Small Changes

Small Change - Big Impact

by Alex Steffan - Steffan Town planning

Recent Changes to Multiple Dwellings Car Parking (Brisbane City Council Town Plan)

In late November 2019, Brisbane City Council (BCC) introduced new car parking ratios that increased the number of car parks required for a multiple dwelling development (e.g. townhouses or apartments).

These changes have since had a significant impact on the ability to design and gain approval for multiple dwellings. The following is an overview of the differences between the before and after ratio's below: Table-01

Additionally, BCC removed any possibility for a reduction in car parking spaces where located within ideal walking distance of high frequency public transport (e.g. busway or railway stations).

To put into perspective, the table below illustrates the implications for some standard-sized developments across Brisbane: Table-02

Whilst the changes don't appear significant, the difficultly is physically incorporating the required car spaces and the number of bedrooms to satisfy market demand. Alternatively, reducing the number of bedrooms to only two (2), possesses the question of developing a Townhouse product at all, as the feasibility is now unlikely to show an adequate return.

So Why Did Council Make The Change?
In recent years, Brisbane City Council has received overwhelming (negative) feedback from residents living in areas dominated by multi-unit dwellings, expressing concern that inadequate street parking is a result of a spill-over from nearby unit and townhouse developments that should already cater for their residents - but don't.

Whilst there is only anecdotal evidence of this situation, there is a counter argument to suggest that the excessive cars is caused by inadequate parking provisions from detached dwelling houses, and not multi-unit dwellings.

Under the current Town Plan, a dwelling house, irrespective of how many people live there, only requires one (1) car park. This problem seems to be exacerbated in high demand rental areas, and most typically in areas that attract university students, hospitals and/or in areas close to good transit nodes.

Do Council Officers Agree With The New Car Parking Ratios?
It seems Council Traffic Engineers and Town Planners don't necessarily agree with the car parking ratios but are, understandably, required to enforce them - it's that typical conundrum of trying to satisfy public demands yet balancing the broader, and increasingly difficult, housing affordability problem.

So Where Does That Leave Us ... What's One Possible Solution?
As private consultant planners, achieving favourable outcomes for Clients that incorporates all current local and state planning frameworks is problematic. Accordingly, Town Planners need to get creative, offer value by looking for Solutions!

Upon investigating residential land uses that new parking regulations do not impact, the two (2) uses that offer us some level flexibility are i) a Dwelling House, and ii) a Dual Occupancy (2 Units).

In selected areas (and typically 600-800 m2 sites), an opportunity therefore exists to opt for smaller Multiple Dwelling developments - say, subdividing the land and creating a detached Dwelling House (to the front of the site), and a Dual Occupancy to the rear (balance of the site). This approach removes the onerous demands of the current car parting ratios.

As consultant town planners, we are becoming increasingly involved in offering this design solution, and moving forward, we see this opportunity becoming increasing popular. Of course, economics will ultimately prevail as vendors will also need to better understand the impact of the new car park ratios. Vendors will need to realign their price expectations - relooking at their site from a yield perspective and pricing the same accordingly.

About Author

Alexander Steffan

Alexander Steffan (BUrbanEnvPlan) is the Director of Steffan Town Planning & has been a private consultant town planner in the Brisbane region for 14 years. Alex has a knack for innovation & has recently developed PropertEASE, which is an app that tells the user the development potential of any given property.

Steffan Town Planning

Location:  East Brisbane

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