When ‘amenity’ meant backyards and beaches, Australia’s cities were the envy of the world. But the global definition of amenity has changed, and our cities must too, says Urbis national director James Tuma.
The ‘brands’ of Australia’s five largest cities may boost their international rankings, but the product no longer lives up to the promise.
That’s one of the key takeaways from a new series of reports commissioned by the Property Council in partnership with Urbis, from cities expert Professor Greg Clark.
Clark’s report, Creating Great Australian Cities, argues that Australian cities are locked in fierce competition with hundreds of other global cities for trade, talent and tourists, investment and institutions, services and students. But our cities are ill-equipped to meet the challenges of the ‘metropolitan century’.
“Australia has long traded on our amenity proposition – wide open spaces, great weather, beaches and jobs for everyone. And it’s been a very successful model,” says Tuma, who aside from his role with Urbis works as an adjunct professor of design at the Queensland University of Technology.
“The definition of amenity has changed. Amenity now means social equity, access to transport, a strong jobs market, café culture, vibrant, interesting, diverse and tolerant places.
“We still operate with the mindset that amenity means a backyard and a place for kids to play under the sprinkler. And with this mindset is a real risk that we lose our competitive advantage.”