Live Q&A Event – Lots, Blocks and Precincts: Towards Quality Missing Middle Housing

Posted October 10, 2023

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  • Held on Wednesday 25 October 2023
  • Online Zoom Webinar
  • 12.30 pm - 1.30 pm (AEDT)

Watch the recorded event

Recent interest in ‘missing middle’ housing has generated design competitions, planning codes and new housing prototypes aimed at improving the quality and diversity of infill housing in established areas.

Yet despite these efforts, infill development continues to generate poor outcomes: uniform dwelling types, limited response to the local context, loss of garden areas and trees, and poor quality private open space. Why?

Our hypothesis is that ad hoc lot-by-lot redevelopment, without the benefit of a broader plan and access to integrated precinct development tools and mechanisms, thwarts the objectives of density, liveability and quality. Planning for established areas needs to consider issues that can only be addressed at the block or precinct scale (e.g. orientation, separation, tree canopy, open space, parking, etc.). What might these approaches look like? Will they produce the quality housing that our cities need?

In this event, our expert panel, Patrick Fensham from SGS, Clare Harley from Strathfield Council and Stephen Glackin from Swinburne University, considered these issues and challenges. Jo Noesgaard, from SGS, facilitated this event.

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Patrick Fensham is a Principal and Partner at SGS Economics and Planning and specialises in metropolitan and strategic planning, infrastructure planning and funding analysis, cultural development, regional and community economic development, development feasibility analysis and facilities audits and planning. His contributions to metropolitan and strategic planning over many years in all the states and territories of Australia include economic and employment land studies; housing and residential market analysis; and analysis of potential growth scenarios for various levels of government. He is focused on addressing social disadvantage in urban and regional contexts and aims to challenge clients with new policy solutions and innovations for progressive change.

Clare Harley is the Director of Planning and Environment and is responsible for planning, development, compliance, environmental services and regulatory services at Strathfield Council. Clare joined Strathfield Council after working at Bayside Council as Manager Strategic Planning since 2017, with a distinguished career in local government and the private sector where she has held leadership roles throughout Australia and in London as a Strategic Planner and Urban Designer. Clare is passionate about delivering great urban design and environmental outcomes for the community which activate the local area and create opportunities to positively connect local communities.

Stephen Glackin is a senior research fellow in urban planning and urban geography at the Centre for Urban Transitions, Swinburne University. His fields of expertise include strategic planning, planning law, community engagement and geo-spatial analysis. He has been working with state and local government partners in Melbourne for 11 years on a range of applied urban research projects covering topics such as urban regeneration, asset management, housing, infrastructure, community engagement and decision support systems creation.

Jo Noesgaard is a planner with a drive to shape communities that are accessible and equitable for all. Jo joined SGS after a successful career in Victorian Local Government. She has a deep knowledge of social planning, community health and wellbeing, infrastructure and services planning and housing policy and has qualifications in public health and urban planning and environment.

Peter Mares, an independent writer and researcher, reflects on this event and highlights the crucial role of planning in addressing Australia's housing challenges in his response to The Great Divide by Alan Kohler. He also reaffirms insights from Patrick Fensham, emphasising that planning should not be a barrier but an enabler for building the homes our communities need.

Read more in the Quarterly Essay.

This event was held jointly by SGS Economics and Planning and LGiU Australia.

LGiU Australia is a local government think tank committed to an innovative and sustainable local government sector. As a member-led organisation, its purpose is to share ideas and best practices, encourage innovation and collaboration, and develop research that drives the sector forward. LGiU Australia is a partnership between SGS Economics and Planning and not-for-profit think tank LGiU.

SGS Economics and Planning is an urban and public policy advisory and certified B Corp. We work so that all Australians can benefit from equitable and sustainable cities and regions. Our evidence-based insights help to understand how places and economies function, assess what projects and programs work, and plan future places and precincts.


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