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Exclusive: Metrics reflect gross addition to supply, even as unit blocks in affluent Sydney suburbs are being replaced by luxury single properties

Luxury homes built on the site of former unit blocks in Sydney are counting towards council targets for new dwellings, even where they have reduced the available housing stock by displacing multiple properties.

A swathe of interwar apartment buildings in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and inner city face the wrecking ball, to be replaced with modern residences, as Guardian Australia revealed on Wednesday.

Several inner-city and eastern Sydney councils have passed motions to include “no net dwelling loss” provisions in their planning guidelines, in a bid to protect some of the few relatively affordable properties in their generally affluent suburbs.

Grech said the trend of demolishing unit blocks to build a smaller number of homes appeared to be confined to just a handful of areas and should ideally be dealt with by councils, but “there’s the opportunity for the state government to come in if some councils aren’t willing to”.

“By default these buildings have become the cheaper, grittier, relatively affordable housing in these areas,” she said. “If we lose them, that’s a huge problem.”

Since publication of Wednesday’s story, Guardian Australia has been notified of several more cases, including two unit blocks in North Bondi – one of which was built in 2019 – due to be turned into a single luxury dwelling.

Among the other buildings under threat is a 1928 two-storey block in Bellevue Hill containing eight small apartments, which is set to be demolished after Woollahra council approved a controversial application for a new development of three units