City Futures Research Centre UNSW Built Environment

The Demand for Higher Density Housing in Sydney and Melbourne

Urban consolidation, or the building of residential dwellings at higher densities than the current housing stock (e.g. flats and units) is an urban growth management policy in most capital cities in Australia . In all of these cities, future residential development is based upon an increasing number of these higher density dwellings being built in the existing urban fabric. Proponents or urban consolidation policies contend that there are economic, social and environmental benefits to be gained from building out cities at much higher densities than currently exist. On the other hand, there is also a body of researchers who claim that the perceived benefits of urban consolidation policy are based on assumptions and that little evidence exists to support these proposed benefits. This project aims to increase our knowledge of the impacts of urban consolidation policy by analysing some of the social, behavioural and transport assumptions that lay behind this policy in Sydney and Melbourne. In particular, this project aims to examine whether some of the perceived benefits of urban consolidation are experienced by individuals who live in such dwellings.

This project was awarded in November 2006 and started in January 2007. The research was completed in December 2008. At present the research team are working on conference papers, working papers and journal articles drawing upon the results of the research.

As part of this research, a telephone survey of 1202 apartment residents was completed in addition to a web-survey of 420 apartment residents. In-depth interviews with 29 apartment residents (conducted over the telephone) were also undertaken as part of the qualitative component of the research. In addition, analysis was undertaken on the changes in higher-density sub-market populations between 2001 and 2006 using customised data from the 2006 Census. Special tables were commissioned from the ABS containing data specific to populations living in different forms of flatted accommodation across both cities. Initial analysis of the tables considered direct changes within the high density populations with specific attention paid to those locations were new stock has been developed since 2001. From this analysis key variables were identified for inclusion in a factor analysis process designed to identify key high density submarkets in order for comparisons to be made between the two cities both in terms of profile of such markets and also, if present, differences in spatial distribution.

Initial stages of the factor analysis process were completed and indicated that this statistical process wasn’t directly suited to the task. To this end a K-means clustering process has been deployed in order to map out spatial variations in the different high density market forms in the two cities. The outputs of this submarket mapping process will be applied to the final results of the survey work in order to consider whether perceptions and levels of satisfaction (or indeed dissatisfaction) vary both spatially across the two cities and also between different market forms.

Some of the results of the research were presented at strata managers’ forums in both Sydney and Melbourne, hosted by Andreones Lawyers. One (peer reviewed) paper was presented at the State of Australian Cities Conference 2007. A paper based on the research findings was also presented at the Institute of Australian Geographers conference in July 2008.

A press release detailing some of the findings was also published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 27th October 2007. The researchers also published a peer reviewed article in the journal Housing Studies [2009, 24(2):243-260]. Three working papers have already been published on the project webpage [/sites/default/files/upload/pdf/cf/research/cityfuturesprojects/higherdensity/]. The researchers intend to develop these papers further into peer reviewed conference papers and journal articles.

Research Working Papers available to download:

The Desirable Apartment Life?
ARC Project DP0773388 The Demand for Higher Density Housing in Sydney and Melbourne
Working Paper 5
H. Easthope, A. Tice and B. Randolph, August 2009

Travel characteristics and access to jobs by higher density residents in Sydney and Melbourne
ARC Project DP0773388 The Demand for Higher Density Housing in Sydney and Melbourne
Working Paper 4
R. Bunker, A. Tice and H. Easthope, July 2009

A Note on Methods
ARC Project DP0773388 The Demand for Higher Density Housing in Sydney and Melbourne
Working Paper 3
City Futures Research Centre, February 2009

Governing the Compact City: The Challenges of Apartment Living in Sydney
ARC Project DP0773388 The Demand for Higher Density Housing in Sydney and Melbourne
Working Paper 2
H. Easthope and B. Randolph, September 2008

At the Grassroots of Urban Consolidation
ARC Project DP0773388 The Demand for Higher Density Housing in Sydney and Melbourne
Working Paper 1
City Futures Research Centre, September 2008

People

Bill  Randolph
Professor Bill Randolph
Chief Investigator
Dr Raymond Bunker, r.bunker@unsw.edu.au
Chief Investigator
Hazel  Easthope
Dr Hazel Easthope
Senior Research Fellow
Dr Bruce Judd, b.judd@unsw.edu.au
Chief Investigator
Mr Andy Tice, a.tice@unsw.edu.au

Funded by

ARC

Related Programs