Sunshine Plaza Receives Developmental Approval

Sunshine Plaza, located in Maroochydore on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, has gained final approval to commence construction of a $400 million redevelopment, which is jointly owned by the Australian Prime Property Fund Retail, managed by Lendlease and The GPT Group.

Affirming its position as the largest retail centre north of Brisbane, Sunshine Plaza will expand from 73,000 square metres to over 107,000 square metres turning the strong performing centre into a leading fashion, leisure and tourist destination. Customers will enjoy an enhanced retail mix with the region’s first David Jones department store, a new BIGW, a refurbished Myer, a stunning new Amaroo Street mall entrance, provision for large format fashion operators and over 100 new specialty stores, bringing highly sought-after fashion brands to the Sunshine Coast.

The first stage of the redevelopment will involve the construction of a car park on vacant land behind Toys R Us. This will provide alternative customer parking during the construction of the first multi-deck car park, located at the Kmart entrance. Lendlease’s Head of Retail, Gary Horwitz, said extensive community consultation provided deep insights into the needs and aspirations of the local market.

Preliminary_Artist Impression_internal mall_Sunshine Plaza_indicative on...

“We are proud of our strong history at Sunshine Plaza, having delivered innovative and unique retail experiences which celebrate the outdoor coastal strengths of the region. The Centre already achieves solid results, ranking second in Queensland for specialty sales productivity and performs significantly higher than the national benchmark.

“The current performance of Sunshine Plaza indicates a strong demand for an expanded retail offer,” Mr Horwitz said.

Sunshine Plaza aerial

GPT Group’s Head of Investment, Retail Scott Meehan said the development would strengthen Sunshine Plaza’s reputation as the Sunshine Coast’s leading retail and leisure destination.

“GPT is excited to invest in the expansion of one of its best performing shopping centres, which is located in a market that should continue to benefit from strong population and tourism growth.”

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Building better mental health in cities from the ground up

Creating green spaces and better connections between people are just two of the ways urban planners can improve mental health.

The frenetic, isolating nature of city life can be a day-to-day struggle for millions of people. An environmental cocktail of densely packed streets and homes, cramped and lengthy commutes and noise pollution as well as significant pockets of poverty and deprivation can take their toll. As a result, mental ill health and urban life are inextricably linked.

With urban areas expected to house two-thirds of the world’s population by 2050 and some cities, such as in China, undergoing unprecedented expansion, the relationship between urban environments and mental health – and what to do about it – is rapidly coming to the fore.

“Public health is an important component of the built environment, but all too often this focuses only on physical health,” says Layla McCay, founder and director of the Centre for Urban Development and Mental Health. The thinktank was set up in 2015 to bring together researchers, policymakers and planners across the globe to push for urban space designs that create mentally healthier cities.


Projects paving the way

A well-designed urban space can have a positive influence on people’s wellbeing and help prevent mental health problems developing or becoming worse, according to McCay.

“Mental health plays a huge role in the overall burden of disease around the entire world,” she says. “It’s prevalent in every country. The statistics do tell us that people who live in cities have a 40% increased risk of depression, a 20% increased risk of anxiety and double the risk of schizophrenia.”

Urban living takes its toll

There is a considerable body of evidence internationally suggesting that urban living, especially poorly designed environments, can have negative effects on mental health. For example, substandard, overcrowded, damp housing has been proven to affect people’s capacity to cope, while the lack of something as basic as a play area can influence children’s wellbeing.

The role of planners and architects

It makes sense, McCay says, to take into account, for example, that improving street lighting and housing layout might reduce fear and anxiety about safety. The same goes for using urban design to produce plentiful open, green spaces that encourage regular interaction in “pro-social spaces” and “a sense of community” with the goal of reducing isolation.

Experts at the WHO Collaborating Centre for Healthy Urban Environments at the University of the West of England (UWE), which works in tandem with the World Health Organisation’s international Healthy Cities Project, concur that urban planning could have a substantial role to play in cities being designed with mental wellbeing in mind.

According to Daniel Black, an urban planner and fellow at the WHO Collaborating Centre, while planning professionals and researchers are increasingly becoming advocates for prioritising mental health in planning decisions, there is still some way to go before decision-makers in governments catch up.

“Mental health is still lagging behind,” he says. “Even physical health is only beginning to get on the radar. How those in control of urban development are integrating health into development is negligible.”

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Brisbane’s Newest Health Precinct A Go With Tender Announcement

The Queensland Government has confirmed its preferred tenderer for the $1.1 billion Herston Quarter project in Brisbane.

Australian Unity has been chosen develop the site of the former children’s hospital at Herston in Brisbane and create a $1.1 billion health, aged care, residential and retail destination. Australian Unity plans to develop and then take an ongoing role in an integrated health, ageing and research precinct in the Herston Quarter, which would provide Queenslanders with access to leading health, hospital and aged care services.

The new project, integrated within the existing Herston Health Precinct, is designed to attract, train and retain the best clinicians, health workers, researchers, academics and students.

Australian Unity secured the Queensland Government’s preferred tenderer status for the Herston Quarter after a rigorous selection process.

“The Herston Quarter is an important social infrastructure project for Brisbane and Queensland and we thank the Palaszczuk Government for the opportunity to contribute to the development of a world class health precinct,” Australian Unity Group Managing Director Rohan Mead said.


The Herston Quarter is adjacent to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital in inner suburban Brisbane. The masterplan for the five-hectare site includes:

  • A public rehabilitation hospital
  • a private hospital
  • residential aged care
  • retirement living
  • student accommodation
  • health research
  • childcare
  • a co-working hub, and
  • education and training facilities.

Mr Mead said that construction on the health precinct will create around 700 jobs and hundreds more jobs will become available once construction is complete and the precinct is in full operation. Works are expected to start in 2017 and the redevelopment will occur in stages over the next 10 years with the public health facility being a priority.

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Sydney Opera House set for $202 million facelift.

Shortly after Chinese actor Jackie Chan filmed daring stunts atop the Sydney Opera House, the New South Wales government has announced that Australia’s cultural icon will undergo a multimillion facelift starting next year.

Deputy Premier and Arts Minister Troy Grant announced Thursday the biggest and most significant renovation plan for the Sydney Opera House since it opened in 1973.

“The Sydney Opera House has played an important role in our nation’s history and embarking on these renewal projects will ensure that it continues to be relevant for generations to come,” he said.

Grant said that the NSW government will fund the $202 million Concert Hall upgrade using the proceeds of the sale of the state’s electricity assets. The Sydney Opera House reportedly cost $100 million to build over 40 years ago, but the state claimed that the “cultural and iconic” value of the building is worth $4.6 billion.

The son of the late Jørn Utzon, the Danish architect who designed the Sydney Opera House, sits in the panel to ensure that the changes will abide by the original design principle that made the building an iconic architectural structure.

Visitors walk among a glowing fluorescent sculpture as a light show is projected onto the Sydney Opera House on the second night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia, May 28, 2016. Reuters/Jason Reed
Visitors walk among a glowing fluorescent sculpture as a light show is projected onto the Sydney Opera House on the second night of the annual Vivid Sydney light festival in Sydney, Australia, May 28, 2016. Reuters/Jason Reed

Renovation details

According to Sydney Opera House chief executive Louise Herron, a new acoustic ceiling will be installed with reflectors for better sound distribution.

“The problem is with the very high ceiling a lot of the sound that the orchestra actually makes rises and isn’t reflected down, so that the musicians on one side — for example the second violins — have trouble hearing the double basses,” Herron said.

“It means, it’s not such a good experience as it could be if the sound is more contained.”

The stage’s elevation will be lowered and the back stage will be expanded. The “glass donuts” above the stage will be removed so does the “marquee” on the northern broadwalk.

The working design that Grant unveiled also include the provision of three lifts and an escalator to the foyer. The air conditioning system for the foyer will be replaced with new air conditioning system that will be installed under the seats.

There is also a proposal to construct a new function centre on the ground floor that could accommodate 190 seats and 500 standing people. Additional passageways will be constructed and up to 26 wheelchair seating areas in various parts of the concert hall.

Sydney Opera House Closure

Renovation works will be done in tranches to keep the Sydney Opera House open to the public. Construction of a new lounge and cafe at the box office foyer will be done in two stages, beginning in 2017 and 2019.

The most disruptive stage, the concert hall renovation, will run from August 2019 to January 2021 and force the Sydney Opera House to be closed to the public.

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Melbourne could be stripped of ‘world’s most liveable city’

THE world’s most liveable city should be small with a population of around a million and easy to get around.

And that’s not Melbourne. It’s a city where transport is delayed, urban sprawl keeps creeping further and high density apartments are rife.

According to RMIT environmental planning professor Michael Buxton, these are the things that could cause Melbourne to be stripped of its “world’s most liveable city” title this year. Melbourne has held the title on The Economist’s liveability ran

kings for the last five years but Prof Buxton said it could be the end, with European cities doing it better than Melbourne. “We are moving from a city with a population of four million to six million and that’s putting massive strain on existing services,” he said.

Austria’s capital, Vienna, was ranked number two on the liveability list last year and Prof Buxton said Melbourne may be overtaken and never catch up. “European cities value a high number of amenities and that means a lot to the citizens of these areas and they attract tourism, which is very important. Melbourne is not doing well on that at all,” he said.

“European transport systems also may not be as expensive as Melbourne’s and they function much better.”

Prof Buxton believes Melbourne has held on to its liveability title for the past five years because the city looks good on paper.

RMIT professor Michael Buxton believes Melbourne needs to catch up to European cities. Picture: Josie HaydenSource:News Corp Australia
RMIT professor Michael Buxton Source: News Corp Australia

The climate is not as miserable as some European cities and Melbourne’s tram and rail systems appears to cater well to the city.

“But it’s expensive and the problem is it doesn’t function that well,” he said.

Most of Melbourne’s problems came from a rapidly growing population, and smaller scale cities, like Helsinki, Stockholm and Berlin, were more appealing cities to live in.

Prof Buxton said city size had been debated for years and he believed once the population surpassed 1.5 million, that’s when difficulties could arise.

Earlier this year a report from BIS Shrapnel revealed there would be an oversupply of more than 20,000 homes in Melbourne in 2017.

The new liveability ratings are expected to be released this month.

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