The Seven Percent Solution?

Both Brisbane and Melbourne have been thinking about metropolitan form and growth in recent years. A quick review makes for some interesting comparison.


Under the leadership of the City of Melbourne’s admirable Rob Adams, in 2009/10 a team produced a landmark work called Transforming Australian Cities.

Among a wide ranging take on metropolitan strategies for Melbourne, this demonstrated that there is significant population capacity to house long term urban growth on the available land (sieving out sites with newer buildings and heritage and other constraints) along public transport corridors and in centres, if redeveloped to medium densities with an urban, built to the street style between 4-8 storeys under a set of simple urban design guidelines.

Basically 7.5% of the existing city, located close to public transport, major employment and services like hospitals and universities, could accommodate all metropolitan long term growth.

Meanwhile, the Victorian Government set up the Growth Areas Authority which proceeded to facilitate the release of large master planned greenfield areas at the edges of the metro area, further from major employment centres, public transport, and major services. This sparked a boom in development, with most of Australia’s major developers targeting Melbourne as their main focus while markets in many other major cities languished. I think that boom has more or less run its course, but presume it substantially diminished market interest or planning effort in the Transforming Australian Cities approach. I am happy to learn more if that’s not the case.


The South East Queensland Regional Plan 2009-2031 set out population growth targets for the region’s local government areas. The big one, Brisbane City Council, has recently released a draft of its new City Plan which has many fine attributes including its response to its population target via a similar approach to Transforming Australian Cities, modified to suit Brisbane. Basically the growth can be accommodated in nine corridors based on major public transport routes, and its centres, particularly the inner city, with a small contribution from remaining greenfield area within the city limits.

All up, BCC estimate less than 7% of the city close to public transport, major employment and services like hospitals and universities would experience major change to accommodate its significant population increase to 2031.

Of course, much of the regional growth in SEQ will still be met by large greenfield projects outside Brisbane City, and there is now a commitment to abandoning the Urban Footprint which served as an urban growth boundary and the State government announced a review of the SEQ Regional Plan this year. There is  fair chance this will lead to more greenfield growth in locations relatively isolated from major transport infrastructure and major community services and employment.

Is there a pattern emerging?


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