21 Jan 2015

Urban renewal - Creating a vision

Tim Williams, the CEO of the Committee for Sydney, joins Nikki Robinson to explore the importance of a clear vision to the success of an urban renewal project.

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Tim Williams: The canvas of the city is the greatest canvas you can think of. Especially like a city like Sydney, where the idea is that we can get big city transformations but have great achievements for people so that there's a change of place but also opportunities for people. Those two parts of the urban renewal agenda just can't be beaten.

Nikki Robinson: I talk about myself as being a bit of a dirt person. It's a property term where you can drive around the city and see the projects that you've worked on and how they have reinvigorated and brought alive a community, and that's something that I take a great deal of satisfaction from.

Tim Williams: I'm Tim Williams and I'm chief executive of the Committee for Sydney which is a think tank for a greater Sydney.

Nikki Robinson: Hi, I'm Nikki Robinson. I am the national practice group leader for the Real Estate practice at Clayton Utz.

Tim Williams: Before coming to Australia I was one of the UK's leading experts and thinkers around urban regeneration, urban renewal and I advised governments over five or six years in the UK.

Nikki Robinson: A lot of the work that I do is in the development space and it is largely focused on urban renewal projects or developments of a larger scale in terms of redevelopments of cities.

Tim Williams: The thing about a great metropolitan city like Sydney is we need a vision for what is a global city rather than just a little part of it. So I think the important thing is to have a vision at the level of what a great urban renewal site can do for the rest of the city.

Nikki Robinson: We take that amazing 3D vision and we convert it to paper. So, we need to really understand what the output they're seeking is, and make sure that we're bringing all of the right people into the project at the right time and co-ordinating what they're delivering to ensure that what looks great out there is actually delivered for the government at the end of the day.

Tim Williams: If you've got a big chunk of city, lots of people care about whether you get it right. So there are lots of elements like integration of land use and public transport. Public and private relationship, the relationship between the private sector and government – critical. How you engage with the community – critical. All these things add up to four or five keys to success and I like the Clayton Utz conversation about this because I think they're really getting to the heart of what needs to be thought about in a good urban renewal project.

Nikki Robinson: So, sustainability is a really good one. It's become a really important factor for government when they're delivering on a project and each time we do a project we learn a little bit more about how better to deliver that. So in some instances it might be a through a central energy plant, or bringing the ideas from the last deal that we did into the next deal that we do and making sure that we do it better each time that we deliver it. Another really big area is looking at how the community and stakeholder discussions are held and ensuring that they're done really early and well to ensure that we bring people along in delivering the vision for government.

Tim Williams: Visions need to deliver tangible outcomes for the community. We can have health outcomes that are going to improve, education outcomes that are going to improve, social outcomes, skills outcomes, a broad range of outcomes that the community can say that is worth supporting in terms of big city change. So clarity of vision leads to clarity of outcomes that we wish to achieve.

Nikki Robinson: There's lots of different parts about why I love what I do. I love being with people. And I love actually looking at what that vision is and helping someone deliver it.

Tim Williams: We work with partners like Clayton Utz on developing policy for a global city, to make sure that we grow the city properly. We maximise our opportunities and we make sure there are opportunities for all.