Place, health and liveability

The social, economic and environmental advantages of providing a range of housing in the established parts of Melbourne have been recognized by successive state planning policies. However, these policies have largely failed to convince the development community to expand beyond a high-density one and two-bedroom apartment model in the central city area, with 3+ bedroom units remaining an expensive, niche product restricted to the ‘top’ of buildings.

A number of reasons for this policy implementation failure have been posited, including higher construction costs for multiple unit housing, an absence of an integrated metropolitan planning approach to affordable housing, inadequate funding for social housing, the lack of supportive planning policies (inclusionary zoning, density bonusing), longer investment time-frames and higher risks/uncertainty in the inner city, and cultural barriers to children growing up in inner city flats.

However, research in several North American and European cities suggests that inner city renewal that provides affordable family housing is possible, in planning and governance regimes relatively similar to Australia.

This project funded by the University of Melbourne ‘Carlton Connect’ initiative, the Urban Development Institute of Australia, Places Victoria, and the City of Melbourne, with the support of the Victorian Department of Planning and Community Development, Housing Choices Australia, the Planning Institute of Australia, SGS Economics and Planning, and MGS Architecture.


  • Carolyn Whitzman [Melbourne School of Design, Architecture Building and Planning, UoM]
  • Ruth Fincher [Resource Management and Geography, Melbourne School of Land and Environment, UoM]
  • Peter Lawther [Construction Management Program, Melbourne School of Design, UoM]
  • Marcus Spiller [SGS Economics and Planning]

Research Outputs


Lowe M., Whitzman C., Badland H., Davern M., Aye L., Hes D., Butterworth I. and Giles-Corti B. (2015) 'Planning healthy, Liveable and sustainable cities: how can indicators inform policy?', Urban Policy and Research 33(2):131–144

Badland H., Whitzman C., Lowe M., Davern M., Aye L., Butterworth I., Hes D. and Giles-Corti, B. (2014) 'Urban liveability: emerging lessons from Australia for exploring the potential for indicators to measure the social determinants of health', Social Science & Medicine, 111:64–73

Giles-Corti B., Badland H., Foster S., Mavoa S.,  Whitzman C., Turrell G., (2014) 'Healthy cities' in Byrne J., Sipe N., Dodson J. (Eds) Australian Environmental Planning: Challenges and future prospects:182-196. New York: Routledge


Butterworth I., Giles-Corti B. and Whitzman C. (2013) 'Setting the Scene for the North West Melbourne Data Integration and Demonstrator Projects', in Rajabifard A. and Eagleson S. (Eds). Spatial Data Access and Integration to Support Liveability: a case study in North and West Melbourne. Melbourne: University of Melbourne Centre for Spatial Data Infrastructures and Land Administration.

Lowe M., Whitzman C., Badland H., Davern M., Hes D., Aye L., Butterworth I., Giles-Corti B. (2013) Liveable, Healthy, Sustainable: What are the key indicators for Melbourne Neighbourhoods? Melbourne: Research Paper 1, Place Health and Liveability Research Program, University of Melbourne.

Media and events

How you get to work, your health and are liveable cities really liveable?, RN Health Report, Monday 15 December 2014

Healthy regional towns, RN Bush Telegraph, Friday 7 February 2014

How to make Melbourne even more marvellousThe Age, Saturday 26 October 2013

Share strategic energy to create a truly liveable city, The Age, Monday 30 September 2013

The panel: walking citiesRN By Design, Wednesday 3 July 2013