Brisbane Wants More Skyscrapers

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Friday, March 13th, 2015
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Brisbane is set for more sky-high apartment buildings following the recent approval of a draft plan which largely does away with existing height limits for major office and apartment towers in some parts of the city.

A Draft City Centre Neighborhood Plan which was passed by the Council late last month would see skyscrapers able to be built anywhere within the CBD other than the Quay Street or Howard Smith Wharves precincts – albeit with the buildings needing to be on sites larger than 3,000 square meters, all proposals needing to be assessed by council planning officers on a case-by-case basis and major towers still needing to comply with aviation requirements limiting building height within the city to 274 meters.

The draft plan also proposed creating five CBD precincts with different development rules, including a retail precinct covering part of Adelaide, Queen, Elizabeth and Edward streets, the setting aside of the Queens Wharf area for an integrated resort development, the Quay Street precinct on the city’s fringe where building designs would be similar to those seen in Milton and Petrie Terrace, a River Precinct stretching from the eastern end of Alice Street to the Story Bridge which would emphasise open public space and the Howard Smith Wharves precinct on the other side of the bridge featuring heritage buildings, parkland, retail and high class dining facilities.

The plan’s approval comes amid a mass of planned apartment developments within the city, which the Council says it expects will be home to around 50 new towers over the next two decades.

At the moment, demand is running hot: figures set to be revealed later this month from planning and consulting outfit Urbis suggests a total of 427 off-the-plan sales for apartments took place within the Brisbane CBD in the three months to December, according to the Brisbane Courier Mail – including almost two fifths (415) of the 1,100 units in Billbergia’s 90-storey Brisbane Skytower in Margaret Street and most of the remaining purchases relating to apartments in Sunland’s 40-storey Abian tower on the corner of Albert and Alice Streets.

All this is causing building activity to rise. Following a surge in starts in 2013/14, Housing Industry Association reckons ground will break on a whopping 18,200 apartments throughout the state of Queensland in the current financial year – up from less than 10,000 at the depths of the housing downturn experienced at the turn of the decade.

Urbis associated director Paul Riga said demand for off-the-plan apartments was red-hot.

“Abian was the kicker that showed there was demand for the CBD but the Brisbane Skytower project has really changed the mood of the off-the-plan market within the CBD,” the aforementioned report quotes Riga as saying.

“There hasn’t been much residential development undertaken in the CBD over the past five to seven years.”

The new plans regarding height limits still need state government approval.

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