Rory’s Rambles: Building a sustainable community
Sustainability in a new community is not just about water and energy.
They’re very important factors, and as a developer you take them quite seriously, but to me community and a sense of happiness are the real measure of sustainability.
People can live somewhere and save lots of water and energy but, if they’re not actually happy living there, they don’t have a sustainable future.
In the old days, people connected readily through church groups or sporting groups – footy clubs, tennis clubs. But a lot of these things are out of vogue nowadays, so we need a new means of bringing people together.
What we try to do at Villawood is bring back the old scout hall and dance hall concept – somewhere people can walk to and meet up – with a residents’ centre that is the centrepiece for building the whole community.
We have people who come to live here from all different suburbs. They don’t know who their neighbours are going to be. They want to meet new people and make new friends.
How do you meet each other? We try to provide them with a melting pot of activity.
So at Armstrong, for instance, we’ve got a cafe, a parents’ lounge where they can bring their kids and meet up and still see what’s going on – what their kids are doing in the pool, the tennis courts, the barbecue area, the playground.
For those who want a bit more fitness, we’ve got a fantastic gym.
Plus we have a social hub with a function room where there are lots of kids’ birthdays, 21sts. We even have weddings here.
It’s a great spot. People can all just meet each other, it becomes just a straight melting pot.
The other thing that stems out of this place is new groups. We have swimming groups, playgroups, reading groups and book groups. We’ve got a Men’s Shed, gardening groups.
Any self-interest you’ve got, you can put up a poster saying “Who wants to start a new riding group? Leaving at six o’clock to ride down to Barwon Heads” and people turn up and you’ve just started a new club. It’s a great thing.
It’s what makes a really sustainable community.
Rory Costelloe is executive director of Villawood Properties.