Abstract: The literature looking at potential relationships between planning and housing affordability has speculated that planning mechanisms may undermine housing affordability - essentially by introducing an inflexibility into housing supply (e.g. Evans 2004). This view of planning appeared to gain greater prominence during the recent period of housing affordability crisis, characterised by a sustained surge in property prices. Several high-profile critics in Australia blamed planning intervention in land and housing markets for the crisis itself (for example Moran 2005, Cox 2005). A critical view of planning is also implicit in policy initiatives such as the Housing Affordability Fund (2008). With Australia’s housing market now impacted by recession, the degree of public concern around planning and house prices may have waned. But has this pattern been seen before? Focusing on Melbourne, this paper documents the coverage of housing affordability issues in a sample of print media, academic journal articles, and planning policy over the period 1989 to 2009, to explore the circumstances under which land use planning became part of housing affordability debate in Australia. The study finds that the perceived role of urban consolidation in housing affordability problems has shifted, from solution to cause. It is also found that interest in housing affordability clusters at the tail end of housing boom periods. These periods turn a critical spotlight on planning, and seem to instigate policy reforms. During slump periods, however, interest in housing affordability is eclipsed by growth promotion. It is argued that these cycles have potential implications for planning implementation.