Town Planning Review

The Australian quarter acre block: the death of a dream?

Town Planning Review (2011), 82, (3), 263–284.

Abstract

The right to a backyard barbecue, swimming pool and ample space for ball games is a cherished aspect of the Australian suburban dream. This is exemplified in the concept of the quarter acre block as the required standard for all. However, rising land prices, a demographic shift away from the nuclear family and the imperatives of sustainability and climate change may stand in opposition to this utopian ideal. As Australian cities plan for increased density and urban consolidation, it is appropriate to question the continued currency of the quarter acre block. A survey of four suburbs in Adelaide, South Australia, investigates householders' preferences for a range of physical design factors including block size and garden availability. The results of the survey provide important evidence for policy makers at a time when radically new forms of housing in the form of apartments and transit-oriented developments are increasingly evident in Australian cities.

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GOVERNMENT OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA (1962), Report on the Metropolitan Area of Adelaide, Adelaide, Government of South Australia. Google Scholar

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GOVERNMENT OF VICTORIA, DEPARTMENT OF SUSTAINABILITY AND ENVIRONMENT (2005), Melbourne 2030, Planning for Sustainable Growth, Melbourne, State Government of Victoria. Google Scholar

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HALKETT, I. (1976), The Quarter Acre Block: The Use of Suburban Gardens, Canberra, Australian Institute of Urban Studies. The Quarter Acre Block: The Use of Suburban Gardens Google Scholar

HALL, A.C. (1987), 'The provision of private open space for dwellings; an assessment of the policies of local planning authorities', Town Planning Review, 58, 183–97. The provision of private open space for dwellings; an assessment of the policies of local planning authorities Town Planning Review 58 183 97 Google Scholar

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KELLETT, J. (1982), 'The private garden in England and Wales', Landscape Planning, 9, 105–23. The private garden in England and Wales Landscape Planning 9 105 23 Google Scholar

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LEINBERGER, C.B. (2008), The Option of Urbanism; Investing in a New American Dream, Washington, DC, Island Press. The Option of Urbanism; Investing in a New American Dream Google Scholar

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MYERS, D. and GEARIN, E. (2001), 'Current preferences and future demand for denser residential environments', Housing Policy Debate, 12, 633–59. Current preferences and future demand for denser residential environments Housing Policy Debate 12 633 59 Google Scholar

NEWMAN, P. and KENWORTHY, J. (1999), Sustainability and Cities, Washington, DC, Island Press. Sustainability and Cities Google Scholar

OFFICE FOR NATIONAL STATISTICS (2008), Social Trends, No. 38, London, Palgrave Macmillan. Google Scholar

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RANDOLPH, B. (2006), 'Delivering the compact city in Australia: current trends and future implications', Urban Policy and Research, 24, 473–90. Delivering the compact city in Australia: current trends and future implications Urban Policy and Research 24 473 90 Google Scholar

SEARLE, G. (2004), 'The limits to urban consolidation', Australian Planner, 41, 42–48. The limits to urban consolidation Australian Planner 41 42 48 Google Scholar

SKJAEVELAND, O. and GARLING, T. (1997), 'Effects of interactional space on neighbouring', Journal of Environmental Psychology, 17, 181–98. Effects of interactional space on neighbouring Journal of Environmental Psychology 17 181 98 Google Scholar

STRETTON, H. (1975), Ideas for Australian Cities, Melbourne, Georgian House. Ideas for Australian Cities Google Scholar

TROY, P. (1996), The Perils of Urban Consolidation, NSW, Federation Press. The Perils of Urban Consolidation Google Scholar

VEAL, A.J. (2008), 'Open space planning standards in Australia: in search of origins school of leisure, sport and tourism' (Working Paper 5), Lindfield, NSW, Sydney University of Technology. http://www.business.uts.edu.au/lst/downloads/open_space_standards_2008.pdf Google Scholar

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Kellett, Jon

Kellett, Jon