A new garden village with extensive parkland and community spaces is being proposed on a 12.67-hectare site at North Rocks, under a planning proposal set to be submitted to Parramatta Council this month.
EG has spent the past two years shaping the concept in consultation with community. The result is a carefully designed garden village concept with high-quality building design and extensive tree canopy, delivering an attractive residential neighbourhood with new open space and other community-centric facilities available to all local residents.
An oval precinct, village square, multi-purpose community hub and neighbourhood library (centrally located along North Rocks Road, opposite the shopping centre) have the potential to become genuine civic spaces, available for all North Rocks residents to enjoy. With a number of schools nearby, there also exists the possibility for co-use of these key facilities.
Just over 30% of the entire site will be made available as parkland, with the oval precinct comprising around 1.8 hectares of land. A key feature of the masterplan is to retain a number of important mature trees, and to plant many more within new parks, along site boundaries and local access roads.
Early ideas of what the site could potentially accommodate have been scaled back to deliver lower density and more useable open space, while better transport links and ample housing for seniors and downsizers, are also a direct result of initial community feedback.
David Workman, Divisional Director, Urban and Community Planning for EG, says initial Council and community feedback has been ‘absolutely critical’ in helping to understand how the project could help meet both future housing demand and also bridge gaps in existing community facilities.
“It is absolutely essential that we get the feel of the new community right and protect the quality of life that locals love about living in North Rocks,” he says.
Premium housing types are proposed including 690 apartments, 245 townhouses, studio terraces and detached homes along with seniors housing comprised of 145 independent living units (ILUs) and an aged care.
The proposed masterplan respects the adjoining residential context and scale, with detached homes and two and three-storey townhouses planned along the edges of the site, and low-rise four-six storey apartment buildings towards the middle of the site, further from existing neighbours. Importantly, around 25 per cent of the residential village will be for seniors living, helping to accommodate a growing need among local residents and allowing many to downsize or retire within their own community, says Mr Workman.
Other housing options respond to the needs of a variety of age groups and circumstances, such as young families who want to buy their first home and stay in the community they grew up in; for professionals needing easy access to Parramatta-Westmead, Norwest or Macquarie Park and empty nesters ready to move to something more manageable.
“This project is more about creating a neighbourhood that fits into the existing community, not about trying to build as many homes as possible.”
“People want a good lifestyle, they want to live in places with access to parks with great outdoor facilities, and be able to get around easily to meet all the usual daily demands of work or school or simply be able to walk to the shops or a café,” says Mr Workman.
While the Royal Institute of Deaf and Blind Children (now known as NextSense) is moving to a new facility, the North Rocks Village intends to honour its legacy.
“We have a deep respect for the role that the RIDBC has played and we plan to honour this by creating inclusive sensory gardens as part of the open space network,” says Mr Workman.
“We’re also planning to deploy the latest sensory design and smart technologies throughout the public domain, along internal roads, within new parks and also in buildings so as to improve the independence and the quality of experience for people with hearing and sight impairment. We aim to exceed the current accessibility standards in this regard.”
Mr Workman says EG is also planning to dedicate dwellings within North Rocks Village for use by the RIDBC, to support their programs. It may be for RIDBC families, staff, and out-of-town visiting families needing to access their new facility at Macquarie Park.
Further the RIDBC has agreed to locate one of their ‘Hear the Children’ services within the proposed community hub near the village square. This would provide family-centred individualised early intervention for children who have a significant hearing impairment.
“We’re at the beginning of a long process, but our vision is to deliver this over the next 15-20 years and give the North Rocks community something new, of which they can be really proud,”
The plan will be lodged with Parramatta City Council. If endorsed by Council, the proposal would be referred to the Department of Planning, Infrastructure and Environment for review before a final determination, with opportunity for community input through the process.