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The aim of this project was to explore equitable and viable solutions to what has emerged as a fundamental issue facing Australian cities in coming decades: how to effectively, efficiently and inclusively redevelop older areas of privately owned multi‐unit strata titled housing to achieve the higher densities needed to accommodate population growth without exacerbating social inequalities and collateral social disruption. The research therefore addresses questions of both feasibility and equity regarding the termination and renewal of strata schemes.

While urban environments have been gradually reworked through urban consolidation and densification over the past decades, we are now entering new and challenging territory. Urban renewal activity must shift from the relatively straightforward processes of redevelopment of previously disused or industrial land to the regeneration of existing residential areas. In many areas now targeted for renewal, replacing existing multi‐unit housing presents a complex challenge. Many of these older strata schemes – particularly in inner and middle ring suburbs and around transport nodes – now sit on land under increasing pressure from planners, politicians and developers for more intensive use. Furthermore, many are reaching a point in their life‐cycle where substantial reinvestment will be required to upgrade ageing amenity.

To date, the mechanisms by which such goals might be translated into practice have been largely neglected in research on urban renewal. Other jurisdictions, such Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand, have already implemented changes to legislation, facilitating renewal of multi‐unit residential buildings, however the experience has been varied. In Singapore, renewal has increased following changes to legislation, while in Hong Kong and New Zealand there has been limited renewal under the new provisions. Some international research has explored aspects of this issue but as yet there has been little investigation that takes a holistic approach to examining the complex interplay of multi‐stakeholder interests in achieving socially equitable strata renewal.

Thus, while the project focuses on Sydney, it generates new insights into a globally significant field of city planning in complex market driven economies, and is relevant to other Australian and international jurisdictions grappling with similar urban renewal challenges.

This study was undertaken by researchers at UNSW Australia funded under the Australian Research Council Linkage grant programme (ARC Linkage LP130100400). The partner organisations that supported this project include key stakeholders who will need to work with communities to steward urban regeneration. They represent the NSW State‐owned developer agency (UrbanGrowth NSW), the strata management industry (Strata Community Australia NSW), strata lawyers (Australian College of Community Association Lawyers), strata lot owners and residents (the Owners Corporation Network of Australia), and government regulators (NSW Fair Trading).  

This research was awarded a 2016 Award for Planning Excellence in the ‘Cutting Edge Research and Teaching’ category.

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