Woodbury Estate by Fiteni Homes in Redland City, Queensland is certified under four elements of EnviroDevelopment including ecosystems, energy, water and community.

The project has a significant focus on community engagement, also receiving the 2021 UDIA Queensland Award for Excellence in the category of Community Engagement.

Fiteni Homes Land Development Manager Vaughn Bowden says that Woodbury is located in a beautiful setting nestled just in from the coast on the southern portion of Moreton Bay, surrounded by mature forests.

On completion, Woodbury will comprise a new residential community of around 800 homes, at least 20ha of open spaces in a recreation and nature network, community facilities, and around 135,000 new plants and trees across the broader area.

Plans also incorporate local convenience centres including a supermarket and retail and hospitality businesses that will support the local community.

Redlands resistant to change

On paper, the development seems relatively straightforward, however, Mr Bowden points out that the Redlands community has historically been resistant to change. Given that context, the developer focused on early community engagement to garner support and ensure the local community was part of shaping the future of the local area.

“We set up a process that focused heavily on seeking input from those most affected by the proposed development,” Mr Bowden said.

The Woodbury Community Engagement Program, which was established in 2019, actively sought input from the community, focusing on families, teens and children – people who often aren’t actively involved in local planning matters.

“Typically, we have found that people with plenty of time on their hands get involved in planning matters and that families and teens, and those who are most likely going to live in the community, are the least likely to get involved,” Mr Bowden said.

“Our whole engagement process was set up to secure buy in from those particular groups and it was a really productive and successful process.”

During the engagement process, the developer set out to find out more about what families wanted and needed in their new community; what the community perceived as the character of the Redlands Coast and how Woodbury could be designed to reflect that; what recreational opportunities were desired; the types of housing they thought should be included and what the community felt was needed in terms of infrastructure upgrades.

In terms of the types of engagement tools used to get community members involved, the Woodbury team focused initially on helping people feel comfortable with having a conversation with them.

“Then we went out and we set up engagement workshops with local schools,” Mr Bowden said.

“We held Primary and High School design challenges and we provided the school students with an opportunity to help shape the future of Woodbury, particularly around the parks and open spaces.

“It is not often you hear that school kids are asking to get involved in local planning, so that was really successful for both primary schools and high schools.

“Then we reached out to families by running online awareness programs plus an online survey.

“We found it took targeted marketing through social media channels to make sure that local families from the local area saw that opportunity to participate in the survey and provide their input that way.

“It was a short, online survey that was quite engaging and very successful.

“We also established a community engagement hub complex. So essentially, we set up a shopfront with a lot of information and opportunities to provide input and feedback.”

Mr Bowden advised that Fiteni Homes’ legacy and relationship with the community is something which is very important across all of their projects.

“That is one of the key drivers behind what we do. Rather than operating in a kind of vacuum, we would rather speak about our projects and see community input so we are helping create that cultural and community legacy,” Mr Bowden said.

Mr Bowden also advises that early, open and two-way dialogue can help address challenges or issues that arise within the community before they become significant.

“If we are having a good, solid and open dialogue, then we are able to respond to matters and address them,” Mr Bowden said.

Green standards

In relation to EnviroDevelopment more broadly, Mr Bowden says that the certification is a positive experience because it is largely in step with, or harmonious with good planning and design.

“If you are following good process, if you are using good consultants, and if you are taking a good ethical approach towards the site, it should produce EnviroDevelopment style outcomes as a part of the process,” Mr Bowden said.

EnviroDevelopment is National certification system to help consumers find environmentally sustainable communities
EnviroDevelopment is National certification system to help consumers find environmentally sustainable communities

In relation to broader sustainability initiatives that assisted in achieving EnviroDevelopment certification, Woodbury has been designed to preserve and protect significant bushland and trees; create new wildlife corridors through replanting of cleared areas; and make the most of the existing landform.

Overall, Woodbury will feature 22 hectares of open space featuring a mix of bushland habitat, corridors, greenway links, parks and vegetated stormwater management areas.

The Woodbury Greenway is the core design element of Woodbury – a centrally located 5.5 hectare open space corridor, accommodating a recreated creek line, parkland, fitness stations, and pedestrian and cycle movement network through the centre of the community.

“Our ethos and our vision for the site was well aligned with EnviroDevelopment from the outset,” Mr Bowden said.

Article source: Queensland Property Investor