September 2015
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Urban Renewal and Housing Masters due for 2016 launch

Designed to chime with active policy agendas in Sydney, a new UNSW postgraduate degree in Urban Renewal and Housing (URH) is set for launch next year. Subject to final University approval, the program will be the first Masters degree in Australia to feature either urban renewal or housing as a main focus.
Led by Hal Pawson (pictured), and also involving other CFRC colleagues, the URH program will complement existing UNSW masters degrees in Urban Policy and Strategy, and in City Planning. It will incorporate six core taught courses including ‘Housing Policy and Finance’, ‘Urban Renewal’ and ‘Implementing Urban Regeneration Projects’. Elective subject choices will include courses run in the UNSW Business School and in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences as well as within Built Environment. 

URH is intended for mid-career professionals working in Government, consultancy and not-for-profit organisations as well as for students recently graduating from relevant disciplines. Versions of the full URH Masters program will also be made available as more ‘bite sized’ Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma options, and all three variants will be available to study on a full time or part time basis.
For further information about the program contact Hal Pawson.

Celebrating 10 years of City Futures

Yes, it really is ten years since the City Futures Research Centre gained its formal accreditation as a UNSW research centre in late 2005!  To celebrate the achievement of a decade of world leading research on cities, we are holding a short series of special events at The Mint, Macquarie Street. 
To mark this occasion and to launch the URH Masters program (see above) and the new CFRC City Analytics Program under Prof Chris Pettit, two open lecture events under the Cities@UNSW banner will be held in early November:

‘Housing Market Drivers and Affordability Interventions: New York, London and Sydney’
The Mint, Macquarie St, Sydney, 6.30-8.00 pm, Wed 11 November.
Two leading international housing market analysts, Prof Alex Schwartz (the New School, New York City), and Prof Nick Gallent (University College London) will join CFRC’s Professor Hal Pawson to compare and contrast post-GFC experience in three major world cities.

‘Big Data Analytics: Planning Tools for the Future’
The Mint, Macquarie Street, Sydney, 4.30-6.00 pm, Thurs 12 November
Professor Michael Batty (Bartlett School of Planning, University College London), a world-renowned expert on advanced spatial statistics will present a lecture linking with the new Built Environment Faculty initiative in Urban Science.
To register email:

Centre Director Awarded Prestigious Gong

Congratulations to CFRC Director, Professor Bill Randolph, recently elected an Academy of Social Sciences in Australia (ASSA) Fellow. In joining this prestigious club, Bill joins the Faculty’s Associate Dean (Research), Professor Robert Freestone, and City Futures Adjunct Professors, Ian Burnley and Patrick Troy.

Major urban research program completed

Just published by AHURI is the final Final Report from our research program ‘Addressing Concentrations of Disadvantage in Urban Australia’. Led by Hal Pawson, and undertaken in partnership with Swinburne University and the University of Queensland, this four-year study encompassed Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. As a reflective overview of the entire research program, the final Final Report relates our findings to a wide range of recent contributions to the international urban studies literature. A new post on the City Futures blog highlights some of the program’s most significant conclusions.

CFRC at Harvard Think Tank on Healthy Cities

In June, City Wellbeing Director, Professor Susan Thompson, was the sole Australian invitee among 30 participants at a three-day international conference on health planning. Hosted by Harvard University in Boston, the event was jointly organised by Professor Ann Forsyth of the Health and Place Initiative (HAPI) Project and the T.H. Chan School of Public Health. 
The conference aimed to enhance collaboration and knowledge-transfer on how best to frame the topic of healthy places within planning research and practices. Participants developed the following vision statement for future collaborations around healthy places:
  • All people have the right to live, grow, learn, work and play in places that support health
  • People, politics, and policies shape places, and places shape opportunities for health
  • Climate change is an urgent threat to health and equity, and must be an opportunity to design places that advance health, economic, and social justice
  • Design, research, policy, and health communities must work together to promote healthy, equitable, and resilient places for all.
You can read the full proceedings report here.

Inputting into a Canadian Housing Debate

Invited by City of Toronto, Hal Pawson recently visited Canada to input into a currently ongoing debate about the future of Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), North America’s second largest social landlord. Managing 60,000 homes, TCHC is technically a City-owned arms-length agency. Earlier in 2015, in response to mounting tenant complaints, managerial turmoil and negative media coverage, Toronto’s Mayor appointed a Task Force to deliberate on TCHC’s future. 

Underlying the TCHC crisis, however, is a story all too familiar to Australian readers acquainted with our own creaking public housing system. Decades of asset underfunding have coincided disastrously with inexorably rising poverty rates among TCHC’s rent-geared-to-income tenants. The need to spend has grown just as the ability to do so has contracted. By 2014, the bill for outstanding essential TCHC repairs and property upgrading topped $2.5 billion. Hundreds of substandard empty homes now lie boarded up for lack of funding – a number projected as increasing to 7,500 over the next eight years without intervention. And although the City has pledged to meet a third of the outstanding sum over 10 years, Council calls for matching contributions from Ontario State and the Federal Government have fallen on deaf ears.
All of which means, as argued by Prof Pawson at a TCHC Task Force meeting, that international experiences of social housing reform and re-financing through not-for-profit entities call for urgent City Council consideration. 

The Director goes to Oxford

In August Bill Randolph attended the Global Conference on Economic Geography in Oxford.  The Conference is the fourth in a series launched in 2000 and attracted upwards of 700 delegates from over 50 countries. Bill was invited to present to a specially convened session “Housing as Commodity”, chaired by Prof David Ley (University of British Colombia).  Bill’s presentation, Investor returns and affordability outcomes in the private rental market, Sydney Australia, drew on research currently being undertaken at City Futures as part of an ongoing ARC Discovery grant-funded project on the growth of suburban private rental markets in Sydney and Melbourne. His presentation will soon be uploaded to our website.

New research projects

In collaboration with UNSW’s Social Policy Research Centre, City Futures has recently been commissioned by the Government of South Australia to undertake a longitudinal study on the impacts of Better Places, Stronger Communities – the State’s public housing transfer pilot program. Running through until 2017, the research will assess how BPSC objectives to improve property conditions and tenant outcomes are met.
Dr Edgar Liu (pictured), CFRC’s main contributor to the BPSC evaluation, is also involved in another new research project, funded by the Collaborative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living (CRC-LCL). Led by Prof Bruce Judd, this 12-month study will investigate the barriers lower income households face in reducing carbon consumption, and what potential policy responses may be in facilitating further reduction.

Staffing changes

After two and a half years, the Centre said goodbye to our Administration Assistant Danielle Del Pizzo in August. We wish her all the best in her new role at the University’s Facilities Management division. In Danielle’s place, we welcome Andrew Freney. Two new researchers will also be joining the City Analytics program in the coming months.

City Futures in the News

Quarter 3 2015 continues to see a number of CFRC staff again featured prominently in the news, discussing important urban and housing issues in print, online and even a TV news grab for 9 News Sydney on the strata law reforms in NSW. Bill Randolph’s comments on this topic were also featured in articles in the Fifth Estate twice, Domain; he and his City Change team, also commented on higher density living and how best to protect the growing numbers of high-rise apartment residents on Domain, the Daily Telegraph, ABC News online, Sourceable, and Title Magazine. Professor Hal Pawson was also invited to comment on fixing the housing affordability problem in print and on local radio, renting as a preferred tenure choice, and on public housing transfer policies in RICS-Modus (p.19-21). He was also interviewed about public housing transfers on Radio New Zealand and about housing unaffordability in Sydney on ABC News (6 Sept). Dr Edgar Liu also commented on designing for three-generation households in The Australian.
Recently at the UNSW Chancellery, Susan Thompson presented her inaugural professorial lecture entitled Making Places for People: Planning to support health and well-being.  You can access the lecture and PowerPoint slides from the City Wellbeing presentation page.

City Futures blog posts - Q3 2015 (in date order)

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Books, Refereed Journal Articles, AHURI Reports and other publications - Q3 2015

Barton, J., Goldie, X. & Pettit, C. (2015). Introducing a usability framework to support urban information discovery and analytics. Journal of Spatial Science, 1-17. 
Benke, K., Sheth, F., Betteridge, K., Pettit, C. & Aurambout, J.-P. (2015). Application of geovisual analytics to modelling the movements of ruminants in the rural landscape using satellite tracking data. International Journal of Digital Earth, 8(7), 579-593. 
Easthope, H. (2015). The role of retirees in residential "private governments". Journal of Urban Affairs, 37(3), 311-326.
Easthope, H., Liu, E., Judd, B., & Burnley, I. (2015). Feeling at Home in a Multigenerational Household: The Importance of Control. Housing, Theory and Society, 32(2), 151-170. 
Fitzpatrick, S., Pawson, H., Bramley, G., Wilcox, S. & Watts, B. (2015) The Homelessness Monitor: Wales 2015; London: Crisis
Herath, S. (2015). Technology in urban planning: spatial hedonic house price model as an information tool. In Leshinsky, R. and Legacy, C. (eds) Instruments of Planning: Tensions and challenges for delivering equitable planning outcomes. Routledge, 228-240.
Herath, S. & Maier, G. (2015). Informational efficiency of the real estate market: A meta-analysis. Journal of Economic Research, 20(2), 117-168.
Herath, S., Choumert, J. & Maier, G. (2015). The value of the greenbelt in Vienna: a spatial hedonic analysis. Annals of Regional Science, 54(2), 349-374.
Pawson, H. & Herath, S. (2015). Disadvantaged Places in Urban Australia: Residential Mobility, Place Attachment and Social Exclusion (AHURI Final Report 243). Melbourne: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.
Pawson, H., Dalton, T. & Hulse, K. (2015). Rooming House Futures: Governing for Growth, Fairness and Transparency (AHURI Final Report 245). Melbourne: Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.
Pawson, H., Hulse, K. & Cheshire, L. (2015) Addressing Concentrations of Disadvantage in Urban Australia; Final Report no 247; Melbourne: AHURI
Pettit, C., Klosterman, R., Delaney, P., Whitehead, A., Kujala, H., Bromage, A. & Nino-Ruiz, M. (2015). The Online What if? Planning Support System: A Land Suitability Application in Western Australia. Applied Spatial Analysis and Policy, 8(2), 93-112.
Sinnott, R. O, Bayliss, C., Bromage, A., Galang, G., Grazioli, G., Greenwood, P., Macaulay, A., Morandini, L., Nogoorani, G., Nin-Ruiz, M., Tomko, M., Pettit, C., Sarwar, M., Stimson, R., Voorsluys, W. &  Widjaja, I. (2015). The Australia urban research gateway. Concurrency and Computation: Practice and Experience, 27(2), 358-375.
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