Briefing paper

Higher density living: critical policy brief

13 Nov 2018

Melbourne’s growing population can be accommodated in areas close to urban amenities through high density living. High density living supports Australia and Victoria’s commitment to compact cities, as advocated by the United Nations New Urban Agenda.

Apartments account for approximately a third of new dwellings being built in Melbourne. However, most apartment development has occurred in the inner city and a few middle-ring hotspots, the majority being relatively expensive, small 1 and 2-bedroom apartments built for an investor market. Many of these apartments are badly designed, delivering poor energy efficiency and liveability.

Newly constructed higher density apartments are not providing affordable housing, or the mix of housing types required to support diverse neighbourhoods. Housing supply is misaligned with the type of housing Melburnians need and want. Without integrated planning and inclusionary zoning, private apartment development puts pressure on existing services and infrastructure, and contributes to gentrification. Poorly located and managed high-rise apartments can also have negative health impacts for residents. Higher density housing needs to be well-designed and located near public and active transport infrastructure, shops and services, schools, and public open space.

This policy brief highlights three key challenges in providing higher density housing for a healthy, liveable Melbourne: promoting affordable and diverse higher density development that aligns with housing needs; future-proofing apartment design for changes in resident need and use; and evaluating and promoting innovative models for improved higher density housing.

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