In profile: Lend Lease head of urban regeneration David Rolls

In profile: Lend Lease head of urban regeneration David Rolls
In profile: Lend Lease head of urban regeneration David Rolls

David Rolls is head of urban regeneration and commercial in Lend Lease’s development business in Australia. He tells Property Observer about his involvement in major urban regeneration projects including Melbourne's Docklands and Jacksons Landing and Barangaroo South in Sydney.

How long have you been in the industry?

I have been in the industry for over 25 years. I have worked across the project management, construction, and property development industries. With my initial background in construction engineering and a career at Lend Lease, I have been lucky enough to have experience across most sectors including residential, commercial, retail, for both private and public clients, in both Australia and Europe. I have also had a four-year period outside of Lend Lease gaining a valuable external perspective which involved packaging projects without the balance sheet strength of that enjoyed at Lend Lease.

What’s happening in the area you specialise in?

I am head of urban regeneration and commercial. This is an exciting time in our business, as we have projects such as Jacksons Landing in Sydney that have been in development for 16 years reaching completion, and then across the Harbour we have Barangaroo South just starting. Our Victoria Harbour project in Melbourne’s Docklands is also at an exciting stage, and there is a lot happening in the innovation space, including our delivery of the world’s tallest residential timber building, Forté. In all major cities in Australia we now have major urban regeneration projects underway. A major focus for me is the importance of never under-estimating how much effort is needed to deliver unique places and communities in their respective local context.

Describe the most interesting property development or transaction you have been involved in?

Definitely Darling Quarter. It was a collaborative effort between Lend Lease and the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA). A $500 million mixed-use project that includes a low rise campus-style commercial development (Commonwealth Bank Place) with an illuminated façade and a family and leisure precinct with retail and dining options, a new 4,000-square-metre public illuminated playground, a children’s theatre, community green and carpark. Darling Quarter reconnects the south end of Darling Harbour to the city, and Lend Lease has delivered an interactive work and play area for the local community, city workers and tourists. The precinct has greatly improved public activation by bringing together commercial, retail and leisure all within the one area. A new pedestrian link, referred to as the Civic Connector, creates a gateway to Darling Harbour that connects to Town Hall station, Chinatown and the Darling Harbour waterfront. This project has achieved so many firsts across social, economic and financial sustainability that all stakeholders just could not be happier with the result.

What are the ingredients to being successful in your job?

I have a passion for leading teams and having all team members focus on improving the project as it progresses in every aspect rather than accepting the easy option. For example, at Darling Quarter the stakeholders worked together to enable the delivery of the illuminated playground that has become a destination for the people of Sydney.

What aspects of your role do you enjoy the most?

I really enjoy playing with complex urban challenges and seeing the transformation they can make.

Where would you invest a spare $750,000?

I would invest in Brisbane. The growth projections matched with the population growth forecasts would make it seem like a good long-term prospect.

Which football team do you support?

The Manly Sea Eagles, on the northern beaches of Sydney.

What’s your favourite app or techno gadget?

Having only just mastered the iPad, I would have to say my favourite techno piece is the Garmin app where I can view my cycling training history and race against pre-set times on certain local hills.

How do you use social media?

Personally I stay in touch with friends and family via Facebook and professionally use in LinkedIn. We have used Twitter for conferences and training but I am yet to master this one. Via my children and colleagues I am starting to understand the basics of FourSquare, Pinterest and Instagram.

Find David on LinkedIn

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger

Larry Schlesinger was a property writer at Property Observer

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