Melbourne’s booming population is expected to drive development

31 August 2015, 31 August 2015

By Alice Archer

Melbourne CBD is Australia’s most popular and fastest-growing city, and will need another 71,000 dwellings by 2035 to cater for an influx of residents.

In its 2015 report, Residential Market and Economic Outlook: Melbourne CBD, Urbis research analysts say more than 126,000 people now live in the City of Melbourne, a rise of 118 per cent since 2002.

“By 2035, it is estimated that the population will grow by another 135,000 residents,” says the report’s author, Mark Dawson.

 “Based on an average household size of 1.9, it is estimated that an additional 71,000 dwellings are required to support this growth,” he says.

Dawson, associate director of Urbis Residential, says Victoria’s population has grown faster than all other Australian states and territories over the past five years, adding 470,000 residents. And Melbourne has been the main attraction.

“Victoria’s population growth has been driven largely by the demand to live in its capital city, Melbourne. In absolute terms, Greater Melbourne (which forms a radius of about 60 kilometres around the CBD) was the largest-growing capital city in Australia over the past five years,” Dawson says.

It is also attracting an influx of residents from other states. “Ten years ago, Victoria was losing people to the other states. However, since September 2008, this trend has turned and Victoria is experiencing a net inflow of people,” he says.

“There are a few drivers that attract homebuyers to Melbourne, and jobs is one of the big ones. Melbourne has a diverse economy and is not reliant on any single industry. People are also attracted to Melbourne’s relative affordability – apartments across greater Melbourne are about $155,000 cheaper than comparable property in Greater Sydney. Melbourne also has a higher capacity to supply new dwellings.”

Melbourne’s booming population has attracted a lot of interest from international developers. Malaysia’s UEM Sunrise chose inner Melbourne as the location for one of its latest apartment projects, Conservatory, because of Melbourne’s bright prospects.

UEM chief operations officer, commercial, Raymond Cheah, says the site on MacKenzie Street, on the northern edge of the CBD, is within walking distance of “so many of Melbourne’s top attractions”. Choosing the site was “a no-brainer”.

The 42-level, 446-apartment tower is less than 150 metres from Carlton Gardens, close to RMIT University, Victoria University and the University of Melbourne.

“Conservatory was inspired by its parkside location – Carlton Gardens are Melbourne’s most majestic gardens. I would liken them to Hyde Park in London and Central Park in New York. Many of the apartments will look directly over the gardens from about level eight upwards.

“The research by Urbis found that only 24 per cent of apartments in the city are within 150 metres of a park and that parkside proximity attracts a price premium of about $70,000 per unit,” says Cheah.

“Conservatory has everything almost at its doorstep: trams, Melbourne Museum and Melbourne’s top fusion restaurants including Izakaya Den, The Town Mouse, Cumulus Inc, Coda, Supernormal and MoVida. In fact, American celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain was famously quoted as saying he would rather dine in Melbourne than in Paris.”

World-renowned architect Professor Philip Sutton Cox, who has won multiple awards for his public projects such as The MCG and AAMI Park Stadium, designed Conservatory. He says the predominant influence was the heritage-listed Carlton Gardens and the Victorian-era Royal Exhibition Building with its impressive dome.

He describes Conservatory as “a landmark tower that builds on an art nouveau concept – a controlled and tempered habitat propagating a new environment for living within a graceful, sculptural façade that captures views, controls light and allows fresh air”.

Communal facilities are on three levels, including banquet dining rooms, outdoor entertainment decks and barbecue pits, lap pool, gymnasium, sauna and steam rooms. The sky deck on level 42 has two large spa pools where residents can soak in a “hot spring” while they take in views of the surrounding city.

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