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April 24, 2023

What Is Infill Development, And Could You Cash In On It?

If you’re a homeowner, chances are your property is your biggest investment.

But did you know you may be able to capitalise on that investment via infill development?

What is infill development?

There are two ways to build more housing in an existing city. One is greenfield development (also known as expansion), where new homes are built at the edges of urban areas on previously undeveloped land. The other way is infill development (also known as consolidation). This is when housing is built on underused or vacant land within existing urban areas. It increases a city’s residential capacity by developing new homes on vacant or previously industrial land (such as former parking lots, military bases or railway yards) or building additional units on existing commercial or residential blocks.

The benefits of infill development

One of the primary benefits of infill development is that it makes use of existing infrastructure and resources such as roads and water and electrical connections. This often means new housing can be built more efficiently and at a lower cost. By creating new homes closer to existing workplaces, shopping centres, schools, public transport and other community amenities, infill development can reduce the need for long car commutes. It also encourages a wider range of housing types, including smaller dwellings (like units, apartments and townhouses) and more affordable housing. Consolidating new housing developments in existing urban areas can give those neighbourhoods a new lease on life while helping preserve bushland, agricultural land and open space.

A prime example of infill development is the complex of four units at 189 Spring Street, Middle Ridge we had the pleasure of selling recently. Built in 2022 on a formerly vacant block, these units offer low-maintenance living in the heart of a sought-after suburb with easy access to local shops, schools and public transport.

Does Toowoomba need infill development?

Exceptional growth challenges, including high levels of interstate migration, are driving the need for more housing across Queensland, including here in Toowoomba. Shaping SEQ, the South East Queensland Regional Plan devised in 2017, forecasts an additional 20,300 new dwellings for Toowoomba between 2016 and 2041, with 20% of that residential development to be of the infill type.

There’s no doubt we need more housing. The Toowoomba Regional Housing Strategy, released by the Toowoomba Regional Council in February 2023, identified a current shortfall of 11,000 small homes in our region and a projected shortfall of 27,903 small dwellings over the next 25 years. The Council says this shortage will be driven by our ageing population, who they expect to downsize from large suburban and rural properties to smaller homes closer to the town centre over the coming years. These residents will want to live closer to health services and cultural and entertainment facilities. The Council also notes that 80% of the Gen Y and student groups and 40% of professional families and single-person households want to live in higher-density housing types. This marks Toowoomba City Centre and the University precinct as promising candidates for higher-density residential infill development.

What about planning laws and zoning?

One of the challenges facing infill development is rigid planning laws and zoning rules. To tackle this, the Toowoomba Regional Council introduced a fast-track solution late last year. The Temporary Local Planning Instrument (TLPI), which has been approved by the Queensland Government, is designed to create an easier, shorter and lower-risk process for residential developments on underutilised urban land in the Toowoomba region. It is anticipated the TLPI will expedite the delivery of around 2,800 new homes on already-serviced land in the Emerging Community Zone, which includes Cotswold Hills, Torrington, Glenvale and Drayton. It also smooths the way for medium and higher-density housing on underused land in our region by permitting pumped pipe stormwater management systems on around 9,000 lots.

How can property owners cash in on infill development?

While you might associate infill development with a property developer converting a former industrial site into a high-density apartment block, it can also refer to much smaller-scale projects. Infill development offers ‘mum and dad’ homeowners and property investors the chance to build wealth by creating an additional dwelling (or dwellings) on their land that can be sold, rented out or kept as part of a property portfolio to build capital. If you’re interested in capitalising on your residential property or starting a property investment project, it’s worth investigating the infill development opportunities available to you. You could consider subdividing your land into two or more blocks, knocking down an existing house and rebuilding a duplex, semis, townhouses or units, building a second home at the rear or side of your house, or adding a granny flat to your backyard.

If you’re interested in leveraging infill development opportunities on your Toowoomba property or are thinking of investing in property to create infill development, we can help. Get in touch with our expert local team today.

Article by Daniel Burrett

A born and bred local, Daniel has been excelling in the art of real estate since 2009. In October 2013, he became the General Manager of RE/MAX Success complimenting his work as a Sales Professional. In conjunction with his work in residential sal… View profile

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