Canberra housing experts and advocates have panned the ACT Government’s recent planning changes and called for stronger action to allow more missing middle housing in Canberra suburbs during a panel event on Wednesday evening organised by Greater Canberra as part of the Missing Middle Canberra campaign.
Analysis presented by award-winning local architect Rob Henry of Studio Heim suggested that due to planning and financing constraints, less than 5% of the 45,000 blocks eligible for dual occupancies under the ACT Government’s RZ1 reforms would be developed. “Without significant further reform … we’re in trouble,” Henry concluded.Jenny Edwards, Director of Light House Architecture and Science, and recent winner of the Energy Efficiency Champion award at the 2023 National Energy Efficiency Conference, called for further changes to allow medium density homes on larger Canberra blocks: “Blocks larger than 800m 2 are often significantly larger than 800m 2 , and can easily fit three or four homes. Limiting it to two is just crazy.”
Dr Simon Copland, Executive Director of Pedal Power spoke about the importance of further Missing Middle reforms to increase active travel usage and reduce Canberrans’ carbon footprint: “People are most likely to ride or walk distances that are under 5km. We want to create a city where most of your services, employment, and health are in that radius … we really need density to make that happen.”
Increasing housing supply would also reinforce recent measures to enhance renters rights in the ACT according to Joel Dignam, Executive Director of Better Renting: “We’ve seen rental reform in Canberra, but that reform is less effective because landlords still have so much market power … no one wants to stand up for their rights because they risk a bad reference.”The Missing Middle Canberra campaign, launched in March this year, called for the ACT Government to reform zoning in Canberra to allow for more townhouses and terraces in existing low-density RZ1 areas, and more low-rise flats and shop-top apartments in and around local shops. Despite strong support for ambitious reform from a broad range of Canberra organisations and advocacy groups, the ACT Government’s new Territory Plan introduced only minimal changes to zoning in the ACT, with unit titled dual occupancies now allowed on blocks larger than 800m 2 .
Quote attributable to Howard Maclean, Convenor, Greater Canberra: “The reviews are in: the ACT Government’s unambitious RZ1 reforms will not create the sustainable, affordable and liveable city Canberrans deserve. The Legislative Assembly must chart a clear path toward legalising more medium-density homes on large blocks across Canberra.”
A recording of the event can be found on the Greater Canberra YouTube channel.
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About Missing Middle Canberra
Missing Middle Canberra is a coalition of 15 community and business organisations and hundreds of individual Canberrans calling for common-sense reforms to our planning system to enable more medium-density housing and make Canberra a more sustainable and affordable place to live.
For more information about Missing Middle Canberra, see https://missingmiddlecbr.org.au.
About Greater Canberra
Greater Canberra is a community advocacy group committed to affordable and high-quality housing in Canberra. We believe in a future where housing is abundant, and where everyone can enjoy a more sustainable and liveable city. For more information, see https://greatercanberra.org.