What a roller coaster of a year! More than ever, the challenges facing our industry have been playing out in the media. The housing crisis, funding major infrastructure projects, ‘unfunding’ of the Commonwealth Games, rising construction costs, immigration, and the shortage of industrial land ‒ just to name a few ‒ have been the bread and butter of our daily news intake in 2023.
I’m proud to say that Ratio has been at the forefront of this conversation. With incredible leadership by our staff (certainly, there are too many to single out in this newsletter) we have sought to actively contribute constructive voices to this debate. Of the many, many aspects of Ratio that I am incredibly proud of, our capacity to continually, day in and day out, give up our time to work towards solutions is one that sits at the top of my list.
This year, it feels like, for the first time, we are at the tipping point of a broader community understanding of the need to increase housing supply and to reconsider our approach to planning as one part of the gigantic problem that is housing affordability.
The rise of the YIMBY Melbourne movement, in direct contrast to the emergence of Save our Suburbs some 20 years ago, gives voices to the Victorians who have been priced out of the housing market. It’s been a pleasure to support this organisation in the background and, with all the often-unheralded advocacy that we do, support a more equitable, sustainable, and liveable future.
Our primary focus is always to support our clients as they work tirelessly to deliver housing, infrastructure, and contribute to the urban environment in a complicated and uncertain regulatory minefield. Throw in rising construction costs, escalating interest rates, and the lack of skilled labour backing the market, and I have no doubt that many of you will be looking forward to a well-earned break.
This year, I want to focus on the extensive and tireless efforts amongst our team to further diversify the offerings at Ratio. Taking many forms in 2023, this includes establishing offices in Sydney and Brisbane. It’s been rewarding to see Ratio spread to the eastern seaboard, watch our staff numbers grow and the diversity of projects and geographies broaden. Our Directors are excited to continue to build Ratio as a genuine multi-state consultancy and, just like the success in our Geelong office, we look forward to the continual growth in New South Wales and Queensland.
We have also embraced a circular economy offering this year, understanding that this will be a significant opportunity for developers and builders in the years to come. Significant regulatory changes are on the way and the way we approach the use of materials in construction and development will follow soon after. It’s been rewarding to watch Circular Economy Principal Damien Connell build this new service.
Landscape Architecture has also arrived at Ratio in the form of a service offering, with our team providing incredible advice, landscape plans, expert evidence, and master planning expertise. Blending beautifully with our planning and urban design teams, I’ve been surprised to see how often landscape architecture’s skills are also required by our transport team. This goes to show how far transport planning has evolved since I first started practicing!
We have welcomed Chris Greenland as an equity Director of our transport team. Chris’ incredible drive and energy speak to his effort to provide valuable advice to Ratio clients. For the established directors, it’s been invigorating and inspiring to see his passion bear out every day.
Ratio was also proud to promote James Hamilton to the post of Director: Planning ‒ Geelong, in recognition of his high calibre project work and business development guidance in the Greater Geelong region. Mathew Furness was also promoted to the role of Director: Urban Design in acknowledgment of his urban design and strategic planning work, and steadfast leadership amongst his team.
This year, we also said goodbye to the legendary Urban Designer Tim Biles. His contribution to planning in Victoria cannot be underestimated and I personally feel very privileged to have worked alongside him for the final years of his considerable career. Tim is never too far away and, the last I heard, is busy working on his boat in his beloved Metung.
Thank you all for an incredible year and, given some extraordinary economic circumstances, it is one that we will likely look back on with a fondness that only time can bring. We are always aware of the great privilege it is to work with commendable clients, peers, and staff, and trust that we have been able to contribute to making your year a success too.
We wish you and your families a safe and happy break and a memorable new year.