An increase in the number of high-rise regional centres in Sydney should not come at the expense of the amenity and quality of the city's urban environments.

As the city of Sydney transitions to a more polycentric model of urban development that will see the creation of multiple high-rise hubs throughout the greater metropolitan area, leading industry groups are calling for increased focus on the quality of incoming high-rise building stock.

While Consult Australia has given its support to the review of building height restrictions mooted by Planning Minister Rob Stokes as part of efforts to foster the development of new urban centres in Sydney, NSW State Manager Matthew Trigg said building quality must also be made part of the discussion.

“The concern is ensuring the quality of what we’re getting when it comes to the built environment in Sydney,” said Trigg to Sourceable. “What we’ve seen overseas is situations where large buildings are just put up, but the spaces around them are not conductive to the type of urban environments we would expect of Sydney.”

“We have a huge amount of expertise in Australia and internationally on delivering quality urban environments and world-class architecture. This should not be forsaken in the rush to deliver the next big thing.

“Height is not a measure of success in itself. We need to see leadership displayed by all major stakeholders to ensure urban development meets and exceeds expectations.”

While Australia’s major cities will need to become denser and host a greater number of high-rise residential developments in order to accommodate projected population gains, Trigg notes that density is only one aspect of the urban development equation.

“It’s not just about density – it’s about the levels of amenity and the quality of urban spaces and local economic impact,” he said. “Density in itself is a proxy for far more nuanced elements in the built environment.”

Other members of industry have recently raised concerns about the quality of new building stock in NSW amidst the state’s ongoing spate of residential development.

Stephen Raff, CEO of Ace Body Corporate and former president of Strata Community Australia (Vic) recently pointed out that poor quality is set to be a worsening problem for new apartment buildings in Sydney, given shoddy construction practices and widespread use of imported products of sub-par quality.

While Consult Australia has raised concerns about potential quality issues in relation to upcoming urban development in Sydney, the organization is advancing efforts to ensure that regional centres remain on the right growth track in future, with measures such as a public competition for the Liverpool Georges River Precinct plan.

The five project proposals for the future development of the Liverpool Georges River Precinct were all submitted by participants in Consult Australia’s FutureNet Business Leader Course, and are available for consideration in detail via the competition’s official webpage. Online visitors can also submit votes for their preferred project proposal.

“The competition proposals transform old industrial Liverpool into a vibrant people-centric city that puts the Georges River on the map as a global hub for biomedical research, education and biotech start-ups supported by sought-after liveable, sustainable, local communities,” said Trigg.

“The competition highlights the global potential for Liverpool, securing its potential as the third regional city in New South Wales, and capitalising on its unique position between Sydney’s Kinsford Smith Airport and the second airport at Badgery’s Creek.”