The site is owned by the Victorian government and managed by the Department of Health and Human Services. Temporary emergency accommodation in the form of ‘Portable housing units’ were installed on the land as an interim measure to provide temporary accommodation for members of the community in need. Such housing is publically contentious and can attract a lot of opposition from the community and local residents. The department appointed the well-known home builder Simonds Homes to design and construct five permanent dwellings on the site in 2020. The department and Simmonds Homes correctly foreshadowed that an application to redevelop the site for more permanent accommodation would attract a notable level of public attention and possible opposition from Greater Geelong Council as a result.
The department of housing purchased the site in 2016 and always earmarked it for the development of multiple dwellings capable of accommodating small to medium sized families. Our role in the project was to guide the design team to a layout of five dwellings on the lot that presented no amenity impacts on the direct neighbours but also a design response that the broader community and council would find attractive in the suburban location. Our team developed sustainability measures to be incorporated into the design that included the reuse of stormwater for toilets in each dwelling, solar panels, a formal bike parking facility at the entrance to the site to reduce car dependency and a very refined landscaping scheme that would result in each dwelling sitting in a manicured garden setting with canopy trees interspersed between the dwellings. The result was a development that was in keeping with the suburban character of the area and was very warmly received by Council and accepted by the community as a good outcome. We continue to consult with the department and Simmonds on an ongoing basis to provide advice about these redevelopment projects throughout a number of Victorian Councils.