Unlocking Australia’s First True 20-Minute Neighbourhoods: Urban Regeneration’s Potential

Talbot Village Green 20-Minute Suburbs
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ADR Insight: With new research unveiling the accelerating Australian housing crisis in all major capital cities, an award-winning urban planning expert emphasizes that urban infill development, coupled with the concept of 20-Minute Neighbourhoods, holds the key to delivering much-needed housing that’s not just affordable, but also fosters livable communities.

Co-founder of global urban solutions provider Roberts Day and partner at Hatch Urban Solutions, Mike Day says that amid skyrocketing demand for housing, we can’t lose sight of the urgent need for attainable, quality homes that Australians actually want to live in.

“The housing crisis is most damaging for low and middle income families who face unstable living arrangements, long commutes and spaces that don’t allow them to thrive. As we scale up our housing targets, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build up, not out – to deliver truly liveable, sustainable and connected neighbourhoods for those who need it the most,” Day says.

Mike Day of Roberts Day and Hatch Urban Solutions is advocating for 20-Minute Neighbourhoods
^Mike Day of Roberts Day and Hatch Urban Solutions is advocating for 20-Minute Neighbourhoods (Image: Hatch | Roberts Day)

A WIDER LENS ON AN URGENT NEED

Day says that with the current strong focus on greenfield development at the edge of our ever expanding cities, well-located sites in existing urban areas are being underutilised in the race to build more homes.

Master-planned communities on urban infill sites offer an opportunity to deliver on the 20- minute neighbourhood principles — with access to every resident’s daily needs all within a 20-minute return walk from home — and to embrace key pillars of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Urban infill sites offer us a rare opportunity to masterplan healthy communities that are truly attainable and located in proximity to existing infrastructure and employment. Rather than relying on piecemeal development, these sites allow for the sustainable increase of urban growth and the creation of a vibrant urban centre, instead of just a network of streets with no discernible centre,” Day says.

“A more inclusive vision for Australia’s housing future must leverage urban regeneration to offer more diverse housing typologies as well as bring housing closer to jobs and amenities, without dependence on cars.”

TRUE AFFORDABILITY AND THE ‘MISSING MIDDLE’

The 2023 PlaceScore Australian Liveability Census revealed that Australia’s top 10 densest LGA’s score 8 per cent better on liveability than national average, suggesting liveability goes hand in hand with density.

“Australian cities are among the most sprawling in the world, and a lack of density means outer suburban greenfield development falls short on walkability, access to transport, schools and healthcare — meaning families incur more day to day living costs. Development in outer suburban settings might deliver affordable housing, but not affordable living,” says Day.

Reducing the need for each household to have one or two cars can potentially save the average Australian two-car family more than $24,000 a year, or 17 per cent of their annual income, on transport costs according to the Australian Automobile Association most recent Transport Affordability Index.

Days says planners should turn to treasured inner city neighbourhoods like Melbourne’s Fitzroy, Carlton and East Melbourne for examples of transit-based, compact, medium- density communities that embrace the core pillars of 20-Minute Neighbourhoods.

“Urban regeneration enables the build out the ‘missing middle’ of Australian suburbs — human-scale buildings with multiple units that are compatible in character and form with detached single-family homes. With population densities of 25-35 dwellings per hectare, we can increase walkability and affordability and create thriving local economies.”

AN UNTAPPED OPPORTUNITY

With a wealth of suitable infill urban sites across Australia, Day says looking inward, as well as out, will allow us to unlock the value of urban land and help achieve the Federal Government’s ambitious target of building 1.2 million well-located homes across the next five years.

Projects including the now-approved Kinley development on the site of the former Lilydale Quarry, a 163 hectare site in Melbourne’s north-east, and New Epping, a 51-hectare mixed- use community in Melbourne’s northern growth corridor, have significant potential in demonstrating the value of infill development.

Day says local Melbourne developer Sterling Global’s plans to regenerate the former Talbot Quarry site, located in Oakleigh South in Melbourne’s south-east, into Talbot Village, a residential-led, master planned community, has the potential to be Australia’s first true representation of the 20-Minute Neighbourhoods principles and help realise the vision of the Victoria’s Housing Statement.

^Talbot Village Artists Impression (Image: Sterling Global)
^Talbot Village Artists Impression (Image: Sterling Global)
^Talbot Village will strive to become one of Day's 20-Minute Neighbourhoods examples (Image: Sterling Global)
^Talbot Village will strive to become one of Day’s 20-Minute Neighbourhoods examples (Image: Sterling Global)
^Planning Vision for Tablot Village (Image: Sterling Global)
^Planning Vision for Tablot Village (Image: Sterling Global)

Informed by years of community consultation, the Talbot Village masterplan lays the groundwork for an accessible and connected neighbourhood that introduces much-needed housing diversity for key workers in the City of Monash. The masterplan further inserts generous open space for the community, including a central green ‘spine’ – a safe, appealing and walkable streetscape created through rear accessed parking via laneways and resulting in more than 2000 metres of streets without driveways.

“A shovel-ready project on a manageable scale that meets all the criteria of a 20-minute neighbourhood, Talbot Village will be an exemplar urban infill project that delivers an ecologically sustainable design — setting a standard that will resonate on a national level,” says Day.

Plans for Talbot Village include more than 1,000 new dwellings as part of a connected, walkable neighbourhood, and are currently awaiting the green light after more than a decade of planning and community consultation.

“With increasing costs and red tape, the pipeline of new builds across Australia is shrinking, and we’re seeing infill developments like Sydney Flour Mill and Talbot Village wait more than ten years for planning approval — delays we can’t afford when Australians need housing urgently,” says Day.

“Planning authorities need to give more consideration to infill development as a way to deliver healthy and liveable communities, which have a true mix of uses at their heart. Minimal refinements of land use planning could pave the way forward in supporting the sustainable growth of new, vibrant, walkable urban communities that our suburbs urgently need.”

Note: The information presented in this article is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal, financial, or professional advice. While we make every effort to fact-check and verify the information presented, we cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness. Readers are encouraged to independently verify any information they find on our website and to consult with relevant professionals before making any decisions based on the information presented. The Australian Development Review does not own the rights to the information included within this article, and furthermore, there is no infringement intended from the included text and images within.


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