Halswell Domain

Halswell Domain
View from the Model Engineers' site in the Halswell Domain

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Familiar Place: Halswell Commons




Recently at the Halswell Community Project 's AGM, Simon Morlock, of Danne Mora Holdings, spoke with enthusiasm about the Halswell Commons development situated on  Halswell, Henderson and Sparks Roads. Danne Mora Holdings are behind the project and it is easy to see where Simon's enthusiasm is coming from. The focus of the Halswell Commons is best urban design and with providing an environment where connected community can be made.

320 new homes are planned in the first stages of the development and are for a cross-section of the market. There is a mix of house sizes and styles, ranging from mews cottages, standalone townhouses, apartments and large family villas. The house designs offer privacy, good light, sun and maximise private space for outdoor living and all of the homes will be energy efficient.

Of the 320 homes, 22% (70 homes) will be offered under the government first home buyers initiative and of those homes, 32 will be offered on the basis of a shared ownership model whereby the home-owner provides the usual cash deposit, take on a mortgage they can afford and where a portion of the purchase price remains owing, the Wayne Francis Charitable Trust will fund the shortfall and take a proportionate share in the ownership of the property. Buyers are not locked in and can buy out the trust's share or could sell their property, making way for another young family to move in. There will also be another 39  homes priced in an affordable range.

Landscape design has been well thought out. One green space will have the heritage home that is currently getting a million dollar upgrade. It will be used initially by the developers but ultimately by the community and not for profit sector Throughout this park, will be information boards describing the history of the building, the people who lived there and the land. There will also be a  community garden and weekly farmers market.


Healthy living practices are encouraged with the creation of living streets with orchards, shared vegetable and herb gardens. Residents will have front door access to shared green space and a network of off-road pathways for pedestrians and cyclists. These facilities aim to create a strong sense of belonging.

Even, governance is a communal affair. The residents are to take control of the management and use of the shared open spaces. A residents' society has been formed so that the residents can develop a higher level of amenity in their surroundings. There will be also a Commons area which is an open space for recreation and community events. This will include a storage building, a community courtyard, a play, sport and entertainment areas.


Reinforcing the theme of community, the developers have chosen a collaborative approach with local organisations such as The Residents Association and The Menzshed and The Halswell Community Project. Cultivate is playing a larger role as they are establishing the community gardens, developing and maintaining them and then, engaging the community with the gardens and overseeing this.


Eleven hectares of Halswell Commons land will be part of seventeen hectare commercial development, which is adjacent to the heritage park. A new town centre with a main street and civic square is planned; not the usual mall. It will have 45,000 square metres of retail space to be built in stages of fifteen to twenty years. In the opening phase, a supermarket, a number of hospitality outlets and retailers will service the local community. Announcements are to be made in the usual manner as they occur.

While, of course, success and viability is important for property developers, the altruistic motives of the planners are quite obvious in this project. They have asked themselves the question of what is it from modern research into well-being and happiness that could be incorporated into their housing and landscape plans. And while, huge change in the area will inevitably lead to other changes, we look forward to watching these plans come to life.

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