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Yes in my backyard – more density in our existing suburbs?

26 April 2024

From BANANAs (Don’t Build ANything ANywhere Always) to NIMBYs (Not In My BackYard) to YIMBYs (Yes In My BackYard), this week’s Property Council event was very thought-provoking.

If we’re serious about addressing the housing crisis then hopefully everyone can agree that we’re going to need more diverse housing in good locations, close to public transport, both stopping sprawl and enabling people to age in place.

Sean Morrison from APP Group who wrote the report for the Property Council and was the keynote speaker said that cities around Australia were acting with the support of YIMBY’s. For example, Sydney was upping density around 37 train stations to allow at least six-storey buildings around them.

He also argued that Perth needs transport infrastructure investment certainty (think light rail or trackless trams) in the inner suburbs if more development is going to happen.

I’m not convinced that WA’s current ad hoc approach to density (almost anti-planning) is getting us more density or density in the right locations. The numbers show that it is not as we have the highest level of sprawl (around 70% of new housing) and the lowest level of apartments (only 7%).

My question therefore was: ”Rather than YIMBY don’t we need YIMACTA (yes in my activity center/train station)?”. Or to put it another way, would a planning framework in which density is largely focused around existing train stations and key activity centers be key in tackling NIMBYism and supporting YIMBYism?

This was backed up by comments by Scott Cameron from Finbar who talked about the benefits of consolidating density which potentially had more impact and positives than a stand-alone apartment buildings in suburbs.

Hopefully, discussions like this can shift the dial on business as usual in WA because it is not delivering a liveable, connected or sustainable urban form.


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