“Sometimes what may seem radical, almost ridiculous now, can turn into a visionary decision when looked back on by future generations.”
This is just one view on a concept to offer Gisborne’s former champion ex-racehorse property Glen Junor as an alternative to traditional development.
A cornerstone of the concept is the developer’s promise to set aside one hectare of land for nature or community for every hectare of urban development at the 210 ha property at 284 Kilmore Road.
It is modelled on Serenbe in Georgia, US, which has equal emphasis on the natural and human habitats.
The idea is to create a 20-minute walkable neighbourhood, meaning work and recreation options are close to home and surrounded by the natural environment.
Glen Junor proposes provision for a school, community farm and shared trails, as well as a threatened species program on the property that has 2kms of Jacksons Creek and Gisborne Gorge at its corner.
To maintain this space in perpetuity is a proposed $3.5 million contributed to an endowment fund.
Some may call it pie in the sky stuff but the landowners Chrissy and Trent McCamley say they are prepared to make Glen Junor the new benchmark for emerging communities.
They have lived in Gisborne for the past 20 years and while they have no experience as developers they have a team of people and partners behind them.
“It’s generally well known that we’re up to something big but at the moment it’s still a concept and needs greater work,” Mr McCamley says.
It was the property of Melbourne Cup jockey Harry White, who retired there with some of his ex-racehorses when his career came to an end.
The concept also gives a nod to the land’s racing connections with a proposal for a Harry White Park and heritage protection for the grave sites of two of Harry’s Melbourne Cup champion ex-race horses: Think Big and Hyperno.
Mr McCamley aims for a community co-design process and to move away from traditional development that sometimes “comes at a dramatic cost to environment and wellbeing”.
“Traditional urban development is not authentic in terms of consideration for the environment. It ends up being an urban jungle with a patch of grass that has no biodiversity value whatsoever,” he said.
“There’s no vision or provision for open space. If we don’t set aside space now, you can’t get it back. We’re now at a critical juncture where the council is looking to the next 30 years for Gisborne.”
No formal application or plan for the project has been lodged but Macedon Ranges’ councillors were convinced the proposal warranted further consideration in the Draft Gisborne Futures plan last week.
While the property will be included in Gisborne’s settlement boundary, up for community consultation, councillors were not unanimous in the decision.