November 11, 2019
Source: The Daily Telegraph
Author: Matthew Benns
Date: 10 November 2019
The best and brightest young people who should be the future of Sydney are leaving because they cannot afford to live here.
Leading architects are gathering in Sydney this week to brainstorm how to design and build affordable housing to make the city liveable for everyone.
“Sydney is a fantastic place to live and work but its high cost of living is an increasing threat to the competitiveness of our city,” Gabriel Metcalf chief executive of the Committee for Sydney said.
The 2019 Global Talent Competitiveness Index found Sydney is the best city for talent in the Southern Hemisphere and 26th most competitive city globally.
But rising house prices have seen it overtaken by Dublin, Madrid and Singapore in the rankings and it is now just 56th in the world for having the right ingredients to retain talent.
The index found Sydney was comparable with London, Hong Kong and San Francisco for renting and buying homes and is beaten by Melbourne, Singapore, Toronto and Brisbane.
“Sydney is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live in — and that’s not helping us,” Mr Metcalf said.
“An increasingly unaffordable city risks driving Sydneysiders away from their home and making it less appealing for skilled people to come and work here. If we want to be a welcoming place, we need to make our city more affordable.
“Sydney is in a race for talent and, while other cities may not be able to offer our natural beauty and quality of life, we need to improve our affordability to remain a viable option for global talent,” he said.
Today the week long Sydney Architecture Festival kicks off with local and international architects brainstorming how to create more medium density housing to retain young talent in Sydney.
Festival creative director Barnaby Bennett said: “Over 70 per cent of housing is currently either greenfield suburban development or small apartments. We need much more medium density housing to supply the needs of a diverse population.
“We need to start developing more in the old neighbourhoods that are close to public transport. We need to be brave and realise we can add lots of extra dwellings in areas without destroying their character and charm,” he said. “Let’s share our neighbourhoods not block people out.”
Mr Bennett and his designer wife Amalia are typical of young couples struggling to get a foothold in the housing market. “We are starting to look but even people who are doing relatively well are struggling,” he said.
Contract work is at odds with what is required to buy a house. “It is as though we have created a system that is at odds with itself and is designed to fail,” he said.
Mr Bennett said that meant we could end up with a city where key workers such as teachers, policemen and nurses have to live hundreds of kilometres from their workplaces. “The whole city is stressed as a result,” he said.
Sydney architect Tim Williams was given a scholarship to study the 2008 Grand Paris project which transformed the French capital and he believes a lot of the lessons from that can be applied to Sydney.
“In Paris they do not release any land that does not have at least 100 dwellings per hectare,” he said. “That’s the missing middle for us. We either have too much density or not enough.”
Mr Williams called for rezoning regulations to be changed to allow for smaller dwellings up to four storeys to be built in existing suburbs. “That would take the building out of the hands of big developers,” he said.
His dream would see people building smaller developments on land they already own and keeping the wealth in their own families. “It would allow us to build homes that are pleasant to live in and are more affordable,” he said.