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Canberra's footprint has room to go up

Date

Property Reporter

Tony Trobe.

Tony Trobe. Photo: Melissa Adams

Canberra is leading the country in the shift towards high-density housing, but progress is being made at the expense of the city's more traditional suburbs, the local chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects claims.

The amount of high-density housing in the capital has increased by 40 per cent since 1985, the largest jump in the country, according to the annual State of Australian Cities 2012 report.

Canberra's dwelling approvals now contain the highest proportion of attached dwellings, approaching 70 per cent.

Despite this, there are areas that are very low density and need to be built up, says Australian Institute of Architects representative Tony Trobe.

He said the footprint of Canberra was still spread out, but the ACT government had ''walked away'' from the small-scale, finer grain increases in density by altering planning guidelines in response to a backlash from anti-density residents.

''I think they're missing a chance for renewal,'' he said.

''Hardly anyone will do a dual occupancy now. The rules have been made so difficult that no one will do them.''

Mr Trobe said the government needed to address the ''trench warfare'' that was taking place in the suburbs and instead encourage greater exploration of the contentious density issue.

''There needs to be a bigger debate within the community about the character of their neighbourhoods,'' he said.

However, Sustainable Development Minister Simon Corbell said the figures outlined in the report indicated plans for higher density housing were on track.

''It certainly reflects that our city is changing,'' he said.

''This is consistent with the government's planning strategy. It is, in many respects, confirmation of the planning processes that the government has put in place.''

He said Mr Trobe's comments reflected the ''diversity of views that exist when it comes to the issue of how urban consolidation and development should be managed'' in Canberra.

High-density housing was one of the 13 initiatives of the Canberra Spatial Plan, launched by Mr Corbell eight years ago.

It stated that the increased population would primarily occur within central Canberra along Northbourne Avenue, Constitution Avenue, Barton and Kingston, alongside plans for residential intensification within a 7.5-kilometre radius of the city centre. Higher density residential developments would be targeted at major employment centres.

Lot sizes and prices were also detailed in the report.

The median lot size has been steadily decreasing over the past decade but Canberrans can lay claim to the smallest average block size in Australia, as well as the highest land price per square metre.

The report also highlighted rental vacancy rates in the capital, which - like Perth and Darwin - indicated that demand significantly outweighed supply.

17 comments

  • Future ghettos in the making, thanks for your input Mr Trobe, I'm sure you just gush over the high density living in Singapore, Hong Kong and Dhaka.

    Commenter
    GlassHalfEmpty
    Date and time
    December 07, 2012, 10:25AM
    • I wonder if Mr Trobe has a vested interest in building lots of new buildings given that he is an architect.....

      Commenter
      Craig
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      December 07, 2012, 10:52AM
    • You'd rather have endless urban sprawl with little or no public transport at the fringed?

      Commenter
      Meanwhile
      Location
      in the real world
      Date and time
      December 07, 2012, 1:41PM
  • Why is everyone obsessed with building lots of horrible high density housing? What wrong with a nice house on a quarter acre block? Thankfully these eyesores seem to be confined close to town centres keeping the suburbs free of their clutter. I think its a good thing that no-one is building dual occupancies anymore; putting two houses on the one block is a bad idea. You end up with no garden, no yard, no lawn - much better to keep one house per quarter acre block if you ask me.

    Commenter
    Craig
    Location
    Canberra
    Date and time
    December 07, 2012, 10:27AM
    • Isn't it about choice? I live centrally in a unit and love it, low manintenance, close to everything I want to do, get to walk everywhere. Other people like you want the peace of suburbia. Seems like a win win to me, and let's not forget what the city centre was like 10 years ago before infill, even on saturday night civic would be deserted. You need mass to have a vibrant city centre. Keep it coming I say

      Commenter
      tele12
      Date and time
      December 07, 2012, 11:18AM
  • I look forward tot he day that Canberra's population is 20 million people and this conversation actually means something.

    Another headline is search of a story.

    Commenter
    Outraged of Palmerston
    Date and time
    December 07, 2012, 10:48AM
    • Yeah wont happen in our lifetime - and Im young!

      Commenter
      Patt
      Location
      CBR
      Date and time
      December 07, 2012, 12:25PM
  • Because, Oh GlassHalfEmpty, we, in Australia, must copy what happens overseas, not set our own standards, and, Craig,

    because the government gets lots of easy money from more rates from tower blocks AND it listens to developers who tell them how great it will be for the city's residents.

    Ever seen one of our developers living in the ugly, over-priced, jerry-built piles, built to decay in 10 years, that they create ? Very few, if any.

    Ever seen the developers who design this muck use the same builders to build their own houses ? Again, very few, if any.

    Commenter
    RunningOnEmpty
    Date and time
    December 07, 2012, 10:57AM
    • If his Architectural flair is like his dress sence, I would say no.

      Commenter
      Martin Says
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      December 07, 2012, 11:16AM
      • May I recommend to those interested Andrew Potter's book, The Authenticity Hoax. An interesting view of why we suburbanised, bought cars and clung to the belief that we need to spread out.

        Commenter
        Irene
        Date and time
        December 07, 2012, 11:21AM

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