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Melbourne’s missing middle: can suburban infill accommodate a growing population?

  • The Pavillion - Level 8, Building H Monash University Caulfield Campus Caulfield East, VIC, 3145 (map)

Event partners Monash University

As Melbourne’s population booms, high density housing pushes the centre upwards and the sprawling fringes outward, the middle ring has seen comparatively little change. While some resist new development, others are forced to live further away from job opportunities in search of affordable housing options.

Can we plan and design the middle suburbs for housing choice and opportunity while maintaining neighbourhood character?


Speakers: Steve Dunn, Director, Victorian Planning Authority, Brendan Coates, Grattan Institute, Michael Buxton, RMIT and Shelley Penn, Adjunct Professor of Architecture, Monash University in conversation with Carl Grodach, Director, Monash Urban Planning & Design.


Refreshments served at 6pm. Event commences at 6:30pm

Register here.



Steve Dunn

Steve is Executive Director for the VPA’s Middle Melbourne team and is responsible for managing the overall Middle Melbourne program. This includes the planning of key urban renewal sites and National Employment Clusters within Melbourne’s established suburbs.

Steve has been at the VPA for nine years and was previously the director responsible for overseeing structure planning in the eastern and southern regions of Melbourne. Prior to joining the VPA, Steve has established a long career as a director in local government and holds qualifications in urban and regional planning, geography and business administration. Steve has sat on the national board of the Planning Institute of Australia and currently sits on the boards of the Port Phillip Housing Association and UDIA’s EnviroDevelopment program.


Brendan Coates


Brendan Coates is the Australian Perspectives Fellow at Grattan Institute and the co-author of Grattan Institute's recent report Housing Affordability: re-imagining the Australian Dream. He is also the author of a number of submissions to Commonwealth and State Government inquiries into housing supply and social and affordable housing. Brendan’s research focuses on tax reform, economic and budget policy, retirement incomes and superannuation, housing, transport infrastructure and cities and is a regular media commentator on these issues.

Before Grattan, Brendan worked with the World Bank in Indonesia where he advised on the assessment of macro-financial risks and aspects of banking regulation, and prior to that, he undertook a number of roles with the Australian Treasury. Brendan holds a Masters of International and Development Economics from the Australian National University and Bachelors of Commerce and Arts from the University of Melbourne.


Michael Buxton

Michael Buxton is Emeritus Professor Environment and Planning, RMIT University. He formerly headed the RMIT Planning and Environment program and held senior executive positions for 15 years in Victorian Government planning and environmental agencies. He has a long history of public policy development in state and local government, and of  participation in national and international processes. He has undertaken extensive research into housing supply and demand, urban intensification, outer urban development and peri-urban areas


Shelley Penn


Shelley Penn is a Melbourne-based architect and urbanist whose work includes strategic advice to government and the private sector on projects of all types and at all scales.  In addition to her work in practice, which commenced in 1993, she has held a number of significant positions. These include Chair of the National Capital Authority, National President of the Australian Institute of Architects, Deputy Chair of the Heritage Council of Victoria and Associate Victorian Government Architect.

Current roles include non-executive Directorship of a number of organisations including the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) and Infranexus, and membership of the Advisory Boards of Women’s Property Initiatives, and the Office of Projects Victoria. Shelley is also a member of several precinct-specific and state-wide design review panels in NSW, ACT and Victoria.  She is an Associate Professor in Architecture at the Melbourne School of Design and Adjunct Professor in Architecture Practice at Monash University where she is also the University Architect. A Life Fellow of the Australian Institute of Architects, Shelley is a recognised champion for advancing the quality of the built environment, and in 2014 she was named as one of the AFR/Westpac's ‘100 Women of Influence.’ 


Carl Grodach

Carl Grodach is Foundation Professor and Director of Urban Planning & Design at Monash University. He is internationally recognised for his contributions to the study of urban revitalisation, community economic development, and cultural planning. He is co-author of the book, Urban Revitalization: Remaking Cities in a Changing World (Routledge, 2015) and has published extensively in leading urban studies and planning journals over the last 15 years.