Moving up: How more residents will change city skyline

Rapid population growth is set to “alter the built form” of the CBD, with Adelaide City Council forecasting a need for three dozen 36-storey apartment towers by 2041 to house tens of thousands of predicted new residents.

Jul 19, 2023, updated Aug 06, 2023
Adelaide City Council forecasts that three dozen 36-storey apartment towers will be needed to house a predicted CBD population by 2041. Left photos: Thomas Kellsall/InDaily; right photo: supplied

Adelaide City Council forecasts that three dozen 36-storey apartment towers will be needed to house a predicted CBD population by 2041. Left photos: Thomas Kellsall/InDaily; right photo: supplied

A “State of the City Report” published by Adelaide City Council this week projects the city’s population to grow from an estimated 26,120 residents in 2022 to 46,364 residents by 2041.

The growth, forecast at 2.99 per cent annually, will be “one of the fastest growth rates compared to other councils” and primarily concentrated in the CBD rather than North Adelaide.

The report says the population increase will have policy implications for planning and housing density in the CBD as the additional 17,374 residents will “largely be located in high density apartments”.

“Ninety nine per cent of dwelling construction in Adelaide over the past 30 years has been in the form of high or medium density apartment buildings,” the report states.

“The City of Adelaide will need to consider that the forecasted population growth is likely to be higher density apartments within the suburb of Adelaide, accommodating lone persons and couples without children, and the opportunities that arise from this.”

The report then highlights the potential impacts population growth could have on Adelaide’s urban development and infrastructure.

“Additional high-density apartments for the forecasted 17,374 population will impact the City of Adelaide’s service provision and alter the built form,” the report states.

“The current tallest residential dwelling, the Adelaidean (27 Frome Street) accommodates at capacity 492 bedrooms across 36-storeys.

“Assuming full occupancy, the forecast growth of 17,374 would require an additional 36 36- storey residential buildings.”

Adelaide City Council chief operating officer Michael Sedgman told InDaily the 36 36-storey towers comment is not an official policy or plan of Adelaide City Council and only a projection of what could occur.

“This has been included to help visualise what housing could entail if the projected population growth is realised,” Sedgman said in an emailed statement.

“It’s a contextual comment only about what the city could look like and does not imply a particular direction or preference that Council is leaning towards.”

The Adelaidean on Frome Street (36-storeys) and the Realm Adelaide building on Austin Street (40-storeys) are currently the only two buildings in the city to reach the 36-storey threshold.

The 36-storey Adelaidean on Frome St, which houses the Crowne Plaza hotel. Photo: Thomas Kelsall/InDaily

Both are luxury apartment towers, with the Adelaidean also hosting the high-end Crowne Plaza Hotel.

There are currently three CBD tower projects with development approval for 36-storeys or more: the 36-storey Wyndham Grand Adelaide on King William Street, the 39-storey Central Market Arcade redevelopment, and the 55-storey SA1 Tower on the corner Pulteney and Flinders Steet.

Construction on a 37-storey mixed-use apartment tower on Grote Street – named the Victoria Tower – also commenced this week.

The council report suggests the City of Adelaide faces a unique challenge in making housing available for new residents due to the size of city housing projects and the higher price point for CBD living.

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“With currently over 25,000 residents out of 1.3 million within metropolitan Adelaide, coupled with high property values, a narrower range of housing stock, and more substantial influence by other governments and the private sector; the City of Adelaide’s contribution to housing is minor,” the report states.

“A particular challenge for forward planning is the volatility of the housing market.

“Due to the size of construction projects, several factors influence when dwellings are constructed and then available for habitation.

“These include the investor market, general economic conditions (particularly finance from lending institutions) and policy shifts at both the local and national scale.”

The report also noted 2021 census data showing “lone persons” made up 40.8 per cent of City of Adelaide residents, followed by couples without children (25.6 per cent) and group households (11.4 per cent).

“The types of dwellings constructed in the City of Adelaide over recent years goes some way to determining the types of households,” the report states.

“Most construction has been in the form of higher density apartment buildings, which typically consist of one or two bedrooms.

“These types of dwellings are more suited to smaller households, and as such the housing market has been dominated by couples only or lone person households.”

The report also projected the suburb of Adelaide “will add the most dwellings over the forecast period, with comparatively little development in North Adelaide”.

The 46,364 residents by 2041 forecast is lower than a population target set by Lord Mayor Jane Lomax-Smith earlier this year.

The Lord Mayor told a business conference in May she wanted 50,000 people living inside Adelaide by 2036 – the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the city.

The State of the City Report was prepared by council administration to inform the development of city council’s 2024-28 strategic plan.

The population forecasts were based on projections by national data firm .id (informed decisions).

The report is likely to be discussed by councillors next week. Tuesday’s council committees were cancelled due to a lack of members present.

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