Can apartments solve the affordabilty problem?

One of the key hopes for apartments built in the suburbs, is that they can bring the entry price for a home down to affordable levels. If you look at the offer prices there is some hope in this, particularly in the big high rise developments when designed for that purpose. How ever buyer beware, as this article in the Age shows, body corporate fees can catch out ill-informed buyers and negate the low buy price.

Owners corporations: Sharing not always bliss.

…Buying in

  • Considering an owners corporation property? Homework in advance could save heartache later:
  • Read the Owners Corporation Certificate in the section 32 — information provided by a property’s seller. This will include fees — these can range from a few hundred dollars to more than
    $10,000 a year for a luxury penthouse.
  • Read and understand the plan of subdivision and the unit’ s title. What exactly would you own…

There has been a lot of discussion about sustainability of high rise vs the traditional Home…

…Green Building Council of Australia and World Green Building Council chair, Tony Arnel, challenged the high density vision for our cities when Continue reading Can apartments solve the affordabilty problem? →

High-density housing reflects dense government thinking

A very pertinent article written by Dr Tony Recsei president of the Save Our Suburbs community group (NSW Branch). Thanks to Mary Drost for sharing it today – Well worth reading.

Citizens in Australia’s major cities are becoming increasingly unhappy about what they perceive as the escalating deterioration in their quality of life – traffic congestion, overloaded public transport, unaffordable housing for young people, increases in the costs of basic services and overcrowding. There is little doubt that recent election results and unfavourable opinion polls are partly an expression of this dissatisfaction.

‘Save Our Suburbs’ believe that these adverse trends are the result of high-density policies that have been imposed onto communities by state governments. Due to the misleading misinformation that has accompanied these policies, the public may not fully realise the connection between these policies on the one hand and deteriorating standard of living on the other. It is only when one sweeps the propaganda veil aside that one realises how shallow, trivial and sometimes downright deceptive the spin has been.

We should start out by making it clear that we have no issue with anyone that prefers living in a high-density area or with the free market construction of buildings to fulfill this preference. The issue we have is with the enforced imposition of high density housing upon the bulk of Australians that don’t want it.

The premise behind this government totalitarianism is that high-density living is better for the environment. They say that people will use their cars less and that greenhouse gas emissions will be greatly reduced. While these two propositions sound very much like commonsense the unfortunate fact is that the data does not bear them out. An idealised Melbourne study currently being quoted assumes that people, no matter where they live, will drive to the central business district daily. This is a completely unrealistic assumption.  Only 9.9 per cent of employment in Melbourne is in the CBD. The majority of destinations for most people in the suburbs lie close to where they live and they do not in fact make daily trips to the CBD.

To get a better understanding we should look at the Australian Conservation Association’s Consumption Atlas, which shows greenhouse pollution per person in each postal code. The underlying research shows that the actual travel energy used by dwellers in inner Sydney suburbs is more than those in the outer suburbs, even when air travel is excluded.

When domestic energy is added to travel energy, the energy total for people in the inner suburbs is 22 per cent more than those living in the outer suburbs.  This is because of energy needed in high-rise buildings for communal lifts, scores of individual clothes driers and ever-present security lighting in foyers and garage spaces.

While we do concede that private transport generates somewhat higher greenhouse gas emissions than public transport, the difference is not nearly as much as people think. Greenhouse gas emissions per passenger kilometre on Sydney City Rail are 105 gm. The figure for the average car is 155 gm. It is much less for modern hybrid vehicles, being a mere 70 gm.

Furthermore, a study of Melbourne areas shows that the people squeezed into newly converted dense areas did not use public transport to any greater extent and there was little or no change in their percentage of car use compared to living in the previous low-density.

In fact, traffic congestion increases whenever high-density policies are imposed wherever you are in the world. Any slight increase that may occur in the proportion of people using public transport is overwhelmed by the greater number of people squeezed into that area. The resulting congestion causes higher fuel consumption and dangerous exhaust emissions. The authorities fail to admit that many people still require their cars for getting to the many workplaces, sporting facilities, and relatives and friends homes not easily reached by public transport and for transporting items that are impractical or illegal aboard public transport such as weekend recreation equipment and the family pet.

High density advocates claim that high-density saves money. This is palpable nonsense. We are all acutely aware that high-density policies have resulted in a dramatic rise in the price of housing, due to the government enforced infill policy causing land scarcity, thereby locking out an entire generation of young people from the housing market. We are also conscious of substantial rises in the cost of services such as electricity, water and sewerage due to the incredibly inefficient modifications required to increase capacity in areas originally designed for lower densities.

A tragic and often overlooked failure of high-density policies is the adverse effect on human health, especially mental health. There is a considerable body of peer-reviewed research proving the link between density and ill health. An article published on 23 June 2011 by eleven authors in the prestigious scientific journal, Nature, states that the incidence of schizophrenia in city dwellers is double that of people living in less crowded conditions. This article has received worldwide media attention. In view of the serious mental health situation existing in our society, those forcing high-density onto communities that do not want it, should hang their heads in shame.

We reiterate that we have no issue with those of us that preferliving in a high-density area or with the free market construction of buildings to fulfill that limited demand. What we object to, is having draconian high density policies based on demonstrably faulty premises forced upon the 83 per cent of people that Australian research shows prefer to live in a free-standing home.

This is especially so when the result is maddening traffic congestion, more greenhouse gases, a creaking and overloaded infrastructure, the young and disadvantaged unable to afford their own home and poorer health outcomes.

Dr Tony Recsei has a background in chemistry and is an environmental consultant. Since retiring he has taken an interest in community affairs and is president of the Save Our Suburbs community group which opposes over-development forced onto communities by the New South Wales State Government. You can find the Youtube site here; and the blog here.

Are we alone in our struggle ? Don’t you believe it…

You might think that our struggle is very specific, very local. Maybe only because of the Doncaster Hill strategy, or only because of DD08 Zoning… well you would be very wrong.

…Read on for a list of over 120 groups in Victoria alone…

You see over the last couple of weeks alone,  we have received calls from people in Doncaster Hill precinct about 188 apartments on three blocks. From a Doncaster lane “DD08 zone” scared about four blocks in a row all for sale at the same time, and what could happen. Even a call from a group in Horsfall St Templestowe Heights, one of the “Protected Res3 Zones” and how the local shops are now developed to consume all the local parking and the skyline. All that does sound very local, however…

If you have been following us you will have noted the Boronia group, a little further out have the same issues, and there are many more. If you want to know really how many groups are fighting poor planning and over development, then you should have a look at probably the Biggest collection of resident groups like us, shown here at the Marvelous Melbourne Website. There’s go  to be over 120 Registered groups there. there is also a lot of good news on our favourite topics.

Beyond that, the groups also feed Planning Backlash. Continue reading Are we alone in our struggle ? Don’t you believe it… →

Maidstone residents rail at ‘inconsistent’ VCAT rulings

Another Example of how difficult it is to deal with development proposals and VCAT.

And another example of why anyone fighting over developments should attend our VCAT appeals workshop Thursday Aug 25th.

This article in the Maribynong weekly Maidstone residents rail at ‘inconsistent’ VCAT rulings

…MAIDSTONE residents have, within the space of two days, won and lost battles against what they say is overdevelopment in their street.

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal last month ruled against an appeal by Marsh Street residents over the construction of three dwellings on one block.

Two days later, VCAT handed down a decision favouring residents and overturning Maribyrnong Council’s approval of two two-storey houses on a block in the same street…

It sure is a mine field to deal with,

  • You get your case heard at Local Council,
  • If the developer loses they take it to VCAT,
  • If you loose you might take it to VCAT..
  • If you go to VCAT – do you represent yourselves ?  You might get the right of reply. Lawyers don’t
  • Do you need “experts” to explain your point, like the developer will have.
  • Do you have lawyers, and how do you pay for them ?

Well for $25,  next week – Thursday the 25th of August, you can ask those and other questions of Lawyers who deal with just these things. See our Event

And while we are there we will discuss how to change the whole state planning system…

How does VCAT work, How do I Change the Planning System?

Whether we like it or Not, if we have a dis-agreement with a development, and it goes through the council review process, it is likely to end up being argued & resolved at VCAT.

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT.)

Now the developers know how VCAT Works, but most of us don’t, so we have arranged for an evening Workshop to spell it out. And while we are there, we have added another important topic – how to present a submission to the State Planning Review, which is of course our chance to tell them what’s wrong with the whole Planning system.

This is a double Workshop, presented by the Environment Defenders Office (EDO)

“VCAT Planning & Environment Appeals.”  + “Planning System Review workshop.”

 One night, two important topics.    Bookings are essential RSVP below.  Thursday August 25th, 2011 6:30 PM to 9:30 PM

For more details – follow this link and RSVP

 EDO Banner

 Workshop flyer  2011-08-25 RAIDID EDO VCAT Planning workshop Suitable for Printing and Emailing.

Less Developments in Side Streets: 17% will do it.

Following on from yesterday’s proof that we don’t need high density apartments in DD08 and side streets, lets consider today, how little development is needed in side streets at all.

Less than 17% more of the 6080 DD08 sites, do actually need to be developed as town houses to achieve the growth Manningham council has planned up to 2030…


Remember Town houses maintain existing local character, can fit on-site parking, spread the traffic load around the area. Don’t shadow anything like a 3 storey apartment, and look a whole lot better.

So this is how it works out. Continue reading Less Developments in Side Streets: 17% will do it. →

Planning for Growth – Achieved Without High Density Apartments ?

There is a big push in Manningham to be ready for the growth that the state Government has pushed upon us in the 2030 plan. But really, how much growth is needed ?

Could it be achieved without High Density apartments ?    HELL YEAH !

Well Manningham Council has shown us what is needed, but you have to do some sums to see the truth. Now there are a few key targets that have been identified as the basis of the 2030 plan:

  1. Population growth of 0.8% each year.
  2. Growth is to be focused in the DD08 Activity areas.
  3. There will be a high portion of lone person households.

Well to achieve this 0.8% compounding population Growth Manningham needs to add 4,755 homes.

And if all that growth was built solely in DD08 zones, then by 2030, Manningham would need to increase density inside DD08 zones by 75%  – LESS THAN DOUBLE  ( 175% times current ) Continue reading Planning for Growth – Achieved Without High Density Apartments ? →

First of the planned 10 storeys apartments to be built and occupied on the Doncaster Hill activity centre.

Affordable Housing 95-97 Tram Road Doncaster : 98 apartments and 130 car spaces ( As seen on ABC News)

The 10-storey development includes 48 one-bedroom apartments, 30 two-bedroom apartments and 20 three-bedroom apartments.

This will be the first of the planned 10 storeys apartments to be built and occupied on the Doncaster Hill activity centre.

The state government were concerned at the slow progress of high-rise apartment towers on Doncaster Hill and determined they would provide funding to stimulate further high-rise development, while providing access to cheaper housing.

We were surprised a government funded development of this density would be built so far outside of the city, it is not an ideal location since it is car driven, it has poor infrastructure, lack of a railway and limited opportunities for employment. Many residents will be forced into car ownership to access amenities and services and to provide transport to and from work.

We are not against supported housing, there definitely needs to be help for the community, and you shouldn’t stereo type who will live there, even nice families need help. You could even say the building looks nice, as far as multistory developments go.

              But why put it in that location?          See below for Traffic, Parking, & Birthdays. Continue reading First of the planned 10 storeys apartments to be built and occupied on the Doncaster Hill activity centre. →

State Planning MP lowers height limit

“reasonable residential development in residential areas that adjoin activity centres”.

Council and community heard on Boronia planning.

Well here’s some encouraging news, you may have seen the Boronia Community fight on Channel 7 news a week ago, or heard them before that.

They are tackling the same issues we are, and are a step or two ahead of us. The great part of this is that they have now set the precedent for allowing consideration, ( not just Zone rule limits,) when council and VCAT review development proposals.

Read on below for the release from Mathew Guy’s Office ( State Planning Minister.)

This is the Group in Boronia that have done very well – have a look at their efforts.



Knox City Council will be able to consider whatever height limits it chooses in the Boronia activities centre, after constructive discussions with Planning Minister Matthew Guy.

The Council sought authorisation from the Minister to implement discretionary height controls of 7.5 metres in residential areas of the Boronia activities centre, as part of the Boronia Structure Plan by the Council.

The previous Labor Government bullied the Council and refused this request, stating it would not accept any height limit under 9 metres.

Mr Guy said he had heard the Council and the community’s concerns on the height issue, and wants the Knox City Council to be able to consider 7.5 metre discretionary height limits.

“I have listened to the community and recognise there needs to be some guidance on what is considered reasonable residential development in residential areas that adjoin activity centres. Planning should never be a ‘one size fits all’ approach,” Mr Guy said.

“It is important we support appropriate development in key defined areas while still providing protection for neighbouring residential amenity.

“I have written to Knox City Council advising I want the Council to provide me with its recommendation, not one dictated to it by the previous Labor Planning Minister. If the Council feels 7.5 metre discretionary height limits in this area can be justified, they can make that determination.

Member for Ferntree Gully Nick Wakeling and Member for Bayswater Heidi Victoria said they supported Mr Guy’s decision to give the Council its say on height limits, and that community concerns could be heard through the council process.

Link to Media release    Release from Nick Wakeling MP for FTG


MP Marry Wooldridge now knows Curlew Court and DD08 zoning a little better.

Doncaster Member of Parliament Mary Wooldridge came good on her offer to see Curlew Court first hand today.

Hopefully Mary can assist in our fight to keep most of Curlews’ existing character. After all Mary is part of the state government, and DD08 zone regulations belong to the State Government. Curlew is of course, just one example of the DD08 zoned streets which were “TARGETED for Drastic Change” when Manningham council nominated these streets for DD08 high density. We thank Mary and Linda from her team, for their guidance and involvement today.

Remember there is an upcoming opportunity to recommend changes to the current state planning rules see our prior article on MP Mathew Guys’ offer.

2011-07-29 Mary Wooldridge MP Curlew Court

Mary Wooldridge MP at Curlew Court