“One in five Australians has a disability. That’s a huge part of our population – which means it’s also a huge part of the market,” says Chris Nunn, Head of Sustainability at AMP Capital Real Estate.
AMP is the owner of Collins Place, home to Melbourne CBD’s first publicly available Changing Places facility. Constructed in 2020, the facility is the second in AMP’s network of buildings across the country.
“We definitely have plans for more. I’d love to have one in every building,” says Chris.
There are countless benefits to the Melbourne CBD facility. It’s close to offices, restaurants, cinemas, hotels – the best of what the city has to offer.
But it’s good for the business, too.
“For me, part of it comes back to the fundamentals of commercial real estate. Creating spaces people love, that they want to be in, and being attractive to the broadest possible customer base,” says Chris.
“It’s good for us, it’s good for Melbourne, and it’s good for the community.”
As more facilities begin to open, the gaps in our cities start to close. Having the Collins Place facility in such close proximity to the Sofitel – a premiere hotel, and favoured destination of domestic and international travellers – means the city itself is becoming more accessible to visitors with disability.
“This new facility is helping position Melbourne as an accessible destination,” says Chris.
AMP Capital’s first Changing Place facility was at Queensland’s Pacific Fair, which Chris describes as a ‘successful pilot’.
“The more positive feedback we get from the community, the better. Hearing from people who use these facilities about why they’re important helps us keep building more.
“Accessibility is a big part of our 2030 sustainability strategy. By 2026, every asset – including offices and shopping centres – will have improved accessibility features, including Changing Places,” says Chris.
In terms of building the facility, Chris says the process was relatively straightforward. For builders and property developers, following the design specifications and working with assessors was essentially business as usual.
“There’s minimum compliance you need to meet when it comes to accessibility, but this is really one of those areas where we shouldn’t be satisfied with minimum standards,” says Chris.
Chris says his hope is that in commercial real estate, accessibility becomes the next
“It’s been a relatively recent phenomenon to think about the way people get to and from the office. It was all about the car spaces, now it’s bike racks and changing rooms – it’s a race to the top about who has the best end of trip facilities.
“I hope, and I believe, that accessibility is the new end of trip facilities. You’ve got bike facilities, but what about the one in five Australians with disability? Let’s make our spaces open to the public, and attract this really important customer base,” says Chris.