It's well known Australians are turning more to apartment living than ever before. Building approval numbers point to this trend in every major city in Australia. But it's most pronounced right here in Sydney. In 2013, 57 per cent of all dwelling approvals were for apartments; 10 years ago it was 50 per cent and when this data series began in 1984 it was just 27 per cent. That's a big shift.
The most popular location for future apartments in Sydney is the CBD. Twenty or 30 years ago, urban planners predicted the term Central Business District (CBD) would eventually be replaced by Central Activities District (CAD), as the relative dominance of business use reduced and an increasingly wide range of activities such as retail, entertainment, hotels, culture and residential increased their presence. For Sydney, this evolution now appears to be accelerating, thanks in large part to the influence of new apartment building.
There are 4500 apartments either under construction or proposed in the Sydney CBD (or CAD), but only 400 of those 4500 are actually under construction and the peak year for completions is likely to be 2017. That's when 1500 apartments are projected to be completed. These forecast dates, though, are difficult to predict, as builders will also need to dodge the light rail line construction, which could complicate things.
And contrary to the apparent popularity for converting obsolete office buildings to apartments, at this stage only 550 of the 4500 are forecast to come from that route. While adaptive building re-use might sound like a responsible way of recycling buildings, it's not always the most cost-effective and doesn't always give the best result.
Myth No. 2 is the impact of offshore developers: at this stage, just 35 per cent of CAD apartments are being facilitated by offshore developers. The major developer is Lend Lease.
Kevin Stanley is the principal at Deep End Services.