ADW Johnson is an experienced, multi-disciplinary consultancy, whose customised approach has proven effective and successful for 4 decades. The group, as it is known today, was born in 2008 from the merger of two businesses, one in Newcastle’s Hunter Region, and the other located on New South Wales’ Central Coast. ADW Johnson currently employs 85 staff: 35 on the Central Coast, and 50 in the Hunter Region office.
With a team consisting of town planners, designers, economic analysts, engineers, project managers, surveyors, and a 3D visualisation artist, as well as a reliable network of sub-consultants, including structural and geotechnical engineers, traffic and social planners, environmental scientists, and civil contractors, ADW Johnson is able to offer a dynamic and complete range of services to their clients.
Typically taking a leading management role in large-scale developments, the group reviews their projects for sustainability opportunities whenever possible. “As lead project managers we have the direct contact with our client for the project,” says Director Michael Nelmes, “so we can then take these opportunities to the client and get their consideration.”
One of ADW Johnson’s most challenging projects to date was a large-scale, 600-lot development on Murrays Beach, located on Jetty Point Drive. The definitive nature of the masterplanned residential community was attributed to the strong environmental stewardship principles that served as a guide for every stage of the project. “The challenge was trying to satisfy the ecological idealisms based on the planning process,” Michael says, “and trying to meld the engineering outcome into something that was both cost-effective and marketable.”
ADW Johnson is currently working closely with the Darkinjung Aboriginal Land Council, the largest landowner in the Central Coast region. The group has reviewed the council’s portfolio, identifying areas for conservation, as well as areas with potential for employment and residential developments. “It’s a pretty special project,” says Nelmes, “because the land councils are trying achieve economic independence, so the work we are doing is going a long way for them to generate income from their own land, so that they become sustainable and look after their members.” Michael also points out the significant benefits that such developments can offer to the broader community. ADW Johnson is also engaged in a number of urban development projects, including subdivisions of approximately 2 500lots such as one in Newcastle for Housing Australia and the other in Catherine Hill Bay, as well as a 400 lot development for Investa in the Hunter region.
The efforts made by ADW Johnson to remain ahead of the pack have earned them a number of industry awards, including the 2010 Institute of Surveyors NSW Sustainable Development Award for Murrays Beach and finalist rankings for many others, such as the 2010 Cadastral Surveying & Land Titling award from the NSW Excellence in Surveying & Spatial Information Awards for their Crown Land and Easement Survey in Bushells Ridge.
ADW Johnson’s engagement with the UDIA is a highly valued component of their business, with Michael currently an active committee member of the association’s Hunter chapter, and has held the position of Vice Chair of that committee for 4 years. “That organisational group is critical,” he says, “because in the work that we do, there are often obstacles, and UDIA helps by engaging with the government to try to facilitate changes that will remove blockages to development.”
Michael feels that some of the most crucial changes that must occur within the industry are in regards to a new planning system. “It’s caught up in politics,” he says. “The current Liberal government came into power with an agenda which included the delivery of a new planning system as a consequence of the current planning legislation (1979) having become too complex and inflexible. Unfortunately the new legislation has been unable to satisfactorily pass through the upper house.” Michael also points out that for regional areas such as Hunter and the Central Coast,one of the greatest obstacles, to the delivery of residential subdivisions, is the ability to attract capital investment in a limited market where these regions are competing with metropolitan areas which, in the main , have the ability to turn over capital in a shorter time period and therefore generate better returns on investment. ,
Michael has over two decades of experience in the industry, many of which he has spent as a senior member and director of ADW Johnson. His core area of expertise lies in the development of large residential subdivisions, from the initial site capability assessment through to their final delivery. He continues to play an active role in the management of ADW Johnson, consistently striving for excellence in all facets of every project. “It’s all about reinventing yourself,” he says, “I’ve been in the industry for about 25 years, and through those years I’ve seen a lot of change, and I’ve been able to constantly adapt to those changes.”