Densification and Walkability - the solution to nearly everything...
Okay. Maybe a slight exaggeration in the heading - but the benefits of getting a few more people living in and around centres, high streets or 'urban corridors' as the Australians call them can be huge.
Consider this little extract from a seminal piece by Rob Adams - the genius responsible as much as anyone for turning Melbourne into the world's most 'liveable city' according to the Economist Intelligence Unit - in 'Transforming Australian Cities':
Benefits of Urban Corridors
The major benefit of this approach is that Australian cities could immediately start to move to improve their long term livability, economic productivity and environmental sustainability, through the positive forces of the private market system, and achieve this by only changing about 3% of the existing footprint of the city. More specific benefits include the following:
With increased densities resulting from medium rise development along corridors, substantial population growth can be accommodated in the existing urban area, easing pressures on fringe green space and agricultural land.
These increased densities will make better use of existing infrastructure and support a wider array of services and experiences for residents and visitors.
The economics of providing high quality public transport services along denser corridors would improve and assist in reducing car ownership.
High quality, calmed public transport streets with continuous active frontages would provide a safe and vibrant pedestrian environment.
Environmental excellence in energy, water and waste management would minimise the need for upgrading existing or new infrastructure.
Reduced car dependency would assist transport disadvantaged people.
An increased pool of affordable housing would become available, provided through the market.
The application of good urban design principles, such as high quality public realm, clear definition between public and private space, active street frontages, sun and weather protection would improve the quality of urban space.
Production of mixed use development would result in greater accessibility to local work, services and recreation opportunities.
New ‘high streets’ connecting activity centres provide an urban experience close to suburbia.
If you want more and don't fancy reading the tome, see the TED video of Rob Adams here).