Building a Better Community

Springfield Land Corporation

Greater Springfield, the largest planned city in Australia, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The vision of Maha Sinnathamby and the “brainchild” of Springfield Land Corporation, this ambitious project has successfully transformed an economically and socially depressed area into a vibrant centre for education, technology, and health. The entire community has been painstakingly planned in order to provide the highest level of convenience, amenities, and comfort to residents and businesses.

“We started off with a blank canvas,” explains Managing Director Bob Sharpless, which has allowed the Springfield Land Corporation to create an ideal place to live, work, and play.

Each residential suburb – Springfield, Springfield Lakes, Spring Mountain, Brookwater, and Augustine Heights – includes a neighbourhood centre for easily accessible shopping and dining. These suburbs are all arranged around Springfield Central, the community’s thriving CBD, which contains a high density of retail and commercial space as well as some residential housing. Everything – from shopping centres and educational facilities to healthcare and recreation – is conveniently available within the city limits. “You don’t need to leave Greater Springfield,” Mr Sharpless points out. “In fact, we want people to come the other way. We want to draw people from outside of the project to facilities within Greater Springfield.”

Creating a strong commercial sector is the key to making this vision a reality. An increasing number of businesses are moving into Springfield Central, and the result is “more and more employment close to where people live. We think that is a more sustainable way to live then the alternative which, for a lot of people, has been to hop in the car and drive to Brisbane to work,” Mr Sharpless explains. “We want people to live close to where they work, or the reverse of that – to work close to where they live. We want that commute to be as small as possible.”

To attract the necessary commercial interest, Springfield Land Corporation has made top notch infrastructure a first priority. “We are doing things to a high standard,” reports Mr Sharpless. All facilities are “brand new, state of the art, leading edge.” Every commercial building must rate at least four stars on the Green Star standard and be aesthetically pleasing. “We certainly want high quality architecture in everything that we do.” For example, the city’s new Polaris Data Centre is thoughtfully designed with architectural details such as terra cotta panelling to “make it look more like a commercial building rather than a plant room.” The company also held an architectural competition to plan the CBD’s large new office building, which ensured an eye catching design. “We keep pushing for high quality design and I think that the buildings we have here reflect that very well,” Mr Sharpless adds.

Mr Sharpless believes that one reason the development has been so successful is because the entirety of the project is in the hands of one organisation. “There are some parts of your project that make money and there are some parts of your project that don’t make money,” he explains. “If you have fragmented ownership, obviously everyone wants the same pieces, those pieces that make money.” Planned cities with fragmented ownership often have problems because “it is very difficult to get everyone to agree on what should go where.” With one team and one vision, Springfield Land Corporation has successfully completed the city’s major infrastructure projects, and many new construction developments are slated to commence over the next six to twelve months.

Transportation and Accessibility was one of the first areas on which the company focused. Several major highways and arterial roads already make the city easily accessible from the North, South, East, and West, and a new rail system is currently underway. The Queensland government is funding the $1,2 billion Springfield Rail Project (of which stage one is already completed), as well as duplicating the Centenary Highway, which will complete the city’s transportation requirements by December of next year.

Health City Springfield is a 52 hectare, integrated health precinct located in Springfield Central with a wide range of medical centres, research opportunities, aged care facilities, and a private hospital able to accommodate both private and public patients. The hospital, which will be owned and operated by Mater Health Services, begins construction in January 2014, after five and a half years of planning. The facility will meet the healthcare needs of Brisbane’s western corridor and “be a catalyst for a lot of other development that will take place around it,” Mr Sharpless says. “Hospitals are a great infrastructure that attracts a lot of other opportunities.”

The research and educational opportunities Health City provides will complement Greater Springfield’s education initiatives, a key pillar in the corporation’s master plan. The hospital will be strategically located beside Education City, the community’s centre for higher learning. “That will foster other opportunities within the education project to train doctors and other health workers,” Mr Sharpless points out. Education City, also located in Springfield Central boasts a bustling University of Southern Queensland campus. Fifty million dollars in federal funds have just been allocated to fund the University’s new building program, which will add even more to the community’s already strong educational offerings. A Catholic school is also currently under construction. “We’ve got about ten and a half thousand people in the project that are students at one level or another, which is the highest ratio of students to population that you will find in the country,” Mr Sharpless reports.

Greater Springfield also boasts brand new, leading edge technology infrastructure. The Polaris Data Centre, located in Springfield Central, is the most advanced ICT facility in Australia. “It’s a core asset for the group that underpins our IT platform,” Mr Sharpless explains. The $250 million, highly specialised facility houses the ICT platforms for a number of major companies. “We decided we would be on top of [ICT] from day one… That’s just one example of us being proactive and trying to look ahead in terms of where people are going and society is going.”

Several major retail and commercial construction projects are currently underway as well. The Orion shopping centre, developed by Mirvac, is the first six star green shopping centre in Australia, and has been recognised with numerous awards. The project’s second stage, which will include an additional supermarket and several more shops, is currently undergoing the approval process. The Brookwater Village is slated to open at the end of this year and will include a Woolworths supermarket, specialty shops, and an 1800 square metre medical facility leased to Mater Health Services.

In October, construction will begin on a 12,500 square metre office building in the CBD. The future tenant plans to relocate 1,000 people to Greater Springfield to work in the new facility. “We believe that is the start of many more of those sorts of relocations,” Mr Sharpless adds.

The master plan also includes a variety of recreational activities and facilities. Residents can play tennis, go bushwalking, explore the many kilometres of bikeways and walking paths, or participate in a variety of water sports on Greater Springfield’s manmade lakes. The championship Brookwater Golf Course was voted Queensland’s number one public access golf course seven years in a row and “has certainly lifted the standard of residential housing and development in that Brookwater region.” Robelle Domain, a 24 hectare park located in Springfield Central Parklands, connects all of Greater Springfield in a central open space filled with boardwalks, sports fields, and play areas. The award winning, $30 million recreation area was dreamed up by Vee Design, and includes a children’s water park, Galaxy play equipment, a stage and amphitheatre for up to 10,000 people, artistic light towers and interactive surround sound audio, a lake and waterfall, artistically designed shelters and arbours, and a café.

Despite the multitude of projects completed or underway, Mr Sharpless estimates that the company has only accomplished 20 per cent of the total work needed to complete Greater Springfield. A solid groundwork has been successfully laid, however. “We’ve got the public transport nailed. We’ve got the university. We’ve got the retail. If you think of all the pillars [a community needs] – health, education, retail, commercial, and the IT – the platform is there for each of those.” Twenty three thousand people are already taking advantage of the community’s enviable lifestyle, and the company plans to attract an additional 63,000 residents before the project’s end. “We’ve got 20 years to complete the journey that we started 20 years ago,” Mr Sharpless says. “From start to finish in 40 years is what the company is targeting.”

For more information about Greater Springfield, visit www.greaterspringfield.com.au

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

January 17, 2019, 4:56 AM AEDT