The City of Sydney council area has emerged as the clear winner at the UDIA NSW | Crown Group Awards, the urban development industry’s night of nights.
The awards, which are organised by the Urban Development Institute of (UDIA) and judged by a panel of industry heavyweights, were presented at a glitzy dinner in Sydney last night.
Big winners included the Tramsheds at Harold Park, which won for Excellence in Retail Development; Connor at Central Park in Chippendale, which won for Excellence in High-Density Development; and 50 Martin Place, which took out the award for Excellence in Urban Renewal.
“Inner Sydney just keeps getting better and better,” says Julie Bindon, head judge of this year’s awards and director at urban development services firm Ethos Urban.
“It’s the strongest property market in , and the most competitive, with some of the highest land values, and that brings benefits in terms of the calibre of developments that are taking place,” she says.
“In other words, the strength of the market ups the ante for would-be developers.”
Bindon says generous project budgets helped give residential developments such as Connor and retail precincts such as the Tramsheds an edge over the competition.
“These developments have quality materials, quality finishes and great attention to detail, because the inner-city market can bear those costs,” she says.
Other inner-Sydney winners, such as Barangaroo South, which took out awards for Excellence in Mixed-Use Development and Excellence in Sustainability, benefited from a combination of innovative thinking and ample cash, Bindon says.
The judges were keen to highlight developments that are helping Sydney transition towards high-density living in a sensitive manner. Speaking about the Central Park apartment blocks, which now dominate the inner-city enclave of Chippendale, Bindon says: “Yes, it is dense; yes, it is big – but it integrates into the existing area.”
She adds: “The entire Central Park development transitions really well into the low-rise Chippendale environment at the rear. It’s a great demonstration of how urban renewal can be done well at density and impact positively on the adjoining areas.”
Inner Sydney wasn’t the only winner at the awards night, which totalled 16 categories. Dutton Lane, the re-invigorated council car park in Cabramatta that now incorporates speciality retail, snagged the Excellence in Government Leadership Award, while the lushly landscaped Fairwater development at Blacktown took out Excellence in Masterplanned Communities.
The judging team comprised 17 experts including acclaimed architect Lara Calder, Homeworld founder Mike Scott and former Landcom managing director Sean O’Toole, who was awarded the Order of medal for his contributions to urban planning.
Bindon says the team judged each shortlisted development using a a standard set of criteria, but also relied on “a fair degree of gut feel”.
“There’s an element of ‘soul’ in each of these winning projects,” she adds – “something that intrinsically excites all the senses.”