Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Aussie backyard becoming a dying icon - Yahoo!7 News

Aussie backyard becoming a dying icon - Yahoo!7 News

Wednesday September 5, 10:36 AM

Aussie backyard becoming a dying icon

Australia's outdoor lifestyle is being threatened by the disappearance of an Aussie icon, according to new research.
Queensland's Griffith University professor Professor Tony Hall said the backyard was fast becoming a thing of the past with new estates brimming with sprawling low-set homes taking over from the traditional suburb.
The former UK town planner began his research two years ago after he moved to Australia and noticed homes and their backyards seemed to contradict the open-air lifestyle for which Australia was internationally renowned.
Using aerial photographs and home and lot measurements, Prof Hall said a "dramatic" change had taken place in the 1990s in all areas except Adelaide where homes now stretched out to lot boundaries, leaving little room for outdoor entertainment and play.
But while urban sprawl was happening in other countries, they were not losing their back yards the way Australian families were, he said.
"What people in the suburbs are doing is spending their money on what they perceive as floor area rather than lifestyle," he said.
He said people were building "cheap", square, single-story homes rather than more expensive two-story homes which would allow for maximum floor area and a back yard.
"Walls and the windows cost money, the second story costs money, but this gives you the cheapest way," he said.
"But it's not very nice living in terms of you don't get no view out and it's not a very nice environment compared to the older suburbs."
Prof Hall said his research had concluded the trend was being spurred by people building to increase resale value and longer working hours which meant people were rarely at home.
"The real problem I think though is what is happening to the Australian lifestyle - what's happening to this idea of the outdoor lifestyle, the barbie, the swimming pool?" he said.
The trend also would have damaging effects on the environment with the homes costing more to heat, cool and light.
The lack of trees also meant a lack of biodiversity, a poor microclimate with loss of shade in hot weather and increased runoff in wet weather, he said.
He said a return to the traditional backyard could only be achieved through planning regulations.
"Because if we don't then people won't be able to change in the future," he said.
"If they suddenly decide they really wanted barbies and swimming pools and things like this, and outdoor clothing drying, they wouldn't be able to because there isn't any room anymore."

I found this article very interesting, and basically I agree with it.

One thing I could add to Professor Hall's research is the growing number of people who live in areas with larger house blocks choosing to subdivide their property and build a unit or second house at the back. This is also reducing the size and number of backyards.

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