Stockland is Australia’s largest diversified property group, and one of its leading residential developers. They have been creating new residential communities in the country for more than 60 years, which means their experience is unrivalled. Today, their portfolio includes an exceptionally long list of carefully-planned communities, retirement villages and retail centres that are well-located, safe, and sustainable.
One of those places is Bells Reach – a fast growing, award-winning community at Caloundra West in Queensland. Right from its conceptual stage, Stockland had the vision to create a connected, affordable and highly desirable village community where residents could live sustainably for less.
According to Ben Simpson, Project Director for Stockland, Bells Reach is perfectly positioned in Caloundra, close to beaches, schools, shopping and “everything else you could need.” It is also located on the doorstep of Stockland’s proposed Caloundra South master planned development, making it a “future gateway” to one of Australia’s largest and most exciting new communities.
“We designed and constructed the Bells Reach community so it would have a number of the initiatives we’re intending to roll out in Caloundra South,” he explains. “Our approval authority is Economic Development Queensland, and they’ve got a real focus on affordable housing and delivering innovative communities, which is what we’re all about. So it’s been fantastic working with them.”
Ben has personally been in the development sector for almost 20 years, having started his career with the New South Wales Department of Public Works and Services. In his very first role, he worked on several of the Sydney Olympic projects, as well as a number of major city building projects such as the King Street Wharf redevelopment and the upgrade of George Street. Roughly a decade ago, he moved to Stocklan, where he’s put that experience to use ever since.
As the Project Director for Caloundra South, Ben has overseen the development of Bells Reach from the beginning. He says the process has been very smooth and collaborative all along, and he’s very proud of the results they have been able to achieve.
In particular, he’s proud of Bower @ Bells Reach – a series of eleven homes designed by acclaimed Sunshine Coast architect John Mainwaring, that live up to Stockland’s vision of affordable sustainability.
Bower @ Bells Reach consisted of a series of freehold title, double-storey terrace homes priced from only $204,940. With that development, Ben says Stockland has been able to introduce a completely new housing product and price point to the Coast and to the Queensland market.
“We knew that many of the people that lived around Caloundra West didn’t have significant housing budgets,” Ben explains. “So we had an agenda for some time to deliver a series of small lot homes, but we wanted to make sure they were front and centre and we wanted to make a real showpiece of them. They had to be designed really well and be aspirational, while still meeting the budget of our typical customers.”
Ben says Stockland engaged John Mainwaring because he was well known as a high quality architect, and he had a history of “developing and evolving the Sunshine Coast’s style.”
“We wanted the product to be new and innovative, while still looking like it was part of the Sunshine Coast vernacular,” Ben explains. “We didn’t want it to look like it was transplanted from somewhere else.”
“John came up with an attractive and sustainable series of homes that would bring new home ownership within reach of a lot more people,” Ben says. “He made the Bower series something that was quite aspirational, while still being affordable.”
Today, the Bower homes are located directly opposite the community’s award-winning central village park, and adjacent to the sales centre and cafe. They offer airy coastal-style living, with flexible spaces, private courtyards, top quality finishes, and the choice of two or three bedrooms and car accommodation.
Bower @ Bells Reach is a unique and innovative development that demonstrates Stockland’s commitment to being a leader in sustainability and affordability. That leadership has not gone unrecognised. In fact, at the 2013 UDIA Awards for Queensland, it was rewarded with a victory in the Affordable Housing category. Later, it went on to win the UDIA’s National Award as well.
“That’s a great acknowledgment for Stockland and for the efforts of our team,” Ben says. “More than that, though, we see these awards as an opportunity to benchmark our work against our competitors at a state level as well as nationally.”
“We may think we’ve done a really good job, but until you put yourself out there and have independent third party experts come and inspect what you’ve done, you can’t really be absolutely sure how innovative it is,” he adds. “But going through this process does really confirm that the work that you’ve done is good.”
“And it does mean a lot,” he reiterates. “It is great recognition from our peers in the industry that the work we’ve done is innovative, and it will encourage us to keep innovating in the field of affordable housing.”
He says that continued innovation is vital, because after all – “who doesn’t want to have an affordable lifestyle or an affordable home?”
“It’s not just a concern for people with low or moderate incomes, it’s a concern for people at all income levels,” he says. “Living within your means is very important – it helps you to maximise your lifestyle. If you have an affordable home, it means you’re not spending all your hard earned money just to have a place to live.”
Currently, Stockland is up to the fourth iteration of the Bower series. Ben says that with each new version, they are improving aspects of the design and ensuring that the product remains affordable for those with lower budgets.”
“What we’re doing with the Bower series is a bit similar to what companies like Ikea and Apple do with their products,” Ben says. “They try and make them compact but also affordable, and they put a real focus on design excellence so they become aspirational. That’s what I think we’ve achieved here.”