Why The Block’s snubbing Sydney

Written By komlim puldel on Minggu, 14 September 2014 | 23.08

News.com.au's Alison Stephenson talks to The Block glasshouse contestants Jenna Chris about being on the show

EXORBITANT property prices and a 'not in my backyard' culture are to blame for renovation reality series The Block continuing to avoid Sydney.

The hit Channel Nine show found its start in the Harbour City more than a decade ago, but the last three seasons have been set in Melbourne, and at least two more will be filmed there.

"It's not about Sydney versus Melbourne," The Block executive producer Julian Crest said.

"Sydney is simply not a cheap place to buy property and the opportunities we've been interested in are prohibitively priced."

Sorry Sydney ... renovation reality series The Block won't be back in the Harbour City anytime soon, and high property prices plus a 'not in my backyard' culture are to blame. Picture: Supplied

Makers of the show recently snapped up new properties in the Melbourne suburbs of South Yarra and Albert Park, so it will be years before a return to Sydney.

Brick box ... the next series of The Block will be set in this South Yarra unit block. Picture: News Corp Australia. Source: News Corp Australia

Dark past ... the Saville hotel in South Yarra has also been bought for a series of The Block. Picture: Supplied. Source: Supplied

The last time host Scott Cam and the crew rolled in to Sydney was for the All Stars series in Tamarama in early 2013. Since then, the market has continued to soar.

SOUTH YARRA: The setting for the next season of The Block

Year-on-year dwelling price growth in Sydney is five per cent above that in Melbourne, according to research house RP Data.

"If you're talking case by case and looking at the ones we've done in Melbourne, I think we get better value for money."

Winners are grinners ... Phil and Amity Dry won the All Stars series of The Block in Tamarama, Sydney. Picture: News Corp Australia. Source: News Limited

In addition, Crest has found from experience a bigger culture of NIMBYism — or 'not in my backyard' — in Sydney.

"Last time we were there, the neighbours organised protests and lodged objections with the council the moment they heard we were coming.
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"By the end, they were thrilled with the result and loved the TV production experience. We won them over, but it took a long time.

"We don't find that sort of anger in Melbourne. We get a warm welcome from the get-go."

Sydney snub ... the last time The Block was in Sydney was for the All Stars series. Picture: News Corp Australia. Source: News Limited

Greater developer activity in Sydney in recent years means competition is tougher, Crest said, whereas a slight construction slowdown in Melbourne gives The Block more bargaining power.

"We're looking in Sydney all the time and just recently looked at some office building conversions in the CBD as well as Surry Hills.

"It's just such a harder place for us to get in."

Crest has also scoped out the inner-eastern pocket of Paddington and emerging inner-western suburbs such as Marrickville for terraces.

"I think Redfern is one of those areas that has transformed in the past few years. Alexandria has become a really hot precinct too. An area like that would be perfect."

Current crop ... the contestants are renovating an old office building in Prahran. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

Getting a good deal on the way in is imperative to the success of the series, he said. Pay too much, and the contestants run the risk of making a smaller profit.

And that's simply not interesting television, Crest said.

"If we buy well, we give the contestants the best opportunity to do something special and achieve a good price at auction.

"The last series we did in Sydney (at Tamarama), the losing team shared $25,000. The last season we did in Melbourne, the losing team won $500,000."

Given show makers have been in Melbourne for nearly two years, they keep stumbling across unbeatable deals that they snap up for future series, he said.

"The property we did in Albert Park for Fans vs. Faves, I came across it on my walk home from work one day, so it was a complete fluke.

"In fact, it's usually a happy accident when we do find a property. The ones for season five in South Melbourne, (Olympic swimmer) Giaan Rooney saw those listed for sale and told me."

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