23 May 2024

Government targets missing-middle housing in next wave of planning reforms

| Ian Bushnell
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row of townhouses

Expect more of these in established suburbs under continuing planning reforms. Photo: Civium.

The building of more low-density, missing-middle housing close to services and transport in established suburbs will be fast-tracked under the next wave of planning reforms from the ACT Government.

This will aim to fill a gap in the market for in-demand affordable townhouses, row houses and duplexes in areas of the city where people may want to live but are currently locked out due to a lack of available properties or high prices.

The push for more missing-middle housing is the key plank of a new statement of planning priorities being released today (24 May) by Planning Minister Chris Steel to support the government’s commitment to build thousands of new homes under the National Housing Accord housing target.

“Canberra has a lot of high-density multi-unit housing and single-residential homes but nothing much in between,” he said.

READ ALSO Turner townhouse project takes out national award

Mr Steel said this next stage of reform would focus on how a more diverse range of housing could be delivered and would build on changes already made to the planning system to boost supply, including allowing a second home up to 120 square metres to be built on residential blocks greater than 800 sqm, and two storey apartment buildings in RZ2 areas.

He said the document outlined plans for a draft design guide, to be developed in consultation with the community, that would advise on how missing-middle homes could be built on typical Canberra blocks, and what would not be acceptable.

“It’s important that the reform is design-led, working with ACT architects and the community to get it right for new and existing residents,” Mr Steel said.

“I want this design work to show in detail what forms of middle housing can fit into a typical Canberra street, down to the view from the neighbour’s window, and how we can incorporate green spaces and trees on a block with two or more homes.”

Chris Steel outside the Legislative Assembly

Planning Minister Chris Steel: “This is about building more homes where people want to live.” Photo: Ian Bushnell.

Once the Draft Design Guide has been developed and consulted on, it would inform a future government’s consideration of changes to the Territory Plan to support the construction of additional missing middle housing in the ACT on RZ1 and other existing appropriately residential zoned blocks.

“This is about building more homes where people want to live,” Mr Steel said.

“More missing middle housing provides opportunities for older Canberrans to age in place, and more families to find a home with a garden near established services.”

The document also flags planning changes to allow more housing in and around key precincts, shops and rapid transport connections, including along the proposed light rail route to Woden.

It says a key priority will be the development of a new Southern Gateway Planning and Design Framework, which will establish an integrated land-use and transport plan for the extension of light rail to Woden.

A review will also examine how planning controls and the provision of housing in these locations can spark the revitalisation of shopping centres, including those that are vacant, underused or aging.

Other areas discussed in the document include planning for the growth of Canberra’s newest regions, outlining Canberra’s future jobs and innovation precincts, supporting community needs across the ACT, Territory Priority Projects, protecting the environment, and designing and implementing the new planning system.

READ ALSO Density fears: Call for planning at North Curtin Horse Paddocks to cease until after the election

The push for greater infill housing will meet resistance from some suburbs worried about the loss of green space and garden city values.

However, Mr Steel said more housing could be delivered in existing suburbs in a well-designed and sustainable way while maintaining the quality of life Canberrans enjoy.

The ACT Government says it is working to deliver above its per capita share of the accord’s national target of 1.2 million homes.

Canberra’s population is expected to reach almost 700,000 by 2050 and the government says increasing the diversity of housing supply will improve housing affordability, access and choice for Canberrans.

It is aiming to deliver between 117,000 to 148,000 dwellings over the next 25 years within the existing footprint.

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The Southern Gateway Planning and Design Framework should have been done years ago, before planning for light rail stage 2, not after. This government really has no idea what it’s doing

devils_advocate7:56 pm 25 May 24

Improving housing affordability would directly reduce the ACT’s stamp duty, rates and land tax revenues

They won’t be implementing policies that actually make meaningful improvements to affordability

In Perth, they have green title- basically villas/townhouses with no common walls and no strata fees

devils_advocate11:20 am 24 May 24


So no mention of the punitive LVC which is actually preventing medium density infill projects *that were already in the advanced planning stages* and now being abandoned?

Top kek

What’s the bet this isn’t any actual legislative changes to the planning system but Is just another glossy brochure or discussion document that outlines some motherhood statements and sound bites.

Chris Steel is a master of ‘on paper solutions’ that sound great, but he really struggles with realising his claims in the real world.

Compare his rhetoric about the great improvements he delivers to the local bus service and then our actual terrible bus service.

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