Over 8000 Sydney apartment blocks could be demolished

According to the latest report by the UNSW’s Department of the Built Environment, over 8000 old Sydney apartment blocks should be demolished and replaced by brand new apartment developments.

Let’s face it, generally people would prefer to rent and buy an apartment that is brand new compared to one that is over 25 years old and starting to fall apart and not as energy efficient as a newer build.

The Renewing the Compact City report by the UNSW’s Department of the Built Environment has identified numerous buildings in Sydney, particularly in the eastern suburbs, lower north shore and southern beach suburbs as well as Cronulla that are good locations for urban renewal projects.

The report shows that 17,367 buildings were constructed prior to 1990 and these buildings consist of anything from low rise buildings to high-rise developments home to over 100 apartments.

Potentially, 2,600 of these buildings could undergo redevelopment as walk-up blocks, whilst 5,700 buildings could be redeveloped into high-rise developments.

According to Professor Bill Randolph, director of the City Futures Research Centre at UNSW, “We put together a lot of complicated factors that would govern the viability of these projects, such as cost of buy-out, building costs, management on-costs, and a developer’s profit margin of 20 per cent”.

As well as this, local factors were also put into consideration, including height restrictions, size of the blocks as well as the current floor space ratio.

There are plenty of areas that are desperately in need of renewal but may miss out. This is because developers are looking for areas where they can make a decent profit margin, and they don’t see the potential gain in knocking down existing buildings if this does not generate wealth, whilst other areas may not be a suitably located for renewal.

Chris Johnson, chief executive of Urban Taskforce is in favour of this report stating that, “I think the opportunity is enormous...This is a terrific chance to remove some literally crumbling buildings and replace them with modern apartments. That, in turn, will revive the suburbs themselves”.

More supply will be created as knocking down existing buildings will allow more new apartments to be built upwards. With the population of Sydney expected to grow and the NSW population projected to grow by 100,500 people a year until 2031, it is important to locate new renewal areas as soon as possible in order to house Sydney’s growing population and with land becoming much harder to find, then building upwards is becoming the only viable option.

Many residents also don’t want to live over an hour out of the city; they want to live in commutable areas that are close to the CBD and important amenities, hence why the eastern suburbs, lower north shore and Cronulla areas are being pinpointed.

However, there are questions as to whether the eastern suburbs, lower north shore and Cronulla areas are the right place to build. It is also thought that more high-rise developments will overcrowd suburbs leading to increase in traffic issues and add pressure to existing transport networks.

This leads on to the opinion of many including Mr Recsei from Save our Suburbs, that seeking suburbs and land that is further out of Sydney city would have more appeal, if the transport network was improved.

For now, nothing is set in stone and the next part of the research is to look at housing affordability before decisions are made as to whether more than 8,000 apartment blocks are demolished to make room for new developments.
Published on 29th of June 2015 by Marty Stanowich
Marty Stanowich
Marty Stanowich

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