Building better suburbs: Design controls in master planned communities:- An Australian perspective

Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Details

Published Version.

Nguo, H., & Armitage, L. (2008). Building better suburbs: Design controls in master planned communities:- An Australian perspective. Paper presented at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) COBRA 2008 research conference, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland.

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2008 HERDC submission. FoR Code: 1205

© Copyright RICS, 2008


Master planned communities in Australia are an increasingly popular form of residential development responding to localised pressure of population increase. They are characterised (Minnery and Bajracharya, 1999; Gwyther, 2005) as private sector driven, large scale, integrated housing developments located on greenfield sites, most frequently on the outskirts of major metropolitan areas. Whilst the conception, planning and provision of such communities lies in the hands of the major stakeholders – developers and state and local government – the provision of the unit of consumption, the dwelling, is the purview of housebuilders and also, at the level of final consumption, the concern of an individual purchaser which is most often a family. Whilst stakeholders at the statutory level may have principled concern about three key dimensions of governance mechanisms, housing market context and the nature of community as discussed in Bajracharya et al. (2007) the views of the residents are less well specified.

The objective of this paper is to report upon an original survey of residents of three separate communities in the northern suburbs of Melbourne which investigated respondents’ satisfaction in respect of the implementation of design controls within and between their communities. In addition, the research sought to define common design control measures and explore the reasons for their use and role in effecting the outcome of master planned residential development.

The paper provides a review and discussion of the findings which offers some insights into the residents’ satisfaction with the design controls and their effectiveness in achieving the developers’ intentions. Whilst residents’ degree of support varied between developments, it was found that controls which exhibited greater clarity facilitated a more certain outcome; and the more stringent the controls, the more positive was the impact on property value with the greater conformity of design being viewed as a measure of quality which rewarded residents with a better return on their investment than that achieved in less strictly controlled developments.



This document has been peer reviewed.