As Melbourne’s west continues to experience unprecedented population growth, green spaces can be few and far between in fast-growing urban areas. Melbourne’s western suburbs experience less rainfall than any other parts of Melbourne, making it more susceptible to pollution, heat stress and pressure on the environment.
In a bid to address this disparity, master-planned community Woodlea is paving the way for land developers to integrate green spaces within the community, with over 30 per cent of the entire Woodlea development (300,000 square metres) dedicated to green spaces – comparable in size to 15 MCG stadiums.
With the ultimate vision to become Australia’s Healthiest Community, the estate by Victoria Investments and Properties (VIP) and Mirvac has planted over 6,000 mature trees to-date and each home within Woodlea is strategically positioned within 200 metres of a beautifully landscaped park, allowing a space to play, exercise, relax or just to connect with nature.
Inclusive of all-abilities, each of Woodlea’s existing parks (10 in total) include areas for sensory play, such as working with sand, water and sound, and a variety of accessible play equipment. There are areas for active play that encourages movement and physical activity with the inclusion of spaces to climb, balance and enjoy ball sports, while designated areas for ‘quiet time’ provide a place of refuge away from sensory overload.
Research and evidence on the connection between nature and health by Parks Victoria and the school of Health and Social Development of Deakin University found that people living more than one kilometre away from green space have higher odds of experiencing stress than those living less than 300 metres from a green space.
The research also found that residents in neighbourhoods containing more than 20 per cent green space were significantly more likely both to walk and to participate in moderate to vigorous physical activities at least weekly.
Woodlea Project Director, Matthew Dean, said Woodlea’s vision is to become Australia’s healthiest community with hopes to lift the benchmark for what is expected within master-planned estates.
“Woodlea is the blueprint for what a sustainable and resilient community looks like, it is one that puts residents first and foremost to ensure they have everything they need, from facilities through to a connection with nature and open space,” Mr Dean said.
“We have looked far and wide, both within Australia and also internationally, to better understand what this blueprint looks like and we are continually researching to help us work towards achieving our vision.”
“Research has shown that living within close proximity to a park can positively improve your house value but there are also the mental and physical benefits associated with green space and last year really put this to the test – every one of our residents were able to access green space within 200 metres of their home from parks and playgrounds to walking trails,” he shared.
Woodlea is now preparing to launch its highly anticipated Woodlea Town Park, located adjacent to Woodlea’s $45 million town centre set to open in March which will include a sculptural water play element with water jets and lights dancing in sequence; an elevated performance stage and amphitheatre seating.
The Town Park also includes a reflecting pond, which is located at the end of Aintree’s Walk of Honour – a memorial dedicated to the selfless men and women who served and sacrificed their lives for Australia; the precinct has been thoughtfully designed to offer a poignant moment of reflection for residents and visitors alike.
Woodlea has also committed over $15 million in environmental restoration and public infrastructure works, which includes preserving bushland and waterways within the Kororoit Creek corridor.
Moreover, the master-planned community is carrying out significant works to preserve the heritage of the Rockbank area including the historic ruins of the heritage-listed Rockbank Inn, which is located near Aintree Reserve and dates back to the 1840s.
Upon completion, Woodlea will be home to over 20,000 residents and with over 300,000 square metres of open green space, which equates to 15 square metres of green space per resident – almost 70 per cent more than the 9 square metres recommended by the World Health Organisation for a healthy urban ecosystem.