Our very first masterplanned community made sense then… And even more so today
Lovely Banks will improve all the more with time. This $3.7 billion masterplanned community, currently being proposed to the City of Greater Geelong, promises significant economic gains for no less than 20 years, with lifestyle, employment and environmental benefits continuing on.
He has been credited with designing Canberra, giving us carports and even the L-shaped house. But Walter Burley Griffin also gave Australia its very first masterplanned community. The year was 1921 when Burley Griffin and his wife, Marion, first started designing Castlecrag on Sydney’s lower North Shore. Now almost a century later we have the benefit of hindsight and, by all accounts, our first masterplanned community has more than stood the test of time.
Put simply, a masterplanned community is designed with exacting detail to be highly desirable, easy living and working places at one with their environment, that are also sustainable. Of course before you can build a community, that ticks all these boxes for everyone who lives and works there, you first need space and plenty of it.
When Castlecrag was first designed, the population of Australia was just a quarter of what it is now and there was no shortage of vacant land. Today though, the opportunities to build master planned communities are reliant on land availability. This is why one of Victoria’s staunchest advocates of masterplanned communities is already in the process of sharing his vision with the City of Greater Geelong.
As the former Managing Director of Delfin, Chris Banks oversaw the development of the highly successful Caroline Springs masterplanned community, among others. As Chris Banks tells it: “Investment in a masterplanned community comes down to two things. First you need demand to be present and then you acquire the land to cater for this development”. According to Chris Banks: “Greater Geelong has both”.
At the time that Castlecrag’s masterplanned community was built, it was similar to Greater Geelong, with both being far enough away from an overcrowded capital to provide a more idyllic lifestyle, yet still close enough to commute, if required. Indeed, this has been given as one of the reasons why population growth in Greater Geelong is booming and is projected to do so for years to come.
In fact the City of Geelong Settlement Strategy cites that population could increase by 2.5 per cent a year, and that Geelong needs to plan for this growth trajectory and beyond in order to embrace a new economic future.
Chris Banks could not agree more and is hoping to work closely with Council on developing a masterplanned community that will have far-reaching and ongoing benefits for everyone in Greater Geelong.
As Chris Banks explained: “While other areas have been proposed for development, Lovely Banks provides the scope to accommodate 14,000 new homes and deliver the core infrastructure in step with development. By helping to meet increasing demand for housing, Lovely Banks will ensure that first homebuyers won’t be priced out of the market. So everyone can achieve the Australian dream of buying that home of their own. Of course, Lovely Banks being a self sufficient masterplanned community would also mean that the quality of life, for which Greater Geelong is renowned, can continue without population growth having an adverse effect”.
Attending to every detail
The success of Australia’s first ever masterplanned community, Castlecrag, has long been credited to the fact that it was designed by Burley Griffin, and also came with covenants in place to preserve it in the future. Led by Chris Banks as Chair, the Lovely Banks Development Group will be equally design-driven with their proposed masterplanned community.
Burley Griffin made full use of Castlecrag’s coastal location, Lovely Banks will also boast views of the sea and the Melbourne City skyline. Just as Castlecrag provided amenities, so too would the proposal for Lovely Banks. “Of course ours would include retail, hospitality and commercial premises, as well as education for all levels and ages, to ensure locals have access to everything they need within easy walking distance,” Chris Banks elaborated.
Castlecrag provided an amphitheatre, parks and walking trails as part of its design. “We will be proposing recreational and nature reserves for Lovely Banks, along with sporting facilities” Chris added. “In doing so we will create a desirable new address that will add value to the entire region”.
Chris Banks also cites Lovely Banks’ proximity to the Geelong Ring Road Employment Precinct. “A masterplanned community in Lovely Banks would benefit from having employment on its doorstep, minimising traffic congestion. Lovely Banks will also provide jobs for those currently living in Geelong. Building this masterplanned community will create 1,885 construction jobs per annum and preference will be given to local workers. These and other key points have been highlighted in the Lovely Banks Development Group Response to City Of Greater Geelong Settlement Strategy.
From the start, Castlecrag enjoyed a strong community spirit. It’s something that has not just continued but grown with time. Today conservation groups stand alongside those earlier theatre groups. It will be the same at Lovely Banks. As Chris Banks summarised: “When Lovely Banks comes to fruition, it will offer a broad range of housing to meet demand and stop prices soaring, provide new and ongoing employment across a range of industries and ensure the infrastructure is delivered in a timely manner, so people can live, work, raise families and share life long experiences. It will be community at its very best.”