Armstrong Creek is experiencing unprecedented growth with the booming area’s population set to quadruple to 65,000 residents.
A new Armstrong Creek East Community Hub, the largest of its type in Geelong, opened in April and more sports and neighbourhood facilities are on the horizon.
The burgeoning suburb played a major role in Geelong’s population surpassing 250,000 people last year, according to Mayor Bruce Harwood.
“The development of Armstrong Creek as an attractive and relatively affordable place to live is another reason why Geelong is such a highly sought-after location,” he says.
“With that growth comes the rising demand for high-quality infrastructure. The City is creating a sustainable community by providing early access to key social and recreation facilities.
“This allows residents to more quickly make local connections and for stronger community ties to develop.”
There are seven precincts in the Armstrong Creek urban growth area, which in total will provide about 22,000 homes for up to 65,000 residents, according to Geelong’s council.
The urban development of 2600 hectares of former farming land at Armstrong Creek will accommodate the bulk of Geelong’s growth in the near future.
The area’s population has reached 15,000 and development is underway in four of the seven precincts.
And the local neighbourhood spirit is flourishing too with the opening of the $15.24 million Armstrong Creek East Community Hub, the largest integrated child and community centre in greater Geelong.
The council and State Government project hosts a kindergarten, day care, maternal and child health services and a variety of community groups.
The hub is adjacent Armstrong Creek School, which combines primary (prep to grade 6) and special needs (prep to year 12) learning on one campus.
The eastern precinct is also home to Armstrong Creek’s first sports pavilion, a $3.6 million building to host netball, football, soccer and cricket clubs.
Big things are also instore for Armstrong Creek West with council setting aside millions of dollars for environmental, community and road projects.
Boundary and Charlemont roads and Baanip Bvd are set for upgrades, while council is searching for land for new hockey grounds and tennis courts.
The private sector is also getting in on the action with a Melbourne developer buying up swathes of land for a new Armstrong Creek Town Centre.
Stage one of the 40 hectare commercial centre will initially service about 58,000 people and provide more than 1100 jobs, according to Andrew Welsh, the developer behind the project.
The first stage, including a Coles supermarket and specialty retail, has received planning approval and is set to open in 2020.
And population and commerce are not the only things growing in Armstrong Creek – the suburb’s house prices rose by 12 per cent in the year to date.
Median house prices in the suburb are currently at $533,000 and are growing three times faster than the national average, according to CoreLogic data.
During the past 12 months 167 properties sold, after an average of 34 days on the market each.
Geelong recorded an average 89 land sales a month compared to 501 in Melbourne, according to Oliver Hume research commissioned by Villawood Properties.
Sales are picking up again following an election campaign lull, according to Villawood Properties executive director Rory Costelloe.
The company’s staff have recorded “a pronounced jump” in local inquiries thanks to Canberra’s first home-buyer deposit guarantee and Reserve Bank cuts to interest rates, he explains.
Many are moving to Villawood’s Armstrong community at Mount Duneed, which recently won the Urban Development Institute of Australia’s (UDIA) community engagement award.
The community surrounds a resort-like facility, Club Armstrong, which features indoor and outdoor pools, gymnasium, family playroom, tennis courts and cafe.
“Everyone talks about creating communities but it takes a lot of skill and dedication to create a real community,” Mr Costelloe says.
State Government has allocated funds to build Armstrong West Primary School directly opposite Club Armstrong and is designing an adjoining high school.
Villawood is also pioneering all-abilities living and in May unveiled a “ground-breaking” showcase disability home in partnership with genU and Burbank Homes.
The three-bedroom home showcases numerous technologies to support disabled people to live as independently as possible.
Mr Costelloe expects the mainstream siting at Armstrong Mt Duneed to revolutionise the way people with disabilities, builders and agencies approach housing.
“This is an innovative new display home which raises the bar in how disability housing is designed, marketed and sold in Australia,” he says.
“In time, we hope to see more homes that cater to a range of needs enter the market, so that people with varying abilities have greater choice, providing independence and accessibility when building their dream home.”
The house features an electronically-adjustable kitchen, electrically-operated blinds and windows, a bedroom with a state-of-the-art hoist and many other inclusions across a variety of support needs.
The home can cater for a single person requiring fully-accessible living and two requiring improved liveability, and includes a separate suite for a full-time carer.
Armstrong Creek developers are also chasing environmental brilliance in the way they plan local communities.
Warralily won UDIA’s 2019 national environmental excellence award for restoration work in its Armstrong Creek estate.
“This is truly a bespoke landscape restoration project that is held dear by our 7000 residents and will leave an important environmental legacy for the region,” says company project manager Jeremy Minter.
“We have a talented team here that has accepted an important challenge. They’ve transformed this greenfield site into a thriving wetland corridor and community space that’s welcoming to natural wildlife and great for the human spirit.”
The most important environmental aspect is the estate’s single connected open space, habitat and water quality corridor, Mr Minter explains.
The corridor will ensure the ongoing sustainability of the local area and protect the downstream Lake Connewarre wetlands, he says.
“Residents agree that it’s a beautiful place for walking, playing and enjoying the outdoors – and a sanctuary for wildlife too!”
Australian Ecosystems director Brendan Condon describes the area as a benchmark for how Australian housing estates “can bring nature back into our suburbs”.
“The beneficiaries when developers go above and beyond are their residents through more inviting living spaces and being close to nature.”
And while different groups are buying into Armstrong Creek’s newfound community spirit and natural environment, Geelong Lutheran College already has its own established local community.
For a decade the school has offered a nurturing environment, where young Armstrong Creek families can send their children to become creative and caring citizens.
“Geelong Lutheran College Armstrong Creek not only offers a rich curriculum and the pursuit of academic excellence but identifies student wellbeing as a high priority,” says head of college Jill Lange-Mohr.