We have been experiencing increasing residential density on the Kurilpa Peninsula over several decades, with more infill, medium, and high-rise developments.

To better understand the impacts of residential development across Queensland, PhD Candidate at the University of Queensland Rachel Gallagher, is seeking your input to an anonymous survey about the benefits, costs, and barriers to increasing residential density in existing built-up areas.

The survey seeks to understand the experiences and thoughts of those involved in, and impacted by, the residential development industry. This includes researchers, planners, engineers, architects, lawyers, developers, urban designers, elected officials, and anyone who has constructed a home.

“All major metropolitan areas have urban consolidation policies that encourage new dwelling construction in existing urban areas, but there is little understanding of whether existing planning tools are effective.”

Ms Gallagher has already completed some morphological research tracking how land use, building footprints, property boundaries and zoning change over time in study areas across Brisbane – including parts of West End and South Brisbane. 

“The results of this research will be published in due course, and highlighted to me that there was a gap in the understanding of how stakeholders perceive policies that aim to increase residential density. This largely prompted the survey,” Ms Gallagher said.

In Queensland, the state government sets urban consolidation targets (i.e. the number of new dwellings that must be sourced from within existing urban areas). Different quotas are set for different local governments – ranging from 94 per cent consolidation in Brisbane to 0 per cent in the Lockyer Valley.

“This means that most new dwellings in Brisbane must be sourced from existing urban areas, whereas all new dwellings in the Lockyer Valley are on undeveloped land (i.e. farmland or natural areas). It is up to local governments to implement these targets, generally through their planning schemes. This is a balance of releasing new, undeveloped land for development and changing the zoning of existing urban land to allow for new residential development, Ms Gallagher said.

South East Queensland has had urban consolidation policy for almost 30 years. However, Ms Gallagher said we still have the same battles about releasing new land for development, and we are building more houses (compared to townhouses, rowhouses, and apartments) than ever before.

“In fact, detached houses form a greater percentage of new dwellings now than they did 10 years ago. So, is there a disjoint between the understanding of policymakers, researchers, property developers and residents? And, if so, how do we bridge those gaps? This is what my research seeks to understand.”

Ms Gallagher said there are some excellent policies about the ‘missing middle’ (the density between detached houses and high-rise apartments), and an overwhelming amount of research demonstrates the benefits of urban consolidation.

“This ranges from reducing the environmental impacts of new home construction on the outskirts of our cities, as well as the personal impacts of long commute times, high transport costs and new suburbs that lack basic amenities like schools and parkland.”

“However, there are major political hurdles with implementing these policies. And our urban areas continue to sprawl – almost 20,000 hectares of new undeveloped land was added to the South East Queensland urban footprint between 2009 and 2017. I want to understand whether we have the right mechanisms in place to reach these goals, and, if not, what reform is necessary.”


A link to the survey questions and information about the survey are available here.

  • The survey will take 15 minutes to complete, and all answers are anonymous.
  • Participation is voluntary and you can cease participating at any time by not completing the survey.
  • Questions about your demographics and living situation are anonymous, voluntary and can be skipped.

Participation in the survey will provide invaluable information to assist researchers in understanding if existing planning tools are effective at achieving planning policy goals.

Survey results will be published.

Once my morphological research is complete I will be able to provide some 4101 specific insights too,” Ms Gallagher said.

The key researchers responsible for this survey are Rachel Gallagher (PhD Candidate, the University of Queensland), Thomas Sigler (Associate Professor, the University of Queensland) and Yan Liu (Professor, the University of Queensland).

Cover image supplied.