Mid-size cities in Australia and overseas have recorded increases in property values and public transport use through the construction of light rail lines, a new urban planning report from the University of Canberra has found.
Cities with populations smaller than Canberra's have seen changed commuter behaviour bring health, economic and environmental benefits, while sale prices and rents for commercial and residential property near tram developments have risen.
The report, to be released on Monday by the Canberra Urban and Region Futures research unit, considered the experience of Freiburg, Germany; Bergen, Norway; Edmonton, Canada; and Adelaide, and found
The ACT government, which provides funding for the research unit, will use the report's findings to counter opposition to the $783 million project, including criticism that the city's population is too small for trams and that Canberrans don't use public transport.
Researcher and lead author David Flannery said the report's significant findings included denser residential and mixed-use developments around light rail. Holistic planning was critical, he said.
"Activated density – that is, density driven by strong, planned and deliberate land-use policy implementation – has been shown to be much more effective in achieving better urban outcomes than a reliance solely on induced density."
Mr Flannery said induced density "achieved ad hoc through a build-the-rail-and-density-will-come approach" should be avoided in Canberra.
Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell welcomed the report's findings and said the ACT economy would see flow-on effects from the 12-kilometre line between the city and Gungahlin.
"There has historically been a perception that Canberra is a 'car city' and some people think that we can only ever be a car city.
"What this report shows, and this is mirrored in many other cities around the world, is that car cities can switch to more active-transport-oriented cities and light rail is effective in helping making that change," Mr Corbell said.
The government has shortlisted two consortiums to build and operate the tram, with construction due from late 2016.