Housing a growing population and managing expansion of our city


The demand for new housing is growing. In order to protect the natural attributes and liveability of our city, our green spaces, unique neighbourhoods and bushland setting we need to plan and manage how and where we grow. Our new housing has to be located efficiently to use our existing infrastructure, services and networks. Our city needs to work now and for future generations balancing social needs with economic impacts and the environment as the city's footprint changes.

Our urban area has increased by more than half since self government. Much of this growth has been in the form of single dwellings with fewer and fewer people living in them. The combination of these factors has meant our urban footprint is growing outwards, potentially challenging the sustainability and liveability of our city.

Figure 1: Share of building approvals in urban intensification areas
Graph showing rates of infill development compared to greenfield from 2011 to 2017. Infill rates for each year are: in 2011-12 52%, 2012-13 45%, 2013-14 36%, 2014-15 54%, 2015-16 59% and 2016-17 70%. The average infill rate between 2011 and 2017 was 63% and the average between 2012 and 2017 was 53%.

Figure 2: Current and projected relationship between ACT population and dwelling supply to 2041
Graph showing current and projected relationship between ACT population and dwelling supply to from 2011 to 2041.

Map 2: 2012-16 Approved residential development applications and building approvals. Click to view larger version.
Map of the ACT showing 2012 to 2016 approved residential development applications and building approvals, with dwelling numbers based on Building Approvals and approved Development Applications for Design and Siting, layered over the 2012 Urban Intensification Localities.

There is potential for approximately 29,000 new homes in existing greenfield areas. If no new greenfield areas are identified, this is sufficient until second half of 2030s. We understand that Canberrans value the unique bush and native grasslands environments that surround our city. We have heard clear feedback that people want to retain this natural buffer between the ACT and surrounding parts of New South Wales, which is why decisions about further greenfields development on Canberra's fringes will need to be carefully weighed up against protecting our natural environment.

Most new greenfield development has occurred to the north and west of the city, leading to a growing distance between residential areas and Canberra's major employment locations in the centre and east. In order to meet sustainability and accessibility objectives, the location of future residential development including greenfield areas, redevelopment and urban infill will need to be carefully considered in order to minimise trip length and journey times.

Infographics showing that Canberra has the second lowest population density of the major Australian capital cities (250k+). The population density is approximately 1062 people/km2, just half of Sydney’s density of 2000 people per square kilometre. In 2017, the ACT had 167,000 private homes. To meet projected housing demand, approximately 100,000 new homes will need to be constructed between 2018 and 2041, equating to almost 12 new homes a day.

Map 3. Land taken by 50,000 dwellings at different densities. This diagram indicates the area of land taken by 50,000 dwellings at different densities. The circles on the map are to scale. Areas do not include roads, open space or other community facilities. Click to view larger version.
Map of land taken by 50,000 dwellings at different population densities represented by circles that are to scale layered over a map of Canberra. Land take for detached dwellings is 3000 hectares at a density of approximately 22 persons per a hectare. Land take of terraces is 1250 hectares at a density of approximately 52 persons per a hectare. Land take of medium rise apartments is 500 hectares at a density of approximately 132 persons per a hectare. Land take of high rise apartments is 200 hectares at a density of approximately 330 persons per a hectare.

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