The ‘Missing Middle’ is a simple, all-encompassing term used to describe dwellings that sit open to interpretation somewhere between high-rise, high-density living and free-standing, suburban family homes. The Missing Middle can range from a two-unit duplex to an apartment building depending on the context of the surrounding built environment which shapes the low to the high end of the density spectrum.

With South East Queensland’s population expected to grow by almost 2 million people over the next 25 years, it’s vital that we deliver housing to accommodate this growth. Strategically, we need to do this with a weighted mix of consolidation and expansion. To accommodate the projected additional 350,000 people on the Gold Coast, the dwelling benchmark target has been set to supply 80% of new housing through consolidation also known as infill development – the Missing Middle. This is critical, as according to the UDIA’s latest research, the Gold Coast local government area has only 1.7 years of land supply available, whereas the SEQ Regional Plans benchmark requires 4 years of supply.

The Missing Middle is a growing issue within South East Queensland and throughout cities worldwide. Inner city development has continued to provide the bulk of infill housing supply, with greenfield development providing a number of new communities on our urban edges. The Missing Middle is the forgotten but much needed life of our cities, instead of the norm where large blocks and single family homes dominate the urban fabric.

We provide an example project at Le Mans Drive, Mermaid Waters project, which we believe is the exact replica of appropriate Missing Middle infill development that the Gold Coast needs and will see more of in the coming years ahead.

Artical Images from Studio8

Example Project – Missing middle

By: Samuel Watson (Senior Town Planner)
Site address: 17-19 Le Mans Drive, Mermaid Waters

The site development and TP constraints:
The Bennett and Bennett town planning team was tasked with managing and submitting a development application seeking a development permit for a Material Change of Use (Impact Assessable) for Multiple Dwellings (6 units), replacing 2 existing dwelling houses, located at 17-19 Le Mans Drive, Mermaid Waters.

The combined sites comprised a total area of 1,692m² and is located within a highly desirable waterfront position within the suburb of Mermaid Waters. According to the Gold Coast City Plan, the sites are located within the boundaries of both the Low and Medium Density Residential Zones with the development gaining approval for partial third storey dwellings, increased density and reduced building setbacks.

Some key statistics of this development are as follows:

  • 200m walking distance to Pacific Fair (Australia’s 5th largest shopping centre)
  • 350m walking distance to light rail tram stop
  • 250m walking distance to public library and child care
  • 300m walking distance to major bus exchange hub
  • Waterfront amenity and access
  • The building site cover will be reduced by 15%

The design of the approved development adopted a contemporary appearance which will contribute to the emerging built form character of the locale through the provision of modern low-rise buildings which adopt a comparable form and appearance to other low-rise buildings within the Gold Coast central growth corridor whilst also sitting comfortably with the character of the neighbouring buildings and canal front properties. The proposed development involves Multiple dwellings that will facilitate an increase in residential density and provide a solution to the current ‘missing middle’ in housing supply, diversity and availability.

The approved development was a successful mix of negotiation and key understanding of the Gold Coast City Plan. The site has various constraints such as flood overlays, coastal erosion hazards as well as being in two different zones with varying density allowances. We managed to secure an excellent approval for the client for a difficult development proposal that shifted away from standard duplex and low density housing to provide quality infill development.

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