The building boom that’s transforming Sydney

by | Oct 12, 2016 | Livable cities and reforms

The last decade has seen average NSW population growth of 100,000 people, compared to only 50,000 the decade before, with projections by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment showing that NSW will grow to 9.9 million people by 2036.

This growth has prompted the City of Sydney to propose a number of changes in its Central Sydney Planning Strategy 2016-2036, including an increase in height of commercial blocks to more than 300 metres—a 24-storey increase on Sydney’s tallest commercial building, Chifley Tower. The changes will likely impact the building certification process, with new towers having to go through a competition process to meet design standards.

While there is a focus on new commercial buildings, the growth of Sydney and rise in apartment living has spawned a range of opportunities for developers—from retail and entertainment precincts, transport corridors and public spaces. The geographical limitations of central Sydney has also enabled rapid growth in areas like South Western Sydney, one of the fastest-growing regions in NSW.

Here are some of the key developments taking place in and around central Sydney over the next few years.

Circular Quay

There are plans to revitalise Circular Quay with a $1 billion mixed-use, fully-integrated precinct that connects Sydney Harbour to the CBD. The area, called Quay Quarter Sydney, is expected to include a 49-storey premium commercial office tower, three mixed-use buildings and five public laneways with bars, boutiques and views of the surrounding heritage buildings.

The development has received Stage 2 DA approval from the City of Sydney and is attracting interest from commercial tenants in the technology and creative industries. The nearby historic sandstone precinct on Bridge Street is also undergoing approvals by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, with plans to build a luxury hotel and add three storeys to the Department of Education Building.

Darling Harbour

Darling Harbour is undergoing a number of significant developments, led by ICC Sydney: a world-class convention, exhibition and entertainment precinct set to open in December 2016. It’s complemented by a luxury five-star hotel and a mixed-use development called Darling Square, which will feature commercial and residential spaces. A new pedestrian light rail will connect ICC Sydney and Darling Square to Sydney CBD, Barangaroo and more.

The proposed redevelopment of the IMAX theatre site, dubbed ‘the Ribbon’, is currently being assessed by the NSW Planning Assessment Commission. It will feature a 25-storey hotel, serviced apartments and a retail and entertainment precinct with an upgraded IMAX theatre.


The Parramatta CBD is expected to undergo a dramatic transformation over the next decade, with a projected $8 billion worth of developments that will transform the city’s skyline. The majority of proposed developments are residential mixed-use, with 838,000 square metres of commercial office space. Dining and entertainment precincts, public spaces and facilities including a new purpose-built Westmead Medical Research Hub will transform Parramatta into the country’s fifth-largest CBD.

Modern Building Certifiers is proud to keep clients informed on changes to the Sydney property market that may impact their developments. If you’d like to talk to one of our accredited building certifiers, please get in touch.

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