Crane Numbers Lift for the First Time in Two Years

Crane numbers across Australia’s largest cities have increased for the first time in two years.

The number of cranes across Australian city skylines rose to 691 according to Rider Levett Bucknall’s latest count, an increase of 16 cranes during the past six months.

The mixed-use sector had the biggest rise with an additional 26 cranes while education and civil sectors, supported by government sponsored projects, increased by 19 and 16 respectively.

Despite the increase in total crane numbers, multi-storey residential developments recorded their fourth consecutive drop in the index, mirroring the decline in building approvals and work done during 2020—down 2.1 per cent nationwide or $4.4 billion.

“While activity is down, indicators suggest we are in much better situation than what we had originally anticipated,” RLB Oceania director Domenic Schiafone said.

“Contractors have also reported they have been quite active from a tendering perspective and similarly, perhaps more so than anticipated.

“We are seeing some competitive tender results, which is great for developers, owners, et al, and will help in keeping projects viable.”

Crane counts by city

3Q20 count3Q20 (% of total)1Q21 count 1Q21 (% of total)
Sydney29744%286 41.4%
Gold Coast 345%294.2%
Central Coast 50.7%91.3%

Brisbane recorded its biggest increase in crane numbers since late-2015.

The city’s residential construction outpaced other cities with an increase of 12 residential cranes accounting for more than half of its net gain of 21, which lifted its total to 71, the most in two-and-a-half years.

Residential cranes remain the largest sector in Brisbane, accounting for almost 50 per cent of the cranes, supported by strong interstate migration.

The city’s Queen’s Wharf casino development remains the project with the most number of cranes in Australia, nine.

Similarly, residential cranes on the Gold Coast now account for 93 per cent of all cranes, with the commercial sector the only other active crane.

New residential cranes include Luna Apartments and Natura at Burleigh Heads and Elan By Mosaic in Coolangatta.

Sydney’s retail sector erected its first crane since late 2018 with a crane at Bridge Street in Pymble while residential cranes fell below 200 for the first time since early 2016.

Crane counts by sector

3Q20 count 3Q20 (% of total) 1Q21 count 1Q21 (% of total)
Residential44866.4%409 59.2%
Mixed Use548%8011.6%

Despite this, the sector still accounts for more than two-thirds, 68.2 per cent, of the cranes in the city.

Six cranes were added to the $828-million Sydney Football Stadium redevelopment, the largest number of cranes on a single project in Sydney.

Melbourne recorded its first increase in total cranes in two years as decreasing numbers of cranes on residential CBD projects were replaced by growing numbers of mixed-use developments.

Melbourne’s total increased by a net 16 to 193 from the last count in the third quarter of last year.

Mixed-use cranes made the greatest single increase—by 15 to 39—and residential cranes fell by 12 to 81.

Cranes on civil projects such as Melbourne Metro Tunnel, West Gate Tunnel and the Level Crossing Removals, as well as education and health projects, increased.

Perth’s total fell by six cranes to 30, reflecting fewer on education and commercial projects.

There was no net change in the total of 15 residential cranes as 10 existing ones were dismantled and an equal number of new ones put up at projects including The Parade in Como, Little Lane and M/27 apartments in Fremantle, and One Subiaco.

Canberra dipped in total by one crane to 26, as the net loss of six residential cranes was largely offset by five new cranes on civic projects such as Canberra Airport’s 6 Brindabella Circuit business park.

Notable residential cranes added across the city include DKSN Stage 2 in Dickson, One City Hill, and the restart of ANU Student Accommodation in Acton.

Adelaide remained steady with 10 cranes, while Hobart and Darwin’s totals were also flat—with no cranes—for the second report in a row.

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