Apartment boom ruining Melbourne

Plans to turn Melbourne into an attractive place to live and work are being derailed by a boom in high rise apartments, according to a new report from Monash University.

Authors Bob Birrell and Ernest Healy said the unprecedented surge in high-rise apartment completions in Melbourne since the late 2000s had already impacted on the city’s liveability and was unsustainable.

According to their report, Melbourne’s High Rise Apartment Boom, 22,605 apartments were completed in Melbourne’s inner city and surrounding suburbs from 2010-12 and plans are underway for more development.

“Melbourne’s high rise boom is extraordinary. It has already transformed the city’s skyline. It is inevitable that this will intensify over the years 2013 to 2015 because at least another 39,000 apartments will be completed during this time,” the report said.

Dr Birrell and Dr Healy believe the rise in apartments is at odds with the State Government and City of Melbourne’s investment in the city’s transport infrastructure, public spaces, parks and laneways which aimed to transform Melbourne into an inviting mix for residence, work and entertainment.

“This outcome is far from the original vision of those responsible for promoting a balance of work and residence in inner Melbourne. The investment in the city’s amenities was intended to make Melbourne ‘the place to be’. The residential aspect was supposed to be based on medium-density living, which would attract a diversity of households,” the report stated.

“The apartment boom is squandering this investment. It is delivering tiny, poor quality apartments that will repel rather than attract the ‘creative class’.”

Rather than an indication that Melburnians are embracing inner city living, the authors believe the apartment boom has more to do with investor and developer led priorities, which focus on maximising the number of apartments on the site.

The result is apartment towers predominantly comprised of small apartments suitable only for singles or couples who, for the most part, are likely to be transients who will move into family-friendly housing when they decide to raise a family.

Dr Birrell and Dr Healy also claim the apartment boom is crowding out sites for offices in prime CBD locations, which will have economic consequences on the state.