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Thread: Housing Estates On Farmable Land... Does this worry you?

  1. #1

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    Default Housing Estates On Farmable Land... Does this worry you?

    I caught the end of a program on the ABC last week that was talking about Australia's environmental and population challenges. It really surprised and worried me when they mentioned the rate at which developers are spreading into our farmable land. At the current rate (and considering population growth) our grandchildren could be looking at food shortages in Australia



    It's such a challenging issue and i don't expect it to be solved here in BB but can anyone imagine a better solution to our housing 'crisis' than building houses on farmable land?

    I've lived in Kalgoorlie and seen the great expanses of land that really have no other use... if they can do it in the USA (Silicon valley, technology city) then why not here? It's a desert but they have made it habitable. If only we used our solar resources more wisely... the constant sunlight in Central Australia could be the key... and apparently there is the world's biggest underground fresh water reserves under the Nullabour!

    It just saddens me when I see yet another farm being sold to housing developers... and it seems that in my "real life" very few people care... they just shrug their shoulders and say something about 'progress'. Maybe if everyone at least had a vegie patch in their housing estate backyards that would help... Those migrants whose front gardens you see here in inner Melbourne with front yards packed with fruit trees, grape vines and tomatoes also have the right idea... so much precious land wasted in maintaining expansive front lawns. I know families are busy but rest assured it takes less time to maintain a small orchard of fruit trees in your front garden than it does a lawn.... and you don't have to burn oil to mow them once a month... and they help to keep your house cool in summer with the extra shade!

    there... that feels better

  2. #2

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    I completely agree. I'm worried that the cane land around here will be re-zoned residential eventually (the mill closed 5 years ago) ATM there's a few cows on it, but it could be more profitable to sell for houses and its sad.

  3. #3

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    Yes i care! We live in a rural area and there are farms around everywhere which is lovely! Every now and then a new developer tries to come in and plop a housing estate proposal into council. I know people need to live somewhere, I get that but agree there are opportunities that need to be explored outside the very obvious box that is a green patch of farmland!

  4. #4

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    In my home town in rural NSW the city is spreading up into the hillsides The houses are built on sloping land which presents challenges but at least the farming land... on the whole... is being left alone. There was a big spread in the 1970s but it seems to have halted, largely, in favour of using the hilly ground. It can be done

  5. #5

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    That would have been D.ick Smiths program. It is a HUGE bone of contention for DH and I and we see it happening more and more often. People just don't realise the extent to which prime agricultural land is being reclaimed for residential/industrial use and that means that there is less land for producing the food we need to sustain ourselves as a country. But of course it is easy for councils and Govts to conveniently overlook those issues when there is big money involved

  6. #6

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    Hey Bathsheba,

    I saw the program and it saddened me too. Travelling across the US was a real eye opener for me, just mile after mile of urban sprawl, McMansions as far as the eye can see.

    Incredibly ugly and soulless.

    I'm not sure about the use of farmable land for developments though, it does seem pretty bad. I think that water is the major issue the Artisian Basin that you refer to is already having water extracted from it faster than it can recharge. Its a nice idea, the thought of sustainable communities in the desert but its not inline with current politics . I like the idea of using the hilly ground though, makes for housing with extra character too!

  7. #7

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    I'm sure it wouldn't be such an issue Trillian if the public weren't falling over themselves to get at the new land!

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    People want to live where the weather is nice, and that tends to be farming areas. All our capital cities seem to be settled on nice, fertile river deltas or other kinds of good farming land, possibly with the exception of Canberra.

    I have a house in an area that *cannot* be farmed, and noone wants to live there. It is cold, windy, the soil is poor and it is almost impossible to establish a garden. It is a bit over 2 hours from Adelaide but because noone wants to live there you can buy houses for as little as $10,000. There are hundred of vacant lots there available for $500 a pop, and my house is for sale for $70,000 - has been for ages. Go a few km down the road to some prime farming land where people WANT to live, and your average house is $200-300k and they're madly subdividing up farms. Because the soil is so nice, everyone has gorgeous gardens.

    You first need to convince people not to live where it is nice. That's the Government's job though - all they have to do is relocate a couple of big Government paperwork departments to a big bit of empty land and everyone will follow.

  9. #9

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    I think the problem lies in the fact that people are reluctant to leave the larger areas such as Sydney and Melb so they are driving the demand for it. They are more than happy to live 2hrs from the city centre so long as they can still live in Sydney kwim?

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bathsheba View Post
    Maybe if everyone at least had a vegie patch in their housing estate backyards that would help...
    Better still if we let go of this idea of backyards altogether. You want to live in the city, you live in high to medium density housing. You want space, you go to the country. The suburbs is the worst of both worlds, and it's causing damage, as evidenced by these moves into farmable land.

    But nobody wants to let go of their view to build up. We're against "over"development. And we all want our patch of grass, that we then whinge about having to maintain.

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    Then there is also the problem that city folk just don't realise how much of their food is grown in these areas. I think there needs to be more education about it because the majority of city populations have zero idea about where their food originates and just take it for granted that they can go to the supermarket and get fresh food and don't see the correlation between the food they buy and the nice big block of land they just brought out at Windsor etc. They don't realise that for every 1/4 acre block that is sold out there that it means less food they can buy. What I can see happening is that when things have gotten past the point of no return that people will realise what has happened and then jump up and down demanding that the Govt should have stopped it from happening.

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    Yes, it's true Trillian... Very little correlation sadly My extended family are farmers and fortunately none of it has been sold off to developers... Maybe because it's prime farming land on river flats (so it occasionally floods) but my point is that I know where my bread comes from! And it ain't outta fresh air!

  13. #13

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    Another issue too in regional areas is that the larger centers are starting to catch up in terms of city prices for housing and land, so those looking to buy are turning to the outlying towns that are still a reasonable commute to work in the larger town, but cost less to live in. I have to drive through Coolamon to get to Wagga and it is only 40 km's from Wagga, so it is ideal when it comes to living there and working in Wagga. Just last month when I went through there I noticed that on the edge of town there is a FOR SALE sign up on a fence along the Wagga road advertising 5 acre blocks for residential building. What breaks my heart is there is currently a beautiful wheat crop growing on it and worse than that is knowing that the local council approved the rezoning from rural to residential.

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    Why not also look at the issue of WHY on earth is 40kms considered a reasonable commute? Why is 20km? It's because the power of cheap oil reaches far far further than we realise, and yet we still jump up and down and protest when fuel prices go up

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    We built our house on formally farming land. It's pretty much beef cattle farming around here. Yes it sucks. I grew up on acreage and it scares me to think that the whole area could be carved up to surburbia. We live on a tiny block, but I've tried to do my best. My sideway hosts a vegie garden. My front yard has two apple trees and a peach tree (all that've yet to show me fruit). We bought on the edge of Melbourne's Green Wedge - land that has supposedly been locked out for suburban growth and I can only hope it works. We built here because it was all we could afford. We didn't care about our closeness to the city. We cared about the closeness to our family.

    I hate it though, driving through these new estates and seeing house after house sitting empty with "for rent" signs everywhere. That drives me bonkers. Don't carve up the land unless there is a need for it. Only a handful of houses in my street are owner occupied. There are a couple that are rented, the rest are sitting empty. There is no train or tram out to us, only a bus that is notorious for not stopping, so not really ideal for renters unless they're working nearby and have a car.

    I know my post sounds totally hypocritical seeing as I built my house in a new development. But I'm trying my best to be a little more self sufficient and I totally agree that there needs to be better options.

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    I think the difference is Corelly, is that you are aware of these issues and can see what needs to be done to stop it. It is when there is complete and utter ignorance of the issue that is the problem.

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    20+km (one way) is NOT an acceptable distance for us to commute... i agree Audax! I don't know how people can afford the time and money it costs to do that! DH commutes 12km into the CBD from our home via train and that's far enough. Ideally he wants to be able to walk to work... and that's what we are aiming toward.

  18. #18

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    I guess it is considered a reasonable commute when you know that people who live in Emu Plains, Penrith, Richmond etc work in the city and have to drive to get there kwim? I don't agree with it, but that is often the logic that people use. Especially if you are looking at rent or mortgage repayments of $300+ each week so paying $150 rent/mortgage payments plus $70 worth of fuel a week still makes it slightly financially viable. But that means they are only thinking inside their own little world and not looking at the bigger picture.

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