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CityPulse SEQ

Connecting communities for a liveable future

Brisbane is Australia’s river city, the gateway to Queensland, and the country’s third most populated city. Its current population is approximately 2.4 million people, and is forecast to grow to well over 3 million by 2035.

Unlike Australia’s two largest capital cities, which have grown to encapsulate their satellite cities, Brisbane is still separated from two thriving coastal cities located less than 100 kilometres from its CBD, which provide residents an alternative, beachfront lifestyle. These two cities – the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast – are also forecast to experience higher rates of population growth over the same period.

As South East Queensland (‘SEQ’) grows to support an additional 2 million residents over the next 25 years, effective transport connectivity, the decentralisation of the central business district, and an innovative governance and planning framework will counteract inefficient urban sprawl. This will improve the liveability of our region. Additionally, these key factors will help to insulate Brisbane from a number of challenges currently being faced by other Australian capital cities, including housing affordability, traffic congestion and local job availability.

In order to provide a balanced ‘live’, ‘work’ and ‘play’ lifestyle to all of its residents in the future, SEQ must develop as a series of smart, connected and active precincts. But first we need to understand, through objective facts, what is needed to create each precinct, and where the challenges will lie. CityPulse SEQ (‘CityPulse’) gives us those facts.

Discover what parts of SEQ are the best for you to live, work and play

City averages




Above average Below average Low population
Your budget for housing:


Which best describes you?
How do you usually get around?

Outside work



What kinds of amenities do you like to access in your spare time?
Rarely Sometimes Often
Open space inc. national parks
Culture and attractions
Rarely Sometimes Often
Bars and dining
Sports and fitness facilities

PwC’s CityPulse assesses how each area performs against each of the three 'Live, Work, Play' metrics and is based on a range of data sources; examples under the category of Live include data relating to hospital accessibility, crime rates, and housing affordability. CityPulse focuses on general access and availability and does not currently take into account the demographics or preferences of local residents. Learn more about our approach.

Key findings on Live

  • Proximity to Brisbane’s CBD is the linchpin of ‘live’ scores. Controversially, and perhaps counter-intuitively, CityPulse shows that many parts of SEQ that are synonymous with offering a high quality of life, such as the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, don’t score as highly in ‘live’. This is because, despite having immediate access to beaches and other natural attractions, these areas, relative to others, have poorer access to jobs, healthcare, educational facilities and other desirable amenities within 30 minutes. This is due to both geographical separation and poor connectivity with less effective transport infrastructure.
  • Access to amenities is key. Conversely, the areas surrounding the Brisbane CBD have abundant schools, universities, hospitals and child care, generally within 30 minutes by public transit or by car. This high level of amenity can be attributed to the maturity and high population of the city. Suburbs located on existing train lines score especially high on ‘live’ as they have the best access to amenities and health, without the higher crime rates found in the CBD itself. (This is not unique to SEQ, but a pattern seen in the majority of CBDs across the globe due to higher population densities). Amenity-rich inner city areas are also hampered by average or below average housing affordability
  • Education south of the river. Brisbane is fortunate to have a number of high-quality education institutions across both the public and private sector, at the primary, secondary and tertiary level. While Ipswich, and the Gold and Sunshine Coasts offer a number of educational facilities, these are dwarfed in intensity by Brisbane. South of the river, again with close proximity to the CBD, is the largest grouping of suburbs that score highly on access to education by either public transit or car. The highest-scoring suburbs are, again, located adjacent to the heavy rail network.
  • Community health is dictated by wealth. Common across Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast is the correlation between suburbs with a high median household income and high community health scores. We hypothesise this to be a result of the wealthier portion of the population being able to purchase priority health care via the private health care sector.
  • Health access a good and bad story on the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast has several suburbs with a high number of health centres accessible by both car and public transit, however, its overall score is diluted by the limited number of hospital beds.

Key findings on Work

  • Brisbane's CBD monopolises work scores. CityPulse tells a story of one economic powerhouse within SEQ, with Brisbane city scoring significantly higher than any other suburb, dominating across economic performance, job accessibility and welfare dependency. Radiating outward, nearby areas also score highly as a result of ease of access to the conglomeration of job opportunities in the CBD. This emphasises the importance of transport connectivity between residential nodes and places of employment.
  • Infrastructure will transform Brisbane. The Cross River Rail project will be a critical piece of infrastructure to improving job accessibility to the City from Brisbane’s suburban areas. As well as connecting the new Brisbane Live entertainment precinct at Roma Street rail yards to a myriad of urban renewal projects and the stadium at Woolloongabba, the Cross River Rail project will deliver transformative impacts to these areas and improve job accessibility through efficient transport service delivery.
  • Masterplanned precincts surprise. It is evident from CityPulse that new planned and masterplanned urban areas such as Yarrabilba, Springfield and North Lakes scored highly on both ‘live’ and ‘work’ metrics, despite their distance from Brisbane CBD. This shows that access to jobs by public transport, regardless of where those jobs are located, is a strong contributor to significant economic performance. While a reasonable portion of these masterplanned precincts’ performance on ‘work’ scores is a result of the residential construction activity involved in building the cities, a large amount is down to new small businesses locating to the areas.
  • Local jobs will be key. Once construction activity slows, employment numbers must continue to sustainably grow into the future. Local jobs, amenity and education improves residents’ wellbeing, as well as reducing the strain on the existing trunk infrastructure network, as residents do not need to leave the precinct to undertake their day-to-day activities.

Key findings on Play

  • Geographic inequality in opportunities to ‘play. Brisbane’s inner city suburbs achieve high ‘play’ scores because of their good transport connectivity: residents enjoy greater access to cultural experiences, dining, entertainment, sporting events, parks and gardens. This increases their overall wellbeing and fulfilment. There are significant open spaces within 30 minutes of the CBD, including a number of parks throughout the western suburbs and Mt Coot-tha National Park. Residents of outer Brisbane suburbs can access national parks and beaches more easily than inner city residents, however, these amenities make up a relatively small proportion of the overall ‘play’ score, and so the outer suburbs rank below the inner suburbs on this measure.
  • Sports a key to inclusiveness. Sport is a central part of SEQ’s culture. It contributes significantly to the economy of the region and to residents’ enjoyment of their city. Suncorp Stadium is the heart of an iconic entertainment district that provides a diverse range of entertainment and leisure amenities to city residents and visitors alike. Caxton Street precinct is close to the CBD, with excellent public transport access, and a fantastic range of restaurants and bars, not to mention the premier rectangular stadium in Australia, if not the southern hemisphere. Brisbane’s inner west’s ‘play’ scores are bolstered enormously by access to this district.
  • Innovative precincts and micro-communities – a place to live, work and play. Access to amenities is key to a liveable city. As SEQ grows to accommodate additional residents, we will need both urban and suburban renewal developments that give residents access to high quality entertainment, sporting, leisure, open space and cultural amenities. These mixed-use nodes should be spread throughout our cities to ease the strain on trunk road infrastructure. Reducing the number of journeys residents need to take will also boost their wellbeing: they will spend less time in transit and more time enjoying themselves.

Transforming SEQ: precincts that let you ‘live, work and play in place’

Smart precincts

CityPulse has demonstrated how important accessibility to amenities, jobs, health, education and open spaces is to a liveable city. With continued population growth predicted, our planners need to ensure that the critical ingredients of a livable city are distributed throughout SEQ, reducing travel time and decreasing reliance on access to the CBD. Mixed-use precincts throughout the city will make our city more liveable for all residents and improving our quality of life. Flexible work, as well as integrated knowledge and education precincts outside of the CBD, could be the answer.

Connected precincts

SEQ should plan ahead to meet infrastructure needs and be ready to take advantage of new technologies. By connecting precincts with sufficient capacity transport infrastructure, we increase the range of amenities and opportunities residents can access. Well-planned, ‘turn up and go’ mass transport infrastructure will reduce reliance on single vehicle travel, taking significant strain off-road and inner-city transport networks.

Active precincts

SEQ’s outdoor lifestyle and fantastic climate go hand in hand with access to open space in urbanisation and when developing precincts across the region. As the population grows and densification continues, it is critical that we prioritise active transport, open space and genuine ‘play’ options in precincts across SEQ so that residents can continue to enjoy the region’s natural, cultural and entertainment offerings into the future. We also need a robust understanding of the current accessibility of health services, so that we can efficiently deliver health services to communities in the face of both population growth and ageing population trends.

CityPulse is a national initiative. Subscribe to PwC's Cities updates to ensure you receive each report as they launch.

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Contact us

Debbie Smith

National Mining Leader, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 (7) 3257 8286

Craig Fenton

Partner, Integrated Infrastructure, Infrastructure Advisory, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 (7) 3257 8851

Chris Rogan

Partner, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 7 3257 5152

Kris Isles

Partner, Brisbane, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 7 3257 8100

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