A sit down with Michael Bishop

A sit down with Michael Bishop add

Ahead of our upcoming Medium to High Density Housing Summit, we spoke to key speaker, Michael Bishop, who is an urban planner and policy maker in Australia. Michael is currently working as a Senior Policy Adviser for the NSW Minister for Planning and Public Spaces. He took the time to share with us what attendees can expect from the Summit and his opinions on medium and high density housing.

What are you speaking about at the summit?

NSW, and particularly Sydney, is experiencing significant population growth, and the NSW Government is committed to delivering the housing supply needed to support that growth. Working for NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes, I’m privileged to be part of the conversations about how to shape that future growth. What we know, is that it’s not just about delivering a set number of new homes to meet a future population target; it’s also about supporting a diversity of housing types to meet the community’s needs.

At the Medium to High Density Housing Summit, I’ll be speaking about the NSW Government’s housing policy to support that diversity and flexibility of housing supply, specifically around the ‘missing middle’.

What do you hope attendees will learn from you at the Summit?

Planning in NSW is led by the State Government, but its success depends on working with 128 local governments to deliver policy outcomes. I hope to share what we’ve learned in developing our missing middle housing policy through collaborating with local government, industry, design and planning professionals, as well as the wider community, and the way forward to manage the wide range of often-competing interests.

What are your thoughts on medium density housing?

Without doubt, we need to grow the share of medium density housing in our cities. Minister Stokes is passionate about how we can improve the planning system to encourage more of this type of housing. If we fail to improve the diversity of housing types and tenures, we run the risk, particularly in Sydney, of creating a bifurcated city split between towers and suburban sprawl. Medium density housing can help us to solve many of the challenges in modern cities like affordability, accessibility, good design, and healthy neighbourhoods. Our planning systems need to be capable of delivering compatible, well-designed medium-density housing in existing suburban areas.

What are your opinions on high density housing?

Cities in NSW have changed dramatically in recent years – not just in Sydney, where tall towers are common, but also in places like Newcastle and Wollongong where we now see building of up to 20 storeys. High density housing will be a critical component in meeting our State’s future housing needs, but it needs to be planned for in the right locations that are well connected and accessible, contribute positively to the public domain, and meet community expectations for good design.

What experiences have you had with medium to high density housing in your role?

Planning can be a challenging field of public policy because of the wide-ranging stakeholder views about what our cities should look like. At the moment, I’m working with Sydney’s 32 local governments which are preparing their strategic plans that implement the Government’s Greater Sydney Region Plan and set the local planning direction over the next 20 years. Each council has a very clear idea of what housing types they’d like to encourage to meet their share of Sydney’s growth, and those conversations are playing out right now.

What lessons might New Zealand learn from Australia when it comes to medium density housing and vice versa?

While both Australia and New Zealand face significant challenges in managing urban growth and housing affordability, New Zealand has made incredible progress when it comes to medium density housing. New Zealand’s National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity shows national leadership on urban policy, while tools like the Auckland Design Manual help the community to understand complex planning and design issues.

In NSW, the Government is delivering a major $90 billion infrastructure agenda that is reshaping Sydney’s growth and land use plans. For example, a new Sydney Metro will stretch from the northwest, through the Sydney CBD, out to Sydney’s southwest suburbs, and we’re taking an integrated approach to delivering land use change alongside the new transport links.

How important do you think it is that organisations like ADNZ are holding events like this?

I’m really excited to be coming to the Medium Density Housing Summit next month and I look forward to learning from the New Zealand design community on how we encourage and facilitate more of the housing we need.

To register for the 2020 Medium to High Density Housing Summit visit: https://www.adnz.org.nz/summit