Architecture, Building and Planning - Theses
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Renaturing the nature strip: Spatial, environmental and social drivers of road verge extent, composition and resident gardening behaviour
In this thesis I ask What spatial, environmental and social drivers underpin road verge extent, distribution and vegetation? I investigated road verges across 47 neighbourhoods in Melbourne, Australia, quantifying their extent and distribution and the extent and distribution of the verge gardening undertaken by residents, and I surveyed residents on their beliefs regarding the road verge and verge gardening, and characterised the flora of the road verge understorey. Road easement green space constituted 7.0% of land cover and a high 36.7% of all public green space. The percentage of the road easement that was green space was positively correlated with date of neighbourhood development, footpath absence, social disadvantage and parcel size. Streets with a greater percentage of road easement green space were associated with residential parcels that had a greater percentage of yard (i.e. garden). Verge gardening was common, occurring in almost a quarter (22.1%) of verges and in almost every block in every neighbourhood. I investigated two types of verge gardening, resident-planting of understorey and resident-planting of street trees. The absence of footpaths was a major driver of both. Properties with no adjacent footpath were 5.27 times more likely to have understorey verge gardening, and 2.06 times more likely to have resident-planted streets trees, than those with a footpath. Tree cut-outs (also called tree pits) were a second major driver of understorey verge gardening, 1.75 times more likely to be gardened than standard verges. Local roads were 3.74 times more likely to have understorey verge gardening than major roads. Age of street was negatively correlated with understorey verge gardening. Verges without the presence of street trees planted by local government were 1.33 times more likely to have understorey verge gardening than those with local government street trees. Social contagion was also present, with the presence of verge gardening in a neighbouring property increasing the likelihood of verge gardening by 9%. By surveying residents, I identified cultural background, gardening enthusiasm, sense of community and level of education as significant factors differentiating respondents who planted verge understorey, who planted street trees and who did not verge garden. Normative beliefs were the main cognitive construct affecting verge gardening behaviour, with verge gardeners less likely, compared to residents who didn’t verge garden, to be constrained by others’ perceived disapproval of verge gardening. In particular, residents were constrained by their perceptions of local government attitudes, much more so than their perceptions of neighbours’ attitudes or housemates’ attitudes. Sense of community, beliefs regarding the benefits of verge gardening, and feelings for nature also had significant, but less direct, effects than normative beliefs. Floral surveys identified 150 species, of which 82.7% were exotic, with native species mostly introduced through verge gardening. Species richness, abundance and composition were mostly driven in part by residents’ verge gardening behaviour, mowing frequency, rainfall, soil compaction and canopy openness, but much variation remained unexplained and was likely to be due to stochastic factors such as degree and frequency of disturbance. Seven vegetation communities were identified, distinguished by the presence of garden plants, rhizomatous turfgrasses, and the relative proportions of three dominant grasses. The extent of the road verge, combined with its often city-wide distribution, makes the road verge a green space component of fundamental importance to our urban ecosystems. Its varying distribution and extent across neighbourhoods means its significance also varies across the urban area. Verge gardening increased the overall species richness of verges, doubled the number of native species, and introduced structural complexity, suggesting that verge gardening can significantly contribute to quality and complexity of urban greening through the summed effect of the many small acts of citizen greening. Verge gardening promotes further verge gardening in a positive feedback loop. The influence of footpaths, road type and tree cut-outs shows that urban design can encourage this resident greening of public space. Municipal authorities are well-positioned to lead change, through reframing policy and outreach in order to positively frame verge gardening as an acceptable practice, by increasing plantings in the verges they maintain, and by promoting alternative low-mow practices that reduce the normative position of the well-manicured lawn. Planners, landscape architects, urban foresters, engineers and ecologists should work together to reimagine the ecological and greening roles of existing and future road easements. The potential for road easement green space to provide for the biodiversity, ecosystem function and human amenity now being demanded from urban green spaces is much greater than previously thought.
Theories and Practice of Urban Transition: Melbourne's Wicked Transport Planning Environment
Against a backdrop of balkanised transport and land use planning, a fragmented and disjointed transport planning environment has evolved in Victoria – culminating in the 2014 Victorian Election which saw East West Link juxtaposed against Melbourne Metro Tunnel/Project 10,000 in what the then Prime Minister declared a ‘Transport Referendum’. This pattern has continued with the 2015 commitment to West Gate Tunnel, the 2016 commitment to North East Link and the November 2018 election announcement for a Suburban Rail Loop. Through an exploration of the Melbourne and London case studies, this thesis focuses on transport planning governance to answer the question of how should transport planning decisions be made in a highly complex (wicked) environment to achieve better processes and outcomes? This research explores the Melbourne case study (up to and including East West Link) through an interpretation of political, social, economic and environmental motivators. It then provides a comparative analysis of transport planning governance in London through interviews with political leaders, professionals and academics. A document review, combined with interviews, was carried out to provide an overall account of London and Melbourne’s decision-making process for transport planning. The comparison of transport governance suggests the learnings from London can be applied to Melbourne and other cities to better manage the transport planning complexity and achieve better transport governance. This research is significant as Melbourne’s rapid population growth has outpaced the established political and administrative structures and our existing infrastructure. Since 2000, Melbourne has grown by over 1.3 million new residents – almost 40 percent (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017). By 2030, Melbourne is likely to grow to become Australia’s largest city, and by 2051, 8 million residents are predicted. The current transport planning decision-making framework in Melbourne was created for a different kind of city. No Australian city has added so many residents so quickly and there is a compelling need for this research.
The Authorship of Space: The role of key individuals in the transformation of inner Melbourne from the late 1960’s to the mid-1980s and lessons learnt for today
The purpose of this thesis is to provide new insights into how Melbourne was transformed between the late 1960s and the mid-1980s and understand how the lessons learnt from this work, along with a contemporary perspective on the urban condition, can assist the future planning and design of a more sustainable Melbourne. Archival research and interviews with politicians, academics and activists involved in Melbourne’s transformation over the research period under consideration, illustrate the important role urban design thinking and community-led activism had on driving the radical social, political and economic agenda that reshaped the city and led to inner Melbourne’s renowned liveability. Through outlining the cultural, socio-economic and political conditions over the study period, the thesis brings to light the planning theory and ideology of the time to provide a theoretical context for Melbourne’s evolution. When cities grow and change, it is not a linear or logical narrative but rather a dynamic story of overlays, interfaces and integration of place, people and politics. It is a story more complex than eclecticism, far removed from a set of procedures or rules. Melbourne’s transformation reflects the work of city planners who built on what was intrinsic to inner Melbourne, while being informed by highly active community activists, local residents, academics, students, politicians and professional bodies. The research outlines that urban change between the late 1960s and mid-1980s emerged with radical social change and there was a close interrelationship of ideology, geography, planning, culture and politics. A large consortium of people decided they were going to change the course of the city, and they did. Melbourne’s liveability is under threat of continuing decline as the city grows. There remains a tension between the rate of growth and the development models to accommodate this growth. The appropriate role and degree of government and community intervention in planning, and the role of the development market driving urban change, are in contention. Government is pushed by the development industry to make planning processes more efficient, faster and more streamlined. This pressure is compounded by the state government’s reliance on income generated from growth. While it is acknowledged that in this urban age, cities are increasingly important to drive economic development and create wealth, growth for growth’s sake will not sustain a great city. As championed by the city planners, politicians, academics and activists involved in Melbourne’s transformation over the research period, Melbourne’s growth must be in the best interests of all its citizens, driven by planning policies and strategies that enable those interests to be realised. The ‘radicals’ at the time of transformation sought a socially just society where urban planning was based on humanistic and ecological principles, informed by the daily experience of people who lived in the place. These ideals empowered a new breed of politicians at state and local government levels who believed in the importance of community engagement and oversight of integrated, design-led urban planning. This thesis concludes that Melbourne is in urgent need of planning reform and highlights the importance of greater understanding of the trade-offs that result from different models of city growth. Far greater attention, research and collaboration must occur across all sectors to plan and develop future Melbourne with academic institutions, city planning professionals and all tiers of government leading the way.
Power Relations in Urban Consolidation: Case Study of three Residential Redevelopment Projects in Shenzhen, China
In 2004, the Chinese Central Government introduced the urban consolidation (Cun Liang Gui Hua) policy, aiming at a change in development approaches from urban expansion in periphery areas to intensification in built-up urban areas. The rationale behind is to address the severe problems caused by rapid urbanization, such as land use inefficiency, environment deterioration, and increasing local debts. Through the promulgation of stringent limitation on rural land acquisition in the mid-2000s, the new policy enhanced urban redevelopment, especially in mega-cities facing acute land scarcity in their established areas. The implementation of the urban consolidation policy has been accompanied by further policy additions, which are introduced to balance the power distribution among the stakeholders, and accordingly lead to changes in procedures and mechanisms. Building upon Giddens’ structuration theory, Foucault’s approach to power and Ostrom’s institutional analysis and development framework, this research develops a power arena framework to examine the power relations among the stakeholders in urban consolidation. Case studies of three dilapidated residential areas in Luohu and Futian districts, Shenzhen are selected to develop and test the framework. Data are collected from semi-structured interviews and site observations, supplemented by information gathered from newspapers and social media. The main findings show that the new policy and its associated institutional amendment empowered the individual property owners to participate in the decision making process and the mounting community power to some extent constrained the power of the local government. However, the local government is still capable of manipulating all the other stakeholders thus plays a dominant role in the various power relations. The expectations on a transformation towards collaborative institutions have not fully achieved, especially in situations where government intervention was excluded. The distribution of power among stakeholders is neither flat nor random but hierarchical in urban consolidation. The institutional arrangements place the involved actors to the various positions in the power hierarchy at the top of which the state power sits. China’s institutional reform seems not aiming at establishing a participatory governance system to pacify social resistance and smooth the way of urban redevelopment. Rather, the reform ultimately contributes to enhancing state power over urban land and development. The findings are theoretically and practically significant. They contribute to understanding the complex power relations underlying urban development and explaining urban governance influenced by changing planning policies.