Busily building a better Sydney we all can enjoy

Sydney has just been through a record year for approving new buildings and developments — and our skyline will keep soaring in 2015.

In fact the RLB Crane Index shows there are now more than 120 cranes at work across Sydney, and more than half are within 5km of the GPO in Martin Place.

Last year $2.8 billion worth of residential and commercial developments were approved by the City of Sydney's chief planning body, the Central Sydney Planning Committee. The Committee only reviews developments worth more than $50 million so, when you include smaller projects, the scale of what's happening is even larger.

323262-ab779c36-54de-11e4-9218-e84af2eb3da1This surge in major development, including two residential buildings in the heart of the city that will be more than 230m tall, is a vote of confidence in Sydney.

This kind of development doesn't happen by accident.

Over 10 years we've ­attracted investment by building the City of Sydney's reputation as a professional, financially responsible and corruption-free organisation to work with.

We do things by the book, not by the brown paper bag filled with cash.

So what will we see in 2015?

There's the $660 million AMP Circular Quay Precinct which will deliver premium-grade office space with views that will be the envy of any corporate headquarters in the world.

There's a $100 million hotel-residential development on Kent St and a 25-storey mixed-use development on Clarence St worth $89 million. Other CBD sites being redeveloped include 1 Alfred St, 200 George St, 333 George St, 383 George St, 71 Macquarie St, 161 Clarence St, 5 Martin Place, and 20 Martin Place.

v-sSwzsMHF1JCVnsHHiAyb6pCLMUHLxoLXfXzZwQBgI1-960x466To the south of the CBD the Green Square urban renewal is taking shape. New developments worth $530 million, including a $142 million high-rise building, were approved in 2014. In the next four years, 10,000 apartments will be built at Green Square and the area will become home to 54,000 residents and 20,000 workers.

It's not just the height or the dollar value of private ­developments that is important, it is the quality, and Sydney is leading the world in high-quality design.

Unlike Melbourne's construction boom, which has led to serious concerns about apartments without adequate sunlight, ventilation and facilities, our approach is to go for a "win-win'.

By collaborating with private developers, the City of Sydney is getting lasting benefits for our community. We negotiated with Coombes Property Group to include two much-needed childcare facilities in their plans to build on top of the George St cinema complex.

Property developer Green- land Australia has agreed to build a $25 million state-of-the-art "creative hub' in their Bathurst St project, including soundproofed rooms for music rehearsals, studios for visual artists, dancers and ­actors, media and editing suites for filmmakers and new media artists.

One-Central-Park-2C-Chippendale-2C-photo-credit-Simon-Wood-620x414We make sure competitions are held to find the best designs for developments, which attracts the world's top architects. You can see the ­results across the city. Last year the magnificent 8 Chifley Square won the Australian Institute of Architects' National Awards for Commercial Architecture.

One Central Park, with its beautiful green walls, was awarded the Best Tall Building in the World for 2014 by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat.

All of this construction means Sydney will have to live with some growing pains. Reshaping our city centre, including the light rail extension down George St, will require patience and perseverance. But it will also help to cement our place as a ­regional powerhouse, and make the city an even greater place to live, work and visit.

This article first appeared in the Daily Telegraph, Thursday 15 January, 2015: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/busily-building-a-better-sydney-we-all-can-enjoy/story-fni0cwl5-1227184978169