Greening the Greyfields, Smart Cities and Suburbs

Better planning tools 

The Challenge 

Creating a sustainable built environment is a challenge for many local councils, city planners, developers and builders. In cities across Australia and New Zealand, housing affordability has become a major issue. Some of Australia and New Zealand’s middle suburbs are planning a different future that is rich in growth and regeneration, in a strategically sustainable manner. Having the tools to develop and integrate a solution across suburbs will be key to future sustainable planning. Our ‘Greening the Greyfields’ research is providing these tools, as well as working on the ground to shift the culture with homeowners and local government. However, even when suitable locations have been found for greyfield developments, the legislative instruments are not yet in place to incentivise and pave the path for greyfield precinct development.  



FrontierSI led the research, development and utilisation project in collaboration with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Swinburne University, the University of Canterbury, Maroondah City Council, Knox City Council, Blacktown City Council and the CRC for Low Carbon Living (CRCLCL). Our ability to connect the right people, coupled with our position in the industry, has allowed FrontierSI to provide impartial advice on the ground with a diverse range of stakeholders and emerging partners. 


The Solution   

So, what is a “Greyfield”? It refers to the middle suburbs of Australian cities; places where the housing stock is ageing and being replaced by newer, more intensive housing developments, that have better sustainability performance. The project has developed an online stable, simple and useful suite of precinct scale urban planning tools. The tools apply spatial information to urban planning decision-making related to the redevelopment of these greyfields, to combat urban sprawl and sub-optimal land developments for improved economic, social and environmental outcomes. 

The toolkit brings landowners, developers and planners together to design more sustainable, liveable and economically viable cities. It is an out-of-the-box solution, meaning it can be used with minimal preparation or training, and in a fraction of the time of existing tools. ENVISION, one of the tools, uses a combination of open and proprietary data sets to assist planning experts to identify areas of high redevelopment potential at a municipality wide and individual property level. The tool can then rapidly explore different development possibilities. In addition to technical tools, the project has worked from state level policy down to the landowner’s kitchen table to create a planning process and framework that allows landholders to work together to achieve better financial, community and environmental outcomes. 

A grant from the federally-funded Smart Cities and Suburbs program was used to implement the program in legislation in Maroondah, enabling collaboration between property owners and encouraging better forms of development. 



This process has been recognised within local council strategic planning documents in Victoria, Christchurch (NZ), Perth and Sydney. At a state level, the Greyfields development approach has been included as the only alternative to business-as-usual development in the Plan Melbourne strategic planning document for future housing development in Melbourne, and was highly commended in the Planning institute for Australia awards. 

The outcomes of this project include reduced development costs and more sustainable neighbourhoods by building trust, reducing conflict, and increasing incentives for co-design between community groups, local governments, state agencies and property developers. You can find out more about the Greening the Greyfields software tools at the Greyfield Planning website. 



To learn more, contact FrontierSI at or Project Director, Phil Delaney, at