Cornerstone Living, located in Coopers Plains (Brisbane) is a $600 million, 10-hectare residential community by developers Consolidated Properties that will create almost 1200 new homes over a 10-year period.
Of the 1200 apartments and townhouses to be delivered currently 211 have been completed and a further 56 are under construction, with the remaining due for completion before 2022.
This project of substantial scale and significance is the largest suburban renewal to take place in Queensland. The final outcome will be delivered over a variety of stages and will integrate a range of affordable apartment and town-house options with public green open spaces and local amenities.
A small convenience-based retail centre will also be incorporated as part of the latter stages of development.
Consolidated Properties have collaborated with the likes of IDEArchitecture, AECOM, Ranbury, Hutchinson Builders, HWL Ebsworth and Colliers International to bring this project to life.
As a case study, The Urban Developer seeks to answer does this project provide a genuine affordable product without sacrificing design or community engagement and function?
Affordability; How Is This Project A Genuine Affordable Option For Buyers?
Below are the average m2 rates for the most recent sold out stage of the development that is currently under construction. Stage D consists of 22 townhouses and 30 apartments.
These m2 rates are considerably below the bulk of apartment developments across Brisbane and translate to affordable housing choices.
The project agreement between the developer, development partner and the Queensland Government, states that in addition to the normal Council development assessment process a design process is required for each stage.
The design approval assesses the proposed stage against the requirements outlined in the Project Agreement. ‘Affordable by design’ is one of the requirements.
‘Affordable by design’ means a minimum of 15% of the dwellings are to be sold at prices initially; below $300,000 for a one bedroom and $400,000 for 2 and 3 bedroom dwellings.
These figures are indexed with inflation. This initiative has resulted in the project far exceeding the Government set target of 15% with an admirable 65% of the properties sold achieving these principles.
Further evidence of the affordability of Cornerstone Living is the high proportion of owner occupiers, with 65% of sales being made to this group.
Affordability and value is also demonstrated through the fact that 35% of these owner occupiers are first time buyers.
These are not buyers with deep pockets and property portfolios but people who have saved their deposit and been encouraged into the housing market by a genuinely affordable option.
How Has The Developer Achieved An Affordable Product Without Sacrificing Design Outcomes, Function Or Community Engagement?
Balancing Public and Private Housing
This project involves 21 different development stages located in and around existing private dwellings. The development places medium density dwellings amongst a community that is house proud and tentatively excited to embrace the government initiative for suburb rejuvenation.
With this in mind, the developer has been very conscious of listening to and creating a community identity in addition to creating the development itself.
To commence the transformation of Coopers Plains, the Government undertook sensitive management of public housing tenants in relocating over 200 tenants to other more appropriate accommodation with the full cooperation and agreement by the tenant.
As homes were vacated, they were demolished and in some instances, the Department progressively developed new homes, duplexes and apartments in small projects spread across the precinct including the most recent project finished in 2014 for 9 aged care apartments for public housing tenants.
The balance of the State’s portfolio within the precinct (90 vacant allotments and 45 tenanted homes) totalling 10 hectares is subject to the Project Agreement and will ultimately be developed for 1200 new dwellings meaning the final mix of homes, once complete will be approximately 1300 private homes and 109 public housing tenants meaning a proportion of less than 10% as public housing which falls within the world’s best practice.
Achieving Regeneration Through Collaboration Between Developer, Council And Local Residents
To achieve the regeneration of the area, the Department worked with Brisbane City Council to rezone the low density precinct to allow 2, 3 and 5 storey attached townhouses and apartments set amongst 100 private land holders.
The urban design has been well conceived such that, there have not been any submissions received to any of the 12 impact assessed development applications lodged to date with Brisbane City Council.
The Council was fully engaged in the local area plan concept put forward by the Department, and have benefited from the amenity that is now being created in the area.
At the commencement of the project, the developer incorporated a Community Liaison Group chaired by the managing director. The members were invited via a 20,000 household letterbox drop, and personal invites to local community leaders.
A group of 15 people were formed including members of local community groups, local business owners and existing residents within the subject area.
Creating Public Connection Through Public Amenity
The masterplan includes a café and a community centre for use by community and special interest groups. A community garden has also recently been introduced. This will enable residents and the Cornerstone Café to grow their own produce and meet and socialise with neighbours, thereby forming a sense of pride and ownership of the communal areas.
Future stages of the development include parklands with BBQ areas, seating, play equipment and recreational sport facilities (i.e. basketball half-court).
The residents have been involved in choosing their favourite design for the park and it will be based in the centre of the masterplan creating a ‘heart’ for the area. Additional amenities include further shops and facilities as the community grows.
This mix of dwellings between apartments and townhouses was an integral focus for the developer as they perceived it was important in fostering a new, vibrant community and bringing a mix of residents into the area - from families, to university students to retirees.
Green space has been another key focus and community objective. Consolidated Properties responded to that desire with town homes enjoying their own private courtyards while the apartment buildings also enjoy their own gardens and courtyards, so residents can enjoy leisure time outdoors.
All images courtesy of Consolidated Properties
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