05 Mar 2015

Urban renewal - Designing and Planning

Angus Dawson from Dawson James Pty Ltd joins Gary Best to discuss the crucial elements that any urban renewal project must get right: the design of different elements.

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Angus Dawson: To watch a property come from a derelict barren wasteland or disused space into something that a community not only embraces, but it becomes part of the community and indeed a community itself, is really a fantastic thing to do.

Gary Best: They're big projects and they actually have an enormous effect on a city and it's great from my perspective to play a little part in achieving that end.

Angus Dawson: I'm Angus Dawson. I work for a consultancy company, Dawson James Proprietary Limited, and we give advice to the private sector and government on property and dealing with government.

Gary Best: I'm Gary Best. I'm a Partner in the Sydney Real Estate team here at Clayton Utz.

Angus Dawson: I'm a builder by training and I've had 30 years in the property industry, either in residential development, commercial development and indeed in government.

Gary Best: My part in urban renewal is often advising public sector or private sector in large major projects which often involve urban renewal.

Angus Dawson: The earlier you get your commercial legal advice involved in how you might offer something to the market to get your objective and to find a legal adviser who can understand those objectives, and translate that into something that commercially the market will accept is often one of the most difficult things.

Gary Best: The challenge from a public sector perspective is to get ultimately the best bid. So it's critical to design the procurement process to enable the private sector to have enough flexibility to put forward a fantastic bid, great value for money and with innovation that will actually satisfy the "wow" factor that everybody is looking for.

Angus Dawson: You can't actually renew anything without the appropriate infrastructure in place and whether that's services infrastructure like power and water, or harder infrastructure like public open space, or indeed soft infrastructure like entertainment and artwork, it's absolutely fundamental to meet that objective that people like going back to the place.

Gary Best: An urban renewal project is not something that happens in a few weeks or a few months. They're often a very long-term project so the relationship that a lawyer has in those projects with a client will span a very significant period of time. You become in part the mind of the project.

Angus Dawson: So it's really fundamental that you can get everyone in the room and everyone to agree to a main objective. Often that's achieved by creating a separate unit in Local Government or in State Government that can co-ordinate across all of those agencies in delivering in one unique and co-ordinated approach.

Gary Best: There's a truism with lawyers that they should be involved early. The lawyers actually assist to help direct the body involved with the urban renewal project, whether you're on the public sector side or the private sector side, to steer the ship in the right direction so hopefully there's no shipwreck along the way.

Angus Dawson: Well, these projects are never just planned and just occur. They’re dynamic and they change. Initially they'll start with a community that's usually on the periphery of the project and as the project progresses and is successful there's a community within the project as well as around it. Accept that change will happen, address that change as it comes and make that the challenge in delivering the project.

Gary Best: From the client's point of view it's important that you get the right team. Getting the right people, who know what they're doing, with the credentials and experience of having done it before, is critical to the outcome of the process and critical to the success ultimately of the venture.

Angus Dawson: You have to have a vision or a target for a new urban renewal project and you have to have something that pulls together all of the parts that people are interested in and of course what we want as an outcome for that urban renewal. So designing and planning are fundamental to getting those things right.