Nelsons Ridge and Ropes Crossing are both master planned communities developed by Lend Lease in Sydney, Australia. Nelsons Ridge is located in Pemulway and Ropes Crossing is situated near Penrith. Lend Lease has implemented similar community services in both these communities.
‘Urban themeing’ was a concept raised by the Lend Lease real estate agent at Nelsons Ridge, which allows residents the opportunity to customise and design their own home. Residents have the ability to choose an architect and builder for their home or use the contractors suggested by Lend Lease. Lend Lease have even created a guideline for residents titled Nelsons Ridge Building and Siting Requirements.
This outlines the approval process, design and building requirements, so that their home is designed according to Council’s controls, while also maintaining a consistent design approach in the development. Rather than residents purchasing a pre-designed home off the plan and not having the ability to express their choice, this system gives residents a valuable role in the design of their home and essentially will enable a stronger sense of community.
At both Nelsons Ridge and Ropes Crossing, Lend Lease have employed a Community Development Manager whose role is to arrange communal events, social activities and basically to provide a figure person with the prime responsibility to respond to the needs of the community. Some activities offered include BBQ’s and welcome nights for new residents. New residents receive a welcome kit containing all relevant information they will need to know to live in the community, such as a sustainability energy kit and a brochure on safety named ‘Safety in your community’.
It reads; “Your community will continue to grow into a strong and vibrant community for many years to come. However, along the way, we must all remain aware and alert about safety aspects that come with developing a new community like ours”. This emphasis on community safety has the potential to create a strong sense of belonging, by assuring there it is considered important for resident’s wellbeing and that the development is a safe environment to live in. There is also a security patrol vehicle which casually surveys the area for any suspicious activity, which also promotes a safe environment.
In addition to the Community Development Manager, Lend Lease tries to encourage residents to take on roles in the community, such as organising communal events and the general maintenance of the neighbourhood. Lend Lease office personnel actually work in Nelsons Ridge, which makes it more convenient for residents and potential residents to liaise with them and it provides a high quality customer relationship.
- Source: www.nelsonsridge.com.au
Nelson’s Ridge provides the community with a number of amenities and services. The planning of this community clearly represents Lend Lease’s determination to provide a range of facilities accommodating the mix of age groups.
The development has facilities catering for all age groups, from two child care centres located in the Village Centre to Nelson’s Grove Retirement Village, a 25 apartment complex for seniors. These two types of facilities evidently show the range in age groups in the development and show the commitment to enhance a sense of community for residents. The retirement village consists of a number of facilities specifically for senior citizens, including a clubhouse, library, business centre, gym and indoor and outdoor pools.
It is a common mistake by master planned communities, that they forget about creating open spaces and facilities for a range of age groups. As children grow older, they require different facilities to use for recreational purposes and there is an obvious need to accommodate for this transition.
Located in Nelsons Ridge are the typical playground areas with the odd BBQ, picnic tables and shelter. However, Lend Lease has integrated two half-sized basketball courts, which are commonly used by teenagers for practicing and small team games. There are also two tennis courts, a ‘children’s learn to cycle track’, reserves, a pocket park, a total of 40 hectares of open space and a ‘dog off leash area’.
Creation of Community
The Nelsons Ridge master planned community is no doubt a ground-breaking development in terms of its focus on integrating a well designed urban environment to enable the creation of a community. It is a serious challenge for master planned developments to create a sense of community and a place where the residents feel comfortable and proud of living in their neighbourhood. However in this instance, Lend Lease has proved to be successful by providing carefully planned community facilities and services.
It should be noted that all the community facilities are open to the public and are not for the exclusive use by the residents. By providing a range of facilities for the residents, the emotional attachment to the community is further enhanced, which demonstrates the necessity to establish a master planned development with facilities for all age groups.
The Village Centre is considered the community hub where a variety of activities takes place and could also be classified as the Neighbourhood centre. The location of the Village Centre is not ideal because it is not even located in the ‘centre’ of the neighbourhood and is not within walking distance for a majority of the residents.
The facilities and community services provided at Nelsons Ridge evidently promote a sense of community for residents and set a precedent for future master planned communities. This has been made possible by integrating a range of facilities for all age groups and implementing community services with the intention of providing residents with a connection to other residents and support in other community related issues.
Ropes Crossing comprises a number of community facilities which are available to the public and not only for the exclusive use of the residents. The facilities are located in a precinct called ‘Ropes Central’, which includes a Coles supermarket and specialty stores, a Community Resource Centre, a Primary school, childcare facilities, a Village Green and dedicated sporting fields. The dedicated Regional Park covers 900 hectares of open space and there are three types of parks that contribute to the open space provided, they are categorised as town park, neighbourhood park and local park.
There is a 25 kilometre network of bicycle and walking tracks connecting the neighbourhoods, parks, the Regional Park, Ropes Central and the primary school. A community garden will be established near Ropes Central, which aims to attract gardening groups from the local residents and as a result, will create a sense of community. Below is an access plan for Ropes Crossing showing the different types of pedestrian and bicycle routes.
This extensive list of community facilities and the emphasis of providing a considerable amount of bicycle and walking tracks is a clear demonstration of how Lend Lease regards the importance of creating a sense of community.
The Ropes Crossing Skilling and Employment Centre was established to facilitate local residents in the area to find employment within the local area. It also provides educating jobseekers to build their job skills and capabilities. At the 2006 Western Sydney Industry Awards, the centre was awarded Outstanding Community Contribution by a Large Business under the Regional Excellence category.
In the Housing Industry Association’s Housing publication in September 2005, Arthur Ilias, Ropes Crossing’s Project Director, suggested that due to the 12 to 15 year building timeframe of the master planned estate, recruits will finish their training and having the opportunity to practice their profession in the area. This meant that the future workforce could practice within the St Mary’s area, rather than working somewhere else. This is a significant achievement for Lend Lease because it has provided an innovative way to bring employment within the area, while also creating a sense of community for residents.
Creation of Community
There are many community facilities and services provided to sustain and create a community, which makes Lend Lease successful in providing the foundations for a community. An integral element that will create a community is the availability of the community facilities to the public, which means they are not exclusively used by the residents. This will establish a stronger sense of community for the Ropes Crossing residents because they will develop relationships not only with residents but also local residents from the surrounding area.
Lend Lease have promised to dedicate 3% for affordable housing as a means to make the development more attractive for people who can not necessarily afford a regular priced home in the estate. There were no specific details of these houses provided, such as the Axis homes planned in Nelsons Ridge, however these homes should ideally be integrated among the homes so that segregation and class conflict does not occur (Unlike the proposed Axis homes).
A primary school is planned for the estate and not a high school, which already excludes 13-18 year olds from the opportunity of education within Ropes Crossing. A preferable option would be to incorporate both types of schools so that all primary and secondary education is provided. Childcare facilities are also proposed for the neighbourhood, which would provide complete care and education for children aged 0-18.
In contrast to the Village Centre at Nelsons Ridge, Ropes Central is centrally located in Ropes Crossing, where there is many community facilities and in close proximity to homes. Even though Ropes Crossing is a much larger estate than Nelsons Ridge, the provision of a large pedestrian and bicycle network is aimed at encouraging reducing the need of the car, thereby creating a more community based accessibility design.