SYDNEY - More and more residents of Sydney are making the move from houses to apartments, but the shift has prompted controversial changes to the rules for flat-dwellers.
The state government's new proposals for apartment blocks include bans on smoking on balconies and making it easier to have pets. But the rules have not been to everybody's liking. Some critics say residents should be allowed a greater say over what goes on in their apartments.
Australia's largest city, with a population of 4.5 million, has long been known for its urban sprawl and an obsession with living in sprawling suburban houses. But soaring property prices, poor transport, heavy traffic and the growing popularity of inner-city living are fuelling a big shift towards high-rise living.
Currently about 30 per cent of residents live in apartments but this is expected to rise to 50 per cent in 20 years. Across the city, 25,000 new apartments are under development in 130 projects, according to a study by Deep End Services, a property consultancy firm.
"Inner Sydney is on the brink of an apartment construction boom," the firm said in a report in September.
The study found that 86 per cent of all development approvals for inner Sydney in the past year were for apartments, compared with 50 per cent in 2006.
An Australian urban planning expert, Dr Hazel Easthope, from the University of New South Wales, said Australians have undergone a dramatic shift away from private homes. But she said the apartments were "not all Hong Kong or Singapore-style high rises" and many people still live in low-level blocks and townhouses.
"There is a major shift in terms of the type of properties people are living in," Dr Easthope told The Straits Times. "We are seeing a shift to higher density but not necessarily to massive high density like you see in some Asian cities."