Ellenbrook, a 1,000 hectare new town located in the Swan Valley north east of Perth, Western Australia, has been designed and developed over the past twenty years.
A joint venture between the WA Department of Housing and LWP, a project management team representing several private investors, Ellenbrook is the most awarded urban development project in Australia.
The landholdings are bounded by: Whiteman Park, a 2,000 hectare regional recreation reserve, the State Government Gnangara pine plantation, and the Swan Valley vineyards. Located 10kilometres from the metropolitan front and 15 kilometres from the Indian Ocean, the site is traversed by gas pipelines and was formerly a sand quarry.
Timeless town planning design principles were embraced by the joint venture partners which has resulted in the creation of seven distinct; compact, connected, walkable neighbourhoods, surrounding a mixed use town centre. Each neighbourhood has a discernible centre and well defined edge. Extensive footpaths and cycleways connect each neighbourhood with the Ellenbrook town centre.
The aim of the design team was to configure neighbourhoods with the daily needs of; the aged, parents and children within walking distance, giving them independence of movement without having to rely on the car. Each neighbourhood has a distinct character and identity achieved through the shaping of central places and signature streets which foster a sense of place and belonging. Residential areas are framed around neighbourhoods containing primary schools, community and recreational facilities and a diverse lot and housing mix catering for a range of market segments.
Hallmarks of this contemporary new town include: – A close relationship between the JV partners, the City of Swan, the WA Planning Department and a select group of WA homebuilders. – A well documented cultural art trail that wends its way throughout the community, and is popular with both existing residents and visitors who bring their bikes to Ellenbrook to ride the trails. – The use of interim ‘schools in houses’ and ‘schools in offices’ which enabled the first residents to walk and cycle to school, two years prior to the construction of the co-located State Government and Catholic primary schools. – The erection of a ‘shop top house’ in the first neighbourhood was in advance of the first residents. The business was subsidised by the JV partners during the early years of operation. – The uses within the building have evolved with the maturation of the neighbourhood and have included a bike shop and youth drop in centre. – The close collaboration of several of the State’s leading consultants who practice as ‘generalists’ rather than ‘specialists, including; master planners, landscape architects, place makers, architects, cultural artists, civil engineers, surveyors, traffic engineers.
It also included: – A diversity of lot and housing types. – Varied landscape themes for each neighbourhood. – The delivery of a mixed use town centre framed around a town square. – Landmark sites reserved for civic spaces and buildings. – A comprehensive 10 year community facilities development plan. – A cultural foundation.
Much of the innovation embedded in the project stems from the leadership of LWP’s Managing Director, Danny Murphy, who has recently celebrated 20 years in the role. Danny, in keeping with the established practice of the profession’s early ‘town founders’, has fostered close relationships with the City of Swan, State Government agencies, Perth’s leading homebuilders, community groups, local businesses, and the consultancy team.