Underbank: concept to construction
As construction begins at Underbank, a major greenfields development in Bacchus Marsh, we look back at some of the planning challenges that have been overcome.
In 2011, Taylors submitted an application to Moorabool Shire Council, on behalf of Kataland, to rezone the historic Underbank Stud Farm in Bacchus Marsh to make way for an innovative housing development.
Now in mid-2016, more than four years later, the residential development will begin construction and bring to life a design plan that focuses on the traditional idea of the neighbourhood.
Taylors Director, Nick Hooper, said the rezoning was quite a challenge.
“It took a long time, around four years from start to finish, and in this time there were a lot of negotiations between us, Kataland and the Council.
“Some local people didn’t want the development to go ahead due to the location as it was a well-known operating stud farm for decades.
“Basically we just had to persist and go back and forth between all stakeholders in order to achieve the desired outcome for our client.
“The plan was accepted in the end and the Council agreed that the location had real potential for urban expansion because of its good natural features.”
Underbank is located on approximately 153 hectares of former farming land within Victoria’s peri-urban fringe.
Mr Hooper said “the location means Underbank is beyond Melbourne’s urban growth boundary, a growth perimeter which is designed to contain Melbourne’s urban sprawl and support an increasing population.
“Due to its distance from Melbourne and place beyond the growth boundary, communities like Bacchus Marsh have a role to play in providing housing and jobs that entice people to move away from an increasingly congested city.”
“The appeal of Underbank is that it is a discreet addition to the Bacchus Marsh region with a central focus and village atmosphere, while still connecting to the main centre through an extensive road network.
“Every single aspect of the development has been thought out and planned with the goal of bringing back the concept of the neighbourhood.”
Mr Hooper said that while some aspects of neighbourhood design principles have been reflected in urban plans, subdivisions and grid designs over the past decade, it’s a concept that needs to be considered when talking about urban sprawl and greenfield developments.
“Back in the 50s, where you lived, worked and shopped were all within walking distance of each other. You knew your neighbours and your neighbourhood carried with it a sense of identity.
“Then cities got bigger and people could just drive to places that were further out, so the idea of villages was no longer relevant.”
The idea of a 20 minute neighbourhood is one of the proposed planning strategies outlined in the 2016 refresh of Plan Melbourne, the long term plan for Melbourne’s urban growth.
Mr Hooper said the neighbourhood concept strongly shaped Underbank’s design.
“The concept of having a range of services within 20 minutes walking distance from your house uses a village approach and takes into account public transport, educational facilities and the open spaces available.”
Taylors’ plan for Underbank responds to both the opportunities and constraints of the site and will use the natural aspects of the land.
“The main things to keep in mind when planning a development of this size is connectivity,” Mr Hooper said.
“Everything constructed needs to connect with the environment and local waterways but also be designed around a street network which keeps in mind pedestrians, cycling and cars.
“Taylors master plan vision responds to the land itself as we want to use lakes and parks and have a good mix of different size housing to suit a range of people wanting to live here.”
Underbank is one of Taylors’ flagship projects and will begin construction in Bacchus Marsh in mid-2016.