Central Melbourne is entering its next golden era, according to leading property and population experts.
“The city has transformed,” said senior demographer and partner of KPMG, Bernard Salt.
“(In the early 20th century) people started migrating away to the suburbs, but then we reached that point when the value proposition of a house on a suburban block started looking less appealing to some people and we are seeing this “swinging back” to the inner city, to a lifestyle you can get in London, in New York, in Paris.
“It is an existential shift of our thinking very much underpinned by changes to family, to the jobs market, transport and accessibility.
“You cannot walk around the CBD today and not see that change, particularly in the Carlton and Docklands areas.”
The City of Melbourne had 120,196 residents in 2014 and is expected to grow to 124,143 in 2015, according to the City of Melbourne/Geografia Population Forecast 2014.
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures illustrate the municipality’s enormous and rapid population growth. In 2003 it was home to 66,149 people; by 2013 it had grown 76 per cent to 116,431 residents.
A City of Melbourne spokesman said there were 9662 stand-alone houses and townhouses and 52,304 apartments within the municipality at last count in mid-2014.
“The City of Melbourne’s Development Activity Monitor shows that 6319 new apartments were completed in 2014 … triple the long-term average of 2100 since we began tracking residential development in 2002,” the spokesman said.
The City of Melbourne includes the CBD, Southbank, Docklands, East Melbourne, Carlton, Carlton North, Parkville, North Melbourne, Kensington, West Melbourne and Fishermans Bend.
Mr Salt said the population surge had fundamentally changed the city’s inner areas. Driving the growth was the fact that more people saw big value in living closer to jobs, amenities and transport.
CoreLogic RP Data Victorian property market expert Robert Larocca agreed the trend towards living in the City of Melbourne started 20-plus years ago and “shows no sign of abating”.
“In fact, the livability of the broader city relies on it,” Mr Larocca said. “For instance there are now just over 48,000 units in Melbourne, Southbank and Docklands. Most of these were not there 20 years ago.
“That is an unprecedented level of change and it will continue.”
Mr Larocca said Fishermans Bend and E Gate (a 20ha suburb development on Footscray Rd, about 2km from the CBD) were “whole new tracts of land” that would allow increased supply and housing density in the CBD, Docklands and Southbank.
Barry Plant Docklands director Barry Cole has sold inner city suburbs’ property for 25 years and said he’d noticed a gradual shift in Melburnians’ attitudes to apartment living.
“We were all brought up in the suburbs on traditional quarter-acre blocks and all I hear from people who still live in suburban houses is ‘why on earth would people live in apartments’,” Mr Cole said.
“But in this past 10 years that mental attitude is changing and people are seeing that inner city housing is about more than student accommodation — that it’s this exciting multicultural community.
“The arts community has always loved apartment and city-living, Gen Xs with or without children are seeing it, now we just need town planners to change their thinking too, so we see more larger apartments and childcare. Why can’t we do a high-rise school?”
Caroline James, Herald Sun, 21 February 2015
Image credits: Bidgee (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons