Melbourne long-term housing demand looks strong – but is it healthy?

Long term prospects look bright.

According to Colliers International’s Melbourne Residential Communities Research and Forecast report, a further 600,000 homes will need to be built in Melbourne in the coming 20 years to meet demand, given that the city’s population is expected to hit 5 million by 2030.

About half of these will need to be built in the city’s growth centres. But there are real problems associated with this.

Colliers research analyst Margaret Bowden said that a combined total of about 14,200 houses a year would need to be built in the growth areas of Hume, Casey, Cardinia, Melton, Whittlesea and Wyndham.

Colliers expects demand to increase in outer-ring areas where infrastructure is improving, such as around the south Morang rail line extension in the city’s north and around new train stations in the south-east.

But affordable housing in the outer suburbs comes at a cost

There is overwhelming evidence that we are planning and building new suburbs in Victoria that are bad for people’s health: they make residents more isolated, more harried, increasingly unwell and much, much fatter.

Recently a report  to the Victorian government warned that the new outer suburbs of Melbourne will be the slums of the future and the cause of increased health problems.

Experts say Victoria is facing an epidemic in chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease and there is a large and growing body of evidence – both in Australia and internationally – that poor urban design is partly to blame.

In many new estates on Melbourne’s fringes there is a paucity of public transport, parks and open space. Schools and services are too far to walk to, large houses have swallowed backyards, commuters sit for long periods in traffic and fast food is often the only offering at the local convenience store.

Obviously people are moving to the outer suburbs because housing is cheaper – many have no choice.

This just highlights some of the social problems we’ll experience as our city grows and urban planners are going to take these matters seriously as the plan for our future.


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