Urban sprawl filling in the 200km City

In the first seven months of financial year 2014-15, the top five suburban areas in Queensland for residential building approvals were: Newstead-Bowen Hills (1,358 approvals), Southport (1,305), North Lakes-Mango Hill (612), Caloundra-West (406), and Jimboomba (401) (see map below based on ABS data). The developments in North Lakes-Mango Hill and Jimboomba, along with developments in other areas such as Springfield and Ripley in Ipswich, mean that urban sprawl is progressively filling in undeveloped areas of South-East Queensland, which is undoubtedly becoming a 200km City (see my post Perth might grow larger than Brisbane, but it won’t beat SEQ 200km City). As I noted in my post last Friday, the pattern of development we’re seeing partly reflects development restrictions in Brisbane, and hence may be undesirable from economic and social perspectives.


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6 Responses to Urban sprawl filling in the 200km City

  1. Jim says:


    I agree the development patterns partly reflect development restrictions, but I suspect the development patterns reflect budget-constrained consumer preferences for the bulk of the new housing market (i.e. I want a 250m2 house on at least a 600m2 block, all on a budget of $500K).

    Consumers are optimising within a budget and are willing to trade off longer commute times for housing attributes like house size because they gain more utility. And remember it is only the incremental increase in commute time that homeowners are trading off. Often a relatively small increase in comment time can save a lot in the cost of housing.

    So if you take the position of the individual consumer for the dominant segment of the new housing market (i.e. average priced, detached houses), perhaps the urban sprawl is not actually that inefficient after all.

    Infill rarely (if ever) results in new detached houses that are around average prices. Rather it delivers flats, townhouses, and very expensive detached houses. Changing planning restrictions will help with some of the smaller market segments, but it doesn’t solve the problem of more affordable detached housing in SEQ.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Jim, thanks for your comment. I’ll have to think about your points some more. The feeling I have is that if we lift densities in inner suburbs we’d free up a bit of suburban housing stock as a significant number of people (including baby boomers with empty nests) would move closer to the city. This would improve the affordability of detached housing to an extent. It might also avoid further urban sprawl.

  2. Katrina Drake says:

    You are always on topic Gene. I have been analysing property in both inner-city apartments, and the Kallangur – Mango Hill boom areas while on holidays this week. Commuting is not such a hassle these days with ipads and internet, as you can answer all your emails on the way home on the train. The lifestyle is certainly still there in the outer suburbs for families, large gardens, large affordable homes, and with the new train line opening next year an easy commute. Good new school, sea breezes, and close to the beautiful Sunshine Coast beaches.

    Suggest you get in now.

  3. Katrina Drake says:

    A benefit of a 200km city is that the transport is under the control of one level of government, in Brisbane’s case the BC Council. One would think this would allow for an integrated, efficient transport system.

    Unfortunately, as the transport system is within the bounds of BCC, it has been neglected and unfunded by the State Government – so we have been left with an expensive, inefficient transport system.

    BCC and State Governments need to get serious about public transport in Brisbane, and seriously target reducing commute times. This is absolutely mandatory for the efficiency of the Queensland economy.

    • Gene Tunny says:

      Thanks for the comment, Katrina. I’m unsure exactly what you mean about getting serious about public transport? There are already heavy government subsidies for public transport. I’d worry about the benefit-cost ratio of additional subsidies.

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