Australia is in the grip of a housing crisis.
Despite the fact that increasing housing density in urban centres is an available option to ensure affordable housing is available to all, density is still a dirty word. The ‘Not In My Back Yard’ movement has seen concerned residents in many locations opposing medium and high density development plans, with perceived negative lifestyle impact the main driver of opposition.
‘The threat of density coming to a garden near you is something that gets quite a visceral reaction from many people,’ says Professor Bill Randolph, an expert in urban policy and urban geography, from the University of New South Wales’s City Futures Research Centre. Professor Randolph is just one of the experts to highlight the challenges facing density-friendly development in Australian urban centres in this month’s episode of the Seriously Social podcast.
Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Queensland, Dr Dorina Pojani, is another. She notes the key problems are in a common approach taken by developers, in which each apartment block is developed in isolation from surrounding buildings. This leads to housing options that have no connection to adequate transport and amenities, reducing their desirability to owner-occupiers.
‘We should …design a whole street front that also allows you to attach amenities to the development, all the things that people need in a neighbourhood in addition to housing,’ Dr Dorani argues.
While the challenges are steep, some organisations are currently providing affordable, attractive and liveable medium density developments, such as Melbourne’s Nightingale Housing initiative. Lisa Garner, co-founder of LIAN Architecture and contributor to the initiative, believes that this style of communal dwelling could be key to solving the housing crisis, due to an approach that reduces red tape and allows for a more streamlined planning approval process.
‘Essentially, you’re demonstrating that you are delivering this sort of high-quality, medium-density apartment building, and therefore you are removing some of the obstructions which can come your way in terms of getting planning approval,’ Lisa says.
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