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Social housing tower blocks in Melbourne?

(41 Posts)
Riverwalk Mon 06-Jul-20 13:16:25

Melbourne has put nine social housing tower blocks into 'hard lockdown'.

I have to admit to being surprised that such blocks exist in Australia! I know that not all housing can be detached with a swimming pool, as is the popular image of Australia but is anyone else surprised by this, in so rich, large and relatively empty country?

GrannyGravy13 Mon 06-Jul-20 13:30:12

We have family in Melbourne and have spent several months there. There are poorer areas in most cities worldwide.

Riverwalk Mon 06-Jul-20 13:34:21

There are poorer areas in all cities worldwide - that wasn't my point.

Spice101 Mon 06-Jul-20 13:34:41

These tower blocks have been there for many decades. My father was a caretaker at some of them in the 70's and they had been around for many years then. They are also in areas where there is no available land to build any other housing on. People who live there would not be happy to be told they had to move out of the area into somewhere far less convenient for them.

While Australia is a large country and relatively empty the vast majority of settlement is down the east coast and extends only about 100 kilometers inland from the coast.

These days social housing tends to be in a different form but there are still a lot of the towers - or as they were always called housing commission flats.

EllanVannin Mon 06-Jul-20 13:36:19

I remarked on this yesterday when I posted to Rufus saying you'd have thought with the vast land that there is they'd have built outwards not upwards. What an ugly block of flats and look pokey too. I'm very surprised that such a build was allowed . It spoils the whole image of the country sad

SueDonim Mon 06-Jul-20 13:43:26

I live in NE Scotland and Aberdeen has many tower blocks, too. I’ve always wondered why they built upwards here when they could have built out without much detriment to the vast hinterland.

Calendargirl Mon 06-Jul-20 13:56:36

Although Australia is huge, I’m sure certain parts of it are uninhabitable.

Callistemon Mon 06-Jul-20 14:17:01

There are also very luxurious tower blocks Riverwalk

I think you're making two points here, are you?
One is that you're surprised that there could be social housing - yes, there are poor and rich as in all countries.
The cost of housing has gone up quite rapidly too so many cannot afford to buy.

The other point, I think, is why build tower blocks when there is so much land available? This happens in other countries too, eg the USA. I suppose it became a fashion in the 1950s and 1960s and prevented urban sprawl encroaching on agricultural land. Not all the land is fit for farming so what is farmed is needed.
Melbourne has extended out into the bush which brings its own problems with fires.

If you look at pictures of other Australian cities most have a high proportion of high rise buildings, including some very luxurious, some offices like anywhere else.

Riverwalk Mon 06-Jul-20 14:33:56

No, I'm not surprised that there is social housing in Australia and yes I do know there are luxurious tower blocks the world over.

Yes, my point was about so much land being available.

A comparable country for land mass is the USA where I've visited many times - never been to Australia although I have two brothers there. In the US you see lots of high-rise in places like NYC, naturally coastal areas are colonised early on and that's were the population rapidly grows. But in places like Georgia, New Mexico and California cheaper social-housing tends not to be tower blocks, but low-rise or mobile homes, because they have the space.

The 60s social tower blocks we have in the UK were erected as a result of slum clearance - a case of build 'em high and cheap.

EllanVannin Mon 06-Jul-20 15:11:51

Why make it so damned obvious that it's social housing ? Surely that's discrimination of the highest order ? It's wrong !!

EllanVannin Mon 06-Jul-20 15:13:12

It's this " difference " that causes so much unrest. The architects or whoever they are want shooting.

Witzend Mon 06-Jul-20 15:25:30

We have friends in Melbourne - housing is extremely expensive there. When we were last visiting a few years ago there were masses of blocks of new (non social housing) flats going up. But I gather many were targeted at the Chinese or other SE Asian markets - same as has happened in London.

There are poor - or poorer - areas in cities everywhere. In the US as far as I know, they call such social housing blocks ‘the projects’, at least they do where my sister used to live - Cambridge, Massachusetts, next door to Boston.

That area is also by American standards extremely expensive for housing.

EllanVannin Mon 06-Jul-20 15:48:31

Why make it so obvious that most of these blocks house " foreigners/blacks ?" That makes it more discriminatory in every way and creates a " them and us " in every township, not only discriminatory but also racist too. I've never understood this mentality within a social environment. It immediately creates a division. Then people wonder why you have hostilities shock

Those which aren't built for social housing are a hell of a lot different architecturally, you'd be hard-pushed not to notice so why not build them all the same as psychologically it would give an incentive to keep the places up to standard when they're decently presented inside and out.

ayse Mon 06-Jul-20 15:57:29

Some of the residents of social housing right by the oldest part of Sydney are being moved on because these houses will make a fortune when resold. Some of the residents have been there all their lives.

Moving poor people on to live in c**p accommodation is the way of the world. It’s shameful!

Riverwalk Mon 06-Jul-20 16:13:41

Witzend 'the projects' in the US have a similar history to our council tower blocks in that they were part of slum-clearance programmes.

Good intentions at the time.

EllanVannin Mon 06-Jul-20 16:41:10

Ayse, I've been in the area near the airport in Sydney and believe you me those people should be paid for living there because when a flight goes over, which is constant from all directions the places shake so God help the foundations.

Granted, it never used to be like that before so many flights took over and not far away are those old Aussie properties, which are beautiful. Isn't there a new subway/train station being built in West Sydney ? Leave these people where they are as they're the only ones who'd live with the noise of a new station and be beneath a flight path of A380's.

Elegran Mon 06-Jul-20 16:41:28

EV When social housing was first built by councils in the Uk, it was to replace housing which was condemned as unfit for habitation. The projects were enormous and expensive at the time (I think the twenties saw a lot of them) but were needed for an increase in demand for accommodation by returning demobbed servicemen and their families and a rising population - as in the fifties and sixties, the other boom time for council housing.

Public money was scarce. The aim was to build simple affordable housing cheaply, so yes, they were not fancy edifices, but they were vastly better than the alternative. My mother was a child in the twenties, and their move to a council house - a plain rectangular semi with no claims to arhitectural elegance, was like going to heaven. Their own front door! A bathroom!An indoor loo! A kitchen to themselves, instead of a shared sink and cooker on the landing! Three bedrooms! A place to keep the pram which wasn't used by the sweep they shared the house with as storage for bags of soot! No rats! No leaks! Luxury!

Most of those old estates have been pulled down and replaced, but they served their turn in housing people who would otherwise have been renting a la Rackman.

EllanVannin Mon 06-Jul-20 16:53:07

But councils seemed to have been hell-bent on building slums to replace dilapidating homes of yesteryear. Why ? This is my argument. Why are social housing estates made to look like social housing estates ?

EllanVannin Mon 06-Jul-20 16:56:28

Where's the incentive for living in a " prison block " of ugly high rise flats that you couldn't swing a cat in ?
That horrendous fire should have rang alarm bells not to build any more of the monstrosities.

Oopsminty Mon 06-Jul-20 17:01:06

Many say we, the UK, are a tiny island but in actual fact only 8.8% of the land is built on

We have plenty of space as well!

Oopsminty Mon 06-Jul-20 17:05:44


But councils seemed to have been hell-bent on building slums to replace dilapidating homes of yesteryear. Why ? This is my argument. Why are social housing estates made to look like social housing estates ?

Liverpool is a prime example of this

John Prescott's Pathfinder scheme was shocking

Totally obliterating homes for what reason?

Spice101 Mon 06-Jul-20 17:06:54

EllenVannin when those towers were built that was the style of architecture. They were built on land which at the time was on the fringe of the central business area where there was easy access to transport and other required facilities. Because they are now old and dated do you suggest they should be demolished and replaced? If so where would you house the many thousand residents. There is no way they could be homed in the area while new buildings were built.
New social housing could has been built in many areas but that does not mean the people want to live in the areas further away from the city.
There have been many schemes put up successive governments to encourage these people - and they are not all immigrants- to resettle in some of the regional areas but they don’t want to live in those areas.
As I said in my post above most of the settlement in Australia is within 100 kilometers of the east coast. Much of the land outside that is not suitable for building large communities and the cost of putting in the necessary infrastructure, transport links and schools is prohibitive. As ugly as these towers are, for many they are a haven in an inner city location which provides all the facilities needed.

JenniferEccles Tue 07-Jul-20 22:54:46

I guess all over the world there isn’t a large enough budget these days to build anything other than tower blocks for social housing renters.

Because they accommodate the unskilled on low wages, the rent obviously is lower than that paid by those renting privately so that is reflected in the type of accommodation built.

Tower blocks are really awful, but I guess it’s not economically viable, (even in a country the size of Australia )to build even modest terraced housing with gardens for those paying very low rent.

Callistemon Tue 07-Jul-20 23:12:07

Oopsminty that Pathfinder scheme of John Prescott and Yvette Cooper was so wrong and left many householders distraught.
Far better is the scheme to sell off housing cheaply and to offer loans to the owners for renovation.

Some people do like living in high rise buildings otherwise there would be no market for the luxury end.
I don't think anyone should have to live in one who does not wish to.
Because it is better that they are built at a distance from each other it is questionable whether a higher density of population can be fitted into the space available than conventional houses or low rise buildings.

paddyanne Wed 08-Jul-20 00:09:09

High rise council properties are being demolished here and new homes with gardens built to replace them . These are council houses .
There is one 4 storey building in the town centre that is being built in the style of the victorian tenement that was demolished in the 70's.Its lovely and not out of place among the few original tenements left ,it is just one block though and its surrounded by 2 and 3 bedroom houses and small bungalows for pensioners and single folk
The architects have made a much better job than those in the 70's whose work was demolished last winter ,nice to see the town get some character back