October 23 2013

Developing the Community: The Contentious Plan to Redevelop Melbourne’s Crisis Housing Towers

Ghettos, projects, and slums are some of the names given to lower income areas. In Melbourne, the housing commissions have provided housing to lower income classes since the 1960′s.

Prahran's commission housing is one of the biggest in Melbourne

Major housing commissions positioned within inner Melbourne are included in the following areas:

  • Carlton;
  • Richmond;
  • Flemington;
  • South Melbourne;
  • Prahran; and
  • North Fitzroy.

Their role in Melbourne has provided much debate during the gentrification of the city’s inner suburbs. All the commission flats have a common threat in that they are all in historic Melbourne suburbs that have begun to shrug off their working class identity as housing prices have boomed. Furthermore, all areas have great accessibility to public transportation and have been signalled for high density zoning by state and local government authorities.

Multi Storey mix use developments have become popular with developers, Melbourne

The dynamic of housing commissions are unique. Unlike a lot of similar community housing developments in the developed world, in Melbourne housing developments do not have a profound effect on the surrounding area of residence. Though some issues regarding crime and drug use is associated with some of the residences, the majority of them do not act as a major deterrent in the ability for middle and upper class demographics to live alongside them. This gentrification has led to developers twisting the arm of councils for these sites to be redeveloped. The attractiveness of these developments is not only in their location, but also in their existing density’s that would be able to be easily restored and fits the city’s model for high density living. However, talk of housing commissions being developed has upset residents as well as the public, as they believe that there are no alternative options for residents and that their sale to developers would only segregate the lower class from the middle and higher class further.

How does your city approach sustainable urban planning for housing commissions in areas experiencing gentrification?

Credits: Images by Steven Petsinis. Data linked to sources.

Steven Petsinis

Steven Petsinis is an Urban Planning graduate from Melbourne, Australia. He has been involved in Urban Research and Development projects in Medellin, Colombia and Saigon, Vietnam and is currently pursuing his masters in Melbourne, Australia. His main interests lie in land use and social planning, sustainability, as well as studies involving globalization and it's effect on third world communities. He has recently spent one year travelling throughout North and South America, as well as Europe, where he has gathered material and inspiration for his upcoming blogs for The Grid.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013 at 9:47 am and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Environmental Design, History/Preservation, Housing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


2 Responses to “Developing the Community: The Contentious Plan to Redevelop Melbourne’s Crisis Housing Towers”

  1. Jordan Says:

    This is a strikingly similar to what my class is working on in Montreal. Our case study is an historic working class neighbourhood with the highest concentration of social housing in the city, but it is being rapidly gentrified because of the ideal location (next to a recently revitalized canal-turned-park) and conversion of large industrial lots to condos.

    One of the thing that has been working, I think, is a stipulation that new developments include some form of social housing or affordable dwellings. The issue, though, is that these more affordable units are often not in the same development, and located in more disadvantaged portions of the neighbourhood.

    How is Melbourne tackling this issue?

  2. Steven Petsinis Says:

    The development of public spaces and collaborations in some areas is helping bring together different demographics of the community. Prahran has recently embarked on a $60 million new public housing project. However, as a worker in the area i still believe that the government is making it too easy for a lot of these people who live in these public housing projects to be unemployed/under employed.


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