“The quickest way to improve the supply of housing is to scrap the one, two or three bedroom regulations and give the private sector the flexibility to meet demand without running the gauntlet of the NSW planning system,” he said.
Planning Secretary Paul Scully said planning rules should be reviewed regularly to ensure they “support the provision of well-located, well-built and well-designed homes that people want to live in”.
A study of new housing developments in Liverpool by University of Wollongong urban geographer Nicole Cook found that families preferred large, centrally located apartments to detached, car-dependent apartments – but there was a lack of larger apartments tailored to their needs .
Cook said developers are building the wrong types of homes to house families as they make more money from smaller homes.
“Our data suggests that it’s not just about the number of bedrooms, but also storage space (in the home and in the common areas), bedroom size and soundproofing,” she said.
“If the Minns government is serious about expanding high-density housing, it needs to do its homework…in knowing what types of families live in what types of housing and in what circumstances.”
The NSW Planning Department’s housing design guide calls for the provision of “a range of housing types and sizes” – although some local authorities have stricter targets. Liverpool CBD requires 10 percent of units to be triples, while Canada Bay requires a minimum of 20 percent.
Oldfield said those targets were not high enough given that a quarter of NSW homes have children.
The Australian dream of a quarter-acre block is ubiquitous, but Oldfield said many families find apartment living desirable and don’t want a house on the edge with two cars.
“They want to be close to work, school, parks, cultural venues and more – and that means living in an apartment,” he said.
Oldfield lives with two kids in a 800-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment, which he says is “tight, but it works when they’re young.”
“When they get older, I don’t want to just move to the suburbs; I’d love to have a three-bedroom apartment nearby, but there aren’t enough available and they’re absolutely unaffordable,” he said.
Oldfield’s view is shared by Waverley Mayor Paula Masselos, who last year said developers were building tower blocks full of one- and two-bedroom apartments that were neither affordable nor suitable for families.
Kara Napper lives with husband Dave and their two-year-old son Charlie in a two-bedroom apartment in the South Village of Kirrawee.
The couple moved into the apartment complex when Napper was pregnant to be closer to friends and because the area has “more of a family feel”.
Napper said she would ideally live in a house but appreciates the comfort of living in the South Village, a complex of more than 700 apartments, two supermarkets and 30 shops and restaurants that’s within walking distance of a train station.
After Charlie’s birth, the couple rented a house, but maintaining and cleaning the property was a liability.
“We both have full-time jobs and it was hectic pulling the weeds,” Napper said. “I’m not a gardener and my husband is too proud to hire someone else to do the gardening.”
Napper said an apartment offers less space than a house to hold a large gathering, but the complex has a common room that they would use for Charlie’s third birthday party.
She also said apartments should offer flexible floor plans as the way families live changes as children get older.
Adam Pisk sold a two-bedroom apartment in Double Bay to buy a house, but then decided he’d rather live in an apartment for his wife Kim and four-year-old twins Daniel and Ava.
The apartment is across from the school where his children will be attending and is within walking distance of Double Bay’s retail and restaurant district.
“We have a parking lot, but we hardly drive,” Pisk said. “Everything is within walking distance.”
Aside from the convenience, Pisk said the apartment requires less maintenance than his house, which needs renovations.
“It’s a newly renovated apartment – everything is modern and working,” he said.
Pisk said it would be nice to have a garden and a pool for the kids, but they live close to parks and the harbor.
“Our apartment is big enough for us, but not big enough for us to entertain,” he said. “But we live close to restaurants so we can go out.”
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