Abstract for: Social and environmental trade-offs in urban areas

Cities have advanced in terms of economic and social status over the last five decades, improving the living conditions of hundreds of millions of people. However, population growth and urban expansion have put pressure on social and environmental conditions. To cope with continuous population growth, urban policymakers have adopted strategies to promote urban growth that directly impact the sustainability of societal well-being. This paper aims to identify policymakers urban planning strategies and examine the unintended consequences and, in particular, the effects on societal well-being in urban areas. To identify the urban planning strategies of policymakers, we analyse three published urban plans of Greater Sydney between 1968 and 2018 and systematically code the text into causal maps. We also evaluate the relative importance of economic, social and environmental dimensions in policymakers’ strategies using degree centrality measures. We find a strong focus on urban expansion and economic growth in response to population growth. Promoting continuous population growth and the imminent urban sprawl to increase economic prosperity have reduced Greater Sydney’s capacity to supply the growing demand for education, health, open spaces and transport infrastructure close to where people live, affecting the city’s attractiveness to residents and businesses.