Placemaking for success in the city's west

As Williams Landing's first apartment development filters through to market, it signifies the grander intentions of the development team headed by Cedar Woods to provide the suburb with a genuine town centre. Abutting Williams Landing Railway Station, Newton Apartments is the first move toward higher density living within the suburb.

Cedar Woods' Patrick Archer and Mike Day of town planning firm Roberts Day were on hand to answer a number of questions regarding current developments, future intent and the fundamentals required to successfully bring a new higher density town centre to traditionally low density area.

Patrick Archer on Newton Apartments and a robust town centre

It came as a surprise to realise that Williams Landing has no height limits, with Patrick Archer explaining the Priority Development Zone is not subject to such restrictions. Not to say Williams Landing will host skyscrapers in the long term, but it does allow the development team greater flexibility to react to market demand.

And their vanguard apartment project comes in the form of a DKO Architecture-designed building containing 57 larger than average one and two bedroom apartments. Located on Overton Road, the project is an equivalent distance to Melbourne's CBD as is Box Hill or Doncaster, both of which are current apartment hot spots.

The larger than standard apartments have drawn interest from both investors and locals, with Patrick Archer explaining that home owners already living in Williams Landing have seen the project as an ideal investment. This is further solidified with local parents also seeking to purchase for their children at what will be a highly competitive pricing point.

Quizzed on future intentions for the remainder of Williams Landing, Partick Archer states that the town centre will be rolled out over the next decade and will be mixed-use in its nature. With the nearby Werribee East Employment Precinct in the wings and Wyndham's population growth one of the strongest in Australia, Williams Landing provides a unique opportunity for Cedar Woods to further entrench higher density outcomes in Melbourne's west.

An overview of the Priority Development Zone. Image courtesy Cedar Woods

Mike Day on the decline of suburbia and an inclusive approach

Underpinning a highly interesting chat with Mike Day is his belief that outer suburbs with little more than detached housing will continue to decline. Referencing Leigh Gallagher's 'The End of the Suburbs', Mike Day explains that contemporary property buyers want the inner-city lifestyle and urbanism regardless of where they are located; essentially they desire "urban 'burbs".

While many buyers for a number of socioeconomic reasons will head to middle and outer Melbourne locations, the inclusion of town centres within any given development is a tangible selling point.

The prized jewel. Image courtesy tomroephotography.com

Williams Landing was identified early as a worthwhile pursuit by Cedar Woods. A collaborative to planning the suburb included Cedar Woods, Roberts Day, Wyndham City Council, DKO Architecture and fellow project architect Hames Sharley, with the intent of roadmapping the future direction for the new suburb.

Fundamentals were identified and implemented with Williams Landing Railway Station delivered in addition to a shopping centre, freeway access, parkland and the provision for a future town centre. Mike Day nominated ease of transport and walkability as the key factors which gives Williams Landing an edge and an ability to build a neighbourhood unit rather thanmerely present as another nondescript suburb.

Asked if scalability was factored into the initial stages of placemaking Mike Day pointed out that if the fundamentals are addressed, the potentially explosive growth of Williams Landing via its new town centre will be accommodated easily enough. Further Mike Day insists that the future size of the town centre is essentially irrelevant; regardless of 5 levels or 50 the human scale and treatment is critical to Williams Landing's overall success.

With this in mind it will be interesting to follow the evolution of Williams Landing's town centre as it is progressively delivered, and what form it will take.