28 Aug 2014

Urban Renewal Guidebook highlights opportunity for Australia to lead best practice in urban revitalisation

Sydney, 28 August 2014: Australia has a unique opportunity to lead best practice in urban renewal projects that generate social and economic benefits for local communities and create "smart cities" that attract global talent and investment, according to the authors of a new publication launched this week.

A joint initiative of Clayton Utz and KPMG, the Urban Renewal Guidebook 2014 (the Guidebook) reflects the combined experience of partners in each firm who have acted as business and legal advisers to a range of stakeholders, including governments, development authorities, developers, and private investors, on some of Australia's most prominent urban renewal projects. 

The Urban Renewal Guidebook contains an overview of the key factors critical to the success of urban renewal projects. These include the identification of appropriate sites, a consultative approach to planning and design that considers historical context, incentives for private sector investment, project risk allocation, approach to tendering, and community consultation and engagement. The Guidebook also features case studies highlighting 'best practice' in urban renewal projects both in Australia and in major international cities.

Clayton Utz partner Gary Best, one of the Guidebook's authors, says Australian governments at all levels have the opportunity to show leadership in their approach to urban renewal to deliver the best possible outcomes for all stakeholders.

"In our experience, urban renewal projects that have a clear vision and objectives and encourage a collaborative and consultative approach to the project's design, planning and delivery have the most success in delivering maximum benefits to users, residents, and the broader community over the long term," says Mr Best. 

"The Barangaroo redevelopment in Sydney, for example - the largest urban renewal project being undertaken in Australia - is an example of a world-class project in planning, design and delivery that will deliver a wide range of economic and social benefits. These include increased tourism spend, employment opportunities, investment from businesses both locally and overseas, cultural facilities and public amenities. 

"Other cities are also realising the benefits of urban renewal projects in their ability to attract future investment and global talent to create "smart cities" for the future. The Toronto Waterfront project in Canada for example, a 25 year, A$35.5 billion project that will transform industrial sites into sustainable, mixed-used communities and dynamic public spaces, is an example of this."

KPMG partner Graham Brooke, who also contributed his experience to the Guidebook, says as well as clearly articulating the project's vision, engaging the community early on to share in that vision is key. "The reality is that most major projects aimed at changing the use of an area tend to meet considerable opposition at some point in their development lifecycle. It's important from the outset to communicate a clear vision for the project and involve the community and other key stakeholders in its overall direction." 

Mr Brooke says integrating transport infrastructure into urban renewal plans also plays a major part in a project's success. "London's Canary Wharf redevelopment, for many years considered a failure, is an example of an urban renewal project that has successfully incorporated local economic benefits and integrated transportation to achieve the project's vision of creating a new economic and professional hub within London. Much of the success of the Canary Wharf renewal can be attributed to the developer's proactivity towards improving transport links to the area," says Mr Brooke.

"Our experience demonstrates that there is a strong case for project sponsors to ensure that their urban renewal projects are effectively integrated into the existing transit networks. Government also has significant capacity to influence the delivery of infrastructure - public transit or otherwise - as part of the broader urban renewal program."

To download a copy of the Guidebook, please click on this link

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