'Design lab' vision for a diverse Shepparton housing future

Shepparton Art Museum
Shepparton Art Museum has hosted recent community forums on evolving housing and service offerings for the growing regional city.

New housing solutions to meet the changing demographics and long-term vision for Shepparton will be explored through a new design brief project, produced in collaboration by the Committee for Greater Shepparton (C4GS) and the University of Melbourne.

Shepparton has become a residential hub with booming businesses, bustling higher education campuses and a thriving medical precinct attracting professional and seasonal workers, students and families – all with different housing, infrastructure, amenity and service needs.

A team of academic architects and housing experts  from the University’s Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning will lead a strategic design brief for C4GS, drawing on local engagement and following global best practice to provide a prospectus of integrated approaches for new housing types in Shepparton.

The design brief project will use a ‘design lab’ format connecting Shepparton to the wide range of relevant expertise across the University, led by Professor Alan Pert, Professor Dan Hill and Associate Professor Rory Hyde.

Committee for Greater Shepparton CEO Linda Nieuwenhuizen said with Shepparton’s population growing at a steady rate, there was an urgent need to explore more effective housing solutions.

“Data from the 2021 Census shows that Greater Shepparton’s population will reach 70,000 residents this year and surpass 80,000 residents by 2030,” Ms Nieuwenhuizen said.

“We’re seeing a shift in the family makeup – whilst a third of households were couples with kids 20 years ago, the number of couples without kids and sole-occupiers have increased dramatically in recent years and with them, the need for housing for different lifestyles.

Associate Professor Hyde said: “There is a mismatch between the housing that’s available and the housing that’s needed in Shepparton. Specifically, there’s a lack of different types of housing in the centre, connected to new services and new kinds of work.”

Professor Hill said: “We’re hoping to use this question of a diverse housing offer to also address wider questions facing the city – such as car dependency, energy, flooding and environmental challenges, public spaces, new forms of living and working, and Shepparton’s relationship to the river and the region. These challenges are all connected, and we are excited to be working with Shepparton on charting the way forward.”

Professor Pert said: “This partnership is an indication that the Committee for Greater Shepparton and the community want to be at the forefront of debate about the future of growing regional towns – and to become a leading exponent of the transition to regional sustainability.”

The work will be split into five stages over the next six months. The team will present their findings to C4GS next year.