High density mixed use projects that are adjacent to or integrated with public transport hubs represent a significant growth area that will help transform and revitalise cities both around the world and in Australia, according to a new report.

In the research paper, international real-estate services firm CBRE said Australian cities faced challenges in coming decades as an expected population of between 35 million and 42 million by 2040 drove the need to provide between 4.4 million and 7.1 million new homes and traffic congestion is expected to cost $20 billion to $30 billion by 2020.

The paper says transit oriented development (TOD) – master-planned projects which are designed to interface with transport services and significant transport hubs – have enormous potential to revitalise underused spaces, provide more affordable housing closer to transport links and thus with greater accessibility to employment opportunities, create more widely distributed hubs of employment and reduce the strain on road infrastructure by allowing easier commuting by public transport.

“TOD projects have the capacity to address many of the challenges facing major cities in developed economies as a result of a rapid increase in urbanisation,” said CBRE regional director of structured transactions and advisory services Wayne Redman.

“A successful TOD will achieve a substantial shift from private vehicles to public transport, while improving livability and local employment opportunities.”

Still, important lessons can be learned from prior projects both in Australia and around the world, the report says.

Projects have the best chance of success when they take place in established markets within inner cities and middle income suburbs, it says. Some incentives may be necessary in order to attract retail and corporate tenants despite the benefits these types of locations provide as active precincts with retail and entertainment services for employees and lower leasing and/or project construction costs resulting from a reduced demand to provide car parking facilities.

Also important was close community consultation. Feedback in regard to the Yeerongpilly TOD around 10 kilometres from the Brisbane CBD, for example, found that residents wanted more retail, outlets and dining opportunities as well as a diversity of housing types, better connections and facilities for pedestrians and cyclists and additional parkland and associated facilities along with an east-west pedestrian link between the Yeerongpilly railway station and the Queensland Tennis Centre.

Finally, government vision and facilitation was crucial, including through the provision and rezoning of appropriate sites, providing development certainty, directly funding transport infrastructure and coordinating issues with the relevant authorities.

While there are a number of examples of significant TODs in Australia, the most significant is the Perth City Link development. This project, which will extend from Perth Station to the new Perth Arena, will reconnect the city centre with Northbridge for the first time in more than 100 years.

Once complete, the project will see significantly improved transport connections along with the new entertainment centre along with the creation of 150,000 square metres of commercial space, 100,000 square metres of residential apartments and 30,000 square metres of retail/entertainment space.