SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – July 2, 2017: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – AFR NEWS: 170702: New apartments under construction adjacent to an existing developement at 86 Courallie St, West Homebush in Sydney’s western Suburbs. Buyers of the units still being built are having ongoing issues with the property developers. (Photo by James Alcock/Fairfax Media) SMH News. Story by, Matt O’Sullivan. Story about the huge demand for public transport due to the boom in apartments around Green Square. This is leading to severe overcrowding of the train service at Green Square. Photo shows, In and around Green Square Station. Photo by, Peter Rae Tuesday 16 May, 2017.
A rapidly developing pocket of Sydney has overtaken the central business district as the city’s apartment resident hotspot.
The building boom saw the former semi-industrial area of Zetland, Beaconsfield, Waterloo and Rosebery overtake the inner city and five other regions as having the most people living in apartments.
The area – home to developments including Green Square – saw an 81 per cent increase in unit occupants between 2011 and 2016, thanks to an extra 5213 occupied apartments recorded on census night last year.
With about 27,550 people counted in its apartments, data released by the n Bureau of Statistics shows the Waterloo-Beaconsfield statistical area is second only to inner-city Melbourne in terms of the number of apartment residents – which houses 37,916 people.
But Sydney in its entirety is the apartment capital of – there are now only about two occupied separate houses for every occupied apartment.
And within the next two decades there could be just as many occupied apartments as detached houses.
“It’s quite possible that it will happen probably within 20 years [in Sydney], but in the rest of it will take quite some time,” said demographer Glenn Capuano, from population consultancy .id.
He noted Melbourne would be unlikely to catch up to Sydney’s unit population – which made up 46 per cent of all ns living in apartments on census night – as it had more room to grow on the city fringe. Green Square penthouse sells for $3.6 millionHow Waterloo is becoming family friendlyGreen Square is Sydney’s ‘public transport disaster’
With record building approvals in recent years, particularly for high-density development in infill areas, high overseas migration and high housing costs, Capuano said Sydney’s surge of apartment dwellers was showing no signs of slowing down.
Affordability issues and the fact that more than half of the apartment population was born overseas, was behind an increase in high-density family living, according to Georgia Sedgmen, an associate town planner at Tract Consultants.
“People from Asia and Europe are more likely to have grown up in apartments, they find it quite unusual that people aspire to own a detached dwelling,” she said. “That’s a very n idea.”
The ease and convenience of apartment living, which Sedgmen said particularly appealed to Millennials, was another driving factor. She noted people’s increasingly busy lifestyles weren’t conducive to the great n dream of the quarter-acre block.
But with development on the north-west and south-west fringe of the city still heavily focused on houses, Sedgmen said it would be decades before apartments equalled or outnumbered houses.
However, she said the high number of apartments to roll out in the state government’s priority precincts, risked dividing the city into high-density and low-density areas, when there should be more of a focus on the missing middle.
While apartments and semi-detached terrace and townhouses in Sydney both had about a 23 per cent occupancy increase in the latest census, Sedgmen said this didn’t account for all the apartments still in the construction pipeline.
She expected that by the 2021 census areas in Sydney’s west, such as Liverpool, would have caught up to the Parramatta-Rosehill region – home to Sydney’s third largest apartment dweller population.
“I also suspect we’ll see a lot more pressure on anything with access to the city from the south,” she said. “We really need to have a proper understanding of infrastructure capacity before we push for too much in any given area.”
Sydney’s biggest problem was the disconnect between infrastructure and planning, said Philip Vivian, the director of architecture firm Bates Smart and co-chair of the 2017 Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat conference.
“We can go build in old industrial areas and create apartments and then later it’s like ‘oh where should we put parks, do we maybe need a hospital, another school,’ ” he said. “We need infrastructure first, then we can provide the density around it.”
With Sydney predicted to need an extra 726,000 homes by 2036 to accommodate a population of 6.42 million people, Vivian said a variety of well-designed high and medium-density dwellings was key to creating a compact, walkable and well-connected city.
“You just can’t [accommodate that population] with quarter-acre blocks,” he said. “Places with high density can be quite exciting as it supports urban life. But it needs to be mixed use and it’s vital that it’s on a good transport line, has open spaces for community living and a diversity of dwellings.”