We can solve our housing crisis and our energy crisis with some clear thinking and a focus on our existing strengths for a green South Australia
Imagine if we had enough housing in South Australia. It is possible, according to entrepreneur and developer, Barrie Harrop, our special guest this week. Barrie has plans afoot for building a tall hotel in Victoria Square out of timber, a quality resort in Whyalla, and housing developments that offer free electricity to occupiers while making best use of existing road and rail infrastructure and accommodates people who need affordable accommodation.
John Gledhill returns to walk us through some new wines; this time they are fortifieds.
And in the Musical Pilgrimage, we hear a small snippet from South Australia’s Kaurna Cronin, who is about to take his local music to Europe.
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Running Sheet: How A Green South Australia Can Thrive
00:02:46 SA Drink Of The Week
This week we are joined by local winemaker, John Gledhill from Gledhill Vignerons, who gives us a sneak peek at his two new fortified wines; a Fortified Durif and a Fortified Touriga.
John also gives us a glimpse at the complexity of fortified winemaking.
The wines will be available soon on his website: Gledhill Wines.
00:13:16 Barrie Harrop and a green South Australia
Someone I’ve been watching in my LinkedIn feed for some time is Barrie Harrop. Barrie is there, every day, championing anything related to Green Hydrogen, Whyalla, and Sustainable Construction of buildings and houses using Cross Laminated Timber. Among many other things, Barrie is the chair of Thrive Construct, a building and development company that is committed to quality design, life time construction, carbon neutral living, free energy (subject to fair usage) and fast construction.
** In the interview, Barrie alludes to Quest Whyalla having very high occupancy rates. In the interests of accuracy, Nathan Butler, Business Development Executive, Quest Whyalla, has commented to us as follows: “I just wanted comment on our alleged occupancy of 94% on-going for the past 7 years. I wish that were the case. I can assure you that it is not.” Thank you, Nathan.
Barrie, although much of your career has focussed on significant scale property development, the one term that seems to tie everything together is entrepreneur. My social media feed would have me believe that South Australia has 17 entrepreneurs for every square metre of the state – every week has some sort of powerful gathering of entrepreneurs, or some sort of award like Best Left Handed Entrepreneur Aged 35 – 30, but in your career, you actually get things done. Could we start by defining what you think makes an entrepreneur a true entrepreneur, and perhaps share a couple of your proudest entrepreneurial successes?
Another theme I see running through various “self made” people in my feeds, is how everybody around them is small minded and negative. And I think there’s some nuance here. Just because an idea is big or grand or new, does NOT mean it is worthwhile or good. You have had your share of dealing with naysayers, and, one of them that brings this issue to the surface is the Southgate building at the bottom end of King William Street.
Back in the 90s, the atypical design for the Adelaide cityscape drew many critics.
What was it like, being at the centre of that project, including being the subject of that persistant Financial Review story, entitled, “Developer Adelaide Loves To Hate”?
So, Southgate was all about steel but a major theme in your posts over the past year or two has been CLT or Cross Laminated Timber. This material is the centrepiece of your proposed hotel tower for Victoria Square but before we get there, I want to share the story about CLT and also how it’s related to building and construction practices in Australia, which I’ve seen you claim as some of the most wasteful in the world.
Turning to Victoria Square, I’m surprised we need a new hotel because everything I have been seeing is talking about scarcity of residential properties in the Adelaide CBD. Can you talk us through why hotel accommodation is the approach you’ve taken?
I’m working with some Flinders University students at the moment and they’re grappling with scenarios where a city has a lot of vacant office space and crushing scarcity of residential accommodation. As an entrepreneur and developer, what do you think of the concept of refitting vacant office buildings as residential, or adopting a hybrid approach? Does that have legs, given that landlords traditionally make more money from commercial clients, don’t they?
Something intriguing about your approach to development is captured in this line on your website: “We’re planning the world’s largest sustainable and affordable housing projects and as part of the planning we will introduce micro grids (wired and integrated with solar and battery technologies) subject to fair usage clause our model is free energy for our occupients”.
And you took a shot at the Adelaide City Council’s Bus Station redevelopment for its small percentage of affordable accommodation in the mix. How does the affordable accommodation aspect work; what stops investors using tricky methods to steal the affordable allocations away from those in need?
Do you have any thoughts on our shrinking Housing Trust stock? Morphettville is being plundered and redeveloped at the moment and a part of me is sad that housing that once helped the less well off is now being converted into little McMansions.
You wrote to the Department of Infrastructure a few years ago and you floated one idea to alleviate our lack of affordable housing options. You said 400sqm areas around train stations and tram stops in the suburbs should be rezoned to allow 8-storey developments because it puts people right where transport is and gets the balance right. Do you still hold this view?
Have you seen the growth in Mount Barker? Large parts of me die when I see farming land turned over to low densite housing. We can’t eat concrete. Where’s our food going to come from?
Back on the hotel front, you’ve been writing for some time now that Whyalla is the perfect place for accommodation investment because even broom closets can fetch $200 a night. What is the dynamic at work there and what has you so involved in the town?
What makes Whyalla the perfect location for Green Hydrogen production to help us become a green South Australia?
I am hearing a lot of criticism about the so-called “dumb” choice of governments backing electric vehicles as the shorthand answer for decarbonising transport, on the basis that our electricity grid, especially in apartment buildings, just can’t cope with battery charging. Would hydrogen-fuelled vehicles be an answer or the answer?
Finally, I just heard some research being discussed over the weekend about how our ideas get more extreme when we only mix with people who agree with us. How do you keep your ideas sharp and balanced and not given to simple idealism and wishful thinking? Do you have a Devil’s Advocate in your circle?
01:07:14 Musical Pilgrimage
Given that during the weekend of recording, England reminded us, through the crowning of their/our new king, that they sent people to Australia in the 1800s, it makes sense that we blow a few horns for local singer/songwriter, Kaurna Cronin who will soon be our export back to Europe.
He has a number of dates planned – get details and music from the Kaurna Cronin website – but to finish this episode we’re going to hear one of his latest songs, Our Way, from his recent album, Harsh Reality.
Here’s this week’s preview video
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