Index warns council unit ban will impact boomer downsizers
A NEW housing index has warned that Brisbane will face a flood of ageing baby boomers with nowhere suitable to live unless it embraces greater density in suburbs where houses dominate.
The DORIS Index — Downsizer Opportunity to Remain in Suburbs — compared just how ready various Brisbane suburbs were to face the challenge, marrying the availability of smaller housing options with the ageing population.
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Suburbs like Pinjarra Hills, Pullenvale, Wacol, Riverhills, Chapel Hill, Ashgrove, Tarragindi, Wishart, Wakerley, Belmont, Geebung and Graceville were among the hardest for residents to downsize into, according to the report by Place Design Group and AHURI.
Report analyst Chris Isles of Place Design Group said the irony was the “grey haired keyboard army” had forced the issue, after fighting against higher density residential development in low density suburbs.
But he warned, it was a decision that “will come back to bite them”.
This as the Brisbane City Council works its way into the final week of public feedback on its proposed citywide amendment restricting townhouses and high density housing from single-home areas.
Among the changes would be the removal of provisions in zone codes, development codes and neighbourhood plans that support multiple dwellings like townhouses and apartments in low density residential zones.
A Brisbane City Council spokeswoman said the proposal came out of concerns by residents during Plan Your Brisbane consultations.
“One in five households gave feedback and stopping townhouses being built in areas for single homes was a strong theme,” she said, adding that it was not expected to impact council’s ability to meet the state target of more than 188,000 new dwellings by 2041.
“Brisbane City Council is currently calling for residents to help shape Brisbane and have their say on proposed plans to restrict townhouses in low density residential zones,” she said.
“These changes are about protecting the Brisbane backyard and our unique character by ensuring our planning scheme reflects community expectation on townhouse developments.
“Council is committed to supporting a broad range of housing options for all of Brisbane’s current and future residents and ensuring our city remains a great place to live, work and relax.”
She said there were several different residential and commercial zones available in suburbs across Brisbane that supported a broad range of housing types.
“While the State Government’s SEQ Regional Plan sets a target of more than 188,000 new dwellings by 2041, this amendment would not impact Council’s ability to meet this,” she said.
“The proposed amendment cannot be finalised until after community consultation and a second sign off from the State Government.”
Place Bulimba lead agent Matthew Hackett said buyers were already “looking for quite a while” to find properties to downsize into in their suburbs or close to them.
“In my 21 years of selling in Bulimba what I find, especially recently, is people want to downsize into the same area because they feel safe, they know the area and have friends or it may be as simple as a bridge club they go to every week,” he told The Sunday Mail.
Long time Bulimba residents Pauline Burchardt, 67, and Lyall Gamble, 69, were among the fortunate ones, having found property to downsize into about 800m from their family home.
The couple is trying to sell their three storey family home at 16 Shakespeare St in the $2m price range, effectively looking to sell it off for two smaller units.
They’ve already moved into a three-bedroom apartment overlooking the river. at Bulimba — though it was not their first choice — and have a holiday unit on North Stradbroke.
“We had been looking for at least two years,” Ms Burchardt told The Sunday Mail. “We wanted single storey because as you get a bit more frail you worry about stairs.”
She supported improved higher density properties in the suburbs. “Why not? I don’t see a problem with it. All of the houses here are raised but when those people get older, I wonder what will happen. If they have bigger units, that would be good, You need a spare room for when the kids come over.”
Townhouses were ideal, she said, “because you get a little garden or courtyard and we’ve got two pets” but they could not find a suitable one.
According to AHURI, new housing options “need to be designed with older Australians in mind” including not just apartments but also smaller houses.
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