Going up to downsize

If there is one thing we know about Melville it is that the suburb is full of large family-style homes and almost totally built-out (unlike neighbouring Cockburn).

In fact, Melville has more 5-bedroom + houses than almost any other suburb in Perth.

However, to cope with Perth’s rising population, Melville is required by State Government to make way for an additional:

• 11,000 dwellings by 2031 and
• 18,000 dwellings by 2050

So how can Melville keep its rapidly increasing aging population in place when there are few smaller homes in the suburb to downsize to and cope with the anticipated increase in population?

The Council has come up with a strategy that they believe could help solve the issue. And it involves going up.

The City of Melville’s new Local Housing Strategy focuses on increasing its limited housing stock by increasing apartment and townhouse construction around six activity centres and transport corridors, avoiding the suburbs, where council hopes to preserve the low-density R25 zoning as much as possible.

What do Melville residents want?

A survey to all Melville residents found that there is a strong desire to live near shops, restaurants and public transport, but little desire to live near work, a clear indication of the number of retirees or people approaching retirement currently living in the area.

Also high on the preference list was:

• Low maintenance
• Close to parks and nature

While there was limited support for apartment blocks above four storeys, it is believed that respondents may have been swayed by the current poor examples in Melville, which date back to the 1960s and 70s.

Data also showed that the rate of home ownership among seniors is dropping, due to the high cost of land in the area.

While nothing can be done by local government about the price of land, higher density housing around transport hubs and the town centre is a very effective solution.

Council will also keep a watchful eye on how Fremantle’s ‘Tiny Homes’ policy (granny flats in backyards) pans out, but is unlikely to follow Fremantle’s lead, at least not for now.

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