The Young Husband woolstore is a cherished heritage building located in Kensington in Melbourne's inner-north. It accommodates a wide range of creative businesses including photographers, dance studios, artists studios, web designers, recording studios and furniture manufacturers.
In 2011, the previous owners proposed to demolish much of the building and construct residential towers. This was met with outrage from the community and almost 400 objections to the plans. The development proposal was subsequently rejected based on the need to protect neighbouring industrial business rather than community concern.
In 2016, the Impact Investment Group (IIG) purchased the site and commenced a master plan and planning permit for Stage 1 of the rejuvenation of the woolstore. Their proposal included retention and upgrades of the heritage buildings and adaptive re-use of the interior spaces for an expanded mix of creative industries and other commercial tenants. IIG are focused on delivering positive social impact and prioritised community consolation in their planning processes.
Hodyl & Co became involved in the Younghusband development at a point where community confidence had been undermined by the traditional planning process which only required developers to engage with the community at the time of lodging a planning permit. This project presented an opportunity to re-assert the community into the beginning of the planning process which ultimately assisted IIG to deliver their vision for the regeneration of the site.
Hodyl & Co, collaborating with Renton & Co, established a ‘fit for purpose’ community engagement plan, aimed at regaining trust and establishing long-term relationships with local affected residents, businesses and tenants. The community were invited to guided walking tours, listening sessions and design workshops all focused on sharing the community's stories of the 100 year old woolstore and their aspirations for the community. This informed the master plan for the site.
This approach resulted in community proposals that were incorporated into the master plan, including community gardens, potential road closures and an emphasis on local businesses procurement. In broader terms, the process led to increased community trust in planning processes and a more connected community.
It is unusual for all parties (developer, community and Council) to be unanimous and satisfied with the outcome of a planning permit process. The community overwhelmingly endorsed the new approach with no objections lodged to the planning permit. The success of the public engagement process was recognised by Councillors considering the planning permit for Stage 1 of the master plan. The engagement process also significantly reduced planning costs for our client and ensured the planning permit was secured in a timely way.
‘This is one of, if not, the finest planning applications I have had to consider since I was elected…the consultation on all of those stages was remarkable but the way that conversations were held with all stakeholders, not just residents, is truly wonderful to see. I certainly hope we see a lot more of it in other areas in the the future.’
—Rohan Leppert, City of Melbourne Councillor
The Younghusband Public Engagement and Community Planning process transformed community outrage into support, through a best-practice consultative model than can be adapted and replicated in other development contexts.
In 2020 Hodyl & Co worked with Nine Buildings on the redevelopment of Brunswick Market - a 3060 sqm site on Sydney Road, Brunswick. The aim of the residential and commercial project is to provide housing types that appeal to a diverse mix of residents and accommodate alternate living arrangements, with commercial offerings shaped to respond to resident need.
Hodyl & Co coordinated a community engagement program designed to capture the Brunswick community's insights to inform the housing types and commercial offering at Brunswick Market. We worked to understand the needs and wants of the local Brunswick community and connect with people of diverse backgrounds to understand perspectives outside of the mainstream. The approach included demographic and spatial analysis of the local area & local populations, design of interactive online surveys, and online and in-person workshops. You can view the Community Engagement Report here.
The findings of Hodyl & Co's spatial and community research were used by Nine Buildings to inform the design of housing typologies and selection of commercial offerings for the Brunswick Market redevelopment which will be released to the public in 2021.