The University of New South Wales (UNSW) is planning to build massive student accommodation towers on their Anzac Parade site in Kensington, Sydney but the proposal is receiving a backlash from students, local residents, neighbouring buildings and the Randwick Council.

Located at 215B Anzac Parade, right opposite the University’s main entrance, the 9,280sqm site belonging to the UNSW is currently used as a carpark for staff and students. The University entered into a partnership with Australian student housing operator Iglu in 2022 to develop Australia’s largest new integrated student accommodation, leisure and lifestyle precinct on the land.  

The original proposal, plans for which were lodged with the Randwick Council last year, comprised five buildings of varying heights ranging from 4 storeys to 23 storeys, with a total GFA of 31,749m² and housing 1066 premium student accommodation rooms. In addition to student housing, the development would also offer office space, car parking, retail tenancies and a restaurant and lifestyle precinct in the ‘eat street’ theme.

Following objections from the Council, the plans were amended for Building A – a part-19, part-23 storey tower – with the University agreeing to reduce the height to 15 and 16 storeys respectively, and Building B to 15 storeys; the total number of rooms was also revised to 881.

Meanwhile, at a Randwick Council meeting last week, the Councillors resolved to prepare their own Planning Proposal for the UNSW redevelopment that would see heights limited to 24 metres, and include setback controls and vehicle access requirements.

The student accommodation project has also received objections from the adjacent building, the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA), which has raised concerns about the height of the proposed buildings, current setbacks from their property, potential disruption to their operations and access during construction, as well as the likelihood of the tall structures diminishing their visibility.

The pushback from local residents is based on concerns of overshadowing by the towering buildings in addition to loss of parking spaces and construction noise during development.

Questions have also been raised regarding the affordability of the proposed student accommodation, with weekly rental costs expected to be around $700 based on prices at other Iglu properties, or even higher given the proximity to the University.

The development application is on exhibition until June 6, 2024 for public feedback and comment.  

Image source: Bates Smart