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Dwellings are moving upwards, not outwards: Sam Elbanna

Australia’s buildings, much like its property market is on the rise, as we see more and more developer’s buildings upwards rather than outwards. While this may not be the preference of the government, who want to see a move to the outer suburbs, investors and hopeful residents have been moving towards the skyscrapers that dominate our skyline.

While they represent a number of downsides such as shadow casting, traffic congestion, flight path and noise challenges, taller inner-city towers are able to drive greater costs and are far more space efficient while providing greater environmental and green benefits. In the long run, these buildings create far more solutions than problems, which mostly affect the short term.

The current height limit for skyscrapers in the Sydney CBD is 235m for all commercial and residential buildings. This is significantly shorter than the other capital cities, who are taking advantage of the allowances, as are suburbs, employment hubs and outlying areas of NSW.

Many developers understand that height restrictions imposed in the CBD will increase office and residential costs over time, as demand will outstrip supply, so they have begun looking for alternatives in different areas of Sydney, such as Parramatta, Wooli Creek and even Liverpool.

Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore announced early in 2013 that the zoning and planning laws will be coming under review for the first time since 1988 to allow for review of building heights and floor space. However final approval on any changes could take up to five years.

In the meantime, the Inner West and inner city are experiencing a wave of luxury developments beginning construction and are being sold off early. These new residential buildings are extremely high quality and in very high demand due to their proximity to the city and nightlife hubs of the Inner West and inner city.

Further out, there are some towers in the early stages in developments and even nearing completion, where there is an abundance of land for properties to go under construction.

Sydney is currently behind the ball on this issue, with Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth all continuing development on a number of high rise developments slated for completion in the next few years. We don’t know where the market or restrictions are going to be in the next 10 to 20 years, but there will be a high demand for offices and apartments close to the city from residents, companies and investors from here and abroad.


Sam Elbanna is the managing director of CPM Realty, premier property marketing specialists.

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