1 September 2007

"A nice sized block" - VY. How's 150sq m sound?

| Gungahlin Al
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The ACT Government has released a new policy to allow “compact housing” down to as small as 150 square metres. ABC’s story is here.

The policy is here.

Of note is that this is NOT a draft policy. It has been released as an Interim Planning Policy pending release of the redrafted Territory Plan later this year. I believe this means that DAs lodged in accordance with it between now and then could be approved.

As a community representative on the Minister’s Territory Plan Reference Panel and at ACTPLA’s regular Planning and Development Forums, I’m interested in people’s thoughts on the policy and implementation.

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Mmmm, free homes, I’ll take two please..

150 sqm is not enough to put up a moderate sized shed, let alone the luxury of a dwelling with a clothes line. In the southern suburbs, they allowed block sizes down to 400 sqm and even these were not big enough to fit even a small dwelling. SLUM SLUM SLUM SLUM…

Goes to show that the Government will do whatever they need to to prevent having to do things like abolish $$$stamp$$$ duty.

May you rot in hell, ACT Labour! You’re not for the workers and battlers in our community.

Ingeegoodbee8:10 pm 03 Sep 07

The government should step in to over regulate the market like a bunch of good ‘ol Stalinist pinko sh!tbags. Too bad if you’re prepared to work hard, save hard, do without and get a house off your own bat – nah stuff that, we need a nanny state to take control of our lives for us – hell, why don’t we just have a big hand out. Lets stop pissing about with taxpayer funded social security – “dole for non drug addicts” like the first home buyers grants, free homes for all!


This initiative is to be welcomed as part of a strategy in the provision of affordable housing to first homebuyers. The emphasis must be on owner-occupiers as the target market. Caveats must be in place to keep investors at bay for at least five years, if a forced sale is necessary, an owner-occupier must be the new owner. As these are rolled out, the effect of their market viability must be assessed, as the state should not mess with the market too much. Maybe even having a lottery for prospective vendors could be considered. The objective must always be ACTPLA’s or LDA’s role in helping homeowners buy a house at an affordable price.
Provision of adequate parking (eg 4WDs) on the block must be considered, as you do not want narrow streets being made un-trafficable because of street parking. Streetscapes are an important element of any new suburb as is public open space. This will be critical in providing kids room to play.

Gungahlin Al10:33 am 03 Sep 07

There has been some good, considered feedback here – thanks all.

To clarify a couple of things that pooped up over the weekend –
The policy is for *below* 250sqm.
The target household income bracket was I recall $60-80,000, and definitely not $200-300,000 per block – $200K gets you around 550sqm in recent LDA releases.
On “slum” potential – I was concerned about this also, and asked that the policy when released include specific anti-clustering clauses preventing more than say 3-4 together. The rows and rows of townhouses we have in Gungahlin is not a desirable outcome. I note the policy as released does NOT include such provisions…
I also asked that variable setbacks be required depending on solar orientation, coupled with variable courtyard provisions, so that maximum *private* outdoor space is to the north – again not included (something I believe should be introduced for all smaller blocks say

Ingeegoodbee8:50 am 03 Sep 07

Woo Hoo! I could squeeze five of these puppies onto my block – six if you ignore the setback!

I’d be better off squatting and then staking claim like that welfare guy did in the UK.

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt7:16 pm 02 Sep 07

One of the really interesting things about the Canberra property market is that it doesn’t seem to operate consistent with the rule of ‘further out is cheaper’. Of course, properties close to Parliament House (freestanding structures) usually do well, but there are still lots of examples of unit/apartment type properties being similar in price but very dissimilar in desirability of location. Take Braddon for example, where earlier this year nice 2 bedroom units could be had for not much more than 300k (I bought a good one 5 mins walk to the city for 322k a few months ago). If you go 30 minutes south, similar properties aren’t actually much cheaper. I think, though, that the Canberra market has surged quietly in the last couple of months, and maybe this is ‘rectifying’ the situation. It’s ultimately worth remembering that as population grows, the number of people competing for the same property grows, thus increasing the price. Interestingly, I don’t think investors have much to do with price growth, because most investors seek to get a good deal, at a price perceived to be below market – they don’t buy emotionally like many first (and subsequent) home buyers do.

Just food for thought. I think more land release is a good thing, but having mostly smaller new blocks will eventually drive up the price of large block properties. Right up.

Gawd. It says 250 metres square

Apparently there is huge demand for smaller places on smaller blocks with no steps anywhere (even the front door), and small courtyard gardens. Retirees want these sorts of places, and cos they can’t find them they are staying in their 4 beddies in curtin etc.

VY hinted at the true problem behind affordable housing; he’s an investor looking for a deal.

Between himself and the 300,000 other Canberrans looking for a nice deal, life’s not so rosy for the poor little first home buyer with a knocked up missus looking at a lifetime of ass lard development, and a part time job at maccy d’s.

Compared with, for strictly examples sakes, VY who already owns a property and has oodles of disposable income…

What we really need, is for the old coots to give up the ghost, move to the coast, or otherwise bugger off elsewhere. They’re holding up natural sequence and causing the current cancer.

If the Government released the land for full open-market development, but also directed an appropriately leveled campaign, one that I call the ‘Canberra’s-a-shit-place-to-retire-in’ campaign, would be no different, if not more successful, than releasing land targeted at ‘first home buyers’.

And Canberra wouldn’t look like coronation street either. Funnily enough, it’s on the telly where I am at the moment, I’m finding it quite ironic, although I’d love to see a Rovers Return in Canberra…

Glimmertwins11:02 pm 01 Sep 07

I think you’ll find it is a house AND land package for between $200,000 and $300,000

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt9:48 pm 01 Sep 07

Well, it would be poor of me not make a comment here I think, so here’s a couple:
1) No way would I choose this for myself. I currently live on something over 700sqm, so no way would I be paying more for a smaller piece of land.
2) They could still be good investment properties, as I’m sure there’d be strong rental demand for a nicely appointed and well located townhouse, and the depreciation schedule on a new property looks nice too, so I might still buy a few of them.

But just because it isn’t my cup of tea, don’t think I’m bagging them: they could be really nice for people who aren’t interested in gardens or large homes.

@Gungahlin Al:

I am in Ngunnawal. I have a 3 bedroom, single garage (town)house, which has a living area of 125 m2. My block is 268.7 m2. (my immediate neighbours have blocks of 260.7 m2 and 260.6 m2 respectively and a similar though not identical floorplan).

The houses are separate titled (no body corporate), with an “air gap” of 10mm between each of the properties (i.e no shared walls), but we do share common tiling on the roof… difficult to explain but it works. I can not hear my neighbours and they can not hear me (even with their stereo pumped)

It works and it works well mainly because there is a good mix of housing in the street (a range of modest housing types and no mansions built on postage stamp sized blocks).

Another reason why it works is it is not the Gungahlin Town Centre “Coronation Street”, entire block cookie cutter development.

What I do find scary is that I am sure I heard correctly on the Friday ABC TV news (and I’d have to sit down and replay Friday’s edition to confirm that I heard correctly…) is that these blocks will sell for between $200,00-$300,000. Now if that is without the house then that is hardly affordable housing.

Finally unless sensible common-sense planning is used to ensure that these smaller blocks are well distributed in newer estates and vast areas do not end up being identical smaller block (as per the “Coronation Street” mistakes already perpetuated in Gungahlin), future residents will be able to congratulate the ACT Government and bureaucrats on the creation of planned slums.

With Gunghalin, we saw the emergence of smallish blocks, with huge houses on them, and the prices are horrific. Maybe this kind of development, especially with “normal” places all around, will see them cheap enough for lower income earners, single people, old people and the many who cannot service a $300k loan.

The above is in reference to the below.

compact blocks shall be located opposite high quality open space. If this is not possible, then located
within the vicinity of 100m from high quality open space or parkland or alternatively adjacent to a wide
verge with high quality landscaping and medium sized street trees;

I reckon the ugliest housing in Canberra is a little enclave of the type of townhouses the plan is advocating in the middle of Nicholls, it’s a little loop street on its own with… shall we say ‘distinctive’ look… of fugly dwellings all jammed in together. Krantzcke Cct is the place, rather apt for a dog’s breakfast all jammed in like sausages…

How would it work – terrace style housing might be ok. As long as there aren’t whole suburbs of it, to become slums later on. If it is like units, but you own the land and have street access that would probably be ok. They’d want to be cheap. And have good sound insulation, with the neghbours right there.

This is an interesting idea, and one I’d like to hear more about. If managed well and constructed properly I can immediately think of two types of people this type of housing might suit – young people trying to get into their first home, and retired people who want to remain in their suburb but in a smaller house without a large garden. I’ve had a look through the policy. One thing I don’t understand at this stage are the rules relating to cars and car parking. Thinking of some older relatives, I know their preference would be to have car parking access from the street (close to their front door) rather than round some back alley which can be scary at night. But as terrace housing I think this could be quite attractive.

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