A community for the future
CIC Australia is a leading Australian community developer, having undertaken projects in the ACT, South Australia, the Northern Territory, Western Australia, and on the south coast of New South Wales. Since forming almost 30 years ago in Canberra, they have earned an unrivalled reputation for creating unique, progressive spaces that respect the local environment and heritage.
One of CIC’s most recent and successful ventures has been Lightsview – an innovative, sustainable community in Adelaide’s north-eastern suburbs. Lightsview was developed in a joint venture with state government property developer Renewal SA, and it represents everything CIC has become known for.
“It’s a really high quality urban design outcome,” says Alan Miller, Development Director at the company. “We went away from the traditional approach, and created a community that was affordable, sustainable, and integrated really well with the surrounding area.”
Alan – like most of the company’s senior personnel – has an extensive background in the development industry. His career has spanned more than 20 years, including 18 years with Delfin Lend Lease. At Delfin he held various roles, including that of Regional General Manager for South Australia and the Northern Territory.
Over the years, Alan has managed several large scale urban, award-winning development projects – including Golden Grove, which offered 10,000 homes, and Mawson Lakes, which offered 5,000 homes, and 4,500 permanent jobs. That experience has served him well on Lightsview, which CIC got involved with in 2006.
Lightsview is located on a 90 hectare parcel of land, which was part of roughly 250 hectares of land the government had spent years selling off or developing in joint ventures with the private sector. It was the last parcel left, and the closest to the city of Adelaide. Because it was such valuable land, Alan says that Renewal SA were keen to get the very best outcomes from it – not just in terms of profit, but also in terms of sustainability, and diversity of housing affordability.
“Because of that, they thought it was necessary to set up a joint venture arrangement,” Alan says. “They sought out expressions of interest, which led them to CIC.”
Alan says CIC was the right choice for Lightsview because of their sterling track record, combined with their “non-cookie cutter” philosophy.
“We approach every project as a unique opportunity,” he says. “We don’t try to apply pre-existing formulas. We look at each site individually, and really study what’s different about it, and how we can use that difference to innovate.”
All about integration
From the start, one of the key concepts behind Lightsview was the idea to engage “the whole industry,” Alan says. That meant involving a range of other builders and developers, and working with them to come up with an innovative series of building and land designs. Alan says that collaboration helped them deliver a broad diversity of housing options.
“We offered housing options from $250,000 up to $2 million, and it’s all integrated quite seamlessly,” he explains. “Our more affordable housing is still very good quality housing, and can fit in among more expensive housing without standing out.”
On top of that, at least 15 per cent of the housing was mandated to be affordable. By taking that integrated approach to house and land design, CIC was able to build those homes to an exceptionally high quality – and was able to include sustainable features like solar panels where possible, to reduce the cost of energy.
Instead of designing a traditional gated community, CIC also included strong pedestrian, cycle and vehicle linkage to surrounding areas. So instead of closing Lightsview off, they opened it up.
They also included what they call a “dispersed model of open space,” Alan says. Instead of having only a few large parks, they carefully designed the community so that smaller green spaces are all over the community. That way, they could guarantee that there’s at least one high quality pocket of open space within 200 metres of every dwelling.
On top of that, CIC has made sure those spaces can be sustainably maintained. They went out of their way to a secure a source of recycled water, for example, which meant constructing a 10 kilometre pipeline from the wetland to the north.
“If you’re going to put in a quality public realm, it needs to be sustainable,” Alan says. “That’s a key part of what we’re about as a developer.”
Lifting the bar
The UDIA Awards for Excellence were formed to promote innovation and leadership in Australia’s development sector. They exist to recognise the extensive planning, expertise and team work that goes into delivering a successful development. At the 2013 Awards, those qualities were recognised in CIC Australia when they received the award for Masterplanned Development, due to their visionary work on Lightsview.
Originally, Lightsview won the Masterplanned Development award at the South Australian level. Later, it went on to win the National Award, and then the President’s Award. According to Alan, CIC is very appreciative of that recognition.
“It’s a great honour,” he says. “As a company, we’re trying to lift the bar in terms of modern urban development. We’re very pleased that effort has been recognised, and we’re very proud.”
“It’s very satisfying to know the work we put into the project has paid off,” he adds. “We’re all very passionate about it. We’ve got a team of people on it that I think are some of the best in the country, and they’re all very keen to make a difference. It’s great when that passion is rewarded.”
“The urban development market is changing pretty rapidly,” he explains. “We’re definitely moving away from big, isolated houses on big, isolated blocks. We’re meeting a market where people are looking for good quality housing, but they’re not interested in having large gardens with high maintenance. They’re more interested in being centrally located – close to where they work, where their friends and family are. It’s more about lifestyle.”
“Lightsview is a good example of where infield development can go in the future,” he says. “It’s meeting the needs an ever-increasing trend of people who want that lifestyle.” “And it reflects where CIC is heading,” he concludes. “It’s the kind of project we’re pursuing all over Australia. We think we can make a difference in that sector.”