Sydney needs to 'densify': expert

Brendan Wong

Sydney needs to increase higher density living to make housing prices more affordable, according to an international property expert.

Former CEO of the Property Association of Canada, Michael Brooks, told Real Estate Business Sydney’s density levels were too low and that house prices were too expensive.

“I did a train ride to Parramatta from Central and I did a car tour around Penrith. You don’t see a lot of buildings taller than the trees once you get out of Sydney,” he said.

“I really noticed how low the density is and how much sprawl and how far it is to somewhere out like Penrith.”

Mr Brooks was the keynote speaker at UrbanGrowth NSW’s conference Home 2013 held in Penrith on Monday where he spoke about the housing situation in his home town of Toronto.  

According to Mr Brooks, Sydney could learn from Toronto’s example of increasing density around transit stops and creating city centres.

“We’re almost three times as dense as Sydney in terms of people per square kilometre,” he said. "Having a denser city has worked well for us. It gives people a lot of choice in their housing type and it has kept prices down relatively modestly.

“We faced the reality of a declining basin in which to develop and we’ve been in that situation for a long time. But the closer we got to that boundary of Oak Ridges Moraine – Toronto’s equivalent of the Blue Mountains – the more people realised we can’t just keep chewing up farmland to put single family houses on them.”

He said compared to Sydney, first home buyers in Toronto could enter the market without it being a huge cost. 

“The entry level house now in Toronto is actually an apartment. You can buy one for 300,000 dollars in downtown, maybe slightly less in the suburbs," he said.

Mr Brooks’ recommendation was for NSW to construct a state plan for its housing.

“NSW should be doing a plan on where it wants growth to go," he said. "There should be wide consultation to get citizens to buy in and get them to realise that sooner or later we’re going to bang up to the Blue Mountains.

“We’re running out of land; we’ve got to densify to accommodate our growth and the smartest place to do that is around transit, so that’s maybe up and down arterial roads, and we’ve got to get going with that.”

Brendan Wong

Sydney needs to increase higher density living to make housing prices more affordable, according to an international property expert.

Former CEO of the Property Association of Canada, Michael Brooks, told Real Estate Business Sydney’s density levels were too low and that house prices were too expensive.

“I did a train ride to Parramatta from Central and I did a car tour around Penrith. You don’t see a lot of buildings taller than the trees once you get out of Sydney,” he said.

“I really noticed how low the density is and how much sprawl and how far it is to somewhere out like Penrith.”

Mr Brooks was the keynote speaker at UrbanGrowth NSW’s conference Home 2013 held in Penrith on Monday where he spoke about the housing situation in his home town of Toronto.  

According to Mr Brooks, Sydney could learn from Toronto’s example of increasing density around transit stops and creating city centres.

“We’re almost three times as dense as Sydney in terms of people per square kilometre,” he said. "Having a denser city has worked well for us. It gives people a lot of choice in their housing type and it has kept prices down relatively modestly.

“We faced the reality of a declining basin in which to develop and we’ve been in that situation for a long time. But the closer we got to that boundary of Oak Ridges Moraine – Toronto’s equivalent of the Blue Mountains – the more people realised we can’t just keep chewing up farmland to put single family houses on them.”

He said compared to Sydney, first home buyers in Toronto could enter the market without it being a huge cost. 

“The entry level house now in Toronto is actually an apartment. You can buy one for 300,000 dollars in downtown, maybe slightly less in the suburbs," he said.

Mr Brooks’ recommendation was for NSW to construct a state plan for its housing.

“NSW should be doing a plan on where it wants growth to go," he said. "There should be wide consultation to get citizens to buy in and get them to realise that sooner or later we’re going to bang up to the Blue Mountains.

“We’re running out of land; we’ve got to densify to accommodate our growth and the smartest place to do that is around transit, so that’s maybe up and down arterial roads, and we’ve got to get going with that.”

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