Inner-city 'high-rises' and suburban expansion: don't ignore the significant middle ground


All too often the story of Melbourne's continuing development is presented as one of extremes: the rapid rise of inner-city 'high-rises' and continued detached dwelling construction on the fringes. And when the meaning of a 'high-rise' is "a building with multiple floors", context becomes increasingly important.

This Age article published on Monday, for instance, is clearly referring to 'inner-city high-rises' as those that are either proposed, approved, at sales or under construction either in or very close to the CBD. But the development story is far more nuanced than the centre of the city. 

In fact, if we establish an arbitrary threshold for buildings which have 8 floors in them - a similar scale to the pre-1950s height limit in central Melbourne (40m) and a scale in the context of the first half of last century that would have been deemed 'high-rise' - then based on data at the time of writing from the Urban Melbourne Project Database, there are 821 projects in the pipeline at various stages in the development lifecycle.

821 projects represent 64% of the entire database at the time of writing.

Number of floors Number of projects % of total database
4 or less 341 26.4%
5 or less 503 39%
6 or less 640 49.6%
7 or less 740 57.5%
8 or less 821 63.7%

* Total published project count at time of writing: 1,288.

Of those 821 projects, only 49 are located in the City of Melbourne or Fishermans Bend & St Kilda Road (both of the latter precincts are shared at various levels between the Port Phillip and Melbourne LGAs).

A further 218 of the 821 projects are located in the Cities of Yarra and Stonnington as well as the remaining areas of Port Phillip, resulting in 554 - maximum 8 level - projects located well and truly outside even the most liberal definition of 'inner-city'.

These 554 projects, located outside the inner-city and unlike the typical scale of development you'll find on the fringe of the city, includes approximately 26,000 dwellings in the development pipeline.  For all the projects which have 8 levels or less - 821 - there are approximately 37,000 units in the pipeline.

Clearly, larger buildings have a greater amount of dwellings contained within them, but is it wise to simply ignore this somewhat significant segment of the pipeline when we discuss Melbourne's ongoing development?  

Here's a sample of projects that have 8 or less floors and not located in the inner-city.

Lead image credit: 88 Hudsons Road, Spotswood

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