A "quick fix" rezoning of land for higher-density residential use won't be enough to meet the NSW Government's Metropolitan Strategy, according to new research by UNSW's City Futures Research Centre (CFRC).

The Centre released the findings of its Australian Research Council funded project, 'Planning for Socially Sustainable Urban Renewal in Suburban Sydney', when it hosted the Making Urban Renewal Work forum.

"There are too few 'easy' development sites available in the required locations," explains Professor Bill Randolph, director of the CFRC and chief investigator of the report.

"Development in most middle and outer parts of Sydney is typically unviable in current market conditions and existing physical and community infrastructure may be unable to cope with higher residential densities," he says.

"And community opposition to ad hoc and poor quality development is a further barrier to renewal."

Jointly organised by the CFRC and SGS Economics and Planning, Making Urban Renewal Work provided the first forum for public debate on the contentious issue.

Planning experts and members of the public discussed ideas on how urban renewal can be achieved in today's economic climate without displacing existing residents.

Speakers included Professor Randolph, Alex Gooding, CEO Western Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (WSROC) and Patrick Fensham, Director SGS Economics and Planning, ex Director of Strategic Development at the Metropolitan Strategy, project director for Sustainable Sydney 2030, Botany Bay, Marrickville and Canada Bay urban strategies.

"This period of renewal represents the first systematic rebuilding of our suburbs since the Second World War and the big question is how do we renew our city with more houses in the right places and at the right price," says Professor Randolph.

Making Urban Renewal Work was sponsored by Landcom and WSROC and organised by SGS Economics and Planning and UNSW's City Futures Research Centre.