Fostering a sense of community is important now more than ever

24 September 2021

The motivation to buy a home has changed from what it once was. No longer is four walls and the key to the front door enough. Buyers are expecting more from property developers and are placing more importance on the community that surrounds their new home. But where has this motivation stemmed from?

Over the past 18-months, it has become more apparent that the need for human connection, as well as a connection to the natural world, is crucial for many people. This is not a new concept, however with the global pandemic making many people house bound - or at least community bound - this need was exacerbated.

Cedar Woods, one of Australia's leading national property developers, doesn’t just develop the project and move on. They’ve recognised the significance of fostering communities and the difference this makes within these developments, making it a key focus when developing an area.

Across its national portfolio, Cedar Woods engages and executes a range of programs aimed at building and fostering community connection such as pop-up cinemas, weekly personal training sessions, gardening workshops, park openings and social events for residents. As people developers, they look beyond the immediate community, making connections with the wider area and engaging local businesses to support the community as a whole.

Cedar Woods regularly hosts “slab parties” in land developments, where purchasers can make an initial connection with their new community, meet their soon-to-be neighbours and mingle with like-minded people. Hosting these events means by the time a resident moves into their new home, they’ve already made strong connections and feel part of a pre-existing community. As the development progresses, Cedar Woods hosts further events to encourage these relationships such as official park openings and the launch of nature trails. This model is replicated across a number of Cedar Woods developments and encourages the growth of community from the early stages.

Cedar Woods Managing Director, Nathan Blackburne said the combination of initiatives across the portfolio allows them to foster community from the ground up.

“We’ve been running a Community Grants Program since 2009 and in that time, Cedar Woods have donated over half a million dollars across 46 different initiatives. By giving local schools, sporting clubs, community groups and not-for-profits a chance to grow and prosper, the wider community, including our Cedar Woods residents, benefit from this,” he said.

“Bringing residents along with us on the journey results in them feeling connected, with a stronger sense of place. Our long-term goal is to give our residents and surrounding businesses the tools they need to continue the work we start in the community. By establishing community from the early stages, our residents feel empowered to drive initiatives themselves.”

Across the country we are seeing this focus on community and human connection become second nature. In Victoria, the Cedar Woods team is giving back to the local area through a business-specific grants program and hosting networking events for like-minded businesses within the Williams Landing community. This initiative invests in grassroots businesses and local community groups to help support growth and development in different sectors.

The Cedar Woods team in South Australia have embraced technology and developed an app to engage their communities. This app allows for the project team to liaise directly with residents about upcoming events and activations such as park launches, community BBQs, and general maintenance information. The community have embraced this communications tool, with local businesses also getting on board, making the most of the platform by sharing special offers with local residents.

Recently, Cedar Woods SA opened a new multi-million-dollar community park in Glenside and hosted a ‘come and try’ day for the local community. Cedar Woods worked closely with the local government to develop this park in-line with the Council’s vision for outdoor and community spaces.

In Western Australia, Cedar Woods have aligned with Creating Communities, an organisation dedicated to discovering the power behind community and uncover the true potential of connection. In partnership with Creating Communities, this process was recently seen in WA estate, Bushmead. The Bushmead community flourished through a series of initiatives. The team worked closely with soon-to-be residents in the pre-construction phase to identify what they wanted from the area before it was developed.

The Queensland team have recently hosted an event for Neighbour Day, Australia’s annual celebration of community, at their Ellendale estate encouraging people to connect with their neighbours. Cedar Woods in Queensland has recently hosted yoga in the park and are also regularly involved with the Community Grants Program, donating to local schools, charities and music groups.

Cedar Woods is working hard to respond to the changing world and reflects these changes in the design of its developments to create meaningful places that inspire community connections. Through thoughtful placemaking, fostering connection and placing great importance on understanding customers and their lifestyle, Cedar Woods is creating communities that enrich lives of its residents.

You can watch the Creating Community Connection video here.