2018 UDIA Developers Summit Round-up

25 Oct 2018

, News

UDIA Victoria is proud to have hosted the 2018 UDIA Developers Summit on Friday 26 October. Thank you to all sponsors, presenters and attendees who made the day possible.

Our full line up of nationally and internationally respected speakers from across industry and government shared with us their insights into what’s in store for Victoria’s development sector, and brilliant examples of best-practice development. Read on for session snapshots and killer quotes.

Welcomes and Official Opening Address

The day opened with a Welcome Address from Danni AddisonCEO of UDIA Victoria;President’s Address from Jason Shaw our President and General Manager Balcon Group; and Summit Partner Address from Brian Elton, Executive Director, Veris.  
The politicization of population growth is dangerous for the industry, the State and the country… Population growth and cultural diversity is the lifeblood of this state. We need to ensure we retain it as a competitive advantage.” Jason Shaw, President UDIA Victoria and General Manager Balcon Group.

Taking the temperature of the local economy 

Saul Eslake, Economist at Corinna Economic Advisory, set the scene for the delegates. He outlined how Victoria and Australia’s financial markets are faring as 2018 comes to a close. Saul was keen to emphasise the very positive impact population growth has had on the Victorian economy, and as a by-product of this, the Australian economy. Saul stressed that the extremes of left and right wing political movements that would see immigration to Australia halted would severely hurt the Australian economy. Of such high immigration to Victoria, Saul believes “the benefits far outweigh the costs”. He also cautioned that if the Reserve Bank of Australia were increase interest rates, it would spell bad news for the economy at large.

Keynote address

Stuart Mosely, CEO, Victorian Planning Authority presented his Keynote Address looking at the role of the Victorian Planning Authority in the context of providing for population growth. Stuart dispelled some rumours and myths that he’d heard circulating in the media about Melbourne’s growth areas. Stuart addressed the common misconception that the greenfields are desolate and disconnected and highlighted how we have in Victoria some fantastic examples of new communities that are flourishing and thriving.   A key challenge for the VPA and the State is to better align the infrastructure and delivery pipeline, and pay greater attention to suburban jobs. 
“There is a rich community story to be told in Melbourne’s greenfields”
“It’s important we all engage in a mature and evidence-based debate about population growth”
“we are spending more than at any point in the last decade” on infrastructure to support population growth”

International Case Study – Urban Design in Practice

Brent Toderian, founder of Toderian UrbanWORKS, international speaker, teacher and thought-leader on cities and issues of advanced urbanism came to us via Skype from Vancouver.  Brent provided the delegation with case studies of different approaches to urbanism, making comparisons with Vancouver, Canada, and Melbourne. Brent recommended Melbourne not take the Most Liveable Cities list too seriously, but instead to reflect on what improvements we can make to improve our liveability.  Brent spoke of the importance of “city making math” – the need to understand the cost of different kinds of density, and “density done well” and “the missing middle housing”, looking at gentle, hidden and invisible density opportunities to increase densities in middle ring urban areas. Turning NIMBY to QIMBY – Quality in My Back Yard.
Technology alone will not save us – we need to change behaviours in order to combat cars – as the biggest challenge in our generation. 
“You’ve been having a hard time keeping a consistent approach to planning”
“Not all suburbia is ‘sprawl’ … ’Sprawl’ is auto-dependency”
“Shopping malls are some of the best low-hanging fruit once transit has been invested”
“Everyone should be investing in better design because it creates value”

Keynote address

John Fitzgerald, Director, Barangaroo Delivery Authority showcased Barangaroo’s development, a globally renowned urban renewal project on the western waterfront of Sydney’s CBD. John talked the delegation through the process of developing Barangaroo, and his view of the most important parts to get right. He focused on the importance of Barangaroo having a water-positive design, being zero waste and carbon-neutral and having a focus on community well-being.

Barangaroo has “96% public transport use”
Barangaroo is a “pedestrian precinct”

In Conversation: Taking Victorian Urban Renewal to the Next Level

Tania Quick, Consultant at TQ Planning and John Fitzgeralf were joined by panelists Meredith Sussex AM, Chair, Fishermans Bend Advisory Board, Larry Parsons, Director Design, Ethos Urban, Melbourne, John Fitzgerald, Director, Barangarro Delivery Authority and Brian Elton, Executive Director, Veris and Founder, Elton Consulting.

On public transport, John Fitzgerald noted the need to cater for different visitor types in urban renewal precincts hosting both workers and tourists.

Meredith Sussex highlighted that Fishermans Bend is 480 ha – more than 20 times the area of Barangaroo. She emphasised  the need to focus on existing transport connections servicing the Montague Precinct in addition to planning for future connections, and the importance of focusing on active travel, and bus travel, in the discussion of overall transport mix supporting a precinct.

Larry Parsons noted the need to use different “toolkits” for publicly and privately-owned land, highlighting that there is space for private sector to work together for the best outcomes, and cautioned that regulation in urban renewal areas doesn’t actually serve to undermine development attraction to the area.

Brian Elton noted the importance of having the right data for evidence-based outcomes, reporting frameworks that seek to measure progress on targets over time, authentic communications and engagement, and learning from past mistakes.

On affordable housing, Meredith Sussex noted that we need to consider community housing as “basic infrastructure”, and the board has a desire to exceed the 6% target set for Fishermans Bend, a sentiment mirrored by John Fitzgerald who noted he’d push harder for affordable and social housing in South Barangaroo if doing it all over again.

Industry Panel: the Future of Victorian Housing

Ashley Williams, Director at Evolve and UDIA Victoria Board Member moderated this lively discussion.

Ed Krushka, Project Director – Residential, Stockland and UDIA Victoria Board Member spoke of a resurgence of first home buyers, and a fight to quality as the market normalises. With growth area buyers more astute, larger projects with good access to infrastructure and amenity still doing well in today’s market. The private sector needs pathways cleared to be able to deliver infrastructure on behalf of government.

Georgia Willis, Development Manager, Pace Development Group talked of the “we are not just building houses, we are building places where people want to live”, “diversity is the key word, for now and the future of our cities”, and flexible floorplans are a developers dream as you can respond to the market”. On the matter of levels of debt, Georgia cautioned that the impact of tightening finance requirements won’t be known until current projects reach settlement.

Len Warson, CEO, Glenvill spoke of buyers “looking for experiences” such as co-shared working spaces, automated technology, health and wellness opportunities and restaurants as equal deciding factors to the apartment product itself. 

James Roberts, Development Director, GURNER noted that investors are also looking at the product in a long-term perspective with an ultimate goal of moving in after rented for a period of time – increasing the need to consider added amenity even when targeting investor markets, and of the importance of pre-fab to reduce build costs.

Keynote Address: Thinking Creatively – Changing Our Approach to Construction and Housing Affordability

Sarah Murray, Entrepreneur in Residence at Westpac and Digital Housing Developer closed out the first half of the day by giving the delegates a fascinating insight into her business, PlacesFirst, and outlining what she believes are  the next big steps for the property industry. Sarah gave us great insight into how technology is shaping the life of the average Australian, notably that Australians spend over four hours a day looking at their smartphone which had everyone considering the next big changes to our society, and how this will impact on the way we interact with our homes. 

Sarah spoke about very smart construction, such as Deep Blocks and Blockable,  which are two technologies that can reduce build times by up to 70%.

“People want to be fundamentally involved in the design of their own home”
“Westpac do innovation for outcome”
“People are absolutely craving transparency” around the cost of housing
“Every hour, four thousand new homes are needed in the world”

Project showcase

Aquarevo | Rory Costelloe, Executive Director, Villawood Properties
Southbank Precinct | Beulah International

What is the Alternative: Developing Victoria – Government Agendas That Drive Growth and Deliver Infrastructure

Moderator: Jason Shaw, General Manager, Balcon Group
Hon. David Davis MP, Shadow Minister For Public Transport, Planning & Equality
Dr Samantha Ratnam MLC, Leader of the Victorian Greens

UDIA Victoria were very pleased to have Dr Samantha Ratnam, Leader of the Victorian Greens and Hon. David Davis, Shadow Minister for Public Transport, Planning and Equality join UDIA Victoria’s President Jason Shaw for a spirited discussion about the future of planning in Victoria. Dr Ratnam stressed the importance of transport infrastructure to support growth, while Mr Davis reiterated to the delegates the benefits and merits of the Coalition’s decentralisation platform.

Jason Shaw to David Davis on the Coalition’s seemingly contradictory planning policies: “Were you having a bet each way?”

Samantha Ratnam:
“You can’t just stick people in the middle of nowhere and expect them to be OK”
“The pains and stresses experienced with population growth” are due to lack of infrastructure, not the very high numbers of population growth
“We need to see new population as an asset”

David Davis: “We need to make it attractive to people to live in regional cities”

When asked what the difference is between Labor and the Coalition’s plan for investing in transport in regional Victoria, David Davis said “we’ve committed $19 billion, they’ve committed $100 million. There’s the difference.”


UDIA Victoria were honoured to be joined by the Honorable Alan Tudge MP, Minister for Urban Infrastructure and Population. It was a great way to end the day, as everyone was very interested to hear what the Federal government’s plan was for Victoria. Minister Tudge expressed his fondness for Victoria and his determination to see it continue to thrive.

He did however, emphasise the Federal Government’s intention to try to slightly redistribute the volume of people coming to Victoria and Melbourne to other states and territories. He maintained that imposing geographical conditions on incoming migrants’ visas would not be an issue.
“If you have rapid growth in excess of forecasts it’s particularly challenging”
“We do want to get a better distribution of population growth”
Victoria needs a “better framework that does better marry the levers [of population growth and infrastructure]”
“Guess what? People abide by their visa conditions.”

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