Here's why so many cranes litter the skylines of Australia's east coast

Photo: Getty Images

Everywhere you look in Australia’s eastern capitals, a myriad of cranes litter the skyline.

According to the ‘Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) Crane Index’, a quarterly snapshot of cranes usage in Australia, there were 528 in operation along Australia’s east coast in the September quarter last year, the highest number on record.

Of those, 454 were in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane alone, a larger number than those operating in New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Toronto and Calgary over the same period, according to calculations from RLB.

You may have seen the chart before — it got a lot of press at the time — but here’s a reminder of the enormous increase in the number of cranes in use seen in recent years.

It’s was a truly epic statistic, and one that fanned fears over a potential high-rise apartment glut forming in Australia’s eastern capitals.

While it doesn’t say whether or not a glut will eventuate, this chart below explains why there were so many cranes in the sky during the September quarter.

Other residential dwellings that were under construction along Australia’s east coast — almost entirely units — stood at 135,600 at the time, just shy of the record high number of 136,300 being built in the March quarter of 2016.

From five years earlier, that was a mammoth increase of over 120%, and explains the explosion in cranes in operation.

And, if this final chart is anything to go by, the number of cranes in use may grow even more in the coming quarters, particularly in New South Wales.

According to the ABS, there were a record 33,300 other residential dwellings approved that had yet to commence construction during the quarter, easily surpassing the previous record of 29,050 seen in the prior quarter.

And over half of those were in New South Wales, with 18,200 other dwellings approved but yet to begin construction.

Presuming that the majority get built, Australia’s high rise construction boom looks like it may get a little bit larger yet.

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