Global climate change, excessive fossil fuel dependency and the growing demand for energy are major challenges of the 21st Century. Research published by the Urban Land Institute (e.g. the study ‘Growing Cooler’, 2007) gives comprehensive evidence that there is a connection between urban development and climate change. Sustainable urban growth of regional cities leads to human settlement that enables its residents to live a good quality of life while using minimal natural resources and supporting maximum biodiversity. These settlements could be typified by: Urban consolidation to ensure that new homes are close to employment, education, shopping, health services, etc. giving the option to walk, bike, or public transport; Residential typologies that are multi-storey and compact, to maximise the land available for green space and gardens and to avoid sprawl; Buildings that make the best use of renewable sources, such as sun, wind, rainfall and bio waste; A high proportion of building materials that are designed for reuse and recycling; Materials, food and other goods that are sourced from nearby, in order to cut CO₂ emissions through transport. In this context, one of the most important planning issues for Newcastle is how its city centre will develop in the future. What are our strategies to overcome sprawling suburbs, boarded-up shop fronts in the city centre, neglected public spaces and vacant, derelict heritage buildings? The current transformation process from a heavy industry city to a contemporary, postindustrial centre for the 21st Century – with an emerging new image around tourism, services, creative industries and education – will need strong political leadership and well-informed urban design decisions.
9th Australasian Urban History/Planning History Conference. Seachange: New and Renewed Urban Landscapes: 9th Australasian Urban History/Planning History Conference Proceedings (Caloundra, Qld 3-5 February, 2008)