With mounting housing and cost-of-living pressures across Australia, families in apartments are largely being overlooked by existing urban planning and property development policies, which is further exacerbating the lack of suitable and affordable homes in New South Wales. This is according to a new report released today by the James Martin Institute for Public Policy.

Planning for the inclusion of families with children in apartments by Dr Sophie-May Kerr identifies opportunities for policy reform to better cater to the needs of families raising children in apartments across New South Wales (NSW). Dr Kerr, Research Associate at the UNSW City Futures Research Centre and a JMI Policy Fellow, argues that Australian apartments need to better meet the needs and preferences of families with children.

“With 1 in 4 apartments in Greater Sydney now home to families with children under the age of 15, it is critical that more attention is paid to family-friendly housing,” said Dr Kerr. In some local government areas, this figure is as high as 1 in 2. “We need to see a shift in thinking from a focus on ‘housing’ to a focus on ‘homes’.”

Policy opportunities

Dr Kerr’s report reveals key challenges that families confront in apartment living. The report proposes eight detailed opportunities for reform, including greater government involvement in delivering suitable housing, improved policy and design, stronger regulation and compliance with best-practice design, support for retrofitting existing dwellings, and ensuring local neighbourhoods provide family-friendly amenities and infrastructure.

“This report has been written at a crucial point in time with major housing initiatives underway across the state,” said Libby Hackett, CEO of JMI. “In preparing this report, Dr Kerr has drawn on insights from a large number of stakeholders to identify practical options that would enable the NSW Government to lead the way for family-friendly apartment design and development, while meeting a key priority and commitment of boosting the supply of affordable housing. Her work opens the door to further, valuable collaboration with government colleagues in this area.”

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