The Property Council of Australia has today called for an overhaul of key city planning controls to ensure jobs are not turned away from the Sydney CBD, with research indicating capacity for new commercial development will be exhausted in a decade. Lord Mayor Clover Moore welcomed the release of the paper and pledged to work with industry to resolve the issue.
A 2001 study by the City of Sydney Council found that under existing planning policies the Sydney CBD will have exhausted all capacity to add new office space by around 2015. The study was a sophisticated audit of development capacity under existing planning controls.
In a paper presented to the City of Sydney last month, the Property Council said that if no changes were made the CBD would literally run out of space and need to begin to turn businesses away.
“The Sydney CBD is the nation’s most important economic precinct, generating eight per cent of our national GDP and is home to one tenth of Sydney’s workforce,” said NSW executive director, Ken Morrison.
“Australia simply cannot afford the Sydney CBD to have such a tight limit placed on its growth potential.
“The City of Sydney study shows that theoretically every last square metre of developable space will be taken up in ten years.
“The reality is that the CBD will experience capacity constraints well before this and action should be taken before we enter the next commercial development cycle.
”The Government’s plans for East Darling Harbour are welcome, but the new office space in this area is likely to be staged over some years and won’t come on line until the end of the decade.”
Lord Mayor Clover Moore welcomed the Property Council paper.
"The City wants to attract growth and continue to grow with adequate future capacity to do so for some time,” Cr Moore said. “There is a limit on growth and it is very important for the City to attract commercial growth, and particularly to be a regional leader and attractive to international headquarters.
"The economic and tourism importance of the CBD is a critical issue for the City. To this end, the City is reviewing the current controls and incentives that apply to residential development, mindful that premium and large floor plate development sites will be less available into the future.
"The City looks forward to continuing constructive dialogue with the Property Council and other stakeholders on this critical issue.”
The Property Council paper said the aim should be to add just a moderate amount of future capacity to ensure the market is not artificially encouraged to go into oversupply.
The paper proposes six recommendations to secure the CBD’s commercial future:
- Remove the existing disincentive for office use by bringing floor space ratios for commercial development in line to that of residential development,
- Protect the commercial precinct in the northern core of the CBD by excluding residential development from this area,
- Ensure a staged approach to the release of the new commercial space in the East Darling Harbour precinct,
- Introduce incentives to promote the redevelopment of lower grade commercial buildings in exchange for significant commitments to environmental performance,
- Reform of strata title laws to provide a more workable mechanism to unwind a strata scheme at the end of a building’s life,
- A greatly enhanced city public transport system to reduce congestion.
Mr Morrison said the Property Council had received a good hearing from Lord Mayor Clover Moore and would continue to discuss the proposals as the City reviewed its planning controls.
“We are confident that the Lord Mayor recognises there is an issue which needs to be addressed and is committed to ensuring the CBD continues its powerful economic role.”
The Property Council paper says the Living City strategy had been an overwhelming success and it made sense to now focus on the CBD’s employment role.
“We don’t need a roll back of the Living City strategy. What we need is to ensure the CBD can continue to thrive as vibrant economic and employment district into the future while building on the living city strategy,” Mr Morrison said.
To access a PDF version of the media release, including a chart from the 2001 CBD Capacity Survey, click here.
For more details contact:
Ken Morrison, Property Council of Australia, 02 9033 1906 or 0412 233 715
Jeff Lewis, Office of the Lord Mayor, 02 9256 9400 or 0401 994 008.