Funding source: (former) School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) aims to generate many benefits for local communities – economic, social and environmental. Designing residential, commercial and community spaces around a major public transit hub encourages people to work, shop and socialise locally, and rely less on pollution and congestion-causing private vehicles.

TOD precincts in other cities around the world have achieved these benefits to varying degrees. In Australia, however, where lower density urban sprawl has dominated city landscapes for nearly a century, recent efforts to implement  this modernised high-density development strategy have yet to yield the expected  positive impacts.

Research led by UQ’s Dr Sebastien Darchen is investigating what hinders TOD in Australia. The project looks at the adequacy of case study sites in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne to determine the primary challenges for TOD in our established cities.

“When implemented effectively, the TOD planning model can have a positive impact on mobility behaviour, on the economy of cities, and on efforts to reduce environmental impacts,compared to traditional suburban planning,” Dr Darchen said.

“Our research has found that, in Australia, land amalgamation issues around train stations and a lack of governance arrangements at all levels are the main impediments to the success of TOD precincts.

“Other critical factors include whether large sites designated for TOD are under single ownership, and if special state government measures have been introduced to facilitate the development approvals process.

“A key outcome from our research will be a new urban modelling method to help select the best sites for TOD and to inform future planning policies,” Dr Darchen said.