Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate the ABS website
ABS Home > Statistics > By Release Date
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, 1999  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/06/1999   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Housing >> Housing Stock: Inner city residential development

Housing Stock: Inner city residential development

Inner city living in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth has become more popular. Between 1986 and 1996, all of these inner city areas had growing populations, with much of the increase being housed in high-rise apartments.

Characterised by an agglomeration of offices, shops, hotels, theatres and restaurants in a mix of modern high-rise and historic buildings, inner city areas have a large daily flow of commuters from suburban areas and also provide places of residence for many people. Many of the people who reside in inner city areas, often for very short periods (i.e. tourists and people on business), do so in a variety of non-private dwellings such as hotels, motels, boarding houses and hostels. For instance in 1996, 41% of all people counted in inner Sydney on census night, and 61% of those in inner Melbourne, were residing in non-private dwellings. However, supported by urban planning policies,1,2,3 inner city areas are also becoming home to a growing number of residents living in private dwellings, especially in high-rise apartments.

Focussing on occupied private dwellings, this review uses information from the 1986 and 1996 Censuses of Population and Housing to describe housing trends in the inner city areas of Australia's five largest cities. It also describes some of the characteristics of the people living in private dwellings in these areas.


Inner city areas and places of residence

Inner city areas have been defined to include census collection districts within a 1.5 km radius of the General Post Office located within each city's Central Business District (CBD). These areas include the full CBD as well as the inner areas of any surrounding suburbs.

Metropolitan areas include Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth as defined by their statistical division boundaries.

Private dwellings are defined as premises, typically a house or apartment, usually occupied by households (a person living alone or a group of related or unrelated people who usually reside and eat together). Occupied private dwellings are those that were occupied on census night by at least one usual resident.

Non-private dwellings include premises (such as hotels, boarding houses, hostels, hospitals and prisons) designed to provide special-need housing services for (often large) groups of individuals.

CENSUS POPULATION COUNTS IN 1996 AND CHANGES SINCE 1986

All persons
Persons counted at home in private dwellings(a)


Inner city area
Inner city area
Metropolitan area



Proportion in
Population in 1996
non-private dwellings
Population in 1996
Change since 1986
Change since 1986

City
no.
%
no.
no.
% increase
% increase

Sydney
35,165
41.4
18,828
6,691
55.1
12.5
Melbourne
10,781
60.9
3,820
2,609
215.4
12.0
Brisbane
15,479
54.3
6,486
1,432
28.3
29.7
Adelaide
8,862
48.2
4,266
867
25.5
7.3
Perth(b)
8,654
57.1
3,393
n.a.
n.a.
28.2

(a) Excludes visitors.
(b) Figures showing change for Inner Perth have been omitted. Unlike the other cities, in Perth the 1986 Census coincided with school holidays and does not allow reasonable comparisons to be made with respect to changes in numbers of people for small geographic areas.

Source: Unpublished data, 1986 and 1996 Censuses of Population and Housing.


Change in inner city areas
The extent of residential development can be viewed in terms of the growth in the number of occupied private dwellings in an area and the number of people living in the area. It is evident from census data that more people now live in inner city areas and that recently the rate of residential development has usually been higher in inner city areas than for metropolitan areas as a whole.

Inner Sydney (already with the largest number of inner city residents in 1986 - 12,100 people) recorded the highest growth in residents, adding about 6,700 people over the decade. However, the proportionate increase was largest in inner Melbourne, where the number of people in occupied private dwellings more than tripled (increasing from about 1,200 to about 3,800 people). The number of people in the inner city areas of both Brisbane and Adelaide increased at a more moderate rate; 28% in Brisbane (which was on par with the high rate of growth for the city as a whole), and 26% in Adelaide (which was more than three times the growth rate of the entire city).

For each city, the same trends are evident when examining the overall growth in numbers of private dwellings. The change in dwellings counted in Perth over the decade suggests that the rate of residential development in inner Perth has been slower than in other cities (12% compared to the next lowest, 26% in Brisbane).


Separate houses and adjoined dwellings

Separate houses are those that stand on their own grounds separated from other dwellings by at least half a metre.

Adjoined dwellings are all dwellings other than separate houses and have been classified in this review as being in either high-rise blocks or an "other adjoined dwelling type". Other adjoined dwelling types include, row and terrace houses, units/flats and other adjoined dwellings, as long as the dwelling is in a building less than four storeys high. Dwellings in high-rise blocks, conversely, are those in residential buildings four or more storeys high.

OCCUPIED PRIVATE DWELLINGS IN INNER CITY AREAS, 1996 AND CHANGES SINCE 1986

1996
Change since 1986


Adjoined dwellings

Adjoined dwellings in high-rise blocks
Total dwellings(b)
Separate house
High-rise blocks
Other
Total dwellings


Inner city areas
%(a)
%(a)
%(a)
no.(b)
no.
% increase
no.
% increase

Sydney
0.3
64.2
34.7
11,028
3,042
79.9
3,724
51.0
Melbourne
1.1
45.1
49.7
2,034
754
566.9
1,464
256.8
Brisbane
17.5
42.9
39.0
3,726
867
127.1
779(c)
26.4
Adelaide
12.1
9.5
74.9
2,587
147
156.4
633
32.4
Perth
21.2
26.8
49.8
1,960
113
27.9
205
11.7

(a) As a per cent of total dwellings, but excluding private dwellings with unknown structures and dwelling types such as dwellings attached to shops.
(b) Includes private dwellings with unknown structures and dwelling types such as dwellings attached to shops.
(c) Increase is smaller than the increase in adjoined dwellings in high-rise blocks because the number of separate houses declined.

Source: Unpublished data, 1986 and 1996 Censuses of Population and Housing.


Dwelling types
While the mix of dwelling types in inner city areas (such as separate houses, row and terrace houses, flats and high-rise apartments) varies between each city, a common feature of inner city housing is the low proportion of separate houses. On average, 7% of all occupied private dwellings in the five inner city areas were separate houses, compared to 74% for the metropolitan areas as a whole. As well as the historical development of medium density housing (e.g. terrace houses close to the CBD in Sydney and Melbourne), the on-going competition for land in inner city areas has favoured the development of adjoined dwellings and, increasingly, dwellings in high-rise blocks.

In 1996, the inner city areas of both Sydney and Melbourne had very few separate houses (both less than 40, representing 0.3% and 1.1% of all occupied private dwellings respectively). In all cities, the number of occupied separate houses declined between 1986 and 1996. Most of the losses were in Brisbane (101), Perth (49), and Adelaide (39).

Nearly two thirds of all dwellings in inner Sydney (64%) were in high-rise blocks (i.e. dwellings in blocks four or more storeys high), while in inner Melbourne, the proportion of dwellings in high-rise blocks and the other types of adjoined dwellings were similar (45% and 50% respectively). Inner Adelaide, in contrast, had relatively few occupied dwellings within high-rise blocks (10%).

In all cities, the most rapid development (measured in terms of percentage change) occurred in the construction of units/apartments within high-rise blocks. Over the ten-year period 1986 to 1996, almost all of the residential development in Brisbane's inner city, and most of the development in Sydney's inner area was in units in high-rise blocks. In Adelaide, much of the growth occurred in units in the other types of adjoined dwellings (526 units compared to 147 in high-rise blocks).

PROPORTION OF DWELLINGS RENTED, AND MEDIAN WEEKLY RENT PAYMENTS OF THOSE RENTING, 1996

Inner city area
Metropolitan area


Proportion rented
Median rent
Proportion rented
Median rent
Location
%
$ per week
%
$ per week

Sydney
71.0
210
31.3
162
Melbourne
65.4
222
24.7
137
Brisbane
62.4
152
30.4
135
Adelaide
65.2
120
28.2
102
Perth
69.2
102
26.5
126
Total
68.1
172
28.3
140

Source: Unpublished data, 1996 Census of Population and Housing.


Housing tenure and costs
Against the norm of high levels of home ownership (with or without a mortgage) of people in Australia, people living in inner city areas were much more likely to be renting. The low home ownership in inner city areas may be associated with: the type of people attracted to inner city areas (i.e. highly mobile, young adults); the most common type of dwelling available in inner city areas (smaller adjoined dwelling types that are generally not suited to families with dependants); and the higher housing costs which is partly indicated by higher rental payments in inner city areas compared to metropolitan areas.

SELECTED CHARACTERISTICS OF RESIDENTS OF PRIVATE DWELLINGS, 1996

Males
per 100 females
Persons aged
0-9
Persons aged
20-29
Persons aged 65+
Lone-person households
Group households
Family households
Couple-only families
Families with dependent children
Location
number
%(a)
%(a)
%(a)
%(b)
%(b)
%(b)
%(c)
%(c)

Inner city areas
Sydney
122
5.0
32.8
8.4
50.3
14.9
34.8
57.3
24.8
Melbourne
115
4.2
38.2
6.5
40.7
19.3
39.9
51.5
23.2
Brisbane
106
4.1
30.0
12.0
46.5
16.4
37.0
54.2
25.5
Adelaide
119
4.1
30.3
11.8
52.3
14.2
33.5
54.3
25.6
Perth
128
5.6
31.6
9.9
52.3
15.1
32.6
50.3
33.0
Total inner city areas
119
4.7
32.5
9.4
49.2
15.5
35.3
55.2
25.6
Total metropolitan areas
96
14.1
15.9
10.9
22.9
4.6
72.4
31.6
50.4

(a) Of all persons.
(b) Of all households.
(c) Of all families.

Source: Unpublished data, 1996 Census of Population and Housing.


Characteristics of residents
People living in inner city areas do so for many reasons, such as being close to work and places of entertainment, living near friends or relatives, or simply having a preference for the ambience of inner city living. However, it is likely that the high costs associated with inner city housing, and the preferences for families with children to live in suburbs, would lead to differences between the socio-economic characteristics of inner city residents and residents of metropolitan areas generally. Various indicators reinforce the popular stereotype that many inner city residents are relatively young, financially advantaged adults.

In 1996, all inner city areas had a greater proportion of males than females, while the reverse was true for the total population of the five metropolitan areas. Inner city areas also had larger proportions of people living with unrelated adults (i.e. in group households) and people living alone, and lower proportions of family households. In 1996, lone-person households made up 49% and group households made up 16% of inner city households (compared to 23% and 5% respectively in metropolitan areas). Family households made up 35% of all households in inner city areas, compared to 72% in metropolitan areas. Furthermore, among family households, couple-only families made up the largest proportion in inner city areas (55%), whereas in metropolitan areas, families with dependent children made up the largest proportion (50%).

Residents in inner city areas and metropolitan areas also had different age profiles. For example, in metropolitan areas the proportion of children aged under 10 was three times greater than that in inner city areas (14% compared to 5%). In contrast, inner city areas had a substantially higher proportion of residents aged 20-29 years (ranging between 30% and 38%) than in metropolitan areas (an average of 16%).

EMPLOYMENT AND INCOME OF PEOPLE (a) LIVING IN PRIVATE DWELLINGS, 1996

Unemployment
rate
Persons employed in more highly skilled occupations(b)
Persons with gross income > $799 per week
Persons with gross income < $300 per week
Location
%
%(c)
%(c)
%(c)

Inner city areas
    Sydney
8.4
53.4
29.6
12.7
    Melbourne
8.8
64.2
36.4
18.5
    Brisbane
9.3
57.6
26.9
16.0
    Adelaide
10.8
58.2
25.1
18.1
    Perth
14.5
48.7
20.5
26.8
    Total inner city areas
9.4
55.4
28.5
15.7
Total metropolitan areas
8.3
39.0
19.5
20.8

(a) Aged 15 years and over.
(b) Managers and administrators, professionals and associate professionals (ASCO, Second Edition).
(c) Of all employed persons.

Source: Unpublished data, 1996 Census of Population and Housing.


Employment and income
In 1996, inner city areas tended to have a higher unemployment rate than metropolitan areas taken as a whole (with particularly high rates in the inner city areas of Adelaide and Perth - 11% and 15% respectively). However, in all cities, among inner city residents who were employed, relatively high proportions were employed as managers, administrators, professionals or associate professionals. The proportions in these more highly skilled occupations ranged from 64% in inner Melbourne to 49% in Perth; all higher than the average of the five metropolitan areas (39%).

Associated with differences in concentration of people employed in more highly skilled occupations, inner Melbourne had the highest proportion of employed people who had a gross weekly income of $800 or more (36%) while inner Perth had the lowest (21%). Inner Perth also had the highest proportion of employed people with a weekly income of less than $300 (27%). However, among inner city residents who were employed, a greater proportion were on high incomes compared to the average of employed people living in metropolitan areas.


Endnotes

1 Forster, C., & O'Connor, K. 1997, 'A new era for the inner city?', Urban Policy and Research - An Australian and New Zealand Guide to Urban Affairs, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 137-156.

2 Searle, G. 1991, 'Restructuring Sydney', New Planner, December 1991, pp. 5-7.

3 Baird, M. 1994. 'Postcode 3000', Australian Planner. 1994, vol. 31, no. 3, pp. 153-158.


Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window


Commonwealth of Australia 2014

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.