Sam Sangster

29 November 2012 – Places Victoria has slashed staff numbers and chief executive Sam Sangster has stepped down from his position, after the property downturn forced the Victorian government land developer to restructure.

Employees were informed on Tuesday, 27 November, the organisation said in a media statement on its website.

“The restructure, which will reduce full time equivalent positions from 188 at November 2012 to 135 FTEs at the end of March 2013, enables Places Victoria 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,” the media statement said.

Places Victoria, formerly VicUrban, said it needed 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”.

Fairfax Media reported that the agency had plans to cover a loss of more than $18 million with a fire sale of public land to private developers – including overseas investors.

Mr Sangster leaves after six and a half years with Places Victoria and 12 months as CEO.

Chairman, Peter Clarke stood down in August after the Australian Securities and Investments Commission commenced investigations into his role in the collapse of Prime Investment Trust in 2010, media reports said.

In our article on 17 November last year, Peter Clarke outlined a massive landholding controlled by the Places Victoria.

Included in the portfolio are the $1 billion Docklands project, 240 hectares at the adjoining Fishermen’s Bend, the 128 hectare Defence site in inner western Marybyrnong and hundreds of  hectares at Frankston, Nidree, Officer and Mernda.

Regional holdings include land in Wodonga, Hamilton, Swan Hill and Geelong.