Research based planning for a better city

The Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate continually undertakes research into trends likely to impact on future planning and development. This page presents papers examining recent changes in the demographics, community life and economic development of the Territory and possible planning responses.

In creating this evidence base for future planning, a variety of information sources have been drawn upon. These include the critical consideration of existing research, analysis of Australian Bureau of Statistics data and the interpretation of views of the general public, local private sector firms and community groups.     

These papers are presented not as government policy but with the intention of informing and stimulating public debate.

Research relating to the Spatial Plan evaluation and ACT Planning Strategy

Research papers

Community gardens demand and benefits in the ACT

In 2012 the ACT Government commissioned a team from the University of Canberra to prepare ‘A study of the demand for community gardens and their benefits for the ACT community’.  The study analyses the demand for community gardening in the ACT, including the motivation of current and future users, and provides advice on future trends and on possible management approaches. It also identifies the wider benefits of community gardening to the ACT community.

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Food in the ACT

This study provides an initial snapshot of what we know about food production and consumption in the ACT. The study draws on a variety of data sources including those available through the ABS, ABARES and the ACT Government. It puts food production and consumption into the context of current ACT Government planning and policy frameworks in relation to local food. It also includes observations and analysis from on-going research into local food production and consumption undertaken by the study’s authors. The findings of this study highlight the importance of land use planning attending to the four key components of the food system:

  • food production
  • processing and transportation
  • consumer access and utilisation
  • waste, re-use and post-use management.

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Population and residential density in Canberra

It is the conventional wisdom in Australian state planning strategies that increasing residential density will contribute to the development of a more sustainable city. The discussion of density issues is sometimes confused by a lack of clarity around the definition of ‘density’.  This paper documents alternative density measures - gross population density, net residential population density, gross dwelling density, net dwelling density and site density - in Canberra’s districts and suburbs. It looks at trends in the city’s population density between 2001 and 2010 and discusses how cities define low, medium and high density differently.

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Canberra's night time economy

The 'night time economy' (NTE) covers various economic and social activities usually undertaken after dark. This paper looks at Canberra's night time economies with a particular focus on the local hospitality and entertainment industries. After general discussion of where Canberra's NTE businesses are located and their economic contribution, two topical issues are examined: planning for live music; and the ACT's licensed club sector.

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Community Formation and Attitudes to Sustainability: Greenfield and Brownfield Studies

In 2009 the ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA) commissioned a team from the Australian National University (ANU) to investigate patterns of community formation and attitudes to sustainability in suburbs undergoing development (Gunghalin Town Centre and Harrison) or redevelopment (Turner). Participants were asked about a number of topics including factors in choosing their current housing, expectations of social infrastructure and interaction with neighbours. The studies were designed as potential pilots for later research. The views expressed in this report are solely those of the ANU project team and not necessarily those of the ACTPLA.

Childcare Centres in the ACT - 2011 Update (2.1 MB)

This profile is a summary of long day childcare centre trends in the ACT, and builds on data contained in the ‘Childcare Centres in the ACT’ (2009) paper, ACT Planning and Land Authority (now known as the Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate), ACT Government 

Childcare Centres in the ACT - 2009 Update (1.9Mb)

Changing social norms, patterns of women’s labour force participation, and household economic imperatives have seen long-term growth in both the supply and demand for childcare. This concise study considers contemporary supply, demand, and planning issues around long day care services in the ACT.

Future Planning for Religious Community in the ACT (259kb)

Religious communities and their places of worship have long been a key feature of life in cities around the world. This paper examines two trends anticipated to potentially affect future planning in the ACT: increasing religious diversity (or pluralisation), and ‘mega’ places of worship.

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