PLANNING SHAKE-UP JUST WHAT NSW NEEDS


You’d be forgiven for asking if living in some parts of New South Wales is actually good for your health.

In the past 18 months Australia’s most populous state has been challenged like never before.

Unprecedented bushfires, a global pandemic and recent flooding have posed huge questions, which sit alongside other 21st-century challenges such as increasing loneliness, rising levels of obesity and unequal access to affordable, healthy food options.

Research has shown where you live shapes how easy it is to make social connections, keep physically active, enjoy green spaces and buy healthy food. The evidence is clear. But how do we create places that help promote good health and well-being for all?

In line with recent reforms, the NSW government has put delivering healthy and thriving communities at the heart of a new consolidated Design and Place State and Environmental Planning Policy.

According to the government’s planning website, the policy will apply to the creation of places at all scales: “from precincts to significant developments and buildings, to infrastructure and public spaces”.

But our newly published research shows it’s not easy to deliver healthy places.

In particular, it shows the practitioners responsible for making healthy places—from designers and planners to community service providers—just don’t have the regulatory framework they need to achieve the results now demanded.

Our report highlights the stark realities of implementation falling short of rhetoric. Those designing this policy need to understand the realities built environment practitioners face.

This study was prompted by similar research by the UK Design Council. That study found a critical gap between aspirations for places that support healthy living and the actual delivery of those places. We sought to find out whether built environment practitioners in NSW experience similar problems.

▲ The authors' research shows it’s not easy to deliver healthy places.


What did the study find?

We conducted a state-wide survey to better understand any barriers, as well as enablers, these professionals face in making healthy places and how any challenges can be overcome.

About 350 practitioners from Greater Sydney and regional NSW responded, just before the 2020 global pandemic. Forty-two took part in a follow-up workshop in late 2020 to further explain their key needs, priorities and recommendations.

The participants were heavily drawn from the strategic planning profession and the local government sector. Nearly half had more than 10 years’ experience.

Six out of 10 said they incorporate health and well-being into their everyday language and in documents they deliver. However, we found a clear lack of interaction across the different professions involved in place-making, as well as with those in health promotion.

Read more: Developers fear planning reforms will add complexity

Surprisingly, only one in five directly engage with the local community about how to improve people’s health in their area. Yet collaborative work and local insights are crucial for the success of any place-making project.

We asked what barriers professionals faced to ensure delivery of healthy places against other competing interests.

The most common responses (identified by over two-thirds of those surveyed) were: a lack of regulatory requirements, a lack of clarity as to who is responsible, and developers lack motivation to provide healthy places of their own accord.

But the greatest barrier of all (cited by 68 per cent) was the lack of prioritised budgets for making healthier places.

We undertook the study with the South West Sydney Local Health District, with funding from Maridulu Budyari Gumal and support from Planning Institute Australia NSW and the Heart Foundation.

Public health needs must shape policy

As the government develops its new policy, it can be bolstered by the call from our respondents for stronger statutory mechanisms. A strong consensus was that only through stricter planning regulations and policy frameworks will health outcomes finally be integrated into planning, urban design and construction standards.

Another pertinent finding was that government guidance is not widely consulted. Many resources are available, but very few respondents regularly made use of them or recommended them to colleagues.

A notable exception was the NSW government architect’s Better Placed design policy—69 per cent referred to and recommended it. This bodes well for the new policy, with the government architect to oversee its delivery.

Our research has a bearing on two key government needs and aspirations: the creation of better places to live and work , and a progressive reduction in future public health costs through supporting healthy population lifestyles, as suggested in a recent Treasury background paper for the next NSW Intergenerational Report.

The final policy is due to go on exhibition later in 2021. This will allow for further public feedback.

We advocate that everyone takes up this opportunity. Let us properly shape this review and help ensure NSW is truly a healthy state to live in.

The health of individuals and communities needs to be strongly embedded in state legislation. COVID-19 has reinforced the importance of putting health at the centre of all that we do, and in all states and territories.

 
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LATEST  NEWS SEPTEMBER 14, 2020

No. 24 Stanley St at Tempe was a standout auction on Saturday.

Pandemic Creates Time of Change for Design

As we embrace the “new normal”, Cottee Parker is identifying and adapting to changing trends, particularly in the luxury apartment sector.

How we live has changed, and architects, interior designers and developers are shifting their thinking to meet those evolving needs.

Many people are taking advantage of more flexible work arrangements and making the move to coastal locations, such as Queensland’s Gold and Sunshine coasts.

This has meant many more buyers are owner-occupiers—buyers who intend to live in the apartment and who have a greater expectation for the development’s design than investors.

Developers are responding to the change in the market, with a growing trend toward customisation to attract sales. Depending on the developer and the unit price, buyers have the freedom to make minor changes to finishes or appliance brands, or completely re-plan spaces to meet their specific functional needs.

These buyers are knowledgeable about quality of materials, space requirements, luxury brands and design trends. At the prices they are paying, there is an expectation that their homes are well-designed to support their lifestyle.

With an investor market, multi-residential design can be generic and “one-size-fits-most”. However, with a shift towards an owner-occupier market, Cottee Parker is working directly with the final residents of the building.

There is widespread acceptance from developers to allow purchaser variations, and this is having a direct impact on what we are providing in our buildings.

▲ Pool and recreation deck, Flow, Rainbow Bay Gold Coast.


While every purchaser has their own functional requirements and personal style, some common trends in the luxury apartment sector include increased apartment sizes, higher quality of selections, a focus on wellness, integration of modern technology and the rise of working from home.

Another trend has been a shift toward “boutique” buildings that have just one or two dwellings per floor. Buyers want spacious floorplates, abundant natural light, wrap-around balconies and seamless indoor-outdoor living spaces which is perfect for the Queensland climate. In short, buyers are chasing a home in a great location that takes advantage of our beautiful natural surrounds.

In the past, the expectation for multi-residential developments was to provide a gym, pool, barbeque spaces and a private dining room. Now, the space given to shared amenities has increased exponentially.

Developers are responding to the resident’s requests for amenities that address wellness, social, work-from-home and location-specific lifestyle requirements.

With increasing levels of stress in current times, mental and physical health is a priority for many people.

As such, multi-residential developers are aware that discerning apartment purchasers are wanting spaces that improve health and wellness. Gyms now include the latest equipment, as well as newer trends like movement rooms for yoga, barre or pilates.

In terms of wellness spaces, developers are including bookable massage and treatment rooms, steam rooms, saunas, and magnesium ice baths.

Within apartments, laundry sizes have increased to provide space for rinsing and hanging activewear. For a more private wellness experience, steam showers and feature baths are an expectation in master ensuites.

Wellness is not only about providing spaces for exercise—mental health can be improved through well-considered interiors.

Biophilic design seeks to connect building occupants more closely to nature and has been scientifically proven to reduce stress—it is one of the reasons many workplaces today include a lot of indoor planting.

In the interiors of apartments, spaces are more organic in shape and form. Materials with natural patterns and sensory textures are selected. Warm and soft lighter colour palettes are preferred. Rooms are more spacious and connected, with floor to ceiling windows allowing as much natural light, views, and ventilation as possible. Abundant planting grows on every level of the building.

▲ Contemplation retreat, Nature by Cube, Cotton Tree Sunshine Coast.


Buildings that incorporate extensive planting are also appealing to purchasers downsizing from suburban homes, as this inclusion of natural surrounds offers familiarity and a gentler transition to apartment living.

Biophilic design was at the heart of Cottee Parker’s concept for Nature by Cube at Maroochydore, and even inspired the project’s name.

The trends in luxury residential projects a few years ago was toward a darker, sexier, showier, more European feel. Purchasers were looking to entertain and impress.

However, buyers' preferences have been overtaken by a softer design aesthetic, akin to resorts and spas—nurturing, relaxed and natural.

The home is now a refuge from the stresses of our challenging lives, as we seek to regain balance and a return to “our normal”. The shift towards a more “liveable” luxury design aligns perfectly within a coastal context.

One of the most prominent lifestyle changes has been the rise and acceptance of working from home.

The ability to work effectively from home has been rolled out to remarkable success, with most businesses offering this as the new norm. Having that home on the coast is no longer a distant dream; it is a realistic possibility.

This shift had led to greater provision of study spaces either within apartments or in a shared business lounge amenity. Within the apartment, consideration for the separation of multiple family members working and studying from home is important.

As well, developments are including additional shared amenities, such as video conferencing booths, meeting rooms, business lounges and workspaces.

▲ Penthouse study and cellar, Nature by Cube, Cotton Tree Sunshine Coast.


As developers strive to attract purchasers and stand out from their competitors, the importance of well-considered and cohesive design is essential.

To keep up with the demand, developers race to make the most of the excellent market conditions. The project team is now expected to work collaboratively right from the start.

A wider variety of disciplines are consulted, including sales agents, marketing, 3D visualisers, engineering consultants, architects, interior designers, project managers, the developer and even builders.

There is also a benefit in retaining a consistent project team across multiple projects, aiming for a cohesive sales proposal and a faster project delivery. Buyer confidence is inspired by using a quality team of consultants with a proven track record in multi-residential project delivery.

Multi-residential design thinking is much like retail thinking; it is about selling a product. You need to know your customer, give them what they want and be flexible enough to change as their needs change. You need to provide a better value offer than your competition and you need to stand out and create desirability.

The project must have a cohesive and legible brand. It is imperative for the development to have one consistent narrative running through the name, the building form, the interior ambience, and specific shared amenities.

It is all about tailoring the design to the place and providing the most comprehensive setting for the resident’s lifestyle. There must be numerous “wow” moments that reinforce the narrative and create a sense of amazement and desire in the visualisation renders.

Flow is a multi-residential building on the southern Gold Coast, overlooking the ocean and world-class surf breaks. This development is a prime example of successful branding.

The project was named Australia’s fastest-selling beachfront apartment development last year.

The name, Flow, speaks to the site context. The building sits on the headland surrounded by water.

The architecture has a distinct simplicity of undulating expressed slabs, with wrap-around balconies that connect and immerse the residents in the exceptional natural surrounds.

▲ Surfer’s walking to Snapper Rocks, Flow, Rainbow Bay Gold Coast.


While Australia was in lockdown, the evocative images and videos of the beautiful building, interiors and natural setting were splashed across social media channels. This enticed many prospective buyers to make contact, excited by the option to customise your space. An extremely limited amount of stock led to an amazingly fast sales track.

The gym, pool, barbeque, private dining and wine cellar spaces are wrapped in the liveable luxury aesthetic that permeates through the rest of the interiors.

However, it’s in the provision for surfers that this building stands out from its competitors. Flow has individual surf craft storage for each apartment, as well as a surf craft repair and waxing area and a wash down area at each entrance to keep sand out of the building.

An undeniable observation over the past year has been the integration and embrace of technology into everyday living.

As technologies improve and reduce in cost, we are seeing apartments with smart home systems to control lighting, blinds, security, temperature, and appliances.

With Bluetooth, everything can be operated remotely from your phone. Developments are using apps for booking amenities, notifications of parcel and mail delivery, community noticeboards for community news or events, and advising maintenance needs amongst other functions.

For rental or holiday letting, a smart building with embedded technology means that everything can be done remotely from viewing an apartment to signing the lease or checking in or out at any time of the day.

Technology improvements in Cottee Parker’s CAD platforms have been supporting the success of its design outcomes. Some programs include the use of Rhino and Grasshopper for complex geometry, as well as real-time rendering software such as Enscape.

As the building is being designed, we can review how it will perform climatically and adjust the façade design to minimise heat loads and increase natural ventilation. This impacts sales, as reduced energy costs are attractive to residents and can be proven.

We can also do real-time visualisation and “walk through” the spaces to see where an opportunity can be exploited, or an outcome improved. This is possible to do “live” with the entire project team online.

This has enabled us to work with developers and agents based on the coast. While we can collaborate externally, we are also collaborating internally across out multiple interstate offices to harness the expertise from all staff.

It also means that the project can move at a very quick pace as the design intent is immediately understood by all involved.

▲ Alegria Palm Beach, Gold Coast.


Multi-residential design is in an exciting time of transition. Where previously designs were generic and large-scale, smaller developments allow for a more demographic-specific approach. This allows for projects to stand out from the competition, enriching the urban fabric with creativity and diversity.

As residents needs for work-from-home spaces is satisfied, other types of work and hobby spaces are incorporated into developments to respond to a particular target audience. These spaces include craft rooms, workshops, herb and fruit growing rooms and even music and art studios.

With work-from-home and video conferencing reducing the need for vehicle ownership, options such as ride sharing will become more commonplace. In addition, as electric cars become more affordable and attractive, provision for car charging will be essential.

The increase of pet ownership has been another growing target audience. Developments are beginning to consider the needs of our furry family members, both within the apartment design and within shared amenities.

Cottee Parker is a firm that values agility, and we work collaboratively to respond to our clients changing needs.

If the past year has taught us anything, it is that there is no “normal” and that the world is constantly changing.

We have the capacity to adapt, and in doing so, we can create a healthier, smarter and more inspiring life.

▲ Pool and recreation deck, Nature by Cube, Cotton Tree Sunshine Coast.


Main image: Indoor-outdoor living, Alegria, Palm Beach, Qld.

 

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News, Features & Profiles

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STAMP DUTY RELIEF FOR FIRST HOME BUYERS

July 27, 2020

The NSW government has pushed to temporarily pause stamp duty for first home buyers purchasing newly-built properties in a bid to bolster the state’s ailing construction industry. On Monday premier Gladys Berejiklian announced the new scheme which she said would build on the $10,000 first-home owner grant which is accessible to those purchasing a home worth less than $600,000 or for those building a home worth $750,000 or less. The stamp duty concession sees the threshold for stamp duty increased from $650,000 to $800,000. For homes worth between $800,000 and $1 million, the concession gradually phases out. NSW treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the changes would save first home-buyers up to $31,335 on a new $800,000 home and up to $15,668 on a new $900,000 home. The $78 million stamp duty relief package will also apply, on a scaled basis, to newly-built homes valued between $800,000 and $1 million as well as to vacant land worth up to $400,000. The NSW government hopes easing the burden of buying a newly-built property will stimulate the construction sector, which employs upwards of 400,000 workers across the state. 

The new scheme will apply to newly-built homes and vacant land and will last for one year from 1 August.


“Thousands of people will see their bank balances benefit from this change—it will help get more keys into more front doors of more new homes,” Berejiklian said. “It will also boost housing construction across NSW and support jobs in the building industry at a time when we need them more than ever before.” The unemployment rate in NSW rose to 6.9 per cent in June as the national rate hit a two-decade high. The chief executive of advocacy group Urban Taskforce, Tom Forrest, said the government’s approach to decision-making had worked well to date in dealing with the pandemic, but the same approach needed to be adopted in relation to the vexed issue of tax reform. “The problem with stamp duty and payroll tax is they are distortionary,” Forrest said. “They have the effect of creating a bias in the property market which slows down property transactions, and payroll tax is simply a tax on employment—it is nuts.” “[The Urban Taskforce] has publicly called for the abolition of stamp duty and its replacement with a broadly based land tax or an extension of the application of the GST.” NSW chief executive of the Urban Development Institute of Australia, Steve Mann, said the first homebuyer stamp duty relief package may not be enough to see significant recovery from Covid-19. “We need to see stimulus across a broad range of homebuyer profiles, including upsizers who need to accommodate family growth, downsizers who are looking to offload larger mortgages and investors who play an important function in our rental market,” Mann said. Housing Industry Association NSW executive director David Bare also weighed in, stating the scheme changes would create stamp duty arrangements that “better reflected” the price of new homes across the state. The NSW government has been looking to reform stamp duty as part of a major federal financial review commissioned last year by Perrottet and published earlier this month. The year-long review, led by former Telstra chief David Thodey and includes former New Zealand prime minister Bill English and former federal finance secretary Jane Halton, recommended stamp duty should be abolished, with homeowners given the option to opt-in to a land tax. The report also suggested that state governments, in consultation with the Commonwealth, consider options for lifting the GST rate and expanding its base over the medium to longer-term. Federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg has previously ruled out an increase in the GST, and said if the states wanted to embark on tax reform they would get no financial support from the government. NSW estimates stamp duty costs the state economy about $2.35 for every collected dollar in lost income, compared with an estimated 16 cent for an annual land tax.

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ASHBURY 3.14HA SITE CARRIES $90 MILLION HOPES AS IT IS SET TO BE TRANSFORMED INTO 350 APARTMENTS

July 12, 2025

The largest development opportunity to grace the inner west in more than a decade is set to see a 3.14ha industrial site transformed into high density apartments.

The two adjoining sites at 149-163 Milton St and 165 Milton St in Ashbury are being offered together or individually, and have been rezoned by Canterbury-Bankstown Council following a five-year process.

They back onto WH Wagener Oval and could house more than 350 dwellings made up with a mixture of townhouses and apartment blocks.

New Home

WHY NOW IS THE PERFECT OPPORTUNITY FOR FIRST-HOME BUYERS TO STRIKE

January 12, 2023

Aussie Millennials believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has given first-home buyers a much better chance to nab their first home, a new report has revealed.
One in two millennial home buyers (aged between 24 to 39) now feel that they can get the keys to their first home within the next one to two years as a result of a subdued property market.
• 59 per cent redirecting direct budgets towards savings.
• 37 per cent taking on a side job.
• 36 per cent moving back in with their parents.
• 50 per cent considering living further from their CBD (45km of more).
The report found many Millennials are also making many lifestyle sacrifices to fatten their savings.
This includes limiting personal spending, reducing dining out experiences, cutting back on recreational drinking, quitting their gym membership and dating less.
There are several government initiatives also on offer to help first-time buyers crack into the market including the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme.
The second tranche opened up on July 1 and allows eligible borrowers with just a five per cent deposit saved up to crack into the market.