This project sought to address three areas of policy concern in relation to dispersed and ageing public housing properties in inner and middle ring suburbs: how to find new ways to accommodate population increases; how to create affordable and diverse housing options; how to manage ageing housing stock; and how to maximise the use of existing infrastructure and amenity.
This project investigates a design-oriented, integrative development approach that responds to a timely opportunity in the greyfields of Australian cities: how to redevelop dispersed and ageing public housing properties in the middle suburbs. Greyfields in the Australian context have been defined as those ageing but occupied tracts of inner and middle ring suburbia that are physically, technologically and environmentally failing and which represent under- capitalised real estate assets—given that in greyfields, the built asset makes little or no contribution to the market value of the property compared to the land component (Newton 2010).
The project sits at the core of questions regarding the intensification of the middle suburbs: how to find new ways to accommodate population increases; how to create affordable and diverse housing options; how to manage ageing housing stock, and how to maximise the use of existing infrastructure and amenity. Through a design lens, this research focuses on alternative development approaches that could challenge conventional methods of infill delivery. At present, the main model for redevelopment in the greyfields is informal infill undertaken by small developers (Phan et al. 2008), rather than in the government-sanctioned areas such as activity centres where there is relatively little development (Goodman et al. 2010). This ad hoc infill development is uncoordinated, lacks strategic focus and is not achieving the required increases in density, nor is it improving the amenity of the city (Newton 2010).
The potential availability of dispersed ageing public housing assets, which are scattered throughout Australian cities, offers a significant opportunity to develop and test a new development approach that offers an alternative to the market-led one-off infill type. This research does this by exploring how innovative design strategies can create coordinated precincts that involve the redevelopment of multiple, non-contiguous public housing lots considered as one development. By approaching development of these lots at precinct scale, a range of individual and collective benefits can be achieved such as better quality urban amenity and infrastructure, and a diversity of housing types that achieve higher yields and more affordable living options. In relation to ageing government housing stock, this requires an integrated approach with multiple partners including state government housing authorities, community housing organisations, local government authorities, the private sector and the community.