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The second edition of the University of Sydney’s Festival of Urbanism will aim to uncover the real problems afflicting Australian cities by putting various notions under the microscope.

The Festival of Urbanism returns this year on 1 September with an expanded program extending from Sydney to Parramatta. Over 10 days, the festival, which carries the theme ‘Urban myth-busting’, will feature expert panels, international speakers, city tours and films to examine the real problems facing Australian cities.

The University of Sydney’s Professor Peter Phibbs, Director of the Henry Halloran Trust, the sponsor of this year’s Festival, explains that every city has different stakeholders pushing their own agendas, sometimes based on misinformation and untested theories. The festival aims to throw these theories open for discussion to separate fact from fiction and identify complex city problems by examining the best available evidence.

Some of the issues to be discussed at the Festival of Urbanism include the impact of Chinese investment on property prices; the relationship between housing affordability and supply; and the myth of building more roads to reduce traffic congestion.

Researchers Professor Hans Hendrischke from the China Studies Centre and PhD student Sha Liu from the Urban Housing Lab at the University of Sydney, together with Dr Dallas Rogers from the University of Western Sydney will discuss the drivers, politics and data on Chinese investment in Australian real estate.

While many commentators believe that the only solution to housing affordability is to increase housing supply, this theory has been disproved by the Sydney housing market, which has seen significant increases in supply accompanied by very high house prices. Property market expert Professor Laurence Murphy from the University of Auckland will reveal the true relationship between housing supply and prices, and provide some solutions for housing policy-makers to manage the price hikes in metropolitan markets.

This segment will also discuss the contribution of the not-for-profit (NFP) sector to increasing housing supply. David Cant, CEO of BHC, Australia’s biggest NFP developer, will describe the experience of his company and issue a call for NFP developers to be seen as an important part of the affordable housing supply system.

One of the biggest transport myths ‘roads are the solution to congestion’ will be tackled head-on by the University of Sydney’s infrastructure experts Professor Michiel Bliemer and Dr Matthew Beck.

Crime will also be a topic of discussion at the Festival of Urbanism, with the University of Sydney’s Dr Jennifer Kent and Sydney Institute of Criminology’s Dr Garner Clancey analysing the significant drop in crime over the last ten years in Sydney, and steps to be taken to make cities safer.

Several events in Parramatta will contest the city’s future alongside its bigger sister, Sydney. With the transport policy currently focused on getting people into the CBD, the public forum will focus on the outlook for transport in Australia’s next biggest city.

Sydney Architecture Walks will tour many of the ‘starchitect delights’ of Sydney’s inner city suburbs of Ultimo, Chippendale, Redfern and Surry Hills, which have experienced a cultural and architectural renaissance in recent times.

The Festival of Urbanism will be officially launched by Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore at a public event at the University of Sydney on Tuesday 1 September from 6.30pm.

Event details

The Festival of Urbanism will be held 1 - 10 September 2015 at the University of Sydney and other CBD and Parramatta locations.

Program and registration details are available online at Festival of Urbanism.