Uncontrolled sprawl or managed growth? An Australian case study

Document Type

Journal Article


American Society of Civil Engineers


Faculty of Business and Law


School of Law and Justice




This article was originally published as: Hiller, B., Melotte, B. J., & Hiller, S. (2013). Uncontrolled sprawl or managed growth? An Australian case study. Leadership and Management in Engineering, 13(3), 144-170. Original article available here


The United Nations predicts that 70% of the global population will be based in urban areas by 2050. National urbanization rates in the United States and Australia already exceed that level, typically characterized by sprawling cities. This paper reviews urbanization trends in Australia, drawing on recent research and national statistics, and includes a detailed case study of Perth, Western Australia. Perth represents a classic example of urban and peri-urban sprawl focused on a single dominant central business district. This paper explains the features of Perth, its urban form, its land-use and settlement patterns, and the reasons sprawl continues despite government initiatives to slow peripheral growth. A bespoke framework is used to integrate environmental, social, economic, and governance components within a political context and the authors attempt to highlight issues also faced by the U.S. engineering profession. Finally, the paper presents a set of practical indicators for engineers to use in integrated land-use infrastructure planning to help promote managed growth of urban areas and minimize sprawl.