When a series of ‘City of Colour’ billboards appeared on the Bruce Highway in mid-2015, it was the first inkling many people had that something quite extraordinary was coming to Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. But for a dedicated team of urban planners, environmental experts and development professionals, it was the culmination of close to 10 years’ work on what would become Australia’s largest master planned community under single ownership.
On 1 October 2015, in a glittering marquee amid more than 2,000 hectares of degraded pine plantation, Stockland officially unveiled its $5 billion Aura community – a new city for 50,000 people to be designed and constructed to the world’s highest environmental and sustainability standards.
Stockland’s Kingsley Andrew introduces ‘Aura – City of Colour’ to a packed VIP and media audience.
The City of Colour encompassed four well-defined and unique aspirations – a Green City, a Happy and Health City, a Distinctive City and a Talented City – which six years later still perfectly represent the achievements at Aura and the ambitions ahead.
Aura has been Australia’s top selling master planned development for the past three years, according to National Land Survey data. Its first suburb of Baringa was sold out in around half the time anticipated by Stockland. This exceptional sales rate prompted fast-tracking of the construction of the next suburbs, Nirimba and Banya, now experiencing similar demand. Aura's population has quickly swelled to more than 10,000 people with almost 2,000 children already attending the schools in the community.
Aura at a glance
20,000 dwellings over a 25-year development timeline
Vibrant city centre and unique suburb identities
20 education and learning centres
Dozens of parks, playgrounds and sports fields
Dedicated bicycle ‘veloway’ creating cycle city
Onsite jobs for up to 20,000 workers
Many years in the making
In 2010, the Aura site was designated by the Queensland Government as a priority Urban Development Area to provide a new master planned community with diverse, affordable and sustainable housing to help meet strong demand on the Sunshine Coast.
What followed was the most detailed and comprehensive planning process ever undertaken by Stockland.
Working with leading environmental scientists, consultants, traditional owners and the wider community, projection and enhancement of the region’s biodiversity values was of paramount importance to the project, with Federal Government environmental approval granted in 2013.
The final step was working with the Sunshine Coast Council to establish the Caloundra South Infrastructure Agreement, which is delivering a massive $1.3 billion in local infrastructure over the life of the Aura project.
An unprecedented network of interconnected parks and cycle paths.
Urban design leadership
From the outset, Aura has been created as a highly liveable, well-connected community that introduces a number of Queensland firsts in design.
The community provides a wide variety of much-needed new housing options for the Sunshine Coast, from highly affordable entry-level terrace homes to large family-sized house and land packages. This extensive range has ensured a diverse population exists at Aura, ranging from first home buyers to growing families, downsizers and retirees.
The innovative centrepiece of Aura is its unparalleled network of cycle ways, or veloways – a safe, healthy and sustainable recreation and transport corridor that seamlessly links residents with commercial centres, schools and stunning outdoor spaces. In the first suburb of Baringa, a skate plaza and civic square brings the community together for both casual gatherings and organised events.
Aura is also reintroducing a ‘Main Street’ concept in each of its village centres by co-locating schools, childcare centres, sports fields, community facilities and retail offerings to create a genuine community heart.
Stockland has pioneered a wide range of partnerships that have been instrumental to Aura’s success and set a new benchmark for community collaboration.
Aura’s Engagement Excellence Program was conceived during the initial planning stages of Aura, following extensive consultation with local community organisations and the Sunshine Coast Council. It was then inaugurated in 2014 as part of the Aura Community Stewardship Group with the aim to identify and optimise opportunities for community management of natural areas within Aura.
The Baringa Community Hub is a Queensland first partnership between the private sector, State and local governments to create a truly co-shared space in the community heart. The Aura Community Grants Program provides tens of thousands of dollars to support local community groups.
Testament to planning excellence, Stockland worked closed with Economic Development Queensland to provide ground-breaking affordability via the delivery of 65sqm lots.
A showcase of best practice environmental outcomes.
Sustainable development and world-leading water management systems have been a hallmark of Aura, which has been recently re-certified as a 6 Star Green Star community.
Almost one third of the entire site – in excess of 700 hectares – is being rehabilitated and designated as conservation areas. Large frog underpasses help to further protect the Wallum Sedge Frog while arboreal ropes ensure native fauna can safely cross roads.
New construction technologies were used to create High Efficiency Sediment (HES) Basins that are up to 90% more efficient than traditional basins for the treatment of construction stormwater. The design is now recognised as new best practice, enhancing practicality, and commercial viability for the construction industry.
A cool roof policy mandates a minimum 50% solar reflectivity to improve energy efficiency in homes and with the aim of reducing heat island effects. Further, mandatory sustainability features in homes include rainwater tanks, clotheslines and site-specific solar orientation design.
Big plans for the future at Aura.
While the early delivery of community infrastructure has been instrumental in Aura’s success, so much more is still to come for Stockland’s Aura.
The start of 2022 marks the opening of Aura’s second state primary school and the registration of the first lots in Aura’s third suburb of Banya.
Aura Business Park is already home to more than 50 businesses and is continuing to see strong growth. Hardware giant Mitre 10 has also been announced as the first tenant of a new purpose-designed trade and construction precinct.
Construction continues on the extension of the Bells Creek Arterial Road. This infrastructure project will be catalytic for the region, providing a southern entry to the Sunshine Coast and connecting Aura seamlessly with the broader coastal and hinterland region.
2022 will also see the commencement of works on the future Aura City Centre. This true mixed use city centre will offer a diverse range of retail and civic spaces, dining experiences, entertainment options, commercial offices, work hubs and tourist accommodation, including a future urban university and the People’s Place, an 11-hectare South Bank-style parkland.
A deserving winner in the Master Planned Development category in the 2021 UDIA Awards for Excellence, the future looks bright very bright for the City of Colour.