The Sydney Morning Herald

By Antony Lawes

Once the epitome of exclusivity, security and order, gated communities have fallen out of fashion with buyers, while developers have all but stopped building them in Sydney.

Secure compounds were popular from the 1990s to early 2000s, when more than a dozen sprung up from Campbelltown to Mosman. But in the past few years developers have preferred to build "master-planned" estates with shops, offices and communal facilities that attract people, rather than turn them away.

The trend away from gated developments is also happening in countries such as Australia and the US, that has been happening for the past five years.

High fences, 24-hour security and pin-coded access were no safer or any more prestigious than living "outside", while many residents found bylaws and boom gates a hassle, experts said.

"In the Sydney region, the proliferation of gated communities has stopped," said Stephen Albin, the chief executive of the developer lobby group Urban Development Institute of Australia.

"Gated communities were originally designed so you could have an exclusive lifestyle, you could be separated and you could be safer. What we're finding now is . . . you can still be safe, you can be inclusive and you can live in great communities."

Peter Cotton, the national practice director for Mirvac Design, said that including "passive" safety in the design of their projects, where public areas could be seen from inside homes, meant residents of master-planned estates were more inclined to mix with their neighbours and this made them more comfortable than if they were behind a gate.

Unlike the large-scale Sanctuary Cove estate on the Gold Coast, most gated communities in Sydney are relatively small – with fewer than 50 dwellings – and are predominantly clustered on the northern side of the harbour. One of the largest, Macquarie Links, near Campbelltown, has 350 dwellings.

The exact number of them is difficult to establish. One study done in 2006 estimated there were 14 in Sydney.

University of Sydney professor Ed Blakely, an expert on gated communities at the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, said there could now be fewer than a dozen.

He said it was difficult to get buyers interested in gated communities because crime was relatively low and there were other prestigious areas to live.

"They are mostly out of fashion in Australia and the United States," he said. "They're an impediment to living, rather than something that people enjoy."


This article was originally published at the The Sydney Morning Herald