Across NSW, residential land lease communities tend to follow the same formula - dozens of light-weight prefabricated homes are tightly-packed into sites on the outskirts of urban centres.
While it’s a traditional and well-known approach, it is not one that always delivers robust long-lasting housing nor the best urban outcome.
Now a new Port Stephens-based community is challenging the status quo - by delivering stylish and high-quality housing and facilities while still allowing consumers to enjoy the significant financial benefits of land lease living.
This new community will contain 216 homes and be spread across a generous 20 hectare site at Medowie, a small semi-rural township within the Port Stephens local government area.
Brick homes a major point of difference
Instead of prefabricated homes, Tallowood is believed to be the first over 55s land lease community in NSW to have brick veneer homes.
According to Vivacity’s managing director Jonathon Steggles Mendez, these architecturally-designed and master-built brick homes are proving a major attraction to buyers.
“Tallowood is the first residential land lease community I know of in NSW with brick veneer homes, which offers a significant advantage for residents,” Mr Steggles Mendez said.
“These homes are better insulated and are more robust than prefabricated homes, and are built to Building Code of Australia standards.
“This means residents can enjoy lower energy and maintenance costs, and be more confident in the home’s longevity.”
In addition, the homes are placed on large sites which average 276 square metres in size.
This average site size is the biggest in the Port Stephens region, and allows the homes to have a distinctly upmarket suburban feel - with enough space for front picket fences, gardens and outdoor entertaining areas.
Mr Steggles Mendez said the homes’ interiors have been carefully designed, to create a sense of space, light and comfort. All home designs contain two bedrooms, with most also containing a multi-purpose room which can be tailored for a specific use by future residents.
“We’ve looked to create a warm, welcoming and inviting home that is user friendly and thought through,” he said.
“Our homes have large windows, generous 2.7m high ceilings and often a northerly aspect, which helps to create a feeling of light and open space.
“All homes also come with solar panels, which minimises the impact on the environment and reduces utility costs to residents.”
Despite the superior home structure and features, and the expansive blocks, home prices range from $445-600,000 and weekly site fees are $180. These prices are roughly in line with surrounding land lease communities.
However, the Tallowood difference is not just limited to the homes and sites.
Half of Tallowood is open space
Adding to the Tallowood’s relaxed suburban feel, around half of the 20 hectare site is made up of environmental areas and private or public open space.
This means residents will be able to enjoy an estimated 1km of walking trails, including through bushland, along with an off-leash dog area or resting areas alongside one of three water features.
What’s more, unlike many other land lease communities which are in isolated locations, Tallowood is in easy walking distance to a local shopping strip.
It is just 300m from the main Medowie retail area, which includes supermarkets, a hotel, chemist, hardware outlet, cafes and other shops.
This proximity, and the fact that Medowie locals have illustrated strong support for Tallowood’s planning approval and construction, means that future residents are set to be welcomed as a valued part of the local township.
Finally, Tallowood will feature a new ‘resident empowerment’ concept - another first for land lease living.
While most land lease communities have a resident’s committee, it is the operator which ultimately makes the decision on which activities are offered on-site.
Instead, at Tallowood, residents will be able to choose proposed activities, using an annual budget proposed by Vivacity.
Communal facilities and homes under construction
Tallowood is currently under construction, with the first 20 residents expected to move in by Christmas 2020.
These residents will be able to enjoy the first stage of Tallowood’s state-of-the-art communal facilities, including a clubhouse, dining hall, billiard room, cinema, library, gym, indoor pool, sauna and wellness centre.
“We have carefully thought about the positioning and design of our clubhouse to keep a sense of light and space,” Mr Steggles Mendez said.
“In addition, we think the residents will be very pleased with the quality of the interior design.”
A second stage of communal facilities is currently being planned, and is expected to be delivered by 2021 or 2022. This includes an undercover bowling green, tennis court, outdoor swimming pool with mini-clubhouse and virtual reality golf.
“These additional facilities however may be subject to change, because our first residents may come in and say we want something else,” Mr Steggles Mendez said. “This is in line with our philosophy of resident participation in decision-making.”
Tallowood will also include 30 boat and caravan parking spots, with further off-site parking options currently being explored.
This will allow residents to escape for ‘grey nomad’ adventures around Australia, or just for a spot of fishing or boating on beautiful and nearby Port Stephens harbour.
Award-winning village manager appointed
Finally, Tallowood has already confirmed the all-important appointment of its on-site village managers.
These managers will be married couple Colleen and John Grace, who previously worked at the Valhalla community at the Central Coast’s Chain Valley Bay.
In 2016, Colleen and John's management was a key factor helping Valhalla being named as the best in NSW by the official land lease industry association.
“We are excited to be joining the team at Tallowood and look forward to meeting and greeting all our incoming residents in the near future,” John and Colleen said.
No stamp duty and other financial benefits
Tallowood is already proving popular among buyers, particularly those from the surrounding Hunter, Central Coast or Mid-North Coast regions, or who are keen to escape the Sydney rat race.
As a land lease community, residents will own their homes and then take out 99-year leases on the land on which these homes sit.
The advantage of this approach is that Tallowood residents won’t need to pay stamp duty, nor a deferred management fee, which may apply in a retirement village.
In addition, residents may be able to access Commonwealth rent assistance.
It’s not surprising that land lease living is enjoying such popularity across NSW and Australia.
Find out more at the official Tallowood project website here