Holmes Dyer Study Tour 2016

16 September 2016

In September the annual Holmes Dyer Study Tour visited the Sunshine Coast, Brisbane, and Sydney to see some of the Country’s newest and most exciting projects.

This year Helen and Stephen were joined by local government colleagues, State government colleagues and representatives of Flinders University.

The tour takes in the best of new greenfield developments, infill, commercial, and residential.  


The Sunshine Coast is remarkably similar to Adelaide in terms of scale and size. This year we visited some new residential developments in the Hinterland.

An exciting development by Stockland that we visited features a major medical precinct including a hospital that will open with 450 beds rising to 738 at full operation. With the opening imminent, the hospital is a catalyst for activation within the area. The hospital brings with it not only staff (4,500) and patients but family and visitors such as researchers and specialists. Some 11,000 visits per day are anticipated.  A commercial precinct is already establishing and operative at full development this area is expected to comprise an area of some 32,000m². Designed to support the hospital precinct this includes retail outlets and cafes, along with a range of medial and allied services such as densities, GPs, clinics and other consulting rooms. There is also a major hotel in the precinct that will provide supporting accommodation. Already, this property is experiencing good levels of occupancy. The area is to be completed with a 150 bed private hospital and of course the surrounding residential development. This project demonstrates how a key land use can become a catalyst for activation, underpin a mixed use area and provide for decentralised jobs and additional service provision.

In Brisbane we visited The Village at Cooperoo. This leading edge aged care facility provides a range of living options for older persons on one site in a luxurious setting. Based in one of Brisbane’s most pleasant leafy suburbs (Cooperoo), this is an infill development that takes advantage of the natural topography and integrates five storey development into an area characterised by ‘Queenslander’ dwellings by sensitive design. It includes the restoration of an historic building. The site comprises apartments and independent living along with an adjacent nursing home. The apartments typically comprise two and three bedrooms (walk-in robes and ensuites to the master) and feature moveable walls to enable a flexible configuration to suit the occupants. Penthouses with views back over Brisbane are available. All of the apartments can access common services including a café, library/reading room, billiard/games rooms and various sitting areas and gardens. There is also a pool facility with supervised exercise sessions, a gymnasium and a craft/arts rooms again with classes such as painting. A small commercial space provides for a hair-dressing beauty salon, and medical rooms. Common gardens are beautifully maintained and residents are able to assist with gardening. There is a basement carpark and access is provided through the multiple buildings on the site under cover and at grade with lift facilities to enable full access for residents. The adjacent nursing home provides a full suite of care services and its proximity is convenient for visiting if one partner remains independent.

Brisbane is also leading the way with some mixed use buildings. We visited buildings by Aria Property Group whose representative generously provided us with his many insights, ‘providing a quality product’ being the main one. Ground floors comprising, offices and shops and upper level apartments. Typically, there are common facilities located throughout typically including games spaces, bars, cinemas, chill out spaces and pools. Roof top gardens and decks provide for spectacular views.

The Nundah railway station is a TOD in development. Located along Sandgate Road this development includes a mix of uses such as offices, cafes, gymnasiums and shops at ground level with apartment buildings above and interspersed.

A range of apartment styles and sizes provide for a range of price points and all are conveniently located to a not yet upgraded railway station. Notwithstanding the under-developed state of the station, train travel in Brisbane is convenient and hence this is nevertheless an attraction.

The development itself however, has provided activation of the general area. Sandgate Road is a major road that traverses through Nundah underground, there is however a remaining surface street that has been successfully converted into an active and appealing main street with a high quality public realm.

No visit to Brisbane is complete without a visit to Fortitude Valley and our group duly visited. The Valley of old is morphing into the place to be. Including Chinatown it provides a cultural experience worthy of any major City. Hunting around you can find some great laneways, we visited two of our favourites just off Ann Street, one somewhat organic - Winn Lane and the other ‘manufactured’ ‘Bakery Lane’. Winn Lane is short and full of interesting eats and experiences, boutique clothes, jewellery and music. The lane is grunge with matting on the ground, wooden boxes for light shades and recycled materials for furniture. Bakery Lane is larger. Developed by the owner with some support from the Council it has a selection of higher end bars with boutique beers underneath apartments, SOHOs and other businesses. Come at 6pm to look and 10pm to experience.

The Gas Works (the old gasometer has been redeveloped by Mulpha into a park) associated with a high-end shopping centre with an extensive fresh food and restaurant offer. A vertical retirement village is being constructed by Aveo above as a second stage of the development. This development is part of the overall redevelopment of Tenerife and New Farm. This area is continually transforming with the renovated old river stores facing toward the River being repurposed for apartments, SOHOs and commercial promises. Interspersed behind are apartment towers with each incarnation increasing in size to meet the demand. At ground level however the developments are of a human scale. The area is mixed use with some cafes, gyms and even a micro brewery in the side streets at ground level.

Walking along the River to the Power House (a key arts facility in the re-purposed power house) we took a trip on the CityCat back to Southbank to experience public transport in Brisbane.

In Sydney we went South West down the Hume to see part of the McArthur South Growth Area around Wilton. This will some be home to some 48,000 additional residents. Although slightly closer to Sydney than Canberra, the journey by car takes about the same time. This will be a sustainable community with high levels of employment self-sufficiency to minimise the need for a long commute. This area is currently both being planned and under development. Bingara Gorge the Lend Lease development is well advanced and includes two schools, a golf course and shopping centre. As part of the development there is VPA voluntary planning agreement. This agreement provides for developer contributions. Interestingly in NSW contributions are not necessarily spent in the area collected.

To the North of Sydney we visited Chatswood. This is major centre built around the railway with multiple levels of commercial development and apartment towers. A challenge for Willoughby Shire, the local Council is to retain a healthy balance of land uses and particularly commercial opportunities as the area becomes increasing attractive for residential development.

Further north we visited Norwest the most successful business park in Australia. Now an integrated development Norwest is home to key commercial enterprises, major offices and distribution centres, a (thousands of worshippers per service) and private hospital that has just undergone expansion. This is interspersed with high end residential development and the historic Bella Vista Farm Park. With the extension of the rail system back to Sydney the Council and Government and the Norwest Association are planning to ensure planning policy is commensurate with the opportunities this major rail infrastructure brings.

This is just a taste of the tour with too many places to describe, think Barangaroo the new land mark and with more to come, One Central Park with its green walls, co-generation plant and light prism, and Spice place. Our tours blend high levels of learning and networking and of course there is always good food. We are already planning for 2017. Keep an eye out for the preliminary programme that will be out early next year.

We look forward to hosting you then.