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Support for high density living on the rise


A generational gap is emerging when it comes to housing density, with younger people most likely to support denser housing in established suburbs if it helps to improve housing affordability.

According to research conducted by YouGov, 59 per cent of Melbournians support increased housing density if it improves affordability in Melbourne’s suburbs.

People aged between 18-34, were the strongest supporters of the proposition, with 69 per cent favouring greater density.

Objections to higher density living were strongest amongst 50 to 64 year olds. Respondents aged 65+ generally favoured affordability and were accepting of higher density as a solution.

Cressida Wall, Executive Director, Property Council Victoria, said that attitudes towards urban density reflected changing economic and social trends.

“More and more, people are comfortable with high density living supported by good transport, great amenity and convenient locations.”

“People want more choice about where they live, work and play. They want to spend less time commuting, and more time doing the things they enjoy. Not everyone aspires to the quarter acre block. Increasingly, people want to be part of vibrant neighbourhoods that offer a good mix of services and lifestyle opportunities.”

“We should be making sure the property industry is enabled to deliver enough housing supply to meet the changing needs and wants of our growing population, and make sure that undersupply issues don’t drive up the price of property for everyone.”

“With customer preference shifting toward higher density living in most age brackets, it is time for councils, the state government and planners to enable higher density living by relaxing height controls in the CBD and the suburbs."

According to a recent report by the Commonwealth Bank, an undersupply of housing is anticipated as soon as 2020.Despite a drastic drop in approvals and construction in Melbourne over the last year, government and councils have continued to focus on affordable housing targets as a solution, rather than acknowledging the implications that low levels of new supply are having on the market.

“We need to shift the focus to incentivising new housing supply and creating pathways for higher density environments in the CBD and surrounds,” said Ms Wall.

“If we listen to the market, which is demanding higher density as well as greater affordability, we can create a healthy pipeline of the right sort of accommodation. An appropriate level of density will help to combat the supply lag, and help address affordability.”

Outside the CBD, enthusiasm for density is strongest in Melbourne’s south eastern suburbs, where more than half of respondents believe their children will not be able to afford to live in the suburb they grew up in.