Overpopulation, saturation immigration will destroy Sydney

During the pre-COVID mass immigration boom, Sydney was swamped with high-rise towers, with 211,000 high-rise apartments built in the decade to December 2020:

Sydney was swamped with high rise towers as immigration boomed.

With net overseas migration (NOM) now frozen, and thousands of locals leaving Sydney for greener pastures, people are questioning why Western Sydney is still being swamped with ugly high-rise towers that destroy amenity and livability. From The SMH:

A COVID-19-struck community with severely limited open space has been asked to review a plan to increase the number of homes by more than 70 per cent while enduring the strictest lockdown the city has seen.

The residents of Campsie, a suburb struggling through punitive restrictions in Sydney’s south-west, are set to see more than 6000 new homes and high-rises but only a fragmentary increase in public space…

Canterbury-Bankstown Council has previously consulted the community over a blueprint to increase the density of the suburb from 24,500 to almost 40,000 people with more than 15,000 dwellings in total by 2036…

However, residents, who say the area is already “bursting at the seams”… “This area is already inundated with people,” Ms Carrillo said…

The plan acknowledges that open space in the suburb is limited and, with outdoor recreation heavily policed during lockdown, many children have been restricted to playing at the front of apartment blocks…

Similar sentiments were expressed recently in Domain:

“There’s no infrastructure to support all these developments,” Mr Eltakchi, a local real estate agent for LJ Hooker Granville, said. “You speak to any of the locals, and they will tell you the same thing. It falls on deaf ears”…

“This is the most rapacious period in Sydney’s history. The rate and scale of change is shocking to many people. There are a lot of people building buildings who wouldn’t want to live in them themselves” [Architect and City of Sydney councillor Phillip Thalis said]…

These western suburbs have, and will continue to, bear the brunt of state-imposed housing targets that were put in place to meet projected population growth. The Department of Planning forecast an additional 154,500 homes would be built in Greater Sydney by 2025 on the basis that the city continues to grow.

This “rapacious period” of over-development was caused by one thing: mass immigration driven population growth.

Sydney’s population ballooned by 1.1 million people in the 15 years to 2019, which necessarily required many thousands of high-rise apartments to be built very quickly.

“Rapacious” over-development will obviously continue if mass immigration is rebooted post-COVID, as planned by the federal government (chart from the Intergenerational Report):


Permanently high immigration projected by the IGR.

The next chart shows the pre-COVID projections from the ABS, which predicted that Sydney’s population would swell to 9.7 million people by 2066 – around 5 million more people than if NOM was zero.

Before COVID, the ABS projected that Sydney’s population would almost double by 2066 – all due to net overseas migration.

Thus, anybody concerned about Sydney’s over-development and declining livability should lobby to keep immigration low. Because returning to the mass immigration policy post-COVID will spread the high-rise plague far and wide across Sydney.

Unconventional Economist
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  1. Luckily all these empty apartments dont’ cause any price reductions or lower rents, or even affordable rents. Supply and Demand don’t matter here.
    Just hang on for a year, and Anyway mass immigration back next year with COVID passports.
    Just stay empty, helped by Neg Gearing, and go up only 10% a year, unlike 50 per cent a year like houses.

  2. Lord DudleyMEMBER

    Unless it’s a short, sharp real-estate bubble that rapidly pops, rapid housing development is a lagging indicator. It’s driven by population growth. When you import people at a per-capita rate of over 4x the US, those people have to live somewhere. And considering that the Australian population is more urbanised than the US, and growing faster per capita, then more urban housing is what you’ll get. Either that, or slums.

    Sydney won’t be destroyed. Its standard of living will simply continue to decline. If productivity per worker were improving (my understanding is that it’s stagnating at best, if not declining), then that would be a way out.

    • Display NameMEMBER

      Australia is not doing slums we are doing favelas. Quality third world poverty housing. I am exaggerating, but some of the recent developments are absolute eyesores and cannot be pleasant to live in. They look like they have been built to maximise developer return not liveability. Inappropriately tall (too many stories) , not enough green space, cheap cladding, featureless exteriors, box design. This is not to say all medium/.high density development is Sydney is junk, just far too much to it.

  3. “Overpopulation, saturation immigration will destroy Sydney”

    Why the future tense? Sydney is already cooked.

    • Lord DudleyMEMBER

      For a lot of the immigrants, even a cooked Sydney is vastly superior to where they came from. Have you seen Indian cities? No footpaths, dirt roads, sewage in the streets, street-dogs literally crapping out styrofoam (I’ve seen it, it’s a thing), limbless beggars, people laying bitumen in flip-flops, people scooping clay out of river beds by hand to sell. It’s a different world. Their definition of ‘cooked’ is about a million miles from your definition of ‘cooked’.

  4. Bayside Community Council had a zoom session the other day. A guy who use to work for the ABS gave us a run down of the statistics for the area. It mentioned a 2% population growth which is about the same as for the city as a whole. He seemed to think it was funny what they have done to Wolli Creek. Not being able to help myself I asked in the chat how long before the rest of the council area ends up like Wolli Creek if the population keeps growing at this rate. He said not to worry because immigration has been curtailed. I pointed out this is due to Covid and there is every indication that it will be ramped up again as soon as the borders are reopened. He tried to laugh this off saying you can’t guaranty they will want to come here, and was quite insistent that population growth wouldn’t return to previous levels. I tried to point out what nonsense this was and next thing I was muted by the moderator.

  5. The other issue is the more affluent immigrants are buying up all the nice suburbs on mass.
    My kids now have no chance of living close by, but hey, who cares about them at council meetings

    • Lord DudleyMEMBER

      I now live 14,500km from my parents. Given Australia’s trajectory, more of its youth will be following me out.

      Once your kids leave the country, the local council definitely won’t care about them (not that they care about them at all now in any case).

    • We gave out 15,000 significant investor visas last year, but not a peep from the rest of the media. I think the first year it was introduced it was estimated to be about 750 per year. How quickly it has grown.

  6. We all know the story. People living in the Eastern suburbs, North Shore and Balmain, where the population is almost universally white, vote for massive high-rise development in the Western suburbs. If you complain to them, they will call you a racist.