Melbourne city council: we want less cupboards, more apartments; Sydney fire highlights shortage

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Melbourne city council tells developers to stop building apartments like “very small cupboards”
Melbourne’s lord mayor Robert Doyle and the city council got tough with developers at the Future Melbourne Committee meeting yesterday, comparing proposals for two Collins Street buildings to “just very small cupboards”. The council has been at war with tiny, densely designed apartments built for the benefit of investors at the expense of anyone taller than a 12-year-old girl who requires sunlight or fresh air from time to time. But yield-seeking developers continue to push the design envelope, leaving the council to call for stricter design standards for apartments. The exception yesterday: plans for a Jenga-like gold tower rotating at 90 degrees at two pivot points, like three cubes rotating on an axis. Unlike everything else thrown at them yesterday, councillors called the design for the 216-metre skyscraper at 97 Franklin Street “iconic”. Read the full story here.
Fire at Sydney industrial property reveals squalid flop house for Japanese and Korean nationals
A major fire at an Alexandria bus parking business site in inner-city Sydney revealed illegal lodgings for 15 Japanese and Korean immigrants – four of whom had to be rescued from 20 metre-high flames. The group had been sleeping on mattresses in vehicles and a shipping container at the industrial site – paying $130 a week. (Typical rent for a room in Alexandria runs about $250-$300 a week. A few are available around $200.) The business owner, Masaaki Imaeda, faces an investigation and potentially a fine of more than $1 million. “I'm outraged that there would be something like this in the heart of Sydney,” NSW Fire and Rescue commissioner Greg Mullins said. Neighbouring business owners told reporters that Imaeda had been at the housing scheme for about two months. There was also a portable toilet and a washing machine on the premises as part of the package. Read the full story here.
If you’re buying in Perth’s Robertson suburb… best to bring cash
The fashionable southside Perth suburb of Robertson has been inundated with foreign buyers seeking prestige. One agent catering to the China market says 10 to 20 per cent of his sales come from cash offers. The median price in Robertson has risen by 7.9 per cent in the past year, to $717,500 – Sydney numbers – despite relative softness in the rest of Perth.
Memories of Brisbane flooding fading in the real estate market
The 2011 floods in Brisbane significantly impacted life for people who found their properties under water. But three years later, prices have largely recovered, particularly at the high end, said QUT's Property economics Professor Chris Eves. Property close to the river reduced prices by about $70,000 in the high-value areas, he said, but most of that loss has been recovered – a rarity relative to other natural disaster areas, Eves said. “I think it comes down to the value that people place on the amenity of being close to a river that provides recreation… and being in a city-type suburb so they have those transport links,” he said. “Because they had access to funds to do remedial work very quickly, they were out of their houses for a very short of time.” Read the full story here.

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