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By Colleen Peterson, CEO
As the year draws to a close its time to look back at the year that was. After several years of significant growth in the property industry, we saw a year of adjustment as the residential market quietened. With new dwelling approvals down, we have seen a softening in housing prices in part due to changes to the banking environment.
Whilst this is a gain for housing affordability, particularly at the lower end of the market, there is a storm brewing. With over 100,000 new Victorians in the past year, the demand for new housing continues and it is only a matter of time before the continuing pressure to increase supply has an impact on the market.
Whilst the housing market has been down this year, we have seen the commercial sector go from strength to strength. The competition for office space in the CBD by apartment living, together with the maturing of Docklands and the implementation of Amendment C270 in the central city, has seen the supply of high quality CBD office space tighten. As a consequence, the demand for office development on the city fringe continues to grow and ratio’s decision to move to Cremorne mid last year only seems to consolidate the view that there are many opportunities at the city fringe.
We have all spent the past year feeling the flow on effects of the State Government’s investment in infrastructure. Projects like metro rail, the Hoddle Street/Swan Street intersection reconfiguration, rail crossing removals and the completion of the much maligned sky rail are slowly transforming our city.
The North East Link Panel was perhaps the biggest infrastructure project going through the planning phase this year and we are pleased that ratio: was at the forefront, being extensively involved in the panel hearing for a variety of clients.
In 2019, Melbourne continued to rely on growth areas to provide the lion share of its housing. We continue to work extensively in this sector, with a stronger focus than ever before on Melbourne’s west. Projects include the Mt Atkinson Residential Estate, the Stockland Grandview Estate, Mt Cottrell PSP and the first stage - all 87 hectares - of the Mt Atkinson Industrial site known as Melbourne Business Park. It’s been rewarding to travel through these areas and watch Melbourne’s newest suburbs develop at an astonishing rate.
The growth of Geelong and success of the region has seen ratio: take the plunge with the opening of its Geelong Office in the middle of the year to much success, and we are thrilled to be able to service our clients in this region with a local presence.
We have also had much success in the established areas too, working on exciting projects such as the reinvigoration of the industrial precincts in Huntingdale, high rise development in activity centres through Melbourne’s CBD, middle and outer suburbs, and our continuing excellence in providing expert advice and advocacy at VCAT and Planning Panels.
We have been proudly working on numerous pro bono projects, including the Asylum Seeker Refugee Centre in Dandenong, Ross House Association in the CBD and the Lord Somers Camp and Power House in Albert Park. We look forward to continuing our tradition of helping those in need.
It has been rewarding to have Aaron Walley, Simon Martin and Travis Finlayson join the Director team, in recognition of their significant contribution. We also welcomed Alice Maloney and Blanche Manuel into Senior Associate roles. It has been immensely rewarding to see them develop in their careers.
Congratulations to Hilary Marshall for being awarded the UDIA Victoria Women in Leadership Award for 2019. Hilary has built her career as one of Victoria’s leading traffic engineers whilst investing continuously in the development of those around her. Leading by example, her courage to speak up, speak out and lift up is inspiring.
Perhaps our biggest news for the year has been the merging of ratio: with Message Consultants. You know what they say about leaving the best ‘til last! The merging of the collective energy, passion and vision of Catherine Heggen and Tim Biles and their incredible team, will enable ratio: to take its service offering to the highest level, creating a powerhouse in the Urban Design and Planning fields.
Commencing in early 2020, we are excited by the merger and are buoyed by the incredibly positive feedback we have received from all quarters. We will, as always, continue to provide specialised advice and facilitate an integrated approach to transport planning, urban design and planning for our clients.
Thank you, as always, for an incredible year. The support of our clients and colleagues is paramount to our success and is never underestimated. We look forward to another year of fantastic collaborations and outcomes in 2020.
We wish you and your family a safe and happy Christmas, along with a great new year!
Author: Colleen Peterson, CEO