Geo notes



-       Suburbanisation is the movement of people, employment and facilities away from the inner city towards outer urban areas.

 The introduction of trams and suburban rail networks in the latter part of the 19th century, suburban living became possible.

-       Mass car ownership from the mid 20th century onwards accelerated the trend, as it was no longer necessary to live next to a train line.

-       These trends along with the development of the commercial trucking industry, attracted employment to suburbia. As a result, the inner city and suburbia became increasingly distant from each other.

-       Until the 1970’s people worked in the central city but lived in the suburbs. However, the suburbanisation of commerce and industry resulted in a complete restructuring of the metropolitan economy.

-       This process was led by retailing, especially development of large regional shopping centres. Closely followed by an upsurge in the suburbanisation of employment: first manufacturing employments, but more recently, office-based industries.

-       Today, multifunctional urban cores, known as minicities or edge cities have become a distinctive feature of the urban landscape. Many are now self-sufficient urban entities containing their own economic and cultural activities. Most compete with the CBD for economic activities, such as telecommunications, high-tech industries and corporate headquarters.

-       Examples of edge cities include Parramatta, Chatswood, North Sydney, Campbelltown, Liverpool and Bondi Junction.

-       The flight to the suburbs is most apparent in ‘New World’ countries, such as the US, Canada, Australian and NZ. However, it was not a universal trend, with places such as Europe remaining the tradition of urban living.

Suburbanisation in Australia:

-       Suburbanisation in AUS largely commenced with the introduction of trams and the development of the rail network era.

-       The railways were the dominant influence on the form of cities from the 1860’s to about 1920.

-       The advent of the automobile era released households from the constraint of having to locate near railway lines, and led to the infilling between various railway lines, often referred to as urban sprawl.

-       Other factors that ‘drove’ the process of suburbanisation include:

o   High birth rates and immigration

o   An expansion in home ownership

o   Rising standards of living enabled working class and middle class families to move from crowded inner city areas, to low-density detached housing.

-       The Australian dream of a house and land in suburbia is receding. Since the 1960s, housing appears to have become less affordable relative to income, households have fewer members, the population is ageing and there are now more single-parent families.

-       Gentrification, urban consolidation and a flat-building boom, all point in the direction of an end to the long post-war boom in suburban development.

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Urban Decay

Urban decay Urban renewal

-       The deterioration of the urban environment is known as urban decay. It occurs when urban infrastructure falls into disrepair.

-       The redevelopment of such area, so that they meet the needs of people, is referred to as urban renewal.

-       Until the mid-1960s, Sydney’s inner-city experienced urban decay, involving:

o   The deterioration of residential areas (19th century working-class housing)

o   The decline in inner-city investment associated with the suburbanisation of manufacturing, warehousing and office-based activities

-       Since the 1960s, residential deterioration has been reversed in some areas by the process of gentrification.

Urban decay and renewal in Sydney:

-       Since the late 1980s, there has been evidence of fundamental changes in the balance of investment and population growth between inner city and the suburbs.

-       There has been a surge in investment; and property values in inner-city areas have increased significantly.

-       Much of this new development is on land previously occupied by non-residential land uses.

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Sydney's Social effects

Social structure

-       Sydney is Australia’s largest metropolitan area. It is also an emergent world city.

-       Sydney has a well-defined class structure

-       Class is largely determined by a persons occupation in terms of prestige, financial record and material lifestyle.

Social effects of economic restructuring:

1.     A major feature of economic restructuring has been the growth in the producer services and finance sectors, accompanied by significant decline in other areas, especially manufacturing jobs.

2.     The dynamic, high-growth manufacturing sector had, over-time, raised wages, reduces inequality and contributed to the growth of the middle class. However, it has given way to a new service-dominated economy, characterised by greater inequalities in income.

3.     As a result of the widespread shedding of manufacturing jobs, the differences in living standards between more advantaged and less advantaged people are growing.

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Spatial patterns of advantage and disadvantage

Spatial patterns of advantage and disadvantage,

-       Three of the most commonly used indicators of social advantage and disadvantage are:

o   Occupation

o   Education

o   Income

-       Over-time, the spatial concentration of disadvantaged groups may lead to residents being caught up in a cycle of poverty (USA).

-       Although the unemployment-equals-inequality trend is increasing, there is no under-class due to the safety net provided by the Australia governments welfare support.

Inequalities in access to employment:

-       Access to employment can be examined in several ways:

o   Income is closely related to a person’s range of world related skills (a product of education), one of the factors generating inequalities.

o   Economic restructuring has seen a decline in lower-skilled occupations, increasing inequality a the lack of education and skills prevents some workers moving from one sector to another.

Inequalities in access to housing:

-       Social inequalities are increased when people are unable to afford adequate housing.

-       An increase in social inequalities also occurs when people who are adequately housed have too little to live on after paying mortgage or rent.

-       Renters are disadvantaged compared with those purchasing a home. This is because the equity built up in rising property value goes to the owner, while rising prices are passed on in the form of higher rentals.

Inequalities in access to education:

-       There are 3 aspects of the relationship between socioeconomic context and education which is then translated into the inequalities with which children must deal when they become adults:

1)    The social and physical environment has influence on the school.

2)    The effects of increasing socioeconomic segregation (many believe that the level of student achievement is linked to the socioeconomic environment of the school itself).

3)    There must be considerations to which the extent of a school system reflects, in terms of what it teaches, whom it teachers and what pupils learn in and out of the classroom.

-       It is also important to acknowledge the importance of parental expectations and student aspirations in shaping educational outcomes.

-       Spatial inequalities of education can be demonstrated in three ways:

1)    High school retention rates, defined as the proportion of students entering year 7 who remain to complete year 12

2)    Student performance in public examinations (SC, HSC)

3)    The distribution of those with tertiary qualifications

Inequalities in access to health care:

-       The overriding issue in the provision of hospitals and community health services in Sydney is their distribution relative to the city’s population

-       The reasons for present and remaining inequalities in the provision of hospitals are largely rooted in the past.

-       The general issue of distribution according to the need is important for several reasons:

o   People living in areas that are under-supplied may be treated with greater haste or may have to wait much longer

o   Overprovision raises the possibility of excessive treatment

-       There needs to be a distinction between the following:

o   The threshold level of medical services required to meet the basic health care needs of the population

o   Over supply, as measured against the threshold level of need.

-       There is a heavy supply of doctors in the inner and northern suburbs, and a relative shortage in outer west/south-west suburbs.

-       The provision of and access to hospital facilities is another problem. This is because of the major concentration of facilities in and around the inner-city, compounded by reluctance on the part of the medical profession to relocate their practices.

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Spacial patterns of ethnicity

-       The ethnic dimension of Sydney’s urban residential structure is often considered within the context of class or socioeconomic status.

-       A feature of Australia’s multicultural society is that new settlers are not expected to abandon their cultural background, but are encouraged to integrate into our communities and way of life (resulting in new foods, sports, music, and architecture).

-       Most migrant come to Australia to start a new life for themselves, but find themselves in a situation of relative disadvantage due to lack of work related skills, proficiency in English and financial resources.

-       The spatial outcome of immigration is a complex pattern of concentration (segregation) and dispersion (desegregation).

-       Factors contributing to ethnic segregation include:

o   Socioeconomic status

o   Prejudice based on cultural differences

o   Time of arrival

-       During the first half of the 20th century, migration to Australia was mainly from Brittan and Ireland.

-       In the 1950s and 60s, considerable numbers of immigrants from continental Europe and eastern Europe, along with those from Germany and the Netherlands.

-       This was overlapped by the migration from Yugoslavia and the Middle East in the 60s and 70s.

-       The reasons why Europeans chose to migrate to Australia included:

o   Higher standards of living

o   Widespread poverty and homelessness in post-war Europe

o   Political unrest in Europe

o   Rural poverty in southern Europe.

-       During the 1980s and 90s, immigration policy changes to favour two separate migrant streams:

1)    Refugee migrants (Middle East, Indochina and Latin America)

2)    Professional and business migrants (East and South-east Asian countries)

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Economic character

Economic character

-       Sydney is an increasingly important link in the system of world cities.

-       Economic restructuring involves major long-term shifts in the productive base of an economy, and associated changes in the pattern of employment (generally involves job loses in the manufacturing sector). It also involves job gains in the service or non-goods production sector.

-       The service and information sectors (the new economy) were the major growth areas throughout the 1980s, 90s and early 2000s.

-       Two thirds of the Asia-pacific regional head offices are located in Sydney.

Nature and location of residential land

-       Sydney’s urban landscape is changing in response to new financial, technological and social forces, but with economic factors as the underlying influence.

-       Since the 1960s, the loss of manufacturing jobs in Sydney’s Central Industrial Area (CIA) has gone hand in hand with the creation of new forms of industrial landuse (modern high-tech manufacturing, warehousing and freight handling).

-       During the long economic boom from the late 1940 to late 1960s, there was ongoing suburbanisation of manufacturing. This was driven by the disadvantages of inner city locations:

o   Obsolete plant and equipment

o   Aging infrastructure

o   Traffic congestion

o   Limited scope for expansion

o   High cost of land

-       This change was also a result of the process of global economic restructuring. This included the reorganisation of a number of large industrial firms, for example Holden closing its vehicle assembly plant in Pagewood in the late 1970s.

-       At port Botany, there was pressure for change to a major shipping facility, as a result of demands from landuse activities that benefit from being located close to the port complex, including storage and distribution.

-       Key features of the transformation of Sydney’s industrial landscape are:

o   Progressive decline of Sydney’s CIA

o   Sydney’s harbour decline as a working port

o   Development of new business parks, housing the economic activities that are characteristic of the new economy.

-       Sydney’s CIA has experienced a prolonged period of decline:

o   Pyrmont-ultimo are almost devoid of industry

o   Abandoned port facilities transformed into a major entertainment and exhibition district.

-       Industrial structures and warehouses have now been converted to a range of commercial and non-commercial uses, including:

o   Universities (UTS)

o   Office accommodation

o   Museums

o   Residential accommodation

-       Working class cottages have been replaced by high-end apartments.

-       South Sydney’s industrial areas have also experienced change, most apparent along South Dowling Street where old manufacturing complexes are being transformed into residential and commercial structures.

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Sydney's growth

-       The major issues confronting Sydney include:

o   Accommodating future population growth

o   Protecting the amenity if the biophysical and built environment

o   Addressing traffic congestion/transport infrastructure

o   Meeting Sydney’s demand for water

o   Maintaining air and water quality

o   Disposing of solid and toxic wastes

-       Managing the relationship between urbanisation, quality of life and environmental quality requires carefully devised and implemented planning strategies.


-       Population is anticipated to grow by 1.1 million between 2004-2031.

-       Some of the anticipated growth will be accommodated within the exiting metropolitan area (urban consolidation, infilling). However, most will settle in new suburban areas on the city’s outskirts.

Strengthening of existing city centres in the metropolitan areas:

-       The CBD and North Sydney will remain the heart, Parramatta, Liverpool and Penrith will be developed as focal points for economic enterprises.

Development of new ‘major’ centres:

-       Suburban centres (such as Bankstown, Blacktown, Bondi Junction, Chatswood, etc) will be developed as secondary edge cities, their main focus of retailing, health-care provision, tertiary education and medium-high density housing.

Better-connected and stronger regional centres:

-       Employment growth will be encourages on the Central Coast and improved transport links will reduce the costs of living in these areas.

Development of a global economic corridor:

-       The global economic corridor will stretch from North Ryde and Macquarie Park, through North Sydney and the CBD, to Sydney airport and port botany.

More jobs in western Sydney:

-       Employment growth will be encouraged in major urban centres of western Sydney.

Containment of Sydney’s urban footprint:

-       Valued rural and timbered lands will be protected through land zoning mechanisms.

-       Specific strategies to reduce Sydney’s urban footprint include:

o   Establish environmental targets and then integrate then into decision-making processes

o   Improve health of waterways

o   Improve Sydney’s air quality

o   Protect sites that are of cultural significance for Indigenous Australians

o   Promote energy efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

o   Minimise waste and promote recycling

o   Implement policies to promote the sustainable use of water

Development of transport infrastructure:

-       The transport network will be extended to increase access to the global economic corridor, new urban centres and new employment areas.

-       New rail links and bus routes.

-       Other strategies to enhance the transport network include:

o   Complete major new transport infrastructure projects

o   Reduce car dependency

o   Enhance the integration of public transport

o   Build walking and cycling networks

o   Promote the movement of freight by rail, not road

Supply of land and sites for residential development:

30-50% of new housing will be built in land release areas on the outskirts of the city. The remaining will be built in existing areas

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