Larry Schlesinger | 28 November 2012

Victorian government’s urban development CEO resigns amid job cuts and market downturn

The chief executive of the Victorian government’s urban renewal and development authority, Places Victoria, has stepped down as one in four jobs have been cut among staff from the organisation.

Sam Sangster resigned after six-and-a-half years with Places Victoria.

Places Victoria replaced the previous development authority VicUrban last year and overseas large scale urban renewal projects such as Docklands, house and land releases across Melbourne and Victoria and other commercial developments such as urban renewal projects in Wodonga and the Officer Town Centre in Cardinia Shire.

Yesterday, Places Victoria announced that a “number of positions would become redundant in response to a downturn in the property development market and a subsequent repositioning and restructuring of the organisation”.

The restructure, which will see full time job numbers cut from188 to 135 by March next year enabling the organisation to “reduce its portfolio of undeveloped land assets and maintain a focus on the identification and development of large precincts along with the identification of urban sites, that have further housing and workplace potential’ .

Sangster will step down early next year having only been appointed CEO in November last year.

“Places Victoria has to balance delivery of services to the urban development sector with meeting the policy objectives of government. The reduction in portfolio, restructure and redundancies are a reflection of the same pressures that the private sector is facing,” said the organisation in a statement.

His resignation follows chairman Peter Clarke stepping down on full pay in August while an ASIC investigation is resolved regarding the collapse of Australian Property Custodian Holdings Ltd, manager of the Prime Retirement and Aged Care Property Trust. Clarke was a director of APCHL. ASIC is investigation allegations that directors breached their duties.

Deputy chairman Ken Fehily is standing in as acting chairman for the duration of the investigation until a resolution is reached.

Places Victoria reported a loss of $18.8 million in its 2011-12 annual report amidst a “challenging economic environment for the property development industry”.

The annual report included property write-downs of $42 million due to the downturn in the market.

 

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