The basis for the ACT government's urban infill offensive has been called into question, as new figures show the territory might have enough housing in the construction pipeline to meet demand for the next 15 years.
The government's new planning strategy, unveiled this month, outlines an aggressive push for more high-density housing to accommodate the predicted growth in Canberra's population from 412,000 in 2017 to 589,000 by 2041.
The new plan calls for the construction of 12 homes a day to meet the target, with 70 per cent of properties to be built in urban areas.
The strategy flags changes to planning rules to encourage greater housing density in residential areas, as the government seeks to centralise the bulk of the population around public transport links, jobs, schools and services.
But figures sourced from the government's environment, planning and sustainable development directorate suggest the territory might already be well stocked to meet forecast population growth - without the need more urban infill.
The housing stock statistics, obtained by The Canberra Times, showed there were 171,300 private dwellings in the territory at June this year, with another 55,000 homes either under construction or in the development pipeline.
The pipeline includes 20,310 units in multi-storey developments, according to data the government sourced from real estate firm Colliers International.
Those dwellings, which include developments in town centres as well as in Weston Creek, the inner north and inner south, are either under construction, have been granted development approval or are awaiting assessment.
About 40,000 new dwellings are planned as part of housing estates in greenfields sites across the ACT, including in Coombs, Wright, Molongolo, Taylor, Throsby and Whitlam, according to the figures.
The government's planning strategy notes Canberra's population is expected to grow by about 7000 a year, which would create demand for about 3000 to 3500 new homes annually.
Based on those figures and the number of dwellings in the pipeline, the ACT would appear to have enough supply to accommodate the ACT's housing needs for at least the next 15 years.
Inner South Community Council chair Marea Fatseas said the government should reevaluate its planning strategy in light of the figures, warning Canberra could be soon be saddled with an oversupply of high-density housing.
Rather than accelerate the capital's growth, the government should focus on ensuring that new developments were well planned and designed, Ms Fatseas said.
"There is a lot of concern about building quality at the moment, and [the figures] show there is no rush to just whack up more developments," she said.
"There are recommendations from previous reviews into building quality and they should be implemented first - there is no rush here."
Research by the Australian National University last year found Canberra had the biggest oversupply of housing of any jurisdiction in the nation, with 6700 more homes than its population required.
The report's co-author, associate professor Ben Phillips, said Canberra's population had grown considerably in the past 12 months, meaning demand was now more in line with supply.
Mr Phillips said the government's figures did not necessarily indicate Canberra would be overwhelmed with new housing, but emphasised it was difficult to forecast potential oversupply given it was unclear how many, and when, if ever, the new dwellings would be built.
"If you've got 60,000 new homes in a year then, yes, you would have an oversupply," Mr Phillips said. "But then if they were to be built over 50 years then you would probably need more [homes]."
Mr Phillips said while urban infill presented challenges in terms of the retaining the character of suburbs, there were clear economic and social benefits to increasing population density in inner-city areas.
A spokeswoman for the government's environment, planning and sustainable development directorate said the housing pipeline included dwellings on greenfield sites which had yet to be released, meaning construction was unlikely in the near future.
She said urban infill would help make Canberra a "more sustainable, accessible and liveable" city, while also protecting the territory's "valued natural resources".
"If our current density continues unchanged, Canberra’s ‘urban footprint’ would increase by about 46 per cent by 2041," the spokeswoman said.
"Continued urban sprawl will put pressure on infrastructure and continue to increase travel times between where people live and where they work, study or access services."