More development? Yes please: Meet the Brisbane YIMBYs

For the uninitiated, NIMBY (which stands for Not In My BackYard) is a pejorative term that usually describes someone who is fiercely anti-development or anti-high-rise.

A YIMBY (Yes In My BackYard) is the opposite. The movement is thought to have been born in New York in response to NIMBYism – and it has found its way to Brisbane.

Natalie Rayment, a town planner by profession, co-founded YIMBY Qld this year. She said she wanted to bring the movement to Brisbane to encourage urban infill, which could lead to cheaper and more-abundant housing.

“Certainly the increasing challenge for new home owners is getting into the market as prices go up,” Ms Rayment said.

“Perhaps not as acute in Brisbane as it would be in Sydney or Melbourne but within our economy and lifestyle in Brisbane, it’s emerging as an important issue for us.

“We want to ensure the housing supply is there so we can keep downward pressure on prices as well.”

But that’s not to say YIMBYs are all free-marketeers who want to tip the supply-and-demand scale all the way towards supply.

“It’s not saying yes to everything,” Ms Rayment said. Her organisation also aims to promote better development outcomes, like ensuring the right mix of properties is brought to market to lessen the risk of oversupply.

“We’re about informing, getting that level of information out there so people understand [development]. It’s very rewarding, that’s for sure. We’re not trying to be out there and adversarial with groups that have that NIMBY nature.

“It helps to have that knowledge out there.”

YIMBY Qld also lobbies various levels of government to change their policies towards apartment buildings, and recently it was successful in the “Shady Rooftops” campaign. The aim was to recategorise shaded rooftops from two storeys to just one.

There is something a YIMBY and a NIMBY might have in common: a desire to see the best and most well-thought-out developments brought to market.

Ms Rayment insists that’s where the similarities end. “We don’t want to start with a no, we start open minded and hope to get to a yes.”

Brisbane’s West End has famously been at the centre of stoushes between developers and incensed residents who claim developers haven’t provided enough public spaces and have overdeveloped the eclectic and bohemian community.

The West End Community Association (WECA) has been involved in speaking up against developers and the Brisbane City Council, but the members wouldn’t call themselves NIMBYs.

WECA’s Erin Evans said the backlash occurred because residents felt the planned apartment buildings didn’t reflect the community’s wishes.

“When we surveyed the community they supported medium-rise density with quality public space,” she said. “In our area there’s development after development that doesn’t meet those standards. I think it’s disappointing in a way.”

Like Ms Rayment, Dr Evans said she could see the similarities between the two schools of thought.

“It’s good they want sustainable development, I support that but I think their ideas around supply and demand are out of touch,” she said. “Although prices have declined slightly it’s still largely out of reach. There’s been study after study that discounts that the market is elastic in that way.”

Link to original article: https://www.domain.com.au/news/more-development-yes-please-meet-the-brisbane-yimbys-20171129-gzvcr9/

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