Australia: State of the Environment Second Technical Paper Series (Human Settlements), Series 2
Emma Baker, Neil Coffee and Graeme Hugo
Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2000
ISBN 0 642 54791 2
The shifts shown in the maps can also be visualised in graphical form. Figure 18 shows the residential densities in Sydney in 1986 and 1996. It will be noted the largest change has occurred in inner Sydney (in a radius of 6 km for the city centre). Most suburbs in the middle part of the city also recorded small increases in density. The pattern in Melbourne is depicted in Figure 19 and again the greatest changes were in the central suburbs. However, again too, there is a discernible increase in density in the middle suburbs from 18-30 km from the city centre. The pattern is duplicated in fast-growing Brisbane (Figure 20) where again the greatest increases in population density were in the innermost and middle suburbs. Perth's pattern is a little different as Figure 21 indicates. A central increase in population density is apparent but the largest increases in density were in the middle suburbs between 8 and 30 km form the city centre. This indicates a widespread urban consolidation impact in the city. Finally Figure 22 indicates the changes in density in Adelaide. Even though it was the slowest growing city there were also increases in density in the inner city but also in the middle suburbs from 14 to 24 km for the city centre. Hence there is evidence of the impact of urban consolidation evident in the patterns of population density.
Figure 18: Sydney Residential Densities 1986 and 1996
Figure 19: Melbourne Residential Densities 1986 and 1996
Figure 20: Brisbane Residential Densities 1986 and 1996
Figure 21: Perth Residential Densities 1986 and 1996
Figure 22: Adelaide Residential Densities 1986 and 1996
The real evidence regarding the reurbanisation versus suburbanisation debate is seen in comparisons of the rate of population growth in 1981-86 and 1991-96 in the concentric rings around the city. Figure 23 shows the graph of the rates of population change for Sydney and an interesting pattern is in evidence. It can be seen that the reurbanisation process was already in evidence in 1981-86 when the inner city rings had a significantly faster rate of population growth than the middle suburbs, although the fastest rates of growth were in the periphery. In 1991-96 there were faster rates of population growth in the inner most rings within 20 km of the city centre than 10 years earlier. However, it is noticeable that while these periphery rings were growing faster than the middle rings it was generally at a rate lower than 10 years earlier. Indeed the fastest growing ring in the city is the inner most ring. The evidence here then is of quite important reurbanisation but suburbanisation is still occurring albeit at a slower rate than previously. Figure 23 would suggest then that while suburbanisation is still very important in Sydney infilling of the existing urban structure has increased in significance.
Figure 23: Sydney Rate of Population Change
The fact that change has occurred needs to be underlined. Figure 2 is taken from the Atlas of Australian Resources (Division of National Mapping 1980) and shows patterns of population growth in concentric rings and Australia's major cities in 1971-76. While the methodology adopted in that analysis is quite different to that used here it is clear that in the early 1970s there was a clear pattern of inner city population decline and outer city population growth at that time.
Figure 24 shows the pattern for Melbourne and a clear pattern of change is again in evidence between the patterns of growth in 1981-86 and those in 1991-96. As with Sydney the greatest rates of population growth are in the innermost concentric rings in 1991-96. This compares to a pattern of inner city decline in 1981-96. In 1981-86 there is a clear trend toward increasing rates of growth as one moves outward from the city centre. In 1991-96 some of the highest rates of growth in Melbourne were lower than in 1981-86. Again, comparison with the 1971-76 pattern confirms that change has occurred. The change does not mean that suburbanisation is not significant but that both types of population growth are occurring in Melbourne.
Figure 24: Melbourne Rate of Population Change
Turning to Brisbane Figure 25 shows that the pattern is somewhat different. There is not the same evidence of reurbanisation although in the inner most areas population declines in 1981-86 have been revived. In Brisbane however, the bulk of population growth is still in the periphery albeit at lower rates than in 1981-86. The pattern displayed by Perth is shown in Figure 26 and this would suggest that suburbanisation is still the dominant pattern in that city. In Adelaide (Figure 27) there is evidence of an upturn in growth in the city centre and some minor upturn in middle suburban rings but the bulk of growth is on the periphery, albeit at much lower rates than in 1981-86.