As Swans guide their goslings across Ironbark Lake, Cormorants are ‘fishing’ at Paddle Street Pond and Long Necked Turtles are foraging amongst the expanding aquatic plantings.  All the while, the district’s new residents are enjoying an afternoon walk or cycle around The Ponds Parklands. In the dry landscape plain of Western Sydney, the value of water to everyone is central to The Ponds 88 Ha open space network, and as a result, this previously degraded agricultural landscape is re-emerging as a vibrant community and environmental asset. It is pivotal to the concept of The Ponds and has been integrated from planning stages to future management to enrich the lives the 10,000 people who will eventually call it home.

Now ten years into its design and staged development, the project has been recognised with a prestigious Award for Parks and Open Space by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) in their recent State Awards competition.  The AILA judging panel noted that the “project sets a precedent for environmental restoration and the creation of a valuable community resource within an extensive, new suburban context.”

A great place, a living landscape

From the outset, planning and design was focused on creating a space for everyone to live, grow, socialise and a memorable place to call home.   For residents, the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors are abundant.  There are seemingly endless kilometres of pathways to walk the creek lines, or shaded lawns to laze by the lake, an array of playgrounds at which to spend family time, share a picnic or BBQ, or get in a bit of exercise by walking the dog. Cycle paths thread through the parklands and riders may never take the same route twice, and have only three roads to cross. For visiting friends on the other side of the valley, there are 16 bridges of all scales and shapes to emphasise the waterway and add incident to the crossing.  The Ponds is not just a suburb it’s a landscape defines an identity and.builds community.

Home to all creatures great and small

Repairing and managing the environment is a fundamental component of  The Ponds design.   Ten hectares of endangered woodland are protected and 700,000 new plants have been re-introduced to transform the site from degraded pasture land.    Contributing to the identity of The Ponds are five water quality ponds. These are designed to ‘polish’ urban stormwater, and along with Ironbark Lake, provide distinctive and memorable features as landmarks throughout the parklands.  Contaminated, urban stormwater is further treated by twelve hectares of world’s best practice raingardens.  If you visit the ponds now you can find invertebrates, see dragonflies, turtles, wrens, ducks, darters and swans.  All signs of a healthy environment.

An economic success – The fastest selling estate in NSW

Economic sustainability is another consideration  at the forefront of this project.  The Ponds has been a success for both residents and UrbanGrowth NSW.  It was the fastest selling master planned estate in NSW, with all 4200 lots selling two years ahead of schedule.  House prices have more than doubled since they first went on sale.

What the jury said

In summing up the project the AILA Award Jury stated in their citation:

“The Ponds Parklands is an example of successful masterplanning, rigorous process, and patience. Situated within a newly constructed suburb and created over 10 years, the Ponds Parklands forms 88 hectares of contiguous parkland that have revitalised a previously degraded landscape.

The project team have worked consistently to ensure a careful balance between public amenity, ecological conservation and restoration: over 10Ha of Cumberland Plain Woodland are conserved, whilst extensive public facilities provide for a diversity of recreation.

Despite the lengthy project gestation, the team has ensured rigorous design principles underpin each phase, creating a well-detailed, well-loved facility for current and future users. This project sets a precedent for environmental restoration and the creation of a valuable community resource within an extensive, new suburban context.”

We would like to thank all involved in the Ponds over the years including the many consultants, artists and contractors.  For help with Water Sensitive Urban Design and parkland planning for your project contact either our Residential Portfolio Manager or our Open Space Portfolio Manager.