Publication Details

Gibson, C., Crosby, A., Grodach, C., Lyons, C., O'Connor, J. & Gu, X. (2017). Can our cities' thriving creative precincts be saved from 'renewal'?. The Conversation, 30 August 1-7.


Governments are busily rezoning our cities for high-rise apartments. The New South Wales government, for example, plans to rezone a 20-kilometre corridor in Sydney, from Sydenham to Bankstown, for urban density, in concert with a new metro rail line. Residents and community groups have reacted vociferously to the prospects of high-rise buildings in previously low-density suburbs. But there is another, overlooked dimension to the redevelopment. Much of it is on industrial land: pockets of old factories and workshops, portrayed as decrepit and in need of renewal. Our new project documents enterprises that actually use urban industrial lands. It's a story of surprising and largely hidden vibrancy at the interface between creative industries and small manufacturing. Planners and economic developers tend to assume manufacturing has left central cities and that manufacturing enterprises can simply locate to city-fringe greenfield sites. In reality, manufacturing is changing form, and often depends on - and benefits from - urban industrial lands. Despite the scale of renewal plans, no detailed knowledge exists of what will be lost, or of existing enterprises' needs.