Where's my title?
Paul Melideo, Westbrook’s Senior Project Manager, explains what happens once you buy your lot and before your title issues, and also how residential land developments come to life.
Ever wondered about how residential estates come to life? Or what actually happens between the time you purchase your lot off a plan until your title finally issues? Well, we thought we’d ask an expert to provide some answers to these questions and more.
Paul Melideo is the Senior Project Manager at Westbrook Estate.
And the qualified civil engineer is definitely an expert, with over 17 Years’ experience in residential land developments doing everything from consulting on estate design to construction management to managing greenfield sites for developers. For the past 7 years he’s worked with Dennis Family Corporation, overseeing the day-to-day management of the 5,000-lot Westbrook Estate, one of the largest in the City of Wyndham.
So, Paul, where do you currently live?
“At the moment I live in Bundoora, which is a 45-minute drive away from Westbrook across town.”
Tell us about your role as Senior Project Manager at Westbrook and what that entails.
“As the Senior Project Manager, I have oversight of pretty much every aspect of the Westbrook project. At its most fundamental, that translates to a lot of phone calls, emails, spreadsheets, and meetings. While this might all sound a little boring, in reality my role can vary significantly from day to day as my key remit is basically to keep the project moving.
“Essentially, it’s my job to ensure that we’re able to release appropriate stock (lots) to market, that we stay on top – and ahead of all our deadlines – for all designs and approvals, so the development gets built how and when it should be. Sometimes on a project of this scale, this can feel a little like herding the cats when you’re dealing with so many different stakeholders – everyone from engineers and planners to landscape architects and builders, to landowners and government authorities.
“Plus, I need to know enough about each of these disciplines so I can give the best directions and instructions on to best move the project forward.”
How does a masterplan design for a residential development like Westbrook come to life? Who is involved? Who determines things like how big the estate will be, how many lots will be of sale, how the estate will be laid out and what amenities will be included?
“Generally, the location and size of each residential land development is determined in accordance with the relevant Precinct Structure Plan (PSP) for that area developed by the Victorian Planning Authority. Each PSP sets out a lot of the high-level requirements for the entire municipality where an estate is proposed to be developed, and the Victorian Planning Authority works closely with a wide number of stakeholders including municipal councils, local communities, other government agencies, landowners and developers to plan for strategically important precincts and decide where to place schools or town centres and sporting reserves etc.
“Once all major components are agreed and finalised in principle per the PSP, a land developer will then bring together its own stakeholder network including urban designers, planners, engineers, landscape architects, selling agents, marketing teams to determine what goes where and why. For example, where different precincts are located.
“While lot sizes are driven by mandatory targets prescribed in the relevant PSP, ultimately, consumers are the ones that determine lot sizes as developers will offer lots which are most likely to appeal to potential purchasers.”
What is special about the Westbrook masterplan and what sets it apart from other residential developments in the area. What future amenities, open spaces can people expect to see, what transport options will be available etc?
“Well for a start, there aren’t too many 4,000 – 5,000-lot master planned communities in the development space. Most land developments in and around Melbourne’s western corridor tend to be much smaller, which often means they can provide only some, or limited, access to the level of amenity that a large-scale master planned estate can.
“For example, Westbrook will offer a range of amenity that smaller developments simply can’t match including a future secondary government school, a childcare centre, plenty of indoor and outdoor sports facilities, extensive parklands and open space, as well as a community centre and a large Town Centre near the estate’s very own railway station.”
A significant part of your role involves overseeing the roll out and development of each stage. Can you walk people through what happens from the time they buy land in their stage to the time their title issues and their contract settles?
“By the time a purchaser has bought land in a specific stage, we’ve already prepared and lodged plans with all relevant statutory authorities for approval including the local municipal council, electricity company, water authority etc.
“The approval of stage plans typically takes around 8 – 12 weeks to be processed assessed and can often require multiple submissions and adjustments over that period to secure the final greenlight from each relevant authority.
“Once the approval process is underway, our next task is to start tendering out a range of works to civil construction companies which we then review and award for construction. The civil construction phase is usually longest and most intensive in the development of each stage, and generally takes around 38 – 40 weeks to complete. Works carried out during this phase include:
- Earthworks – cutting or filling the ground to correct levels;
- Sewer installation – installing sewage pipes for all lots, which can be up to 5m deep in some instances;
- Drainage – installing both lot and road drainage throughout the development, including concrete pipes;
- Water – installing potable and non-potable water to each lot;
- Excavating road subgrade – digging out roads;
- Road bases – building up multiple layers of crushed rock for road bases;
- Kerbs and channels – installing literally hundreds of metres of concrete kerbing and channels throughout each stage;
- Electrical and optic fibre installation;
- Top-soiling – adding topsoil to all nature strips and trimming lots;
- Asphalting – lastly, laying multiple layers of asphalt on roads and line-marking.
- Compliance generally takes place now and this involves all the authorities coming out and checking the work or performing tests.
“Once all these tests are complete, our next step is to apply for a Statement of Compliance that confirms all the works have been carried out appropriately, which generally takes about 4 weeks to issue. Around this this period, we’ll commence landscaping works, including planting trees and grass on the nature strips.
“Once we receive the Statement of Compliance for each Stage, we can then lodge subdivision plans at the State Land Titles Office for registration, so that titles can issue.
“Typically, this process takes around 2 weeks, following which each purchaser in that stage can finally settle on their block of land and start building.”
Finally, what are your 3 favourite things to do in and around Westbrook?
“For the cycling enthusiast, a ride along the City of Wyndham’s Federation Trail is a fantastic way to embrace the great outdoors and take in many of the amazing sights this area has to offer.
“For the family, a visit to Werribee Open Range Zoo is a wonderful way to spend the day. The zoo inspires animal lovers of all ages – and don’t forget to book everyone on the Safari tour in the open-top double decker bus. It is seriously fun, and means you get to see all the animals.
“And for great food and wine, you can’t go past Shadowfax Winery in the heart of Werribee Park. A superb restaurant, wine bar, live music on weekends and beautiful landscape gardens makes it a must-visit destination.”