminating lifestylerelated habits, statements and aspirations can help to deliver a more complete picture. Thus, some valuable input for policy makers concerned with the pursuit of sustainable development at a neighbourhood level can be provided.

This dissertation highlights the interplay of metropolitan and neighbourhood physical form and technology with community-oriented planning, design and governance as well as individual efforts to contribute to sustainabilty goals. In order to pursue these interactions a study was made of 4 neighbourhoods in Copenhagen, which have made explicit attempts at urban ecology. These revealed a high degree of adherence to sustainability goals particularly if they involved a community planning framework. However they did not always extend their ecological sensitivity to the field of mobility behaviour which constitutes a largely unregulated area of social and environmental impact. Thus a further investigation was made of 5 urban ecology neighbourhoods in 4 other European countries which had explicit goals of mobility management. These 'carfree' and 'car-reduced' neighbourhoods are assessed using a resident survey to examine the extent of their ability to reduce transport impacts. This is the first international comparative study of 'carfree' neighbourhoods. It shows that there are significant lessons to be learned as well as sources of conflict needing to be resolved.

In conclusion, the concept of mobility management in neighbourhoods is validated as a highly worthwhile contribution to a local sustainability agenda, though the learning process on how to apply it best remains far from complete. The crucial importance of fruitful collaboration between authorities, market players and the resident community are emphasised where ecological reforms in neighbourhood design and administration, including mobility management, are to have lasting effects and more than just superficial character. The presence of innovation-facilitating mechanisms in government practice, civic culture and in interactions between stakeholders is identified as a further critical ingredient to enable significant strides along the path of sustainability in urban neighbourhoods.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Newman, Peter
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