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Shrinking backyards viewed from above

Oct 2022

High resolution aerial images from Nearmap uncover a need for better-informed planning and development for livable, environmentally balanced communities.

Oct 2022

Australians are building houses on smaller blocks, driving a need for better-informed planning and development to create livable, environmentally balanced communities.
Building approvals data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that in the 15 years from 2005 to 2020, the average site area of new house approvals in Australia decreased by 22 per cent — a reduction of 153 square metres.
The steady size decline is evident in five capital cities — Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth — leading to increased housing density for more affordable housing.
Far from the days of a family home built on a quarter-acre block (around 1,000 square metres), today’s new houses are being constructed on blocks of land averaging from just 427 to 531 square metres.
And while blocks of land have decreased in size, the average floor area of new houses built has showed little change – in some cases, even increasing despite smaller land size.
To get the most out of small land footprints, new houses are often built as close to property boundaries as planning permission allows, leaving neighbours within arms’ reach, with little outdoor space for recreational activities such as swimming pools or backyard sports.
Increased housing density highlights the importance of communal green spaces in new developments, to give residents places to gather, socialise, play sport and enjoy nature.
More green space and a greater proportion of vegetation helps temperature regulation, water run-off, air quality and overall amenity of a suburb. A recent proposal by the New South Wales government to ban dark roofs as part of its environmental planning laws aims to reduce the urban heat island effect caused by dark roofing.
In a 9 News broadcast from October 2021, Dr Mike Bewley, Senior Director of AI systems at Nearmap said: “It’s really important to look at the interplay between the public and private land, so that needs to be compensated with more parks and more shared spaces.”
Nearmap AI provides a clear visual representation of a location, outlining elements such as building footprint, surfaces (asphalt, lawn, concrete slab) and vegetation — giving planners, government and local councils deeper insights into the amenity of a suburb and its surrounds, with the ability to use historical imagery to view and monitor change over time.
As backyards become an expensive luxury, the need to leverage accurate, up-to-date data and research highlights the value of frequently updated high-resolution aerial imagery to plan and monitor new developments, creating communities with a livable balance of homes and communal green spaces.
Read more about how Nearmap AI identified Australia’s greenest suburbs.
Find out how Nearmap can provide valuable aerial imagery insights for planners, developers and councils to create more livable communities.
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