ACT government approves six demonstration projects to increase housing choices


Six proposals have been chosen to take part in the ACT government's Demonstration Housing Project.

Six proposals have been chosen to take part in the ACT government's Demonstration Housing Project.

Ageing-in-place townhouses, micro homes, and small scale co-housing are among some of the projects chosen by the ACT government in an attempt to increase housing choices in the nation’s capital.

Six ideas have been approved as part of the territory’s Demonstration Housing project which seeks to support best practice design and is part of the government’s approach to planning for the future needs of Canberra.

The projects will be built on sites in Forrest, Griffith, Chifley, Weston, Lyneham and Ainslie. The six privately owned sites form stage one, with the ACT government looking for territory-owned blocks for other proposals.

These micro and terrace homes are a proposed design for a site in Forrest.

These micro and terrace homes are a proposed design for a site in Forrest.

Increased housing choice forms part of the ACT government’s urban renewal agenda, where there is a focus on medium density, sustainability and safe communities.

“These demonstration projects are much more than medium-density housing. They show excellence in design, provide more options for public and affordable housing, options for ageing in place, and a range of sustainability initiatives,” ACT minister for urban renewal Rachel Stephen-Smith said.

“This project shows how innovative planning, design and delivery can create viable housing solutions that contribute to the renewal of the city.”

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Expressions of interest for the project opened in April last year.

In Chifley, an “ageing-in-place development” featuring three dwellings with two to three bedrooms has been proposed by architect Tony Trobe of TT Architecture. It is one of the six sites to be chosen.

Mr Trobe said the owners had a big block but did not know what to do with it. He lamented a “missing typology” in Canberra.

“There’s a lot of people marooned on large blocks in Canberra … then this opportunity came up looking at different typologies to increase infill density,” he said.

“[There is] a missing typology in Canberra, every other city has lots of townhouses but here it is just apartments and big blocks.

“The current situation is people will sell a big block and move into an apartment.”

Compact affordable dwellings in Lyneham by the Environment Collective Housing Organisation (ECHO) is another project chosen for the demonstration.

ECHO will be partnering with Housing ACCT to deliver affordable rental housing with shared open green space. Tenants will also be involved with the decision-making of the design of the development.

The projects could inform changes to the Territory Plan expected next year, Minister for Planning and Land Management Mick Gentleman said.

Mr Gentleman said Canberrans want more flexible housing in their neighbourhoods.

“We’ve clearly heard the community does not just want single dwellings or high-rise apartments. They want a variety of medium-density housing such as dual occupancies, villas, terrace houses and townhouse,” he said.

The Demonstration Housing project runs parallel to the ACT government’s Housing Choices project. As part of that, a Collaboration Hub was held, where 38 randomly selected individuals were asked to develop policy recommendations around the housing needs of the territory.

Development applications for the sites are expected to be lodged in mid-2019. Proposals must undertake community engagement to develop a final design and to receive endorsements for the National Capital Design Review Panel.

The successful projects

  • Terrance and micro homes in Forrest

  • Manor house in Griffith

  • Ageing-in-place townhouses and housing in Chifley and Weston

  • Compact affordable dwellings in Lyneham

  • Small scale co-housing in Ainslie