Sydney needs to get high, according to a property developers’ lobby group that says the city’s skyscrapers must double in height by 2050.

Citing PricewaterhouseCoopers research that shows Melbourne and Brisbane both outstripping the harbour city's economic growth, the Urban Taskforce said authorities must scrap existing building height limits and allow Sydney to grow skywards.

"For Sydney to remain as Australia's number one city we need to plan for doubling the height of our skyscrapers by 2050," said Chris Johnson, CEO of the Urban Taskforce.

"Sydney is being held back by out-of-date planning rules that set the underside of Sydney Tower, designed in the 1970s, as the cap on height for new buildings.

"Across Asia, many cities are building towers that are symbols of the prosperity and the optimism of that city's economic growth."

The Urban Taskforce commissioned three architects to envision what Sydney might look like by 2050.

One ambitious image, produced by Philip Vivian of architectural firm Bates Smart, shows Sydney full of skyscrapers and looking far more like Hong Kong than the harbour city of today.

Mr Vivian's vision also included a metro system that crosses the Harbour Bridge.

That might seem like pie in the sky for a city already struggling with far more basic issues, such as keeping up existing public transport demand and road building.

But Mr Johnson said he wanted to contribute to the debate about Sydney's future.

"The Urban Taskforce urges Sydneysiders to think big for Sydney's future so that we keep ahead of Melbourne and Brisbane as they push forward," he added.

"Even more important is that Sydney is positioned in the Asia Pacific region as one of the leading cities along with Shanghai, Hong Kong and Singapore."

  • Skyscrapers are the white elephants of the future. I am very sure that by 2050 all the world's economies will be in rapid decline, due to the debt fuelled lifestyle in vogue now running, like with oil, out of gas. Our entire world economy survives on cheap oil, and it has to be oil, not electricity or wind or even firewood we need. Expensive oil will prove unviable, because the economy only has one gear and that is endless growth. This will stop soon. It's a mathematical certainty. Skyscrapers which use a lot of energy will be abandoned as uneconomical. We are in a decadent building splurge so it's no surprise to hear touts for more of the same. It's just not realistic now of ever.

  • I would like to see some modelling around the impact of all of these tall structures on a city in terms of
    a) wind on street level
    b) sunshine and shade
    c) permeability and ground water available for trees (taking all basements into account).

    Parts of Melbourne are like wind tunnels on the calmest of days already, and developers have been known to kill trees that interfere with their proposed structures… Skyscrapers do not make for liveability. Look at cities that work and create community. They have apartments and open spaces, but not towers.

  • These developers have one track minds! It's time we started serious work on reversing the religious mantra of eternal growth. We are way beyond a sustainable culture. Here is a brutal wake up call!!!

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