Recently released research by the Grattan Institute shows that:
“We’re just not building the variety of housing that Australians want.”
A detailed survey into the housing preferences of more than 700 Melburnians and Sydneysiders found that once people take into account real-world factors such as current housing costs and their income, they choose a far wider range of housing types than the stereotype of all Australians wanting a detached home on a large block.
In particular there are shortages of semi-detached homes and apartments in the middle and outer areas of both Sydney and Melbourne.
Probably the same in other states/territories?
The barriers to delivering the housing people want are:
Jane-Frances Kelly, Cities Program Director of the Grattan Institute says:
“We should not be afraid to shape our cities: otherwise we risk them shaping us..
But we should shape them in accordance with what Australians say they want, not just what we think they want.”
Given the moral need to consider sustainability and future generations’ as well as our own urban living needs, for me, the following points from a New Zealand study ‘From Urban Sprawl To Compact City – An Analysis Of Urban Growth Management In Auckland’ sum up the problems government/business/private citizens face:
Vancouver, Seattle and Portland ensured residents had a real say in decision-making and have managed growth well.
People in these cities were more than capable of accepting trade-offs, making tough choices and working with developers and governments.
The Grattan Report, as well as deeper engagement, recommends some major reforms:
1. Piloting neighbourhood development corporations to oversee substantial redevelopment of specific areas – they would be independent bodies with real powers over planning and delivery.
Corporations should develop diverse housing that features good urban design and high environmental standards. They should offer developers certainty but also give residents more control over how their neighbourhoods change.
A new Commonwealth-State Liveability Fund would support the development corporations by providing funding for new parks, community facilities etc in return for neighbourhoods accepting more households.
2. As the corporations would not be right for most parts of the city, high-quality smaller developments such as those built on one or two lots should be encouraged. These make up the bulk of current developments and some of the most contentious development for existing residents. A mechanism is needed to balance the interests of developers and residents.
A Small Redevelopment Housing Code that established clear standards for new housing of up to two storeys could do this. If these standards were met planning approval would be given in 15 days. The code would focus on the things that worry neighbours most:
There is a plethora of Urban Planning documents available on the net but Wikipedia’s comments on the Australian situation I suspect is accurate:
“The Australian government has begun to see community engagement in the decision making process of urban planning is of fundamental importance. Due to this engagement local governments have looked for ways to design urban infrastructure in a way that helps to encourage social cohesion. However, there is still room for developing a method that uses community involvement more effectively. Community participation has also created many barriers along the way by preventing urban planning projects from proceeding.”
“We need political leadership to break the deadlock in our cities.”