Forest Lake, Queensland
Forest Lake was the first Master Planned Community within the municipality of Brisbane, Queensland. It has won numerous awards for its design and had a population of 20,900 residents, as of February 2006. Delfin, the developer of Forest Lake, was absorbed into Lend Lease in 2001. Now operating as Delfin Lend Lease, they are developing the adjacent Springfield Lakes Master Planned Community.
Forest Lake was considered instrumental in the creation of affordable housing within Australia. The development was the first modern day community to contain small lot product, a first during its time. The master planned community contained retail, commercial, educational, residential, retirement, and recreational uses. The entire community is linked by an extensive network of pedestrian and cycle paths, which are integrated into the large open space network.
Forest Lake lies within the Brisbane City Council municipality and is approximately 19 kilometres (12 mi) from the Brisbane central business district. It adjoins the suburbs of Doolandella, Inala, Richlands and Heathwood. It successfully mixes wildlife with residential development.
The Forest Lake Shopping Centre (formerly Forest Lake Village Shopping Centre) is located in Forest Lake.
In the 2011 census, Forest Lake recorded a population of 22,426 people, 51.9% female and 48.1% male. The median age of the Forest Lake population was 33 years of age, 4 years below the Australian median. 61% of people living in Forest Lake were born in Australia, compared to the national average of 69.8%; the next most common countries of birth were New Zealand 7.9%, England 4.7%, Vietnam 3.1%, India 1.8%, South Africa 1.6%. 73.6% of people spoke only English at home; the next most popular languages were 5% Vietnamese, 1.6% Samoan, 1.4% Sinhalese, 1.3% Mandarin, 1.2% Hindi.
According to the 2016 census, Forest Lake includes the largest Sri Lankan Australian community of any suburb in Queensland, numbering 344 individuals and making up 1.5% of the suburb’s population.
A homestead was built by Henry Farley in the late 1870s on a site that is now Homestead Park. It was a substantial building of two-stories and timber construction. In the 1930s it was destroyed by fire, although it has been said that termites caused a great deal of damage to the structure beforehand. In 1881 the homestead and surrounding property were purchased by Michael’ Stumpy’ Durack. The surrounding area became part of “Archerfield Station”.
During World War II, the Forest Lake area was used as an encampment by American soldiers.
The history of how a Masterplanned community came about.
In the 70’s the property was acquired by Hancock Plywoods. Any timber that was of value was harvested by the company and in 1986 Hancock Plywoods Pty. Ltd. decided to sell the property.
With 2,170 acres and located only 18 km at its closest point to Brisbane CBD it is an interesting property. At that time the Brisbane market was quite depressed. Mr Viv Hancock, Chairman of Hancock Plywoods Pty. Ltd. interviewed the Marketing Managers and Directors of the major real estate companies including, Richard Ellis Ray White, Jones Lang Wooten, LJ Hookers, Raine & Horne and several others to discuss the marketing of the property.
Every company was asked to give the owner their realistic estimate on the price, the property can achieve in a sale either by auction or tender.
All the companies except one, advised that the property has a market value of between $5million to $6million for the following reasons:-
1) The property was poorly located close to the then Immigration Department’s “Wacol Refugee Centre”.
2) The property is adjoining Inala, a low cost housing area, then dubbed a “Vietnamese Getto” as many of the Vietnamese refugees from Wacol choose to settle nearby to visit relatives.
3) The property was relatively isolated from the more affluent Western Brisbane Suburbs of Indooroopilly, Chapel Hill, Kenmore, Fig Tree Pocket as well as the growing new suburbs of Mt Ommaney, Jindalee and Westlakes. The main barrier is the very busy Ipswich Road which carries a high volume of trucking and commercial traffic.
4) The cost of infrastructure also made any development not viable according to all the agencies.
5) The concept put forward by all the agencies except one, was that the most suitable development on the property was the creation of 10-20 acres hobby farms or acreages as they is no requirement for the provision of sewerage and water. The development cost merely consist of the provision of roads and power which is relative cheap. They estimated that each 10acre property would be worth only $50,000 to $60,000 per allotment.
6) They also mentioned that the development of Redbank Plains Shopping Centre by AV Jennings commercial, stamped the Redbank area as the regional centre and this property is trapped in the middle of nowhere between that and Mt Ommaney and the Western Suburbs. With the prices of 700m2 suburban land in Redbanks Plains selling below $50,000 per allotment, any subdivision in the subject property becomes not viable.
One company however saw the property differently. Raine and Horne Commercial headed by Tony Aitkinson and special consultant Oliver Tham saw a different picture of what is possible and came up with a different vision for the property and a value of $20million for the property.
The main reason for the great difference in the value is that they saw the potential for an entirely new self-contained suburb on the property. Their reason for the possibility can be summarised as follows:-
1) The property is located only 18 km as the crow flies from Brisbane CBD and remained one of the last major land bank in Brisbane for the creation of a New Master Planned Community.
At that time the growth of Brisbane was stretched North as far as 50 km to Caboolture and as far as 35 km to the south to Beenleigh. By it sheer proximity to Brisbane, it is ideal for a new suburb.
2) At that time the Brisbane City council advised the owners that there is a depression on the property that made is a suitable property for a landfill and offered to pay up to $5 million for the property, to use it as a much needed landfill. Oliver Tham advised the owner that “what the council sees as a landfill, he sees the potential of a lake or even a golf course” and the latter is more friendly to the nose.
3) The Logan Motorway was then being planned by engineers Crooks Mitchell Peacock and Steward and the future motoway will make the property, one of the most strategic suburb with access to Brisbane via Centenary Highway and an easy jump to the Gold Coast via the planned Logan Motorway. This will allow motorist from the western suburbs to avoid the then very congested Pacific Motorway or Logan Road, as it was then called.
4) Most important of all, the net migration into Queensland demanded the creation of new housing stock in South East Queensland.
As a result, Viv Hancock commissioned Raine and Horne represented by Oliver Tham to work with Lloyd Hancock, a consulting partner with Price Waterhouse at that time, (and a future Queenslander of the year), his youngest son to develop a viable development concept so that the property can be sold for the highest value.
He intimated that he will be happy with anything more than $10million as all the other parties said it was worth $5million.
Visionaries are very important to the creation of high quality living spaces which will impact an entire region. They make the difference between seeing a big massive landfill or a multi award-winning suburb.
Some of the highlights concerning the property planning and marketing and its success was as follows:-
1) Former cricketer, town planner John Maclean (cricketer) was appointed to master plan a new suburb known as “Woodlands” at that time.
2) The plan consisted of a new residential suburb of nearly 7,000 home allotments in a mix of residential land sizes with some medium density homes and some areas set aside for retirement living and a commercial shopping centre.
3) The plans will show connectivity to the Western Suburbs with the continuation of Centenary Highway with an overpass over Ipswich Road
4) The point of difference between the then “Woodlands” and other suburbs is the setting aside of approximately 20-25% of its original land area for green and blue spaces making it potentially a most livable suburb.
5) In several meetings with the engineers for Logan Motorway, it was agreed that a couple of ingress and egress should be drawn in to link the new Suburb to the Motorway. (The two access points is now the Centenary highway link and Progress Road link). This will allow the property to be seen to be well serviced and strategically located.
6) The plan was to show a viable and realistic potential new suburb. While there was no intention to formally seek approvals for the development due to time constraints. There would not have been enough time to seek the full rezoning or approvals to sell the property.
At that time the Mayor of Brisbane was who happens to be the sister in law of the Managing Director of Raine and Horne, Tony Aitkinson. In several meetings the team was able to get her support for the creation of a new suburb to accommodate the future growth of Brisbane as well as the creating a high quality and affordable new residential precinct.
She instructed her chief town planner, Mr Barry Alexander to provide a letter to support the development of a new suburb on the property. This gave any buyers a level of comfort that their application for a new suburb will be viewed favourably.
7) The “Woodlands” Masterplan set the template for the first Master Planned Community within the municipality of Brisbane, Queensland.
Marketing of the Property
Due to the cost of the planning exercise, there was less budget for marketing the property. One solution was to tap into media editorials and creating some newsworthy articles of the vision.
At that time Lloyd Hancock who worked with Price Waterhouse and Oliver Tham work extensively to market the property locally and overseas.
Many Japanese companies were contacted as at that time as they were investing heavily in Queensland. Some companies particularly clients of Japanese Construction Giant, Kumagai Gumi expressed interest to participate in a major residential development and see the potential for 10%-15% of the development to be used for “Corporate Retirees” as part of a “Silver City” concept for retiring Japanese to enjoy a higher quality of retirement life overseas for several months in a year. (The process of educating the Japanese market on the concept of having second homes in Australia led to the concept of the Multi Function Polis in North Adelaide several years later.)
Many other Asian companies including, Far East of Singapore, Mbf group, Sime Darby, Lipland, YTL in Malaysia and many others in Hong Kong as well, and many other countries were approached on the development.
To compliment the marketing apart from advertising, the group decided to generated several news worthy articles to generate interest. They used the media to write editorials about the project to create interest as at that time there was not a great appetite for major projects of this scale in Australia.
On a very fortunate Sunday, a front-page article was published by the Brisbane Courier Mail, with a handsome Lloyd Hancock sporting an Acubra with the caption “Young Tycoon want to build retirement village for 5,000 Japanese”.
Even in the days when the Internet did not exist, the news went “viral” and every newspaper and media source from radio and television weighed in on the controversy.
RSL heavyweights and sometimes “rednecks” or nationalist which they prefer to be known, like Bruce Ruxton from Sydney suddenly became more famous overnight in his vocal tirade against the concept of Japanese retiring in Queensland.
The pent up emotions of some misinformed RSL members gave the media a lot to write about and very soon, the entire Asian media weigh-in on the subject. Helicopters were flying over the property from ABC to Channel nine and channel seven as well as foreign media.
Many thought that the project was to be a “fenced off, Japanese only retirement village” when in reality it is far from that.
During the original media interview, the reporter was told that one of the catalyst to make the development viable, was to include a small component of homes to cater for the Japanese corporate retirement market. A dwelling by a golf course or lake could be a great “golden handshake” for those taking early retirement. She was told that the population of Forest lake could be as high as 50,000 people and the component of overseas retirees as well as Japanese would be no more than 10%. From there she sensationalised the article to that stated in the paper.
The amount of publicity the controversy on migration, apparent “racism” and other tangents to the arguments created, would have broken all records at that time with hundreds of news articles published across Australia, Asia and the rest of the world.
Bruce Ruxton become a household name to the anti immigration lobby as well. That was well before the Pauline Hanson phenomenon. There were even many debates on television all over Australia, Asia and beyond. This includes a debates on migration by Jana Wendt on A Current Affair.
In the real estate business there is no bad publicity, the extreme exposure brought in buyers far and wide and the price of $20million was achieved and the property was sold.
The buyers was Girvans Limited and from there even English group Beezer Investments Plc became a partner. Eventually Delfin through the ANZ Bank got involved in the development when Girvans went into problems in the New Zealand and Sydney investment market. The project was renamed “Forest Lake” and Delphin which eventually became Delfin Lend Lease became the principal developer.
Maha Sinnathamby the now famous developer of Greater Springfield also tried very hard to buy the property however when he was not successful. He was told by one of the consultants, “Look Maha, it does not matter if you cannot buy this property, find something further down the road that is twice the size and half the price and when this property is done, you will be siting on a Gold mine”.
Nearly 10 years later Maha Sinnathamby advised that he secured a property three times the size and one third the price and the result is the most successful Master Planned community in Australia, Greater Springfield.
The Forest Lake concept was expanded to Springfield Lakes and Delphin Lendlease transferred its expertise by participating as a development partner in Springfield Lakes.
In 1990, construction of the master planned community commenced by Delfin Lend Lease. In 1991, Forest Lake was officially launched by the then Premier of Queensland, Wayne Goss. The development lasted until 2006, when the last block of land was sold.
By 1998 the suburb had 10,100 residents.
The master planned community which was created by Delfin Lend Lease was so successful, that in the latter years of the development, up to 40% of new homes sold were purchased by existing residents. (David Keir, Project Director 1996-2000)
The Forest Lake development consists of a series of neighborhoods known as villages. Each village was marketed separately and features an entry statement. These villages are; Woodvale Village, Parkland Village, Homestead Village, Lavender Court, Banksia Village, Pine Village, Lakeside Village, Settlers Village, The Chase, The Woods, Brooklands, Hillbrook Village, The Point, Greentree Pocket, Jetty Walk, Centennial Park, College Park, Creekwood, Creekwood Pocket, Chain of Ponds, Jubilee Crossing, The Cascades, Sanctuary Pocket, Sanctuary Point and The Peninsula. There is also a retirement village called The Terraces and an apartment precinct adjoining the Forest Lake Shopping Centre called Prima on Grand.
The centrepiece of Forest Lake is an $8.9 million, 10.9 hectare man-made recreational lake, with a perimeter of 2.7 kilometres (1.7 mi). $1.8 million was spent on the dam wall, outlet structure and boulevard embankment. It has an average depth of 2.6 with a 300 to 600 mm around the safety ledge, deepening to 4 metres in the centre. The volume of the lake is 310,000 cubic metres or 269 Olympic sized swimming pools. Surrounding the lake is 3.5 kilometres of pedestrian and cycleways and 8 hectares of adjacent parkland. It was completed and opened in 1994.
In 2011, the lake experienced a blue-green algae (cyanobacterial) bloom, causing some concern to local residents. A local councillor advised people to not enter the water due to the high toxicity levels from the algae bloom. The algae bloom occurred again in 2017.
- 1991 – Royal Australian Planning Institute (QLD): Award for Excellence in Planning
- 1991 – Australian Institute of Traffic Planning and Management: Annual Award – Homestead Village Design
- 1992 – Queensland Association of Landscape Industries: 1st Prize (Commercial One Landscaping) – Forest Lake Sales and Information Centre
- 1994 – Urban Development Institute of Australia: Queensland Award for Excellence – Marketing
- 1994 – Urban Development Institute of Australia: Queensland Award for Excellence – Urban Design
- 1995 – Case Easrth Awards Queensland: Category Two Award – Forest Lake
- 1995 – Case Easrth Awards Queensland: Category Three Award – Forest Lake
- 1996 – Urban Development Institute of Australia: Queensland Awards for Excellence – Environment
- 1996 – Institute of Engineers (QLD): Engineering Excellence Award – Environment
- 1998 – Urban Development Institute of Australia: Queensland Awards for Excellence – Premier Award
- 1999 – Urban Development Institute of Australia: National Awards for Excellence – Community Creation
- 2000 – Urban Development Institute of Australia: Queensland Awards for Excellence – Community Creation
- 2002 – Urban Development Institute of Australia: Queensland Awards for Excellence – Master Planned Community
There are an abundance of sporting complexes and beautiful fields around the suburb. Sports include: Australian rules football, rugby union, netball, baseball, basketball, tennis, swimming, water polo, triathlon, cricket and athletics.
There are five schools in the suburb of Forest Lake
- Forest Lake State School (Primary). This school opened on 1 January 1994.
- Grand Avenue State School (Primary). This school was opened on 1 January 1999.
- Forest Lake State High School (Secondary). This school opened on 1 January 2001.
- St John’s Anglican College (Primary and Secondary).
Forest Lake is serviced by a weekly visit of the Brisbane City Council‘s mobile library service at the Forest Lake Shopping Centre.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (31 October 2012). “Forest Lake (State Suburb)”. 2011 Census QuickStats. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
- “Calamvale Ward”. Brisbane City Council. Brisbane City Council. Archived from the original on 4 February 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
- “Forest Lake Ward”. Brisbane City Council. Brisbane City Council. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 12 March 2017.
- “2016Census_G_QLD_SSC – Census DataPacks – General Community Profile”. Australian Bureau of Statistics – Census 2016. Archived from the original on 29 July 2017. Retrieved 18 July 2017.
- Mynott, Wicki (2009). 150 years: Richlands, Inala & neighbouring suburbs in Brisbane’s South West. Richlands, Inala & Suburbs History Group. pp. 110–122.
- “Algae in bloom: green scum coating Forest Lake”. The Satellite. APN News & Media. 31 October 2011. Retrieved 18 May 2012.
- “Opening and closing dates of Queensland schools (D-F)”. education.qld.gov.au. Retrieved 2018-01-23.
- “Opening and closing dates of Queensland schools (G)”. education.qld.gov.au. Archived from the original on 22 September 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2018.
- “Mobile library services”. Brisbane City Council. Archived from the original on 6 June 2014. Retrieved 3 June 2014.
Media related to Forest Lake, Queensland at Wikimedia Commons