Architecture and Renovation, Brisbane's future & new infrastructure, trends in Brisbane property

Granny flats or skyscrapers – how should Brisbane grow?

Fresh design ideas for granny flats: courtesy

Brisbane’s population continues to grow and finding homes for our new residents now, and into the future, will continue to challenge Brisbanites and our politicians. Most agree we don’t want urban sprawl, with the massive strain on infrastructure that results from pushing new houses further and further into the ‘burbs. So maybe we need to broaden our thinking on our housing options?

Four years ago the NSW government gave granny flats the nod as a sensible way to house extra residents. For those NIMBY’s who don’t want change near them, these new homes really are in your back yard! Provided you have 450m2 there are now very few limitations throughout NSW for granny flats, and a fast-tracked approval process to boot. So for around $100,000 our southern cousins are dropping in an extra dwelling behind their house, collecting the rent for a tidy investment return, and providing relatively low cost housing in the process.

Could it work in Brisbane? Why not? Our existing rules have plenty of restrictions so a flat out the back or, more commonly, under the house, can only be occupied by the same “household group”. But how is the type of resident living in a granny flat really any different in how it impacts neighbours? Or local amenities and services? So instead of empty rumpus rooms why can’t Council support extra rental homes? There’s plenty of these happening unofficially across the city of course.

Or instead of the upkeep on a yard forcing many aging home-owners to move, we could allow them to build a small second home on the block? They could even move in themselves (some of the designs are better than you’d expect) enjoying the low maintenance and no stairs, while the larger home is rented to people who need the space. We’ve written about NORCS in the past – those ‘naturally occurring retirement communities’ that are growing throughout Brisbane’s inner city because many of us want to stay in the area we know and love. Wouldn’t modern granny flats be a great way to support this trend?

This week’s Courier Mail reported BCC’s plans to allow taller skyscrapers in our CBD. Council’s looking to raise the height limits, arguing another 20 storeys could give our economy a $2billion boost. No doubt there’ll be plenty of debate over Brisbane’s skyline and the pros and cons of cloud-topping towers.

And in the meantime maybe planners should take another look at some simple options to add more residents into our neighbourhoods?

Please give us your thoughts. Would you be happy to have a granny flat built in your neighbour’s back yard?