“What’s your city’s Walk Score?” If you haven’t been asked this question yet, you will – in 2020.

Walk Score is just one of 10 city trends forecast by Mike Day, co-founder and director of RobertsDay, and one of Australia’s most experienced, recognised and multi-award winning urban planners and designers. Day’s forecasts indicate the major changes that will take place in Australian cities next year, marking the beginning of a new decade in urban planning.

“Next year is the start of a new decade. What takes place in the next 12 months will set a precedent for the next 10 years. As our population grows, and innovative new technologies and ideas emerge, future generations will look back at the 2020s and point to it as a decade that reshaped our cities – especially our outer suburbs – more than any other decade in the last century,” says Day, a fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia.

“The most significant changes will come about as a result of an increase in our population, more compact housing, a drop in personal car ownership, and a desire for health and wellness in our communities. Up until now, communities have been built around vehicles. Now, they will be built around pedestrians, cyclists, and ‘light’ modes of public transport such as e-bikes, trams and buses. Millennials and Baby Boomers will drive the demand for these changes.”

Mike Day’s 10 city forecasts for 2020 and beyond:

1. ‘Mini Melbournes’ in the outer suburbs

Location is not the only factor that drives the demand for homes in the inner city neighbourhoods of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Features such as small parks, little main streets, terraces, shop-top housing, laneways and public transport at their doorstep are highly attractive to residents. The inner-city layout will be the template for designers and developers of fast-growing new communities in the outer suburbs.

2. ‘Mixed-use’ developments and ‘overlapping use’ buildings

An increase in mixed-use developments designed to create self-sufficient communities framed around walkability is expected in the 2020s. Kinley, Williams Landing and Burwood Brickworks in Melbourne and Fairwater in Sydney are some of the developments that reflect this trend. ‘Overlapping use’ is another trend promoted by State Government planning systems, wherein residential apartments are built atop retail and commercial sites such as shopping centres.

3. Climate, environment and health driving planning decisions

With increased awareness about the environment, the public expects organisations to respond to climate change. Aspects such as air quality, water quality, waste management, green spaces, public spaces and public health among others will impact developer and urban planning decisions in 2020.

4. Private vehicle ownership

Connected, mixed use and walkable neighbourhoods with access to public transportation will trigger the shift away from car-centric communities. Private car ownership is expensive, and the money spent on running and maintaining a medium-sized car each year can easily service a sizable mortgage. With the focus shifting to affordable living from affordable housing, combined with better connected suburbs, private vehicle ownership is losing its charm.

5. Sustainable and affordable mobility on demand in suburbs

Technology-supported on-demand transport options such as Uber, electric bikes and scooters, and affordable public transport initiatives such as trackless trams are making the concept of car ownership irrelevant. Trackless trams cost just one tenth of the outlay required for traditional trams, making them an affordable transportation option for Governments in inner cities as well as outer suburbs.

6. Townhouses

The ongoing crisis in apartment developments has created trust issues for potential home buyers. Additionally, their desire for a home with direct street frontage and a courtyard is driving the townhouse trend with more developers and house builders entering this residential building space. Townhouses can be strata-free, and allow residents to engage with each other on streets reclaimed for walking. With sizes ranging from 80sqm up to 400sqm, townhouses are relatively affordable too.

7. Transit-based walkable neighbourhoods

Pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods with expansive public spaces will be a major draw for potential home buyers. Such neighbourhoods will also give communities a sense of identity.

8. A good Walk Score

Walk Score will become an important determinant of your property’s value in 2020. Using a score of 1-100, this system measures the ease of walkability of any address to schools, shops, parks and places of work. A high Walk Score will add value to a property; a Walk Score of 70, for instance, indicates that there is transit and a resident of that address can access important amenities without needing a car. Every point above the threshold score of 70 is worth $700-3000 in value for a property.

9. Segregated roads, bicycle lanes and pedestrian paths

Already considered a successful system in several European cities, this separation of roads, cycleways and pedestrian paths will be adopted more in Australia’s major cities in the coming decade. The increasing focus on the health and wellness of residents will see urban planners, designers, councils and developers encourage the development of walking and cycling ‘superhighways’ to boost physical activity and social cohesion.

10. Smaller homes and centralised amenities for communities

The craze for large homes has considerably diminished and the next decade will see the emergence of smaller homes connected to amenities in centralised community locations within walking distance.

Image: ie.edu