City planners love infill development. So why are cities struggling with it, and how can they do better?

Forestville Adelaide development, Creative Commons 4.0

Infill development is an increasingly hot topic in Australian cities. It involves building on unused or underutilised land within existing urban areas.

City planners see infill development as essential. It’s a way to end urban sprawl and improve service delivery to a growing population at lower cost. Infill development has increased in popularity over several decades because it uses existing physical and social infrastructure, is close to amenities and enhances local economies.

Governments and planners have set infill development targets. However, these targets are not being met. Greenfield projects on undeveloped land continue to outpace infill development.

Governments at all levels are looking for ways to make more housing available and affordable. Infill development is a viable option, but it can be improved by making more use of mechanisms like land development authorities. They can provide co-ordinated planning and development at a scale that will improve our cities.

German housing crisis: ‘Like winning the lottery!’

DW German housing market, Photo: Ute Grabowsky

Housing is the social issue of the 21st century, German politicians and experts say time and again. And yet there’s no improvement in sight, especially in cities, where affordable housing is in short supply.

A look at the figures shows just how dire the situation on the German housing market really is: There is a shortage of over 800,000 apartments in Germany, a figure that is growing. More than 9.5 million people, mostly single parents and their children, live in cramped conditions, according to the Federal Statistical Office.

“The strategy of just build, build, build won’t work. The most important thing is that construction is inexpensive and remains affordable in the long term. If you look to Austria or Switzerland, which also have a large rental market, there are certainly models that could be used to create housing for the long term. Vienna is a shining example, where almost half of all apartments are owned by the city. This ensures that housing in Vienna is affordable.”

Learning from older adults: The wholeness of aging in the right place

An elderly woman clasps her hands together in her lap

Maxine Ho, AIRP Vancouver Undergraduate Research Assistant, talks about her experiences interviewing older adults experiencing housing precarity and living in affordable independent rental housing for the ‘Aging in the Right Place’ research project.

The idea of healthy aging has long been examined using biomedical approaches to look at the process of aging in the physical body (Bacsu et al., 2014). While these approaches are informative and help us understand the experience of aging physically, listening to the lived experiences of what it means to age in the right place highlights the importance of cultural and social experiences in aging.

Through our conversation with [a participant], we understand that the experience of older adults in affordable housing is complex, and it involves multiple aspects that contribute to her feeling of aging in the right place. Being able to give back to society, maintaining a positive mindset, and connecting with those around her all contribute to her sense of aging in the right place. This is why she feels that no matter where she goes, she is aging in the right place.

The Project hosts ridiculed for ‘out of touch’ reaction to controversial property plan

A post on X about a story on The Project

A rental advocate gathering information about empty homes for squatters has defended his controversial plan to help Aussies “camp out” in an abandoned property. Jordan van den Berg has copped criticism after setting up a register for Australians to dob in addresses left to rot.

The non-practising lawyer told Yahoo Finance yesterday that leaking details of empty houses to give shelter to those struggling in the housing crisis was a short-term solution while politicians nutted out a better path.

You can read the rest of the story on Yahoo Finance.

‘Scope for exploitation’: Investors eye rooming house conversions amid rental crisis

The Melbourne CBD seen from the city’s west.

Many property investors in [Melbourne] are asking questions about converting their existing properties to rooming houses. An explosion of interest in rooming houses from investors based on their higher rental yields has prompted concern from advocates about unregistered dwellings and vulnerable residents in this “housing of last resort”.

But with rooming houses a “housing of last resort” for renters, many of whom are living with entrenched vulnerability, the trend has advocates worried.

“We have seen first-hand that more people who are older and more vulnerable are moving into rooming houses,” said Amy Frew, director of client services at Tenants Victoria. “Due to the housing crisis there has been a lot more scope for exploitation.”


Independent inquiry launched as Australia grapples with worst housing crisis on record

SBS News in Depth

Australia is in the midst of its worst housing crisis on record, with experts warning thousands of households across the country are in severe rental stress and at risk of becoming homeless. National housing campaign Everybody’s Home is launching a new inquiry, set to hear firsthand accounts from renters, people dealing with crippling mortgages and homelessness services.

Click the link below to listen to the audio recording or read the transcript on the SBS News website.

The Defence Housing Australia’s proposed housing development at Lee Point, Darwin, and its potential for addressing homelessness.

Cover of Catherine Holmes Consulting report

Defence Housing Australia (DHA) proposes to develop land at Lee Point in Darwin, also known as Binybara by the Larrakia; the traditional owners of the Greater Darwin land and sea areas. The development will span 132.5 hectares, requiring the clearing of up to 110 hectares of land, which includes natural tropical savanna woodlands, as well as a former defence facility that has since been removed with natural revegetation occurring. It will accommodate 800 new homes, including detached houses, townhouses and apartments, of which around 25% (200) will be used to house Defence families. In addition to residential land use, the development will include retail, tourism and community purpose areas.

The development has continued to be met with opposition from environmental and community groups, including the Friends of Lee Point Inc. In correspondence from Minister Plibersek to Senator Lidia Thorpe, Senator for Victoria, regarding DHA’s development at Lee Point, Minister Plibersek refers to the housing crisis in the Northern Territory (NT), noting one in 20 people are homeless, and that in Darwin itself there is only a one percent rental vacancy rate. Under these circumstances, Minister Plibersek noted it was important to acknowledge that the DHA development will provide 800 new homes in Darwin, as well as a community hub. In the event the decision-making process to support the DHA’s Lee Point development has been influenced by its potential to ameliorate homelessness in Darwin, the FLP determined that this potential should be examined more closely.

In response, a research project was undertaken to: review and/or critique relevant literature and documentation (on the development, homelessness and housing policy); provide background information to, and consult, key stakeholders to gather their expert opinions; analyse the information; and prepare a brief report presenting any findings.

The research found that homelessness rates in the Northern Territory and Darwin continue to be the highest in the country, with a significant over-representation of Aboriginal people in all categories of homelessness.

The DHA’s Lee Point development does not propose to include any social or affordable housing as part of the zoning mix. Given the significant rates of homelessness in the greater Darwin area, the high number of households experiencing rental and mortgage stress, the deficit of social/public housing together with the existing substantial demand for housing and the increase in rental costs, the Lee Point development will do little, if anything at all, to directly address homelessness and housing stress for households on low to medium incomes; those most at risk of experiencing housing crisis.  Further, given the current housing crisis and demand for social and affordable housing, the DHA development is highly unlikely to indirectly deliver affordable housing in the broader community for a growing number of households experiencing housing stress. Yet the development will displace homeless people that currently utilise the Lee Point area.

While there is no current requirement in the NT Planning Scheme for Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning, the Lee Point development presents an important opportunity for the Commonwealth Government (the owner of the DHA entity – a major residential developer) to mandate the allocation of a proportion of all new dwellings and retail/commercial space at Lee Point for the purpose of social and affordable housing and associated non-government social and community sector services and supports. This opportunity aligns with the policy priorities of both the Commonwealth and Territory governments and will add real housing stock, benefiting households with the greatest needs.

Perth councils deploying ‘hostile architecture’ to make life even tougher for homeless people

The design of this public seating on Hay Street in Perth makes it difficult for vulnerable people to lie down

Experts warn a rise in ‘hostile architecture’ is making life even harder for our most vulnerable citizens.

When Len James found himself on the street, he said those design features made him feel unwanted in his own city.

What’s next? Advocates want to see authorities recognise the practice is inhumane and does nothing to fix the real problem.

Ending homelessness: Prioritising immediate and long-term investments

Victorian State Budget Submission 2024-25 Ending Homelessness

The Council to Homeless Persons Victoria submission to the Victorian Government 2024-25 State Budget.

Homelessness is unacceptable, avoidable and within our reach to resolve. At present, our homelessness system stands at a critical juncture, and far too many Victorians are enduring the hardships of homelessness. Our goal is for homelessness to be rare, brief, and non-recurring.

To achieve this, the 2024-25 Victorian Budget must urgently address the immediate housing crisis, whilst simultaneously developing and investing in a strategy to end homelessness in Victoria. This strategy must centre on housing first and ensure enough public and community housing for Victorians’ needs. The rates of Homelessness in Victoria are too high.


‘It was bloody amazing’: How getting into social housing transforms people’s lives

A woman in a yellow jumper stands at the door to her home

For people on the long social housing waiting list, getting into secure, affordable housing is life-changing. Our study starkly illustrates what a difference it makes.

We interviewed people who were on the waiting list, and again about a year later. Some had moved into social housing and told us how it had transformed their lives.

The positive impacts included improved mental health, reintegration into society, reuniting with children, access to facilities the rest of us take for granted and greater job opportunities.