Community mix, affordable housing and metropolitan planning strategy in Melbourne
Wood, G., Berry, M., Taylor, E. and Nygaard, C. (2008) Community mix, affordable housing and metropolitan planning strategy in Melbourne. Built Environment, 34 (3). pp. 273-290. ISSN 0263-7960
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To link to this article DOI: 10.2148/benv.34.3.273
Income segregation across Melbourne’s residential communities is widening, and at a pace faster than in some other Australian cities. The widening gap between Melbourne’s rich and poor communities raises fears about concentrations of poverty and social exclusion, particularly if the geography of these communities is such that they and their residents are increasingly isolated from urban services and employment centres. Social exclusion in our metropolitan areas and the government responses to it are commonly thought to be the proper domain of social and economic policy. The role of urban planning is typically neglected, yet it helps shape the economic opportunities available to communities in its attempts to influence the geographical location of urban services, infrastructure and jobs. Under the current metropolitan strategy ‘Melbourne 2030’ urban services and transport infrastructure are to be concentrated within Principal Activity Centres spread throughout the metropolitan area and it is the intention that lower-income households should have ready access to these activity centres. However, the Victorian state government has few housing policy instruments to achieve this goal and there are fears that community mix may suffer as house prices and rents are bid up in the vicinity of Principal Activity Centres, and lower-income households are displaced. But are these fears justified by the changing geography of house prices in the metropolitan region? This is the key research question addressed in this paper which examines whether the Victorian practice of placing reliance on the market to deliver affordable housing, while intervening to promote a more compact pattern of urban settlement, is effective.