Subdivision no longer a case of drawing a line in the sand

THE practice of subdividing land has come under increasing scrutiny in the past 10 years, with issues such as environmental sensitivity shifting from the fringes into the mainstream community.

Developers are now expected to invest substantial amounts of money in infrastructure and even underwrite retail outlets to ensure the success of a new community.

Dalyellup Beach Estate, south of Perth, recently received an award for the best residential subdivision at the national conference of the Urban Design Institute of Australia in Perth.

The coastal residential development was commended for its community facilities and the environmental safeguards designed to minimise the impact on the fragile coastal ecosystem.

Dalyellup is a joint venture involving the Satterley Property Group, and principal Nigel Satterley claims the high standard of amenities and the imaginative and functional design of the estate have proved a strong combination.

The award highlights some of the complexities of new residential subdivisions and the level of service that prospective buyers seek in this robust market.

There are key factors that drive the sale of this type of residential product.

In the current market, community infrastructure and a strong community culture are vital factors.

Dalyellup boasts infrastructure worth $35 million, including parks, lakes, cycle ways and waterways.

Several new subdivisions in Perth are returning to the old grid pattern in an attempt to capture the sense of community older WA suburbs have nurtured.

Real Estate Institute of Western Australia public affairs director Lino Iacomella claims that education infrastructure commands the greatest pulling power.

“What a subdivision reflects is the changing community expectations and standards. In the past, new estates were just barren areas of vacant land,” Mr Iacomella said.

“Where it’s particularly important is that people are now expecting more services to be available.”

The market is driving demand for a far more finished product than anything that existed 10 years ago.

Developers are now expected to do a lot more than just carve up a parcel of land and hammer in some ‘for sale’ signs.

The push for a higher level of services is being driven in part by a more diversified market.

The traditional family of four no longer represents the bulk of the market and this shift has forced developers to design subdivisions that offer a range of different options.

“There is a greater diversity of blocks of land – most include land for larger family homes as well as smaller blocks and medium density developments,” Mr Iacomella said.

“This reflects the changing demographics.

“This is a good thing because it has created a much more interesting population profile.”

In the past, certain subdivisions have developed with a very flat demographic spread and this can excite certain social and cultural problems.

The successful subdivisions now include a range of different ages and socio economic groups, leading to cyclical redevelopment and on-going sales in the area as the different demographics shift.

FPD Savills associate director of valuations Jarrod Rendell claims community consultation plays an increasingly powerful part in major subdivisions.

Consultation now extends well beyond the initial development and the major developments invest resources to ensure a good community ambiance is nurtured.

Some of the major subdivisions have a life span of up to 10 years and a good community atmosphere is vital.

“At Brighton they have a full-time community relations manager and that job is to ensure community activities,” Mr Rendell said.

Some developers are willing to underwrite new retail outlets to ensure the area has a super deli or mini supermarket to service the new residents.

It’s just another cost developers are expected to shoulder to attain a good level of sales.

In some subdivisions the school and the retail outlets work together in the early stages of the development.

“Some developers build a shopping complex but, because it’s not required in the early stages of the development, they put a school in these buildings,” Mr Rendell said.

“It’s run as a school early on as the number of kids increases it becomes viable to build a big school.”

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