Urban Planning and Housing Development with Nicola Smith

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  • Dive into the dynamic world of urban planning and housing development with Nicola Smith, a visionary in creating sustainable, inclusive spaces. Our latest podcast episode unravels the complexities of Australia's housing market, offering fresh insights on affordability, government policies, and innovative urban solutions.

    With the Victorian Housing Statement fresh off the press and the government's promise of the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund it's a good time to be discussing the future of affordable and accessible housing in Australia.

    About Nicola Smith

    Nicola Smith has extensive experience as an Urban and Regional Planner, she's the director of Niche Studio, and has over twenty years of experience in a wide range of planning and development roles. 

    Nicola is also a strong advocate for high-quality developments, clearly understood planning controls and a strong and efficient planning system. 

    Her role as Vice President of the National Planning Institute of Australia (PIA) Board gives her the platform to advocate for best practices across Australia.

    When we're building a building, we should think about its long-term life cycle and do our best to build a diversity of housing." Nicola Smith

    Exploring Rental Market and Housing Development

    One of the main issues discussed was the current rental crisis and mortgage stress gripping Australia. Nicola deftly navigated these choppy waters, revealing the various factors that have led us to this point. She also broke down complex terms like 'green field' and 'brown field', shedding light on their significant roles in housing development. The discussion also touched on strategies for generating more housing in established areas, promoting affordability, and diversifying housing types.

    Town Planning and Development

    The conversation then shifted to the government's role in town planning and housing development. Nicola scrutinised their strategies, particularly the policy earmarking 70% of growth for the inner city and 30% for green fields. The implications of this policy could potentially create difficulties for residents in established areas. Further complexities were explored in relation to rejuvenating inner city areas, potential amenity impacts, and the benefits of building homes in green field regions.

    Planning and Affordable Housing Challenge

    Housing affordability is a pressing concern in Melbourne, and Nicola shared her valuable insights on this issue. She examined the government's strategic planning efforts and the use of developer contributions in addressing the need for affordable housing. The conversation also delved into the cost of apartment living, the potential for converting offices into residences, and the often overlooked factor of embodied carbon in building construction.

    Affordable and Accessible Housing in Australia

    In the face of these challenges, Nicola also discussed potential solutions and strategies. The need for diversification in housing types, ageing in place, and build-to-rent developments were highlighted. The discussion also considered the impact of NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard) on planning and development, as well as how the government could identify strategic areas for apartment and housing development.

    This deep dive into Australia's housing market illuminated the intricate web of factors that influence housing development and affordability. It's clear that there's a pressing need for strategic, forward-thinking solutions that balance the needs of diverse demographics, the demands of urban development, and the importance of sustainable practices. The insights provided by Nicola Smith underscore the importance of informed, nuanced conversations in addressing these pressing issues.


    • 0:01 - Exploring Rental Market and Housing Development

    • 9:57 - Town Planning and Housing Development Focus

    • 16:49 - Planning and Affordable Housing Challenges

    • 26:15 - Affordable and Accessible Housing in Australia

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