Archive | Australia

Greenland & Golden Horse start 1400-apartment job on old Goodman industrial site

Chinese state-owned developer Greenland Group & Golden Horse Group of Hong Kong turned the first sod on Thursday for a 6.9ha 1400-apartment joint-venture project at Erskineville in Sydney’s inner-west, on a former industrial site which Goodman Group sold to Golden Horse in 2014.

Construction partner for stage 1 of the Park Sydney development is local family-owned builder Richard Crookes Constructions Pty Ltd, which has worked on several Greenland projects.

Image above: Park Sydney masterplan, highlighting amenities.

The masterplanned residential community will be developed in 5 stages and will ultimately feature 9 development blocks ranging in height from 2-8 storeys.

Park Sydney, 4km from Sydney’s cbd, will have a 7446m² public park, a supermarket & specialty shops, a fresh food precinct, eat street, medical centre & childcare centre.

Greenland Australia managing director Sherwood Luo said: “Together with Golden Horse Australia, we’ve been planning Park Sydney since 2016, so it’s particularly exciting to see major projects of this scale starting to take shape and watching how they transform the local area.

“We are converting this large former industrial precinct into an engaging & inclusive residential community that will ultimately become home to some 3000 residents.”

The value to Goodman of its exit

Golden Horse Group expanded into Australia in 2013 and bought the former industrial site in Erskineville from Goodman Group the next year. For Goodman (owner of NZX-listed Goodman Property Trust’s management company & cornerstone investor in the trust), that deal was among many as the group sold $A1.9 billion of mostly industrial assets in a year, and reinvested the lot to generate higher development returns.

Builder with long list of staff support programmes

On a different tack, the builder on this project has a lot to say about how it treats its staff – an eye-opener at a time the New Zealand construction sector has been grumbling about contract arrangements, and this government (like the last one) is talking about increasing training for & numbers in the construction industry.

Richard Crookes Constructions says on its careers page: “RCC believes the success of every project depends on the ability of their personnel and the synergy of the project teams… RCC’s business is based on maintaining long-term relationships with clients, partners & subcontractors.”

It also lists a number of staff-supporting views that I’m sure would be novelties if espoused in New Zealand:

  • We build a talent pipeline
  • We expect our staff to engage in the business and be part of its success, growth & evolution. In return we invest in their growth & development. We give people autonomy, support & the resources they need to perform at their best
  • We maintain a flat management structure with an open door policy and an honest & collaborative culture
  • Fitness passport gives individuals & families access to multiple facilities (gyms, swimming pools) which allows you to go as often as you like
  • Exercise incentives, health assessments, mindfit programme, access to trainers, $A100 annual rebate & annual flu vaccinations
  • RCC offers corporate rates with BUPA to all employees in an effort to encourage healthy lifestyles
  • Every employee receives one day off every 6 months – employees are encouraged to use the leave for engaging in health & wellbeing activities, spending time with family & friends or to relax
  • Each employee has the ability to purchase an additional 2 weeks of annual leave/year
  • Maternity & paternity leave is offered when members of the RCC family start or expand their own families
  • We would like your salary to work as hard as possible; for this reason, we offer salary packaging options such as novated leases (a lease arrangement, usually for a vehicle, where the employer takes on the obligations of the lessee to the financier, which ceases if the employee leaves the job)
  • Our staff can access a range of discounts from partnering retailers
  • RCC has a financial advisor in-house who is available to meet with staff one on one
  • We believe in & support females at RCC; one of the programme offerings is our women’s leadership lunch & learns
  • We offer an array of learning & development for our employees through coaching sessions, formal mentoring programmes, external training, role-specific technical training & leadership development programmes across all levels.

Park Sydney
Greenland Australia
Golden Horse Australia
Richard Crookes Constructions

Earlier story:
17 August 2015: Urban renewal lifts Goodman Group

Attribution: Joint venture release, Greenland, Golden Horse & Richard Crookes websites.

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Melbourne prepares to start 485ha urban renewal at Fishermans Bend

Victoria’s state government released the final version of the Fishermans Bend vision last month – a plan to revitalise 485ha sitting between the existing central business district and the port.

Image above: Fishermans Bend, between Melbourne’s cbd & port, an urban renewal site including Holden’s headquarters (outlined).

melb-fishermans-bend2It’s intended to house 80,000 residents and provide 60,000 jobs in 5 precincts beside the mouth of the Yarra River, where it flows into Port Phillip Bay.

2 precincts are in Melbourne – Lorimer and the Fishermans Bend employment precinct – and 3 are in Port Phillip City – Montague, Wirraway & Sandridge.

In 2012, the state government identified the urban renewal area as an urban renewal project of state significance and rezoned it as capital city zone. Initially the rezoned area was about 250ha but it’s now 485ha, more than doubling the central city.

Last month, a major step forward occurred when the state government bought the 37.7ha General Motors Holden headquarters & engine-manufacturing site. Holden will become an import-only company once the last Commodores roll off its Adelaide production line next year, ending 80 years of Australian production.

The GM-Holden site outlined.

The GM-Holden site outlined.

The state government has earmarked the Holden land for a design, engineering & technology district, aiming to bring together industry leaders in aerospace, defence, marine & automotive design.

The government said in a release the Holden site would be a catalyst for creating thousands of high value jobs: “This project will drive private sector investment into the Fishermans Bend employment precinct.”

Benchmarks for urban renewal

The Fishermans Bend vision sets benchmarks for inner-city urban renewal on economic prosperity, sustainability, design, smart urban management, community service provision and both active & public transport.


  • A target of 80% of transport movements to be made by public transport, walking or cycling
  • Delivery of catalyst projects, starting with an education & community precinct
  • At least one activity centre in each precinct including retail, jobs & community services
  • Primary & second schools across Fishermans Bend
  • Open space within 200m walking distance for all residents & workers
  • An integrated transport strategy including cycle paths, tram lines & an underground rail line, and
  • Diverse & affordable housing opportunities.

Fishermans Bend Vision, final version
Melbourne Age, 17 June 2015: How not to stuff up Fishermans Bend
Port Phillip City: Project history

Attribution: State government, Port Phillip City, Age.

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State files for Sydney WestConnex consent

The WestConnex network.

The WestConnex network.

The New South Wales Government lodged the initial planning application for the WestConnex motorway last Thursday, after approving the business case showing the project will deliver major benefits for the state economy & the motorists of Western Sydney.

The government confirmed the $A11.5 billion (2012 dollars) project would be built in 3 stages, starting by widening the M4 motorway. That’s to be completed in 2017.

The state government will provide $A1.8 billion and the new federal government has committed $A1.5 billion over 4 years, but the bulk of funding is to come from tolls.

WestConnex is the largest infrastructure project in Australia, linking western & south-western Sydney with the city, airport & port in a 33km continuous motorway.

State premier Barry O’Farrell, who’s also Minister for Western Sydney, said: “WestConnex is a gamechanger for Sydney – it will save motorists time by making travel between Sydney’s west & the east easier.

“WestConnex will help motorists avoid up to 52 sets of traffic lights, creating a saving of 40 minutes on a trip from Parramatta to Sydney Airport and halving the travel time from Parramatta to the cbd to 25 minutes.

“WestConnex will inject $A20 billion into the NSW economy, including 10,000 construction jobs & hundreds of apprenticeships for young people.

“Our commitment to WestConnex – and our major public transport infrastructure projects like the north-west & south-west rail links and light rail – shows we’re serious about transforming Sydney for the better.

“WestConnex will remove up to 3000 trucks/day from Parramatta Rd and put them in underground tunnels, returning the surface roads & land uses to local communities.

“This will enable urban revitalisation to occur along the 20km-long corridor between Broadway & Parramatta, creating new jobs, stimulating productivity and delivering new homes in this key growth area of Sydney.

“This is similar to the revitalisation of Surry Hills & parts of Redfern following the construction of the Eastern Distributor.”

Link: WestConnex

Attribution: NSW Government release.

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Australian cashrate stays at 3.5%

Published 4 September 2012

The Reserve Bank of Australia decided today to leave its cashrate unchanged at 3.5%.

There seems to have been some surprise that Australian commodities, particularly iron ore, have dropped sharply in price recently. However the bank’s governor, Glenn Stevens, said Australia’s terms of trade peaked a year ago.

Mr Stevens gave his assessment of the world’s economies:

“Having picked up in the early months of 2012, growth in the world economy has since softened. Current assessments are that global gdp will grow at no more than average pace in 2012, with risks to the outlook still on the downside. Economic activity in Europe is contracting, while growth in the US is only modest. Growth in China remained reasonably robust in the first half of this year, albeit well below the exceptional pace seen in recent years. Some recent indicators have been weaker, which has added to uncertainty about near-term growth. Around Asia generally, growth is being dampened by the more moderate Chinese expansion and the weakness in Europe.

“Markets for key natural resources are adjusting accordingly. Some commodity prices of importance to Australia have fallen sharply in recent weeks. The terms of trade peaked a year ago and have declined significantly since then, though they remain historically high.

“Financial markets have responded positively over the past couple of months to signs of progress in addressing Europe’s financial problems, but expectations for further progress are high. Low appetite for risk has seen long-term interest rates faced by highly rated sovereigns, including Australia, remain at exceptionally low levels. Nonetheless, capital markets remain open to corporations & well rated banks, and Australian banks have had no difficulty accessing funding, including on an unsecured basis. Share markets have generally risen over the past couple of months, on very light volumes.

“In Australia, most indicators available for this meeting suggest growth has been running close to trend, led by very large increases in capital spending in the resources sector. Consumption growth was also quite firm in the first half of the year, though some of that strength was temporary. Labour market data have shown moderate employment growth, even with job-shedding in some industries, and the rate of unemployment has thus far remained low.

“Inflation remains low, with underlying measures near 2% over the year to June, and headline CPI inflation lower than that. The introduction of the carbon price is starting to affect consumer prices in the current quarter, and this will continue over the next couple of quarters. The bank’s assessment is that inflation will be consistent with the target over the next 1-2 years. Maintaining low inflation will, however, require growth in domestic costs to remain contained as the effects of the earlier exchange rate appreciation wane.

“As a result of the sequence of earlier decisions, interest rates for borrowers are a little below their medium-term averages. The impact of those changes is still working its way through the economy, but dwelling prices have firmed a little and business credit has picked up this year. The exchange rate has declined over the past month or 2, though it has remained higher than might have been expected, given the observed decline in export prices and the weaker global outlook.

“At today’s meeting, the board judged that, with inflation expected to be consistent with the target and growth close to trend, but with a more subdued international outlook than was the case a few months ago, the stance of monetary policy remained appropriate.”

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Attribution: Bank release, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

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Student architects replace big-ship port with eco-city

Published 9 June 2007

A Sydney university lecturer & his students have produced an eco-city design for an inner-city area which, in a 2000 master plan, was intended to be host to large ships.

Dr Rafael Pizarro, lecturer in sustainable urban planning at Sydney University’s architecture faculty, unveiled the prototype for the eco-city for White Bay, back of Balmain & Glebe Island.

The Sydney Ports Authority formulated its master plan for the area in 2000, as a largescale shipping & port facility, including a cement terminal. Redesigns were a local issue in the New South Wales state election campaign this year.

Dr Pizarro and his team of 20 4th/5th-year students came up with a design which features “mid- to high-density, mixed-use (residential, retail, commercial, office space) solar districts, light industrial development, food & energy production precincts, institutional & recreational areas, a working harbour, and stormwater run-off & effluent water onsite recycling & treatment.

“It also has an internal public-transit & freight transportation network and special roadways for public GPS-guided stackable mini-cars. This 80ha, 15,000-people (22,000 at peak times) fully pedestrian, transit-oriented eco-city is conceived as an urban design & planning strategy to mitigate global warming in the Sydney metropolitan region.”

Websites: Balmain Rozelle community website

Sydney University event detail

Want to comment? Click on The new BD Central Forum or email [email protected].


Attribution: Balmain Rozelle website, Sydney University, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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Property Council warns of dire consequences if NSW Government doesn’t safeguard business land

The Property Council of Australia gave a dire warning for the country on Wednesday, calling for massive state intervention in New South Wales to safeguard the country’s competitiveness.

Essentially, the Property Council push is for the kind of programme being undertaken in Auckland through the Regional Growth Forum – establishing land availability & requirements for property sectors, and ensuring infrastructure (including transport) will be in place on time.

“Australia’s international competitiveness will be at risk unless the (NSW) State Government takes a more direct role in managing Sydney’s future employment & housing growth and commits to a major reinvestment infrastructure,” the Property Council warned.

The council was releasing its response to the metropolitan strategy which the NSW Government is preparing. The council’s paper sets out 10 “breakthrough” strategies & 40 recommendations on what the strategy should include.

NSW Property Council executive director Ken Morrison said existing approaches were no longer viable.

“Sydney must plan for a jobs future as well as a housing future,” he said. “Sydney needs to accommodate an extra million people, 620,000 more jobs & 460,000 new homes over the next 20 years. This can be achieved, but not through a business-as-usual approach.

“All the easy options have now gone. The stock of disused industrial land which allowed Sydney to deliver substantial urban consolidation has all but dried up. The Government will need to identify potential growth areas where major urban renewal can take place, set growth targets for these areas, and ensure the planning & infrastructure is in place.”

It’s statements like that that indicate we’re not as backward on this side of the Tasman as some would have us, though our solutions tend to be less drastic. The Property Council’s solution, as it so often is in Australia, is to introduce a dictatorial structure – the council called for the creation of powerful new urban renewal corporations to take over redevelopment in targeted areas.

“The north-west, south-west urban release areas, the cbd to the airport corridor, Parramatta Rd redevelopment – these will need to be delivered through new urban renewal corporations,” Mr Morrison said.

The Property Council said the growth challenge facing Sydney would require a major reinvestment in urban infrastructure and the Government should use responsible debt funding to achieve it.

The Property Council of Australia’s response to the metro strategy contains 40 detailed recommendations. Among the breakthrough strategies it proposed were these:

Set policies to attract one quarter of the extra 620,000 jobs into cbds & key centres
Establish a business lands strategy to protect existing industrial land stocks, generate more land for jobs & solve existing infrastructure servicing bottlenecks
Urgently deliver a land release programme to meet the underlying need for 7000-10,000 new housing sections/year
Accommodate 60-70% of new housing in established areas of Sydney through a major focus of urban renewal of key growth areas & a continued urban consolidation programme
Establish a series of project-specific urban renewal corporations which would have the power to create planning frameworks, raise capital, facilitate infrastructure provision & work with the private sector, and
Deliver high-quality urban environments across Sydney which facilitate social & environmental sustainability with a strong urban design focus.

As a consequence of those, the council the state government would be able to refocus its economic policies by:

launching a state investment plan to drive economic growth & attract business investment, and
expanding the existing state infrastructure strategic plan by linking the metropolitan strategy objectives to the state plan.

The Property Council said the state government should boost infrastructure investment by at least $A5 billion over 5 years through responsible debt funding, and abandon its reliance on levies which drive up home prices.

Mr Morrison said the challenge was significant:

Sydney will need at least an additional 2.1 million m² for new white-collar jobs by 2011
The Sydney cbd has capacity for only about 7 years more supply of new office building
At least 660,000m² more retaio land will be needed to meet population growth by 2011a further 663,164 sq m of land for retailing will be needed to meet population
Only 5 years’ industrial land supply may be available at current pre-leasing levels, and
Too few jobs are near where people live.

“Sydney has a systemic problem in the planning for & delivery of industrial land. The market drivers for this sector remain poorly understood, major problems exist with the lack of servicing of industrial land, no site-specific coordination exists & there is limited planning for post-occupation transport infrastructure. This is severely undermining the Government’s employment objectives, creating huge delays in the delivery of new job-generating investment and costing investors millions of dollars. This is particularly a problem in Western Sydney.

“A strong centres policy is very important. Half of Sydney’s jobs are dispersed and generally distributed in proportion to the population it serves. A quarter are located in cbds & centres (12% of total jobs are in the Sydney cbd). We need to build up our employment as much as possible in key centres while recognising Sydney also needs business parks, industrial parks & bulky goods retailing.

“Many of Sydney’s centres will need to expand significantly to accommodate these jobs.”

Mr Morrison said strategic plans for centres needed to identify & reserve land for future growth. “Opportunities for growth must not be stifled by blockages in development control & outdated plans. Business land uses also face heavy competition from residential development. Much of the recent conversion of industrial land to residential use has occurred with very little strategic thought. The policy of encouraging more apartment buildings in cbds can also undermine their future employment capacity if not planned correctly.”

Among the council’s recommendations were to:

provide incentives for commercial development in key employment centres through density settings to ensure these can compete with out-of-centre locations
designate employment-only zones in core cbd areas to protect future job supply, and
reform strata-title laws to ensure existing strata buildings do not artificially sterilise the growth & evolution of centres, and
establish a business land development liaison committee as a forum for the industry & state government.

On the need for an extra 23,000 homes/year, Mr Morrison said the metro strategy “must dictate where these should go. Currently, housing location is being set by the unco-ordinated planning policies of 44 separate councils. Such an unmanaged approach is not sustainable. It will not guarantee the provision of sufficient housing…

“The supply of land release housing lots is running way behind schedule. Shortage of land supply is driving up prices and is significantly affecting housing affordability. The urban development programme has only delivered around 4500 new housing lots to the market in the past year, compared to an underlying demand of 7000-10,000 lots.

“The key blockages are the servicing of these sites, rezoning delays due to nadequate upfront statutory & environmental planning, fragmented ownership and uncertainty with regard to levies & value-capture taxes. This is driving down affordability in Sydney and cannot be allowed to continue.”

Mr Morrison said major redevelopments such as the Macarthur region, Darling Harbour & Pyrmont required intervention & leadership from the state government, and the Property Council believed Sydney had a number of opportunity areas where a strong renewal or development focus could occur:

the global crescent from the airport through the Sydney cbd, North Sydney, St Leonards and to Macquarie Park
the vital business zones associated with the M4, M5 & M7 freeways, including Moorebank, Eastern Creek, Weatherill Park & Erskine Park
Sydney’s older secondary town centres such as Burwood, Hurstville, Bankstown, Fairfield, Brookvale, Lane Cove & Epping
government land such as railway stations & interchanges where air-rights can be capitalized
key corridors such as Parramatta Rd, the Hume Highway, Military Rd, Milperra Rd & Canterbury Rd
residential urban release areas, particularly the north-west & south-west sectors
the “fibro belt” middle ring suburbs, and
locations where synergies can be created with universities, hospitals & other institutions.

These corporations would:

ensure all development & infrastructure delivery projects are structured to maximise private sector involvement
assume responsibility for existing state government landholdings to maximize renewal opportunities
have the power to raise capital to fund infrastructure, undertake compulsory acquisition of land as required and work with local businesses, residents & landowners to achieve outcomes, including potential co-operative funding agreements, and
hand back full responsibility to councils once planning, infrastructure & sufficient catalyst projects are in place.

Website: Property Council of Australia

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Sydney infrastructure issues outlined

The Property Council of Australia set out a detailed response this week to the New South Wales Government’s proposed metropolitan strategy, and in doing so listed factors that needed to be addressed:

Congestion cost: $A6 billion in 1995, estimated to increase to $A8.8 billion in 2015 in wasted time, fuel, air pollution & stress
Greenhouse emissions: 72% increase in CO2 emissions from passenger cars 1990-2020
Average western Sydney house price: $A369,000, an increase of 70% from 2000, compared to a 22% increase in wages in the same period
Impact of development levies: levies make up $A52,000 (excluding gst) or 12% of the cost of an average house & land package in Hoxton Park, Liverpool (out west)
Land release delays: 7 years to get through the urban land release programme; last year’s supply 4500 lots, underlying demand 7000-10,000 lots/year
Industrial land loss: 309ha withdrawn from central west and 113.7ha from South Sydney (84% to residential)
Average DA (development application) processing times: 51 days in 2002-03, a 15% increase from 1999-00, the same period in which the number of DAs determined by councils fell by 12%. The statutory time limit is 40 days
Increase in freight movements: 2000-4500 extra truck movements to & from Port Botany expected between 2011-21

The council also issued an infrastructure report card:

Rail: poor, inadequate funding & capacity problems are major issues
Local roads: below average, still a significant backlog of work
Stormwater: poor, unacceptable inflow into sewerage systems
Water shortages: dam levels fell to 42.6% in October 2004, consumption increased by 30% in last 3 years, extra 200 billion litres of capacity needed within 25 years
Amount of Sydney‘s water lost through leaky pipes: 10.7%, or 63,000 litres/year
Number of households in bottom 40% of incomes which could afford an average one-bedroom dwelling in any part of Sydney in 2001: None
NSW public housing waiting list: 101,561 people in 2001, equal to 45% of national total
Public transport use: 10.5% of all trips are taken on public transport, 70% of trips use private vehicles
City Rail on-time running: only 61.9% of peak-hour trains arrived at destination within 4 minutes of schedule since 1 July
Growth in vehicle kilometres travelled in Sydney: 25%, more than twice as fast as population growth.

Website: Property Council of Australia

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Mirvac designs 1000-home masterplanned community minutes from Perth cbd

Mirvac Fini (WA) Pty Ltd & neighbouring casino & resort company Burswood Ltd have sold 48 apartments worth $A34 million in the first 3 days of the sales launch of the 2nd building in their joint-venture The Peninsula development in Perth.

The development’s first apartment building, Allegro, was sold out last December. The 2nd, Axis, will have 102 apartments on 18 floors (price range $A495,000-1.03 million).

The Peninsula masterplanned community will have 3000 residents in 1000 homes on a 2ha site on completion. Homes will be a mixture of 2-4 bedroom houses, apartments & courtyard townhouses, all integrated round the 2ha of parks & public open space, beside the Burswood Park golfcourse & the upper reaches of the Swan River.

Extraordinarily, this development space still existed only minutes’ drive to the cbd (top of picture), a short drive to the city’s airport (away to the bottom right), on a main arterial route and with a train station a few hundred metres away.

Website: Mirvac

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Auckland can learn from Adelaide model

Australian cities & state governments have expressed quite different mindsets from their New Zealand counterparts on the civic responsibility to enhance the beauty of their environment, so the Auckland experiment of determining to have “an enhanced property role” is viewed somewhat more sceptically here.

One view is that the Auckland City Council will stick its fingers where they shouldn’t sensibly be, either messing up or getting burnt.

When Auckland City Council pushed to buy Westhaven from Ports of Auckland Ltd, as an asset which should not fall into private hands, I wrote: “Neither Prime Minister Helen Clark nor Auckland mayor John Banks has faith in the private sector to develop the city’s waterfront in ways that would satisfy public taste.”

Around Australia it’s long been perfectly normal for city councils & state governments to take on this sort of role.

South Australian agency explained

Bruce Harper, chief executive of South Australia’s Land Management Corp, was in Auckland this week giving some guidance on what could be achieved. He spoke at a Property Council seminar on Building a better Auckland and attended workshops with the regional & city councils.

The South Australian LMC is “a public entity with a commercial focus… balancing economic return with the delivery of social & environmental outcomes.” Innovation & partnerships with the private sector have been keys to its success.

It develops property & land assets on behalf of the state government: “Whether it is industrial, commercial or residential land development, LMC sets new standards in urban design & economic development.” It’s the state’s major supplier of serviced industrial land & residential development projects.

In that role, it differs markedly from any New Zealand government organisation.

Whereas the Regional Growth Forum is a joint arm of the regional & local councils in Auckland, working with them on zoning issues, for instance, the South Australian body is more hands-on: “LMC works with state & local government agencies to ensure South Australia’s extensive broad-hectare land banks in the northern, central & southern areas of Adelaide are released for residential & commercial development in an orderly & timely manner, accounting for market demand.”

The corporation also gives advice to about 20 state government agencies, including strategic property advice & planning, and plays an important business development role: “LMC acquires, manages & develops property holdings such as Technology Park Adelaide for business development purposes. LMC has redeveloped Technology Park Adelaide as an internationally recognised high technology precinct that is attracting & growing business in South Australia.”

Auckland City Council will play a role in helping what could be a similarly vibrant development, the business/academic precinct around Auckland University’s Tamaki campus, but the process has been initiated by the university.

Even the improvement of transport links – particularly rail – between Glen Innes & Auckland’s central business district is largely inspired by the university’s desire for quick commuting between the Tamaki & city campuses.

Mawson Lakes dream starts to come true

One South Australian project which will have a big influence on Adelaide is the Mawson Lakes Economic Development – an $A1 billion-plus project covering 620ha 12km north of Adelaide’s city centre, with Salisbury City, the University of South Australia and Delfin Lend Lease as partners. The Sydney-based international group, Lend Lease Corp, took over Adelaide-based Delfin Ltd in 2001, making the combined group Australia’s biggest urban community developer.

A Mawson Lakes predecessor was the catalyst for the creation of the state government’s Land Management Corp. The state always had a role in landbanking, and in the 1980s the state & federal governments & Japanese Government formed a partnership to promote what was going to be the “city of the future, a multi-function polis.”

Fine in theory, but it was ill-fated as the Japanese economy collapsed and the inspiration passed. Paul Parker, of the economic studies faculty, Waterloo University, presented a paper in 1998 on this experiment.

As he asked whether the experiment was an $A100 million waste of money, the South Australia Government decided to put that bureaucracy together with other state agencies, forming the Land Management Corp – headed by Mr Harper, who was originally from Hawera.

“The Government wasn’t sure it was something with a long-term future, but instead of flicking off all the assets thought, maybe we can add value…”

The corporation owns the technology park, created the whole development’s structure plan and developed a town centre which opened in February – ahead of time in that a private developer wouldn’t have found the timing an economic proposition.

Design & commercial objectives

“We had design & commercial objectives,” Mr Harper explained. “A private developer wouldn’t have built a shopping centre for 3-4 years, and they would have built an enclosed mall with carparking around it. We wanted to build it early and entered a joint venture with Lend Lease.”

Some of Mawson Lakes’ key objectives are the kinds of concept North Shore City councillor Joel Cayford would espouse – long-term benefit from better use of resources, with overall economic gains:

50% reduction of water use, with an integrated water management plan, dual water system (non-potable water for the garden & toilets) to every house
50% reduction in energy use, working on a points system
Innovative IT, including home management systems.

“Planning systems are a blunt instrument to achieve commercial & urban design outcomes,” Mr Harper said, explaining the use of subdivision systems such as those above as more practical ways of getting results.” We were established by a Liberal government, and a Labour government now in power has exactly the same thinking, fine-tuned,” he said.

The corporation has gone on to a 52ha redevelopment at Port Adelaide, a project just getting under way, again with private sector partners. It has numerous other projects, which are outlined on its website.

“The modelling of organisations like ours can play a role in Auckland,” Mr Harper said. The first principle was that, “Unless you have control of the land, you have little control at all. There’s no reason why governments can’t play a role, though there are some parts of development you shouldn’t touch because they’re too risky.

“If you’re going to get into that (as a council or government), you transfer ownership to the private sector – or you don’t touch the project at all.”

MUL a danger for Auckland

One danger Mr Harper saw for Auckland was in the use of the metropolitan urban limit, already proving as exasperating anti-development line for some entrepreneurs, to hem a growing population in as the region headed from one million to 2 million people over 50 years – but possibly over only 30 years.

By keeping the border as it is, he said, development could leapfrog an hour north & south – to Wellsford & Hamilton – creating difficulties there if no satellite planning was done.

On the other hand, planning satellites too well in advance can have its downside. South Australia planned an Adelaide satellite called Monarto, 40km out, back in the 70s, the same time as Rolleston was to become a satellite of Christchurch. The Australian one didn’t happen, while Rolleston is now part of Christchurch suburbia.

“They bought all the land for Monarto, then just before they started building realised they’d got all the population projections wrong and it never grew.”

Websites: South Australia’s Land Management Corp

Economics paper on the Multi-function Polis, Paul Parker, economic studies faculty, Waterloo University, presented in 1998

Port of Adelaide revised concept plan


Earlier stories:

13 May 2004: Council defers Westhaven purchase, votes for enhanced property role

16 April 2004: Happy mayor & PM show no faith in private sector

15 April 2004: Government buys Westhaven for $52 million for onsale to council

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