Ask the residents of Denman Prospect what they think of their new and emerging suburb – they’ll answer scenic and community-focused.
Ask the developer, they’ll say it’s a canvas for redefining remarkable suburban development while the building industry claims it’s a prime candidate for a best master-planned community award.
So who’s right? What’s making Denman Prospect so special?
The answer lies in the strong community partnership between local developer Capital Estate Developments (CED), the residents, and Canberra’s largest community organisation Communities at Work.
Together, they’re modelling the future of sustainable suburban development focused on building community connections and wellbeing.
CED sought to redefine “remarkable living” by building Denman Prospect into a world-class suburb with intelligent, sustainable, thoughtful design and amenities. The team also knew growing a soul within the community was a vital element in building its success.
To achieve this, CED formally engaged Communities at Work in early 2020 to help bring the community together by using its proven track record for connecting and building capacity and resilience.
“We’re very excited to be part of this project,” says Communities at Work community development manager Karen Jesson. “Building new community connections and supporting the development and delivery of new ideas to enhance a suburb is what we’re passionate about.
“We’re working closely with the community to help them foster their connections and lay the foundations for a supportive and cohesive community into the future.
“Much of our work to date has been around helping to develop a sense of belonging for residents by promoting and working closely with them to build local groups, including a playgroup, coffee club, mowing group, and a community action group.
“We also helped the community action group establish a community website to share local information and stories. Groups and activities such as these are a great way to build new networks and friendships, learn something new, be active and promote wellbeing.”
Another important part of community development is identifying, nurturing and developing the assets and skills within the community. This approach is known as asset-based community development.
“What we’re trying to do is leverage the skills, passions, interests and enthusiasm that already exist among community members and channel that towards building connections,” says Communities at Work community development officer Michael Malone.
“But it’s also about building resilience and networks of mutual support within that community so they can continue to grow on their own, beyond our support.
“Building good social connections can also be an important early intervention for mental and physical health. Encouraging people to check in with each other is a good example.”
As local groups grew, CED realised the new suburb needed a reliable, weather-proof meeting place to bring the community together and help nurture even more common interests.
The new community centre due to open in March will provide a much-needed modern, central place for these groups to connect, foster the growth of new ideas, and continue to build a sense of community. The centre will include four rooms for the community to hire, each with a kitchenette and audio-visual equipment.
As facility manager of the new Denman Village Community Centre, Communities at Work is now inviting expressions of interest from Molonglo Valley residents wanting to use the service regularly.
“It’s really important for people to have a great space to form organic networks,” Ms Jesson says. “We look forward to continuing to support the Denman Prospect community with their ideas and respond to what they envision for their space.
“It’s another step towards the goal of remarkable living.”