The Property Council of Australia and EY today launched a new “global playbook” for CBD revival.
Reimagining our economic powerhouses: How to turn CBDs into central experience districts draws on property industry data, interviews with business leaders and city shapers, and insights from 600 consumers.
The report finds that 82 per cent of Australians are confident their nearest CBD will continue to evolve and presents six ideas to start that evolution.
The report recommends that government, employers and landlords work together to facilitate the return of people to the CBD via a series a targeted measures, including:
- Introduce free public transport and parking for workers on slow days, such as Mondays and Fridays.
- Facilitate events to activate streets and precincts with new late night shopping days or night-time markets, especially on weeknights.
- Reimagine unused space, with governments and landlords working together to fill empty floor space with pop-ups that add vibrancy
- Accelerate efforts to “green up” workplaces and streetscapes
- Offer commuters more micro-mobility solutions such as cycling, walking, e-bikes or scooters.
The key findings of the report also reveal individual attitudes towards CBDs:
- 61 per cent of respondents have spent less time in their nearest CBD since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- 62 per cent believe that people will spend more time in their local neighbourhood post-pandemic
- Many respondents believe that the CBD will continue to provide memorable experiences (65 per cent), be an ideal place to meet in small groups (60 per cent) or large groups (54 per cent), frequent the best bars or restaurants (67 per cent), shop for fashion (65 per cent) or attend events and entertainment (63 per cent).
- 70 per cent of CBD office workers expect they will continue to work from home at least part of the week post-pandemic. The top aspects of working onsite include social interactions, collaboration opportunities, and greater separation of work and home life.
- Surveyed CBD workers expect to work onsite on average 3.3 days, with Mondays and Fridays the least preferred days to attend the office.
- Younger respondents (aged 18-35) were most likely to place importance in a CBD location for work (64 per cent), with 48 per cent of respondents overall sharing this view.
- 75 per cent of respondents also claimed that employer premises and amenities are an important factor when choosing their next job.
Property Council of Australia Chief Executive, Ken Morrison, said the report was a blueprint for government, business and property owners to re-energise CBDs following the pandemic.
“Our CBDs have been the nation’s productivity powerhouses for decades, but have been sorely challenged by COVID-19 shutdowns. It’s important for everyone that CBDs are able to reclaim this economic mantle,” Mr Morrison said.
“As more workers return to CBD workplaces, it’s important to supercharge the revival of our CBDs to underpin economic recovery. This report provides the ideas that will be central to this task.”
“As this report finds, people love their CBDs and the vibrancy and opportunity they provide.
“Lively city centres are not only important for the thousands of businesses who rely on foot traffic, but also for millions of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in broader economic activity generated in our CBDs.”
“The employment, productivity and economic benefits of enlivened CBDs is immense. We want everyone with a stake in the future of our CBDs to engage in this conversation,” Mr Morrison added.
Selina Short, EY Oceania Real Estate, Hospitality and Construction Managing Partner, said Australia’s success in handling the pandemic could set our CBDs up for long-term success.
“We can transform our places of business into centres of experience,” Ms Short said.
“How do we do this? We need to rethink quality and reimagine the workplace, introduce more green space, embrace future mobility, amplify our Brand Australia message and more.
“Australia is in an enviable position. We are among the first in the world to restart our CBD engines. This gives us an unrivalled opportunity to write the global playbook for CBD revival – and to become a best practice hub for the world,” Ms Short concluded.
The joint report by Property Council of Australia and EY was launched on 31 March 2021 at a Property Council event.
The findings and conclusions are based on Property Council of Australia data, a survey of 600 CBD users, references to 98 academic papers, and interviews with 26 big thinkers with local and international perspectives.