Sue Williams| Domain| January 22 2016
What will be some of the biggest trends in new-home developments this year?
While they range from more terraces to extra communal spaces in landscaped greenery, all can be summed up in a word: community.
- Trendy terraces
Suddenly terraces are back to the future with the NSW government planning new standards for medium-density housing to encourage their construction across Sydney. With Amber Terraces at Little Bay Cove and Balmain Hill Terraces the latest new projects to be announced, they’ll join the terraces from Glebe’s Harold Park, Erskineville’s Erko and Sugarcube, and Summer Hill’s Flour Mill as top of the 2016 pops.
“And they’ve been selling so quickly,” says Ian Bennett, director of residential at Colliers International, who’s marketing Amber Terraces.
“People love them. They can be either the next step from an apartment to a full-blown house, or they can be enjoyed for what they are, their size, having a courtyard, a backyard and, with the latest ones, even having a basement car park with internal access.”
Amber Terraces’ architect, Gabrielle Suhr of SJB, believes terraces are an important community-builder.
“Having terraces along with apartments and freestanding houses on the same site is very valuable,” she says. “It means you can have a great mix of people in a new development, like in any established community.”
- Girt by greenery
Good landscaping around, between and even on buildings’ podium levels and rooftops – often with seating and barbecues and even occasionally open-air cinemas – has now become a huge hit in new developments. Award-winning landscape architects 360 Degrees are finding developers are allocating much more substantial budgets to greenery than ever before.
“There’s a desire from buyers and residents alike and now there’s a recognition from developers of its importance and how it’s become a pinnacle element and point of difference,” says 360’s Liam Bowes, who’s just been designing the extensive greenery around the new Lane Cove project Quartet.
“It’s more than a park, it’s about niche pockets of landscaping with seating for residents to sit and read in, to play with their children in a safe, useable spaces, and to socialise with each other to create a much greater sense of community.”
Amber Terraces also has a large central landscaped park known as “the urban lounge”.
- Fancy facilities
In big developments, such as the upcoming Esplanade on Norwest Lake, Baulkham Hills, there’s a whole new level of communal amenities being provided. They include a pool overlooking the lake, rooftop gardens, an outdoor gym, cabanas, a cinema, barbecue areas, quiet reflection spaces and even a putting green.
In addition, the twin tower project, like the similarly large-scale Woolooware Bay in Cronulla, will be surrounded by restaurants and cafes.
“Fifty years ago, local councils provided these things,” says Steve Grant, managing director of Esplanade developer Capital Corporation. “But with bigger projects, we can do this, and the running costs are spread over a large number of apartments, so levies are still low.
“It provides residents with a lot of exclusivity in amongst having restaurants and cafes, which is particularly valued by downsizers moving from big homes.”
Proximity to public transport is set to become even more valuable with new developments in 2016. The 19 apartments of buildings like The Thane, just launching in Edgecliff, are likely to sell well on that factor alone.
“It’s 150 metres away from Edgecliff station where there’s the bus terminus upstairs and the taxi rank outside and we’re also buying a GoGet car to put in the building with free membership for everyone there,” says developer Nick Thane, whose family have owned the site since circa 1900.
“Then, across the road there’s a gym, so we don’t need to have common areas, so we can keep levies down. In addition, it’s only 250 metres from Double Bay, which has become a very vibrant area.”
- Named architects
Five years ago developers used to employ architects just for the marketing value of their names, says SJB’s Gabrielle Suhr. “But now we’re going far beyond that. The market is so savvy, they understand what they can expect from particular architects.”
With SJB designing both Amber Terraces and Balmain Hill, BATESSMART at Quartet, Turner Studio at Esplanade, and Nicholas Tang at The Thane, it’s a trend taking off this year. “It’s always difficult to buy off the plan, but having a named architect attached helps buyers understand what it’s going to be like,” Suhr says.
Most of those architects are eager to provide the kind of designs that are going to create healthy communities within those new developments, and developers understand the value of those all too well, says Ian Bennett from Colliers.
“A lot of developers these days are seeing repeat buyers when a building or complex works well,” he says. “So developers like Bluestone at Woolooware Bay are spending a lot of money on second-to-none facilities that will create vibrant communities.”