Monash University: Monash Commission recommends global pursuit of deliberate strategies to grow and enhance intermediary cities

The Monash Commission has released its perspective on future-oriented features of Intermediary Cities that aims to improve liveability and resilience for large cities of the future.

The report – The liveable metropolis: The opportunity of Intermediary Cities to deliver resilience, impact and prosperity – sheds new light on urban planning, transport, governance and inclusion by looking at the unique role played by Intermediary Cities.

A central recommendation suggests the future of the networked cities requires clarity of national urban plans and visionary leadership to understand the connection and strength between large cities and Intermediary Cities – their smaller, more agile counterparts.

Alongside this recommendation, the Commission also suggests that in a COVID-19 influenced landscape, a fresh approach could also see new indices of liveability to be developed, so that in the future we rank world-class cities on the extent to which the city contributes to economic and social prosperity in wider locations, and not just the city centre itself.

In conducting its inquiry, the Monash Commission canvassed research from experts that explored the emergent infrastructure requirements of future cities, the changing needs and demands of society and citizens, as well as the economic and structural systems in place to support them to thrive.

Chair of the Monash Commission, Mark Birrell AM, said the Commission has amplified a global conversation about Intermediary Cities and polycentric networks.

“The Commission investigated high-performing and innovative Intermediary Cities across the world and distilled features and key enablers that have led them to be at the forefront of development,” Mr Birrell said.

“We hope the report will spur Intermediary Cities to consider their future role and provide useful guidance to policy-makers, governments and investors globally on how to enhance existing Intermediary Cities or develop new ones”.

The inquiry has highlighted six case study cities and identified future-oriented features that Intermediary Cities are using to pursue ambitious agendas to address long-standing community issues and improve outcomes for citizens. Regions or cities highlighted include: The Randstad, Netherlands; Canberra, Australia; Aspern, Austria; Lund, Sweden; Surrey, Canada; and Bradfield, Australia.

The future-oriented features include:

Balance of autonomy and integration within the larger metropolitan network
Citizen and community wellbeing
Equitable and sustainable design
Experimentation and innovation
Diverse economic base, jobs and innovation
Vision, leadership and sound governance.

Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner AC said the Commission’s findings highlight a series of interventions that are needed to address long-standing community issues and improve outcomes for citizens.

“In the coming decades, global liveability will increasingly depend on functionally networked cities, and long-term national urban plans will increase the ability of local governments to be innovative and future-focused to address the needs of citizens and global challenges, such as climate change and inequality,” Professor Gardner said.

“Addressing the challenges of our time cannot rely on doing the same as we have done before. The COVID-19 pandemic has given leaders and governments a unique opportunity to review what liveability means for a wider group of people. Living locally and in nature has renewed our focus – large global cities and smaller cities can work together to effectively address these issues in a new way.”

What is the Monash Commission

Formed in April 2018, the Monash Commission brings together Australian and international leaders and academics who are driving policy discussion and decisions.

The Monash Commission is conducting a series of in-depth inquiries that capture the best available evidence and public perspectives to affect major change on vital matters.

The Report ‘The liveable metropolis: the opportunity of Intermediary Cities to deliver resilience, impact and prosperity’, is the response to the second inquiry conducted by the Monash Commission.

The inquiry was led by infrastructure leader, Mark Birrell AM, Non-Executive Director and former Cabinet Minister in Victoria.

He was joined by a new panel of Commissioners:

Professor Khoo Teng Chye – Professor in Practice, College of Design and Engineering, National University of Singapore, and former Executive Director of the Centre for Liveable Cities
Ms Gabrielle Trainor AO – Chair, Construction Industry Culture Taskforce and Board Member, Western Parkland City Authority, ACT City Renewal Authority, and the Major Transport Infrastructure Authority
Professor Em. Kees Christiaanse – Urban Designer and Architect, KCAP, Distinguished Affiliated Professor, TU Munich and Professor Emeritus, ETH Zurich
Ms Julie Wagner – President of The Global Institute on Innovation Districts and Senior Fellow, Brookings Institute
Professor Kris Olds – Professor of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Professor Jinhua Zhao – Director of the MIT Mobility Initiative and Chief Scientist, TRAM.GLOBAL
Ms Terri Benson – Managing Director of Birdon Group
Professor Ken Sloan (Coordinating Commissioner) – Vice-Chancellor and CEO of Harper Adams University