April 18, 2015
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald Domain
Author: Sue Williams
It’s Friday night in Sydney’s city centre and the restaurants are doing a lively trade, the cinemas are packed, and hundreds of people are milling in the streets.
Having a late-night meal with his mates in Chinatown, inner-city dweller Nyugen Chu smiles to see how busy it is. “When I moved into the city nine years ago, it’d be dead after 7pm,” he says. “Now look at it. It’s incredible – and so many of these people now live here.”
There are no precise figures on the number of people who have moved into the city centre over the past 10 years, but the population of the overall City of Sydney local government area grew 43 per cent from 2001, according to population experts .id on behalf of the council. This year, it has reached 200,000 and is forecast to rise to 280,000 by 2036.
The drivers for this stunning rate of new urbanisation are many and varied. “People want to live closer to employment opportunities,” says Glenn Byers, executive director of the NSW division of the Property Council of Australia. “They also aspire to live close to public transport corridors and hubs, and amenity.
“In addition, there are a lot more options now of different kind of homes being built in the inner city.”
Over the three years to 2017, 11,500 new homes will be built in inner Sydney, according to figures by business researchers BIS Shrapnel. This growth in supply is underpinned by continued low interest rates, a strong market with good capital gains and investor activity.
Senior manager Angie Zigomanis says owner-occupiers are also increasingly keen to live close to where the action is, while there’s a steady supply of tenants. “In particular, they might be skilled migrants, as there’s a lot of employment in the inner-city areas, or long-term visitors like students. And, as long as the market remains strong, development will continue.”
One of the biggest new projects is Darling Square. The Lend Lease development of 1400 apartments and 20,000 square metres of office and retail space is set in a new neighbourhood, 25 per cent of which will be open space, on the site of the Sydney Entertainment Centre by Darling Harbour. Its first stage last year sold out in one day, and its next release is due soon (see opposite).
“Inner-city living is one of the faster growing population movements in Australia,” says Ben Christie, head of apartments for Lend Lease. “People are looking for increased amenity and connectivity, for both their work and their lifestyles. In addition, inner-city apartment-buyers are becoming more discerning, and looking for quality homes as well as plenty of open space around them.”
Other new inner-city developments include Barangaroo, Sydney by Crown in York Street, The Castlereagh Sydney, Hing Loong on Dixon Street, Haymarket, and the Greenland Centre on Bathurst Street.
Greenland’s development and marketing director, Kang Xue, says the rise of dual-income families means couples prefer to be close to the office to juggle long hours and families, while job growth is also becoming more concentrated in and around CBD locations.
“Interest for our central location was evident from the hundreds who queued on opening day and within an hour of opening, 241 of 250 lots released in stage onesold globally,” Xue says.
Any slowing soon of the rate of inner-city population growth appears unlikely. “Higher density, infill development is accelerating and taking on a greater role in housing,” says Tim Williams, CEO of the Committee for Sydney.
The top five reasons for choosing to live in the city centre
1. People love to live close to their workplaces to avoid commuting. “As much as we’d love to see more jobs across Sydney’s west and other areas, the density of employment is still in Sydney’s CBD,” says the Property Council’s Glenn Byers.
2. It’s great living next to good restaurants and entertainment. “I no longer like going out for the evening to anywhere I might have to drive to and park,” says one of Australia’s top TV producers Des Monaghan who moved to the CBD from the suburbs. “You have the choice here of wonderful restaurants and the best of entertainment.”
3. Lots of tenants want to live in the centre, making it a good option for investors. “Overseas students like to stay close to their universities and a lot of the major institutions have campuses in the CBD or close to it,” BIS Shrapnel’s Angie Zigomanis says.
4. It’s good for children, too. “Sure, we don’t have a huge backyard but there are so many parks to spend time in and we can scooter, walk or cycle along the Harbour foreshore. Plus we make great use of the pool,” says Arabella Burge, mother to two three-and-a-half-year-old twins.
5. You can go out at night, and never have to worry about how to get home afterwards. “That’s great, but it does mean you have your friends stopping over regularly!” IT business manager Nyugen Chu says.
Image by flickr user Hasitha Tudugalle. Image license available here.