Green Square Boost

As Sydney’s population density increases inner city infrastructure is always under the spotlight. Green Square will soon be one of the most heavily populated areas and so this week’s opening of the $61 million Green Square Library and Plaza designed by local architects Felicity Stewart and Matthias Hollenstein is welcome. Features include an outdoor community space with a waterplay area for children; an underground library with a sunken outdoor garden, community meeting rooms and an amphitheatre; and a six-storey tower with quiet reading rooms, spaces to hire for meetings, a technology suite and a music room. There are also two public artworks, all are great improvements to Green Square that locals and new residents are sure to enjoy and admire.

Inner City Parks

While on the topic of inner city infrastructure, here’s another new facility; a 3.8-hectares public parkland at the former Harold Park paceway will also open Saturday, thanks to the City of Sydney. After many years of negotiation with Mirvac to secure two-thirds of formerly private land as new public open space and affordable housing. The new Harold Park is located next to the restored Tramsheds food precinct and the Harold Park Community Centre and its design incorporates elements from the local area’s history.

Singapore Tests a Bold New Model for Intergenerational Housing

This week Paul Keating called on government to engage policies for a population with many more people aged 80-100. In Singapore they are already taking steps in this area, in particular with housing. A new complex in the city is a one-stop project with 104 senior apartments and a host of associated facilities and amenities, including lots of outdoor spaces. According to a UN report on ageing, the number of people across the world who are 60 or over was 962 million in 2017, more than twice as many as in 1980. This number is expected to double again by 2050, when it is projected to reach nearly 2.1 billion. It’s a sector of the housing market that is also getting a great deal of attention in Australia, and it appears we have some work to catch up with our near neighbours. The Singapore project promotes physical activity and multigenerational interaction, facilities include a medical center, a pharmacy, retail, restaurants, a hawker center (markets), and a public park and plaza.

Freedom to Move

Copenhagen attracts a lot of visitors keen to learn how over the last 40-years the city has refined its transport modes. Their success has been built around two core ideas. The first is the city welcomes innovation and secondly planners take account not only the physics of mobility but also the psychology of how people move through Copenhagen. Residents use a combination of cars, public transport and famously bikes. On any given day some 40% of residents get to work on bikes. The cutting edge of bike style is a three wheeled front end cargo bike nicknames ‘the Copenhagen SUV’ a quarter of families in the city with 2 kids own one. In parts of Sydney, with such an idea the local school run would never look the same.

Congestion Charge

With a state election due early in 2019, the idea of a congestion tax for central Sydney may be an idea revisited. London already has a congestion tax and the charge was introduced in response to a number of issues that Londoners felt needed to change. First issue there was so much traffic that people could not get to work. This reduced the quality of life for residents and cost the city lost productivity. People were also very frustrated by just sitting in traffic. The charge did ease traffic pressures, helped created more public space and also helped to reduce greenhouse-gases. Sounds an easy sell for Sydney.

Capital Gains Tax Looming as Election Issue

As we approach next year’s Federal Election Capital gains tax will be a big issue. The Coalition has promised to leave it unchanged; Labor however, wants to increase it, by reducing the present discount from 50% to 25%. Labor suggests these changes would not be retrospective. Would this impact property markets? For example, a person earning $90,000 a year who makes a capital gain of $100,000. Currently they would pay $19,500 tax, an effective rate of 19.5% on the gain. Under Labor’s it would be $29,250, an effective rate of 29.25%. Such a policy shift might encourage some to sell properties because the combination of an increase in capital gains tax and the possible restriction on negative gearing could make investment property less attractive. That could then lead to less investment sales and in the medium run a tighter rental market. The details of this debate have yet to start.