Essendon Fields Wins 2020 UDIA Urban Renewal Award

Essendon Fields has been announced Australia’s Urban Renewal Project of the Year Award at the annual Urban Development Institute of Australia (UDIA) National Awards.

This year, the awards were announced a little differently and nominees were notified of their win via a live streaming of the awards.

The 24th UDIA National Awards for Excellence, which recognises the best projects across Australia that promote quality and innovation across the urban development industry, highlighted the remarkable urban transformation of Essendon Fields since privatisation in 2001.

Essendon Fields was victorious in the Urban Renewal category at UDIA’s Victorian Awards in 2019 and also took home the overall Judges Award for Metropolitan Melbourne last year.

Judges cited the rejuvenation at Essendon Fields from a greenfield site and its underutilised Airport surrounds to a modern and successful employment and community hub, employing more than 6,000 workers, as a truly unique example of urban redevelopment.


aerial view of old Essendon Fields in black and whiteaerial view of Essendon Fields overlayed images

Brendan Pihan, CEO of Essendon Fields, said the recognition came at an important time for the precinct and rewarded the original vision of the owners.

“Awards like this inspire curiosity: we are hopeful that business will take a closer look at what Essendon Fields has to offer.  Essendon Fields is at a tipping point – it has real momentum. Next year marks the centenary of the airport, and whilst many are familiar with Essendon Airport and its rich history, the transformation of the precinct over the past 20 years since privatisation is not as widely known. Recognition by our industry at these awards validates what we see happening here every day: businesses looking away from the CBD for value and a place that is more convenient and bursting with quality amenity for their staff. We are thrilled that the UDIA has awarded Essendon Fields the National Urban Renewal Award,” Mr Pihan said.

“The Beck and Fox families have always said they want to leave a lasting urban legacy at Essendon Fields that benefits the broader community and this award is timely recognition that EF has become a great destination for people to work, shop and visit. The transformation has been incredible. When the owners took over in 2001, the place employed around 200 people. Now that number is more than 6,000,’’ he said.

“The broader benefit to the surrounding community of Essendon Fields cannot be underestimated.  The precinct contributes the equivalent of almost 15 per cent of all jobs within the local region and 16 per cent of total municipal economic activity, supporting over $1 billion in annual value-added activity from both direct effects and supply-chain effects.’’

“Essendon Fields also does the unheralded but important things that help make a place great, such as the thoughtful renewal of heritage buildings, excellence in design of new A-grade offices, and a genuine commitment to placemaking, public art and environmental initiatives. We are planting 10,000 new trees throughout the precinct, not because we have to, but because it makes huge difference to how people enjoy their time here.’’ Mr Pihan said.

Situated just 15 kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD, Essendon Fields is one of the largest master-planned aviation, retail and commercial hubs in Melbourne and is home to more than 200 local and international organisations. Promoting aviation remains at the heart of Essendon Fields, supported by an ongoing investment to safety and infrastructure.

Essendon Fields has become a target location for office development, where organisations know their employees will enjoy working in the surrounds with outstanding food outlets, restaurants like Mr McCracken, supermarkets like the iconic LaManna, medical and dental practices, childcare and a gymnasium. The attraction for workers and businesses has been strong, where for the past five years direct occupancy rates have been above 95 per cent.

“The efforts of Government, banks, contractors, consultants, customers and our team must be acknowledged because without their commitment and support this win would not be possible.  I would also like to acknowledge the contribution of past leadership, who have had a significant influence on the place.  And very importantly, thank you to our 200 customers who have chosen to base their business here and with your ongoing support we will get through this difficult time,” concluded Mr Pihan.