Throwing out the baby with the bathwater

Most residents want cars parked off street.

In response to such sentiments, Brisbane City Council proposes to increase the number of parking spaces required for future apartment buildings and townhouse developments across the middle and outer suburbs.

Parking increases have been framed as adding to the quality of life and safety of Brisbane suburbs.

I agree with this, but council’s current development rules stop this from happening.  What works against getting more cars off street are two things – site cover and basement parking.

At present, the site cover ratios are too low to get enough cars off street.  They need to be at least 60% and not the often 40% as they now stand.

Also, it should be as of right to supply parking at ground, and in many cases, parking on the first level too, of a five to eight storey project.  Basements kill infill projects as they more often than not blow the costs out of the water.

Now before you go all green on me and say that apartment (and townhouse) residents only really need one car, that is so against the trend.  Revisit my recent ‘Cars’ post here.

The market wants two cars per two bedroom apartment or two/three bedroom townhouse.  They won’t buy if this isn’t supplied – especially if targeting downsizers or two tenants.

Some have tried car stackers, but they don’t seem to sell well in SEQ, at least, and all the noise about car sharing etc. is really baloney – for every 1,000 new residents in Queensland there are some 817 new cars and this ratio continues to climb!

Hands up if you are prepared to give up your car. That’s what I thought.  I often ask this question when giving a presentation or workshop.  Very few raise their hands.  Of note, a recent town planning focused event resulted in no hands being extended.

Some of you might say that the developer can just dig a deeper basement, provide the necessary cars and up the end sales price. Hmmm.

Here is a simple tried-and-true formula that applies to two bedroom apartments: they need to be priced about 25% less than three bedroom houses selling in the same area.  If they aren’t, they are very hard to sell.  Development is really all about sales risk.

Providing the necessary onsite carparks to make apartment living workable in the middle and outer suburbs – as the development rules now stand – is, in many cases, economically unfeasible.  There is now too much sales risk.

Most want cars off street.  Many want more housing of the type that is now commonly labelled the ‘Missing Middle’.  But you cannot have both as the current development rules apply.

Be careful Brisbane (and other councils) you might just throw the baby out with the bathwater.

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