Two UQ geographers have written a great Conversation article, republished in the Brisbane Times, on Why city policy to ‘protect the Brisbane backyard’ is failing. The authors argue that current planning policies lead to undesirable outcomes. Current Brisbane City Council policies include a preference for low-density infill (i.e. sub-dividing a block and sticking another house on it), a townhouse ban in single home precincts, and heritage protection of old Queenslanders. One perverse outcome of current policies is that, despite the objective of the Council to preserve green space, there is now less green space in Brisbane suburbs as suburban blocks are subdivided and new detached dwellings are crammed into the new lots. Here’s the summary of the implications of existing policies from the authors Rachel Gallagher and Thomas Sigler:
While low-density infill may balance consumer preference for detached houses with meeting infill targets, it in effect creates a “compressed suburbia”. The results fail to deliver on the core promises of consolidation policy, including greater housing diversity and affordability, and a halt to urban sprawl.
It also leads to a dichotomy of new dwellings: high-rise apartments or detached houses. We found very little development of medium-density dwellings.
This is a real shame as medium-density development is probably the best way to meet the housing needs of Brisbane’s population while maintaining highly liveable neighbourhoods. On the potential benefits of medium-density development in Brisbane, I’d recommend an excellent essay by Tony Hall in the volume A Climate for Growth, which I commented on in one of my earliest QEW posts Planning for the 200-kilometre city.
In my view, it would be desirable to remove both the townhouse ban and heritage protection of old Queenslanders to allow more medium-density development in Brisbane.
Relevant previous QEW posts include: