The building boom has produced lots of one- and two-bedroom apartments but few family homes.
One of the failings of Sydney’s new high-rise housing landscape is the lack of family-suitable apartments.
While three-bedroom apartments have been typically targeted towards cashed up empty nesters and downsizers, there has been little supply for vertical families seeking an alternative to the home with backyards on suburb streets.
Developers ought be embracing more affordable three-and four bedroom designs to provide cross-generational villages where everyone from young to old can be accommodated.
For much of the recent apartment boom, developers have instead taken the quick money supplying studio, one- and two-bedroom stock aimed very much for the investor.
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The majority of new apartment housing is 75sqm, two-bedroom apartments. It is calculated three-bedroom apartments only make up between 3-6 per cent of all apartments.
Sydney has a high concentration of one-bedroom homes. This one on Victoria St in Potts Point sold for $949,000.
This week’s CommSec’s Home Size Trends Report noted apartments are shrinking in size across the country — from around 140sqm between 2004-2010 to just under 125sqm today.
And they are smaller in Sydney, down 10 per cent over the past year to a 116sqm average size, the smallest among all the capital cities.
The newly built apartment mix is generally within the development control plans of local council as a preferred percentage with required sizes within in the State Government’s residential flat design code.
Most councils currently have two bedrooms at 70 per cent of stock, one bedrooms consist 20 per cent and the proportion of three bedrooms at 10 per cent.
But already 20 per cent of Sydney’s apartments are being occupied by families, according to the 2016 census, up from 14 per cent of apartment dwellers being couples with children in 1991.
The design of apartment buildings needs to ensure appropriately sized apartments are a greater part of the mix so they are able to be lived in as a family home for a long duration.
We ought be inspired by classic European cities like Paris, if Sydney wishes to meet its aim of being among the most liveable cities of the world.
Building three-bedroom apartment help avoid urban sprawl by encouraging families to be where there’s established infrastructure.
The push to Sydney high-rise is irreversible.
A new high-rise apartment precinct to be built in north shore suburb St Leonards.
Chris Johnson at the Urban Taskforce, an industry organisation representing property development interests, says back in 1991 apartments were only 21 per cent of Sydney’s homes.
“They are now 30 per cent, and this could rise to an amazing 50 per cent in 40 years time,” he said.
Three bedrooms require a big change in developer thinking. Yes developers have embraced minimum open space requirements, sometimes rooftop gardens with shared BBQ facilities.
There’s now communal bike areas, although developers are still slow to ensure basics such as basement storage which are needed to take the place of the backyard shed. Then there’s the need for libraries, maybe even music practice rooms.
Developers have sought to compensate for smaller homes with more shared amenities.
Realistically there can only be a gradual increase in any mandated requirement by council for an improved diversity of apartment mix.
The Hills Shire is apparently pushing bigger apartments more than most councils.
But it will come at a cost.
The price of land across Sydney dictates the highest possible density for return on development investment.
The standard construction building costs per sqm range from $2600 to $5000.
The average sale price for a Sydney apartment is $10,000 a sqm as a rough rule of thumb.
The developers have certainly tapped the baby boomer downsizers as Savills International suggested typical off the plan luxury sale prices sat at around $26,000 a sqm as the boom neared its peak.
Any shift to affordable, larger apartments would be a “godsend” according to University of NSW’s City Futures Research Centre director Bill Randolph.