Canberra builds crammed expensive housing

The ACT Green’s Building the Better Normal policy

Recently I was sent a real estate advertisement for a rooftop unit on Northbourne Avenue Canberra.

Looking at the photographs and the floor plan reminded me of a UK program on social housing and design/architecture.

The program was essentially about the lack of housing and how the country used to do well on social housing – but not now? A key to the issues was the discussion on the design of social housing and a couple of the measures being used to address this scandal.

When talking about the history of the issues, one thing they focussed on was those social housing units/ blocks that were architecturally designed.

The examples given were well laid out and had reasonably generous rooms – and separate kitchens, dining and lounge rooms.

The UK governments sold off a load of their council housing (as in Australia) and some have since been renovated and are now highly sought after (high priced)

The advertisement I had received about the new units on Northbourne reminded of the units also discussed on the UK program – where they had a look at on some ‘up market’ suites in the Docklands area of London.

Compared to the earlier examples of well designed social housing, these new and expensive units had cramped spaces, were not well designed and had what is now the new normal for units – a joint kitchen, dining and lounge area – being not very big.

The plan for the Northbourne flat has a weird entry to the second bedroom; it was from a sliding door in the back corner of the lounge area and in the photo had a bed/sofa, not open as it most likely would have filled the room.

In the photos they had left out the dining table as there is probably not enough room for it.

The unit would be suitable for one person, maybe a couple – but not two people occupying the two bedrooms for any length of time.

BUT – people in Canberra are desperate for housing – so a family will probably buy it then hope to get out before the children get too big and begging for somewhere to play.

The unit on Northbourne was very typical of the town cramming (squeezing out the profits) under way in these new apartment towers – thank you Andrew Barr, ACT chief minister and his deregulated planning regimes as well as his coalition partners – The ACT Greens who are Building the Better Normal.

Given that the block of units is on a former social housing site – I suspect the story would be similar. The social housing internal spaces were most likely better designed for people to live in – for longer.

This is Andrew Barr’s vision for Canberra!


Note – the picture above is from a website about Dawson Heights in the UK

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