North Sydney has long been known as Sydney’s second CBD, however that ‘marker’ defies the dynamics and attraction of the area. The wider region has a population of some 73,100 with the core CBD population 7,800.

North Sydney includes Cammeray & Crows Nest to the north, McMahons Point & Kirribilli to the south, Wollstonecraft to the west and Cremorne to the east.

The area’s building approvals fell markedly in 2008/09 after the GFC to just 115 and peaked in 2013/14 at 1089 and in 2016/17 at 1048 for the region.

The core CBD, centred on Miller Street has Falcon Street as its northern extent and Blue Street to the south. Being just 3 kms from Sydney’s ‘other’ CBD the entire region is currently in the midst of a major period of growth, both commercial and residential development is impressive.

Commercial growth is best demonstrated by the US Consulate’s pending move here after 25 years in Sydney’s MLC Tower and also the NBN Co’s move.

The area’s commercial and residential growth will be further supercharged by the opening of two new Metro line stations in 2024, one at Crows Nest and the other at Victoria Cross on Miller & Berry Streets in the heart of the CBD.

In addition to the already existing CityRail stations the new metro stations will tie North Sydney into the booming north-west, Barangaroo and the big residential populations to Sydney’s south, centred around Waterloo.

A Brief Colonial History

On the 26 January 1788, the First Fleet arrived in Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) to establish a penal colony at Sydney Cove.

“A great part of the Troops & Convicts were landed & the latter was immediately set to work clearing away the ground, ready for the encampment. The Place on which the settlement is to be made is at the head of a Cove at the head of which a small rivulet empties itself. The Shore on each side is bounded by rocks, within which there is a very fine soil & full of trees which will require some time & labour to clear away, the Marines & Convicts are to be encamped on the West side & the Governor, & staff with his guard & a small part of the convicts on the East side of the Rivulet.”

Philip Gidley King, 27 January 1788

King’s description of those very first days of the colony partly explains why the south-side of Port Jackson, would for many decades leapfrog the north shore.

While the Camp Cove area looked promising, the terrain to the North was far more rugged. The North Shore had very limited agricultural potential, it was to be more suited to boat building, timber harvesting and some orchard farming.

By the 1890’s the North Shore railway line started being built and the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s construction was completed only in 1932, after which access to Sydney’s CBD became more accessible and then major development started across all the North Shore suburbs.

A New Wave

As more apartments have been developed across Sydney’s inner city, one of the most appealing outcomes has been the evolution of distinct neighbourhoods. A trend very much evident in the appeal of North Sydney.

As planners are sometimes very critical of template or ‘same-same’ developments the appeal of inner city living is much more attractive when driven by individual neighbourhoods with a unique character. That’s one of the key facts driving demand for North Sydney.

It’s a pattern of development that doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s a trend that helps to make the city a much more interesting market and a more appealing place to live.

In the 2016 Census North Sydney recorded a population of 7,705 up from 6,258 in 2011, housing in the area is dominated by apartments recorded at 74% in 2011 and increasing to 80% in 2016 (NSW 19.9%). With the area’s tight land supply and strong demand that trend will only increase.

The trend also reflects how North Sydney is championing a new level maturity among new developments, the population growth aligned to a fresh generation of office towers is also seeing the growth of retail facilities.

All of which is important for the long-term appeal of North Sydney apartments for current and future residents.

While North Sydney itself is a compact area it has immediate access to several very distinctive neighbourhoods whilst its immediate relationship to the Sydney CBD will always be appealing.

Here you can live virtually with an entire range of world-class retail and cultural facilities on your doorstep and yet be removed enough to enjoy a slower more relaxed lifestyle with few transport and traffic woes.

Great Neighbours

North Sydney’s immediate neighbours include Milsons Point, Kirribilli, McMahons Point and Crows Nest. Each has appeal and just within a few minutes-walk.

Together they make up a number of key neighbourhoods including North Sydney which has biggest population of 7,800 although the area still has a lower population density than Milsons Point and Kirribilli – but it’s rapidly catching up.

Kirribilli has some 3,700 residents and some very high-profile (part-time) residents as home to Admiralty House and Kirribilli House. Since the 1930’s Kirribilli has had lots of apartments and many now have ‘to die for’ views. Clustered around the station Kirribilli has a great local village atmosphere with cosy cafes.

Milsons Point has seen the majority of its commercial space converted and redeveloped into apartments and now has a population of some 2,900 with 99% living in apartments. It’s home to Luna Park and North Sydney Olympic Pool. Several recent new projects have also seen the area’s retail facilities expanded.

North Sydney is now a very distinctive neighbourhood, the area is affluent and there’s more room for further re-development. The area’s popularity is on the rise and greatly enhanced by its near harbourside location, great rail connections, open space, evolving retail and commercial facilities, making it a key employment hub and let’s not forget the views.

All of these constitute the classic ingredients for successful medium density developments, as evidenced by the lower north shore being described as having many of Sydney’s most liveable suburbs.

In next week’s post, I’ll take a look at some of the recent new projects and how the future might evolve.