Melbourne’s Limited Apartment Options


Melbourne is considered one of the most important financial centres in Australia. Over the last few decades, it has experienced tremendous growth, both in terms of population and economy.1 As a result, developers have built residential properties in all corners of the city to accommodate the growing number of people who are moving to Melbourne.

Citing a discussion paper released by the Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning (DELWP) of the state of Victoria, ICD Property research assistant Haokai Zhang noted that most of the recent residential real estate developments in Melbourne consist of apartments. According to him, majority of the inner city and middle ring councils has experienced a significant growth in apartment supply. The Victorian capital has the most number of newly developed apartments at 18,420, followed by Stonnington (5,088), Port Phillip (4,066), and Yarra (3,729) from 2011 to 2014.

However, while it is good to know that apartment developers are addressing the people’s need for affordable shelter, it seems that the housing options they are offering to city dwellers are quite limited. He said size and variety of new developments is “doubtful” as the majority of new apartments being built are restricted to one-bedroom types. Also, many of them are very small and poorly designed. 2

According to DELWP’s discussion paper, poorly designed apartments not only affects residents. It can also have a negative impact on the developers. Zhang also agrees. He explained that as compared to detached or semi-attached dwellings, one-bedroom apartments are more difficult to sell. Sure, they may be less expensive, but not many apartment-seekers are looking for a residential property that can comfortably fit only one or two people.

DELWP offers some suggestions on how developers could approach their projects. It said developers must possess a high level of skill to design a good apartment development. However, it also pointed out that there should be a balance between good design principles and achieving a financially viable project that can meet and sustain the city’s current and future housing needs.

The paper also emphasised how important it is for the Victorian Government to implement better building codes and regulations, as there is a lack of specific design standards for the state’s current planning and building system. “As a community, we have an obligation to ensure all new apartments are liveable and sustainable and will meet the needs of all occupants over the life cycle of a building,” it said.3


1 Melbourne.

2 Haokai Zhang. “Better Apartments – A Discussion Paper.”

3 Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. “Better Apartments: A Discussion Paper.”


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