Do “brownfields” sites matter?

I was leafing through Challenge Melbourne, the discussion paper released in 2001 as part of the Melbourne 2030 process, the other day. This very interesting but apparently long-forgotten factoid caught my attention:

“Capacity for an estimated 65,000 dwellings on large sites such as old factories has been identified in the established suburbs”.

Given that the number of households in Melbourne is projected in Victoria in Future to grow by 825,000 between 2006 and 2036, it seems the potential contribution from “brownfields” sites – mainly large disused industrial and public sector sites – will be modest.

Melbourne @ 5 Million envisages that 53% of the required new dwellings will be located within the established suburbs. If the 65,000 figure is even broadly close to the mark, it seems that the great bulk of this new housing will have to come from redevelopment of small sites, most of which are presumably residential and likely to generate significant opposition from neighbours.

The key issue this raises is whether or not the anticipated level of redevelopment in established suburbs is achievable. Brownfields sites have made a significant contribution over the last 20 years to construction of multi unit housing but apparently will make a relatively small contribution in the future. Read the rest of this entry »