Good Neighbours create Good Friends

10th May 2021

The opportunity to get to know your neighbours is increasingly part of the package new residents are seeking when building a new home.

A new home – and new friends.

The opportunity to get to know your neighbours is increasingly part of the package new residents are seeking as they look beyond bricks and mortar when building a new home.

Greenbank

“People are craving community and connection, now more than ever,” says Stuart Penklis, Head of Residential at Mirvac, one of Australia’s largest property groups.

COVID-19 really brought home the importance of having friendships in your local area and we see it as part of our job to help residents of our new communities developthose relationships by providingopportunitiesto meet and have fun together.

We also ensure from the moment we conceive our masterplanned projects,they connect into the existing area and become part of the community.

Mirvac has established an extensive program of events and activities designed to bring new neighbours together across its new communities, particularly thoseinSouth East Queenslandwhich feature a calendar of weekly, fortnightly, monthly and one-off events.

Nationally, Mirvac has a focus on establishing key community infrastructure– including parks, walking tracks and schools - early in the masterplan to provide spaces for new neighbours to interact from day one.

“It is not just about engaging with new residents but helping them form meaningful connections in their neighbourhood that go beyond those living immediately next door,” said Mr Penklis.

We want our residents to feel like part of the community.

“It is exciting to see that in action, when people come together in our shared spaces or through our eventsand go on to form their own community or social groups.

Mirvac’s Everleigh masterplanned community at Greenbank, located 30 kilometres south-west of the Brisbane CBD, recently welcomed its 100th household and will eventually feature morethan 3,000 homes. Despiteit being relatively early days, new neighbours have already become new friends.

Mirvac engaged community manager, Enriching Communities, four years ago – before Everleigh even launched – and today the community program offers everything from fitness classes to after-school sport, coffee groups, movie nights and arts and craft.

Many of the activities are funded by Mirvac or offered in partnership with local individuals and businesses to make them free of charge to residents and the broader community.

Enriching Communities founder Suzanne Guastini saidthe program helped new residents form strong bonds.

“Everyone needs human connection and knowing your neighbours gives people a true sense of belonging,” said Ms Guastini.

Many activities are offered free so everyone can take part and we see those from all walks of life – from young children right through to our older residents get involved. It is beautiful to see the amazing friendships that have formed.

“It is not just about borrowing that cup of sugar from your neighbour anymore. We have families who met through our activities and now holiday together, while our seniors’ group go on regular day trips and others have formed their own groups, meeting for fitness or soccer in the park.

“To know we helped form those connections is really rewarding.”

Greenbank

Similar community programs run at Mirvac’s Gainsborough Greens community on the northern Gold Coast and Waterfront Newstead in Brisbane, andat its Green Square community in Sydney it offers a community app that is used by hundreds of residents.

In Victoria,Mirvac’s Olivine community recently opened ‘Olivine Place’, a community hub incorporating Shared Space to support community services and programs with its own Placemaker and Shared Cup café, a not-for profit social enterprise. Olivine Place is part of Mirvac and the City of Whittlesea’s pioneering Growth Areas Social Planning Tool (GASPT), which aims to increase community resilience and connectedness.

Ms Guastini said people were more aware of the need for community connection since COVID-19.

“The need to connect has always existed, but people are more willing to have conversations about it now and that is a real positive,” she said.

We have a new appreciation of knowing who lives next door and of looking out for, and supporting, each other.”