New Hatch economics director identifies four major challenges

Hatch

Hatch RobertsDay economics director, Richard Brice.

Hatch RobertsDay, an urban planning and design practice and subsidiary of the global services firm, Hatch, has appointed Richard Brice as its first economics director in Australia. 

With over 20 years’ experience as an urban economist, financial analyst and policy advisor, Brice has held the roles of director of Real Estate Advisory Services at EY and advisor to the Victorian Planning minister. He also worked in the Victorian state government and for the City of Port Philip, where he helped shape Australia’s largest urban renewal project, Fishermans Bend. 

Brice is also the current chair of the Property Council’s Educations Precincts Committee and UDIA’s Tax, Finance and Investment Committee, where he helps to develop policies on Victoria’s taxation system and improve project funding. 

According to Brice, the changing global landscape and pandemic-induced local problems will reprioritise Australia’s challenges in the next three to five years.  

There are four major areas that Australia must focus on in the lead-up to 2025: 

  • sustainable development; 
  • post-COVID population growth; 
  • affordable housing; and 
  • city precincts that are economic drivers. 

With sustainable development continuing its growth as a major global focus by 2030, Brice said sustainable design will be a predominant characteristic of new developments and can no longer be viewed as a cost. 

“To date, Australia’s design and construction sectors have viewed sustainable design as a cost; a sustainable apartment or building is more expensive,” he said. “Instead, governments, planners and developers need access to research that demonstrates the economic and financial benefits of sustainable development. 

“This research can highlight the savings for residents and tenants and the increased rental income that is likely to offset costs. Good corporate citizens and individuals will increasingly gravitate to sustainable design.” 

Brice cites Fishermans Bend in Melbourne as an example, with an aim to achieve sustainable development. The Fishermans Bend project will redevelop underutilised spaces into sustainable, liveable neighbourhoods that will be home to 80,000 residents and generate 80,000 jobs by 2050. The project has invested in mixed-use precincts, walkable places, sustainable public transport, biodiversity and green infrastructure to reduce the urban heat island effect and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. 

Managing population growth after COVID will be another challenge. 

“Australia has historically been very attractive for migrants, but moderate population growth in the next few years will be a problem for Australian cities and regions that have become reliant on population growth and labour to drive taxes and economic growth,” Brice said. 

Neutralising the cost of social housing will be the third challenge. 

“Governments will need to explore how social housing investment can save money in other portfolios,” he said. “Providing secure housing and a safe living environment for our modest income earners will lead to myriad benefits, including greater participation in education opportunities, the reduced need for mental health support services and a reduction in costs in the justice portfolio.” 

Finally, the fourth challenge lies in getting our precincts right, according to Brice. Fishermans Bend in Melbourne and Macquarie Park and Green Square in Sydney are examples of urban areas that attract skilled workers and, as such, become economic drivers. 

“The best examples are areas that are recognised as having an industry focus. For instance, Sydney’s Macquarie Park is an education hub, attracting consumers and residents from Sydney’s student and educator demographics,” Brice said. “Policymakers and planners will need to think about developing industry-focused precincts and bringing everything into them – from major education institutions and commercial spaces, to transport, shopping and essential services.” 

In his new role, Brice will build a unique urban solutions offering for governments and urban developers in Australia, with end-to-end strategic solutions that include property strategy and portfolio management, assessment of development sustainability, benefit cost and economic impact assessment, and detailed market assessment. The service will also include the identification of investment opportunities based on Australia’s major future infrastructure projects. 

“Richard’s unique skillset and experience will help Hatch RobertsDay tap into emerging growth areas. In particular, his strong track record in advising state and local governments and urban developers on complex land transactions and the economic impacts of developments will help increase the value and expertise that we provide for government and industry leaders,” Hatch RobertsDay founding partner Mike Day said. 

“As we continue building our team, adding property advisors, urban economists and analysts to the mix, our company will be able to continue delivering high quality urban outcomes that result in timeless, liveable cities.”