Fuelled with a passion for property, design and innovation, he has a clear vision for the future of property investment built on a solid financial model.
For many years Sydney was the city that had it all. It was a prime capital city on the harbour. It had a bustling economy and modest population. It was somewhere that even those just starting out could buy a house and quarter acre block only 20kms from the CBD. Now those days are long gone.
If you’re in your twenties or thirties the great property dream has shrunk to maybe one day owning a small apartment on the outer rings of the city.
Yet the clamor for housing increases as the population keeps growing. This means the frenzy of development shows no signs of slowing down. Unfortunately, much of Sydney was never designed from the outset to cope with large numbers. It was built with narrow, twisted cobbled streets that all led to the harbour not to the rest of the city. It doesn’t have the natural flow nor the wide multi-laned roads of Melbourne. Many areas are easily choked with congestion. Over the years there’s been planning decisions made hastily without much thought of infrastructure or long term population growth. To put it bluntly, development in Sydney has often been reactive rather than carefully crafted.
It doesn’t help that we have short political terms – even shorter with constant rolling news cycles and every policy under a spotlight. For politicians there can be little political gain in creating a well thought out strategy that won’t have tangible benefits for many years. Poor city planning has damaging effects for generations to come.
Already there are ferocious debates about which Sydney suburbs are carrying the burden of development.
Think about the creation of the Sydney Opera House. It took over forty years to be built, ran way over budget and was intended to make Sydney grand. It was never going to be a short term political fillip. The man who began the concept, Premier Cahill, never lived to see its opening. Yet it has become a world wide icon, a huge cultural drawcard for the city bringing in tourists and money.
Clearly, strong leadership and a sharp vision are precisely what is required to cure Sydney’s development woes.
Luckily, in some instances, it’s already happening. The major aerotropolis planned for Sydney’s southwest that will become a hub for Badgerys Creek airport, has the potential to give a perfect communion of function, form and design. It’s recently had a $20 billion boost, showing how important it is to all levels of government.
There’s no question that there is a hunger and talent out in the community for beautiful urban spaces. For example, a visionary design to transform the much-maligned Parramatta road was released in 2001-2002.
Barangaroo is a great showcase of urban renewal.
Springfield in Queensland, which we’ve written about in detail, is another example of a brilliantly designed urban community. Barangaroo is a great showcase of urban renewal that flawlessly blends into the existing environment.
There’s no question the talent is there. Australia has some of the best architects, town planners and landscape designers.
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There’s also a need for an apolitical department that works with other departments like Infrastructure NSW - that can work on city wide plans over a few decades without changing each term of government.
We need to look at strategies that are inclusive of smart building techniques and also address affordability.
Sydney has a unique opportunity that few other modern cities have. Quite simply it’s that we still have huge tracts of undeveloped land close to the capital. This is a blank canvas for aesthetically pleasing design that allows a vibrant and happy community to develop.
Unlike older cities, say London or Tokyo, Sydney isn’t completely choked and has no available land space. We can create attractive urban hubs that are very environmentally focussed with significant green areas. This in turn leads to:
more housing in areas with existing infrastructure
a boom in culture and design
a vibrant and happy community
an increase in employment and population
removal of unsightly noise and visual pollution
Right now we’re at a crossroads. We have a unique chance to repair the mistakes of the past and create a well planned future. Indeed, development can be a wonderful thing.