Thursday, May 16, 2013

Medium Density Living

This post has been in the pipeline for a couple of years now.  It began with a month long sojourn in a canal-side housing development on the Queensland Sunshine coast and continued with a stay recently in a new building development in Western Australia.

Once you've reached the outskirts of Perth City it's just new building developments for at least 50kms and they are all curiously alike because of the strict design guidelines that each developer has. Must admit that this type of medium-density building doesn't really appeal to me, it seems like the land size gets smaller and smaller as the houses get bigger and bigger.

This type of living now common in new developments hasn't come from buyer demand. Surely noone says "I want to live with my neighbours within 1 metre of my home, no back garden, cars parked everywhere especially in the narrow back lanes and very little in the way of infrastructure". It's come from developer and council greed. More blocks = more households = more rates.

All presented in nice marketing speak …
XX will be a healthy city built around using transit, cycling and walking as the dominant transport forms, where health, education and recreation are key social elements, and where urban structure is balanced with natural landscape and heritage values. 
XXLocal Structure Plan
The new estate where I stayed in Yanchep certainly had pathways and lovely landscaping but only on a couple of occasions during a 6 week stay did I actually see anyone walking or cycling on the pathways. People rely on motor vehicle transport as the nearest train station is at Clarkson (20 km) and one busline operating from Two Rocks to Clarkson via Yanchep. Shopping facilities are limited with a new small complex comprising a Woolworths and 15 other shops most of which were unlet with signs saying "coming soon" in October 2012 and still the same signs in May 2013. There is also only one medical clinic and one dentist in the area.

Yanchep was originally a sheep station purchased by Alan Bond in the 1970's and some houses were built then. A Japanese company purchased the land when Bond was in financial difficulties in the late 70's and major development recommenced around 2006. At the moment approximately one quarter of the population in Yanchep are British or Irish — both my housesits were for folks who had come to Australia in the last 5-10 years from the UK.

Yanchep NP
The Yanchep/Two Rocks area is however rich in natural beauty bordered on one side by the Indian Ocean with beautiful beaches and on the other by the Yanchep National Park which is utilised heavily by the many young families in the area.