Accomodating our growing population is one of our community’s most pressing concerns.
This was highlighted in a recent report by the Productivity Commission, in which Australians were surveyed about attitudes to population growth and the increased density required to house it.
The report found that the majority of Australians indicated that they would not like increased population. In Melbourne, 52 per cent said they would not like it, while a mere 11 per cent said they would.
The reasons behind the resistance to higher population were not surprising: 86 per cent said increased traffic congestion was the main reason, followed by increased noise and loss of street appeal. Shadows from higher buildings and decreased property values were also cited as a problem.
Conversely, those who were in favour of increased population cited increased property values, improved services and more vibrant suburbs as positive factors.
It’s fascinating that on both sides of the debate, property values are an issue.
While not included in the survey, the message is clear that most people do not want to see housing affordability further reduced.
Those surveyed were also asked to rate different types of development, indicating which of five different variants they most favoured. The least popular form was ‘multiple dwellings replacing single dwellings’ (basically infill development), which 53 per cent of those surveyed opposed; compare this to the much more favourable rating given to ‘residential development in a new area’, which was only opposed by 29 per cent.
The problem for our community and its decision makers is that none of these factors adds up to a solution.
Opposition to infill development is in part why the cost of infill development is higher and the preference given to ‘greenfields’ development results in higher costs for government in the form of more roads and public transport.
Given that the inability to provide enough homes is the main cause of reduced affordability, solving this issue will also provide the keys to improved housing affordability.