Sanctuary Cove Landscape Management Plan

Broadacre Residential

LOCATION

Brisbane, Queensland

CLIENT

Sunland Group

ARCHITECT

Wood Marsh Architects

STATUS

Under Construction

Form Landscape Architects have been working on residential projects in Sanctuary Cove for the better part of 7 years with a private developer. The most recently constructed works included a new entry point to the exclusive estate from an access point that was until recently considered to be primarily a trade and commercial entry point. The new upgraded entry landscape featured beautiful stone clad walls, custom laser cut screen panels and a generously thick and vibrant landscape planting array. As a result, many of the local residents began using this entry and many had very positive and uplifting feedback on the finished product. This led to our engagement to revitalise the various entry points scattered around Sanctuary Cove, however as the discussions with the body corporate continued it was revealed that the overall estate, which was established in the late 80’s, was in much need of an overall refresh. Form was then mobilized to perform a management plan review for the entire estate.

Investigation

The first part of the review was to review the existing management plan which had been prepared in 2012 by a landscape sub committee which no longer existed. This plan had a clear vision and objectives that were important to the residents and identified as elements that should be carried forward, refined and preserved. Along with these ideas were a series of key subjects that were outlined to be interwoven in the outcomes of the management plan. Some of these subjects included an Australian them, sustainability, biodiversity, amenity inclusions, plant selection, stakeholder involvement, infrastructure design & maintenance standards.

The next important step of the investigation process was to understand the large and complex structure of the Sanctuary Cove body corporate. The collective is led by a principle body corporate which consist of representatives of about 30 individual residential body corporate entities. Each of these groups were an important part of the overall planning and decision-making process and ensuring that an equitable mechanism for reporting and involvement was vital to the success and implementation of the plan.

The most involved and detailed part of the investigation was to physically explore and review all of the open spaces within Sanctuary Cove and perform an overall audit. The key elements of the estate that were reviewed and audited were the streetscapes, parks & open space and the existing plant material. As each item was reviewed and photographed a quality ranking was applied to the different components such as plants, soil conditions, turf and mulch. Each of these was given a score that led to an overall ranking for the space that was audited. This ranking system was a particularly important tool to indicate which parts of the estate needed the most work, based on their state of repair, but also the prominence and visibility of their location. Almost all of the existing plant material was photographed, documented, and also ranked according to success and appropriateness.

Collaboration

All of the findings of the investigation were collated into an audit document and sent to all of the body corporate members for review and to prepare for a series of workshops. In total there were nine workshops held with open invitations to any of the residents who wanted to either learn more about the process being undertaken, but to also voice their opinions, concerns and suggestions as part of the process. The workshops were refreshingly positive and there was a great sense of community as professionals and residents came together, seeking the best outcomes for their living environment.

Demonstration

One of the key findings from the investigation and collaboration was that too often management plan initiatives, such as these, looked good when presented, but failed to be the catalysts required for actual change that the residents were looking for. The refined vision and objective were reiterated into the management plan, along with a framework that defined the open space categories.

The first most useful element of the plan was the plant palette. This consisted mainly of the existing plant material that was appropriate to the site with some other inclusions. The particular usefulness of this palette was a key or series of subcategories that helped residents be aware of the suitable use of the different plants. The key included plant size, water requirements, maintenance and microclimate. Other categories included whether the plants were native or exotic, suitable for street, parks, gardens and buffer and if they were potentially feature or flowering. These categories were clearly demonstrated through graphic iconography that increased the legibility of the palette but also generated interest into a series of pages that would otherwise be quickly turned.

The most effective sections of management plan were the phasing of works and the precinct works sections. The phasing of works section summarised all of the proposed works required and phased the works based on the ranking each area had received in the audit document. In an estate with a large community group there can be obstacles in deciding the priority of works. This system aided in removing purely opinion and emotion for a lot of the decisions and organised priorities based on a thoroughly detailed critical analysis that had a wholistic standpoint for the works required. The summaries of these works by themselves though weren’t enough and needed more detail to identify what work was proposed. The precinct works pages solved this problem by introducing a high-level methodology of estimation using areas, weightings and percentages. The interpretation of these pages was clearly explained and when this was presented to the body corporates it was eventually understood. The final document was presented to the principle body corporate after some feedback from the individual groups and was accepted by those that attended.

The experience was in reality quite different from the usual works undertaken by our office and was physically and emotionally exhausting, especially trying to work with so many different and eager residents. The positive feedback received by many of the residents who attended and added input to the process was especially rewarding and demonstrated what we had expected from the begging – that the more the end user is involved and given buy-in to the process, the more widely the outcomes are accepted and the greater the eventual resolution is.