Ninety per cent of future urban infill could come from eight areas across Canberra, ACT government documents suggest.
The ACT government's 2018 planning strategy foreshadowed more intensive densification of the city, with 70 per cent of new homes to be built in existing suburbs, instead of new ones.
But the territory government has commissioned a study focusing on eight areas, where 90 per cent of that densification could occur.
The areas are Civic, the City to Gungahlin corridor, which includes the Dickson group centre, Gungahlin, South Canberra including East Lake, Kingston and Manuka, Belconnen and the Jamison group centre, Woden and the Mawson group centre, the City to Woden corridor and the Curtin group centre, and the Tuggeranong town centre.
The study, which will be handed to government next month, will analyse the roads and public transport infrastructure, stormwater drainage, sewers, water supply and electrical and gas networks for existing and future problems, and flag action that will be required to meet the infill target.
An ACT government spokesman said this was a "high-level study" which "does not identify individual streets for infill and does not specify timeframes".
He also said any zoning changes will require a variation to the Territory Plan and involve in-depth community consultation.
"Canberrans have told us how important it is to retain our city's bush capital character through well-designed and maintained open space and green areas, he said.
"We are committed to protecting our garden suburbs by encouraging urban renewal around town centres and major transport routes.
"The government recognises the unique character of all of our suburbs and we will continue to listen to and work with residents on the right planning approach for their suburbs."
But residents, especially in the rapidly densifying south, said the analysis came too late and was too limited in scope.
Kingston and Barton Residents Group Rebecca Scouller said any analysis also needed to consider schools and other amenities.
"People aren't against sensible urban infill from an environmental perspective but it needs to include amenities, schools, public transport, and adequate open space as well as infrastructure for issues like sewage and stormwater management. We need early consultation and holistic planning," Ms Scouller said.
"None of this can be done in isolation, especially when you've got significant development from the Kingston Foreshore all the way to Red Hill. Is it being reviewed holistically or in an ad hoc manner?"
Kingston and Barton Residents Group's Peter Moore said there already seemed to be capacity problems with the sewage in the Kingston area.
"We know there is a consistent, very bad sewage smell and it's there every day sometimes," he said.
"I know they did the stormwater a number of years ago but they didn't do anything additional to the sewage when started putting in all of the apartments.The foreshore got upgraded but what's happened further up the line?"
An Icon Water spokesman said the company "actively plan and model capability in our sewerage network taking into account population forecasts, consumption behaviour and commercial industry development". He also said they were working on sewerage upgrades in north Canberra near Lake Burley Griffin and Belconnen, the latter being "closer to capacity limits than the others".
Griffith Narrabundah Community Council's David Denham said the Kingston and Manuka areas were "dense enough" and roads in the area were already near capacity.
He also said if you started to densify near key transit corridors they "stop being transit corridors and become clogged".
Deakin Residents Association's George Wilson said when he tried to flag capacity and speed problems about Hopetoun Circuit with the ACT government, he was told it was comparable to a "Sydney backlane".
"It's piecemeal [the way they've been doing things] when what this city was renowned for once was not doing things in a piecemeal way," he said.
Canberra's population increased from about 375,000 in 2012 to 402,500 people in 2016, but is expected to rise by a further 7000 people a year to 589,000 by 2041.
Around 100,000 new homes will need to be built between 2018 and 2041 to meet that demand, the planning strategy says, equating to nearly 12 new homes a day.
In its planning strategy, the government said areas for urban infill would be determined partly by ease of access to key transport routes.
This is defined as an average 10-minute walk (800 metres) to a frequent bus network corridor, an average 10-minute walk to a light rail stop, an average 15-minute walk (one kilometre) to a city or town centre, and/or an average 10-minute walk to a group centre.