Sydney & The Missing Middle Housing Problem

Sydney's Missing Middle
Sydney's Missing Middle - Source: Opticos Design, Inc

Sydney needs more choice in housing types than it currently has. A type of housing that has the added benefit of generally being more affordable and also requires less land area. The solution is the medium-density type of housing.

Having the potential to accommodate an increasing population in an economical and financially beneficial way, efficiency in development terms and desirable in terms of creating the kind of city we will enjoy living in and engaging with, those are the characteristics of Medium density housing. It creates a city with “buzz” of intensity.

Why opt for Medium density housing?

Affordability and Investment

One of the advantages medium density housing offers is a greater diversity of more affordable housing options in areas that will be made increasingly desirable by virtue of their density. Yes, you heard it right. The fact is that, by and large, people want to live in the more densely populated areas of the city. These are parts of the city that have, for example, access to schools, public transport, cafes, restaurants, and shops all within striking distance of streets lined with closely built terraces, semis, and duplexes.

We take a look at the other way in which medium density options present as good an investment and we found out that subdividing a site for development as a manor house or duplex can simply put, be an effective way of maximising bang for your buck.

Either way, if you’re a potential home buyer or investor of limited to fair means, who’s been eye rolling and muttering expletives about stratospheric Sydney property prices (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?), then this is potentially good news.


If the required development standards and design criteria are complied with, then a number of medium density developments can be assessed as complying development and therefore bypass the rigmarole of the DA process. In other words, given the urgency surrounding Sydney’s housing availability and growing population, this is especially good news.

Quality of Living

Simple Definition: living on a street and in a neighbourhood that engages you and gives you enjoyment.

Medium density housing, as opposed to high rise apartment blocks or large, free standing houses on wide roads, has the ability to create community. Instead of being alienating or distancing, medium density housing is on an approachable, accommodating scale. It has the potential to be a major factor in the development of new centers where pedestrian traffic and public transport outstrip car use, where pockets of park greenery and narrow streets invite you to make contact with your neighbors, and where businesses are tucked in next to shops which are alongside bars which huddle up to supermarkets.

The Medium Density Housing idea is a powerful and compelling to both the government and the resident of the city and it is also proven that increasing urban densities will place public transit on firmer financial footing, such as the metro trains.

With this in mind, Sydney absorbed 78 per cent of NSW’s total population increase in 2015-16 and the Sydney Metropolitan was host to the 10 districts with the state’s largest population increases.

Rank Area Population change % increase
1 South West (Liverpool) 10,969 2.7
2 Outer west & Blue Mountains 9,995 2.2
3 City and inner south 8,817 2,8
4 Blacktown 8,398 2.5
5 Inner west 7,180 1.7
6 Inner South West 6,541 1.1
7 Northern Beaches 6,277 2.4
8 Baulkham Hills & Hawkesbury 5,032 2.2
9 Outer South West 4,363 1.4
10 Parramatta 3,435 1.9

Source: ABS, SA4 areas

Based on these official figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, it was discovered that the best areas for medium density housing development are the areas with the highest rate of population increase. These areas are ranked by the largest increase in the table above.