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

Development & Planning

Friday, March 16, 2018 - 00:00
As reported in The Age late last month speculation is growing that developer Cbus Property is leading the charge to acquire a combined development site at 140-150 Queen Street and 27 McKillop Street. This would follow what would appear to be a pre-emptive purchase of a neighbouring site at 423 Bourke Street, which an 11-storey office block currently occupies.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Sunday, March 11, 2018 - 13:00
The Victorian Government has announced it will ban the use of aluminium cladding panels that have a polyethylene core of more than 30% and expanded polystyrene will also be banned on buildings with 3 or more levels. The changes were announced by the Planning Minister, Richard Wynne, on Saturday morning along with new guidelines for building surveyors.

Visual Melbourne

Monday, February 5, 2018 - 12:00
The various spaces and elements which combine to form RMIT's New Academic Street (NAS) have progressively begun to open to students and visitors alike. I was recently fortunate enough to be part of an informal group tour through the completed spaces within NAS, led by Harrison and White which had a hand in the project.

Transport & Design

Friday, March 16, 2018 - 17:00
Comment There's much to admire about Rodney Maddock's advocacy piece in The Conversation - ' Our growing big cities need new centres of employment - here's Melbourne's chance ' - the three projects he advocates for have been in the public domain for quite a while now.

Sustainability & Environment