PointData's unique planning algorithms can translate zoning and planning codes into sub-divided or amalgamated land options. IMAGE supplied
Zoning changes could help ease housing crisis: Source: Pexels
  • Improved zoning regulations and reimagining suburban neighbourhoods could help
  • Changing zoning may allow for greater diversity of housing
  • The use of inclusionary housing will help create supply

The current housing crisis is putting Australians under extreme pressure, however, new research has found that improved zoning regulations and reimagining our suburban neighbourhoods could help ease the problem.

According to town planner, Martin Garred, housing approaches used overseas could improve Australia’s land use zoning approach that is currently limiting housing choice, restricting supply and increasing prices.

Garred said over the last decade there were extensive discussions about the evolution of the missing middle (medium-density housing); however, Australian suburbs are still dominated by single-family homes.

martin garred
Martin Gared. Image: Supplied.

“Our planning system to date has restricted housing choice in large parts of our suburban neighbourhoods. Research abroad showed positive signs that Australia could adopt foreign housing approaches, but it would require bold leadership and community engagement to ensure success.”

“An improved approach would involve changing zoning to allow greater diversity of housing, potentially up to four (4) dwellings on every property, in areas that currently only allow for a single dwelling house to be established.

Garred said in Oregon and Minneapolis, in the US, this zoning approach for housing diversity has been successful, permitting unbiased small-scale residential development.

The ‘new’ Great Australian Dream

He said we must reimagine the Great Australian Dream by facilitating diverse and affordable housing for growing communities.

“With the Australian population set to hit 36 million by 2050, the dream of a detached home and lush backyard isn’t attainable moving forward,” he said.

“One of the roles of planners and the land use planning system is to develop effective and responsive policies that enable the delivery of diverse and well-located housing that reflects both the needs and aspirations of the community.

Exclusionary zoning

Garred is calling on all levels of government across Australia to reconsider the widespread use of exclusionary zoning.

“It will not restrict people from building single-family homes. However, it will address the significant lack of housing choice in many of our suburbs whilst also considering important factors like design, variety in price and location, and timeframes.”

Inclusionary housing, where the government mandates or incentivises a proportion of a residential or mixed-use development to be affordable housing, is a tried and tested practice around the world and provides a policy foundation to assist in mitigating a development’s impact on the housing market.

“Australia has reached a crisis point in housing affordability and we can no longer continue our current trajectory.

“We need to progress the collective thinking at the political, technical and community level to be one that is future focussed and human centric, to encourage positive change and diverse housing on low density residential areas.”

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