Around Australia, but particularly in Sydney, an anti-development mood seems to be growing that attacks apartment buildings.
They cause congestion, they overshadow parks, they do not look good, are the messages that often role out in the media. In New South Wales over the last few months the rhetoric has increased as the state election in March got closer. Politicians from all parties pledged to protect the suburbs from ‘over development’ and to put a hold on future plans for growth. In the hotly contested seat of Ryde this led to all planning proposals being put on hold for two years. It seems that both the politicians and the media are interpreting the ‘community’ in a narrow way as being detached house dwellers living in the suburbs yet at the time of the 2016 census 30 percent of Sydney’s homes were in apartments. Apartment dwellers are real people who are part of the community. It is important that this group is legitimised as being a genuine part of the community.
To lift the importance of apartment dwellers as being part of the ‘community’ the Urban Taskforce is developing a campaign around the heading Welcome Home where real people who live in apartments tell their story. Here are some of them:
Lauren (pictured above) and her husband live in an apartment block called The Gallery in Rosebery with their child Lucas (also pictured). In the same building is a child care centre and a park is over the road but even more amenities are planned in the future.
“We love living here. There are so many good things going on in the area. We’ve got a new primary school being built in, where Lucas will be the second kindergarten to go through. And just up the road he’s got the Gunyama Park which is a new aquatic centre and it is going to have an indoor and an outdoor pool. I think they’re trying to make an urban beach, which is pretty cool.”
“Some people don’t think that we should raise a child in a unit because we don’t have a garden, but look around here. We have a massive shared garden and we have a massive pool, again that I don’t have to look after.”
“I’ve made friends in the block, especially through having the day care downstairs. Lucas has made friends as well with children from other blocks so every Tuesday we alternate whose pool we swim in which is really cool.”
Another group of happy apartment dwellers are retirees who often down size to a more urban location and enjoy the ability to lock up their apartment when they travel. Judith, who lives in a pleasant apartment just off Military Road in Mosman is a good example.
“I walk to the supermarket which has become my local pantry. I walk to my pilates in Neutral Bay, it is quicker to walk than t6o take a car and if it is raining I get a bus back.”
“To go to the theatre in the city is by public transport. It is only 10 mi8nutesw, its very quick. I enjoy sitting up in my blue Mercedes watching the slow cars. I don’t regret downsizing in my mid 60s into an apartment, you don’t need all that detritus.”
“Many of the people in our building travel. We travel more than we used to. We all pick up each others mail, it is much easier, we have keys for the letter boxes, we even get a litre of milk and put it in their fridge when they are coming back.”
Judith on behalf of downsizers and Lauren on behalf of young families demonstrate the positives about apartment living for these two demographic groups. And they are part of the broader community. As cities like Sydney and Melbourne grow from 5 million people to 8 million we will see many more people preferring an urban apartment lifestyle. In 30 or 40 years -time they will probably represent 50 percent of the population of our big cities. So we must support this urban lifestyle and ensure that those that choose to live this way are respected as important members of the community.