Melbourne is a tram ride in the rain. It’s a rooftop bar in the summer. It’s an aversion to crossing the Yarra, and it’s loving the experience every time you do. It’s a day in the NGV, and it’s cheap dumplings in Chinatown. It’s Fringe and it’s Comedy, and it’s the alleyway bar you end up at after the show. It’s the crowd at the MCG and it’s all the beautiful people spread across Edinburgh gardens.
This is a city bustling with life.
And yet that bustle is highly concentrated. And by virtue of its scarcity, living within these areas is becoming increasingly unaffordable. Outside these small pockets of density are entire suburbs of urban carpet: the detached and quiet homes of suburbia.
You cannot separate this stratification from the worsening housing crisis—both homes and bustle are scarce in this city. And as what we love about this place becomes increasingly difficult to access and afford, the questions of housing costs and abundance are cemented as a part of social life and the future of our city’s growth.
Building Melbourne’s Missing Middle is about growing this city we love, and creating housing abundance for all.It’s about unlocking a liveable, sustainable, and affordable city for everyone who’s here, and for everyone who wants to be here. Melbourne should be a city where all residents can walk down cosy streets to their local grocer, doctor, and cafe. Where all families young and old can visit a great park or playground in the long golden hours of summer—without once needing to get in the car.
The Missing Middle is about urban optimism. It’s about the excitement and energy that comes from living in a dynamic, ever-changing city, and it’s about embracing and relishing that process of change, creating space for all the new stories yet to be told.
To create great change, we must create great systems. We must create a planning system that is permissive rather than restrictive. We must begin again to build whole neighbourhoods—not just individual lots. And we must welcome our new neighbours with open arms, into our shared backyards.
We started YIMBY Melbourne out of love for this city. And we kept at it because we believe in the city as an organism—as a thing that grows and changes and strengthens and renews itself time and time again. We believe in a denser Melbourne, one with abundant homes where people want to live, embracing the liveable density at the heart of great cities around the world.
This aspirational vision of Melbourne is possible. There is no rule that says the city must grow outward, rather than upward. No rule that says we cannot provide more housing choices in more places for more people.
In order to meet the combined Plan Melbourne and Victorian Housing Statement goals, 560,000 homes must be delivered in existing suburbs over the next decade. But neither Plan Melbourne nor the Victorian Housing Statement have articulated a clear path toward this target.
This report articulates that path. Through key land use and planning reforms, we can choose as a city to build Melbourne’s Missing Middle. Through medium density upzoning across Melbourne’s iconic transit network, we can provide more than enough homes for the city’s growing population, and enable everyone to share in the best this city has to offer.
We love this city. We love it for its energy and dynamism. We love it so much we want to share it. What follows is the best way to start doing just that.
– Jonathan O'Brien
Lead Organiser, YIMBY Melbourne