We got a great response from the public to our ‘Can I Be Your Neighbour’ campaign to save the Brisbane townhouse. Read about the issue below.
What is this issue?
Households come in all shapes and sizes and our housing choice should too. However, apartments, rowhouses, duplexes, and independent granny flats have been progressively removed as allowable housing forms in the 70% of Brisbane zoned for low-density residential.
In 2019, Brisbane City Council proposed Major Amendment Package H to City Plan 2014, which would also ban townhouses from low-density residential neighbourhoods. This would leave detached single-family dwellings as the only allowable form of housing in the majority of our suburbs.
Removing townhouses from the mix has negative economic, equitable, and environmental impacts. It drives up house prices, as it limits choice to only bigger – and therefore more expensive – homes. It also means that fewer households can live in a given area; not ideal when housing demand already vastly exceeds supply.
This leads to economic and social segregation, as neighbourhoods only house those who can afford (or desire) a single-family dwelling. First-time homeowners, childless couples, single parents, lower income–earners, and downsizers are left behind.
Finally, removing more compact forms of low-density dwelling exacerbates our city’s urban sprawl, which destroys biodiversity and increases car-reliance.
What we did
YIMBY Qld ran our ‘Can I Be Your Neighbour’ campaign to create community awareness and put a human face on the debate. We wanted to get people thinking about the potential neighbours they would lose should Council adopt the proposed amendment. Our goal was to garner visible public support and formal submissions against the proposed City Plan amendment.
We also sent our own submission to Council, outlining our concerns about the proposed townhouse ban. You can view it here.
We ran our campaign through email, blogs, social media, events, and letterbox drops. We reached out to a wide group of industry and interest groups: design experts, academics, healthy community advocates, active transport groups, social housing providers, and people living in existing townhouses.
In the end, we received tremendous support for our campaign. We were delighted that so many people took the time to promote good development outcomes for our city.
Where to from here?
Unfortunately, Council adopted Major Amendment Package H and the ‘townhouse ban’ went into effect city-wide on 1 May 2020.
However, we are hopeful that we will see a reversal of these exclusionary zoning policies in the near future. Already, housing diversity monitoring figures show a slowing of ‘missing middle’ housing, while house and rent prices are only becoming less affordable.
YIMBY Qld continues to campaign for increased diversity in housing mix.