A gentle path to a Courtyard
The issue of a courtyard renovation was raised at a Christmas function in
the courtyard several years ago. I don’t recall the exact words,
but the conversation was about permanent furniture in the form of
tables and benches and how more use could be made of the space.
may have been earlier discussions and I have had several casual
conversations over the past few years often
with parents with babies, concerning the need for a meeting and play
can’t recall when I first tried to get the topic included in Owners
Committee discussions but it was certainly more than a year back. It
was definitely proposed as an agenda item for our November and
subsequent committee meetings, but never discussed.
have a courtyard?
owners should be interested in increasing or maintaining the value of
their property regardless of whether it’s a financial investment or
simply their home until they move on.
have discussed this building with at least six real estate
salespeople while they were at these premises and also -
through a friend - with a
principal of a major real estate company.
opinions of the salespeople are unanimous - when they show prospects
an apartment in this building there is nothing more to show, and the
context of the apartment - our building - is fairly tatty. In my
opinion the recent repairs and renovations have done little to change
HQ Marketing Manager of Jellis Craig agreed with the sales view,
confirming that the more positives a sales person could present the
higher the price/prospect of a sale.
Typically a salesperson will:
- Take the prospective client to the for-sale property by the nicest route.
- Visit any nice common areas. The roof top garden in the case of the new block of apartments at Jewel station.
- Find a quiet location for discussions if the owner is present.
None of these are surprising and in the case of 34 Union St none can be met.
to owners’ financial expectations is the liveability of 34 Union
Street for all residents. A meeting place such as a thoughtfully
arranged courtyard can be a significant contributor.
The Victorian Government, in a document on Better Apartments Design
(Appendix A), describes what authorities should include when
considering approval for the construction of an apartment building.
In their words: “provide adequate and useable communal open space
for the benefit of residents”.
Maria has claimed that what I am describing as a courtyard is a
walkway for access to the townhouses. Drawing 08-003 A02 of the
architect’s plans for this building is described as the “courtyard
plan”. In that drawing there are references to “ the landscape
plan for landscape details”, clearly showing that the space is more
than a “walkway” and is in fact intended to be a courtyard and
The courtyard at 34 Union Street satisfies the Government’s
recommendations of size, and with care, visual intrusion into other
residents’ space. Unfortunately the original builder never
implemented the architect’s vision that included lawns, rain
gardens (Appendix B) and other perquisites of a usable, welcoming
Continuing the program of restoration that followed our VCAT success, I put it
to this Owners Committee that it should consider a courtyard
renovation that will add value to all properties and a meeting place
The intention is not to achieve the original plan, but rather, in
consultation with owners and residents, to create a pleasant meeting
To this end a subcommittee could be appointed to produce ideas with
costs for the redevelopment and subsequently to oversee the actual
There may be objections about spending on non-essentials, but these are
easily answered if increase in property value is considered.
The cost can be whatever we decide, from the frugal version to the all
singing etc. For completed works in one go, almost certainly more
than we could justify.
My only enquiry to a professional garden designer indicated a cost of at
least $10,000. I believe that with a bit of thinking we can from our
own intellectual resources produce a satisfactory plan. Two 1800mm x 720mm outdoors tables with four bench seats, delivered and stained are less than $5,000. 2,400mm x 900mm planters, delivered, stained and filled with soil about $500 each.
As sometimes said – We’re not building sheep stations.
A – Better Apartments
Page 30 of the Victorian Government's Better-Apartments-Design-Standards
document in part reads:
Communal open space
To provide adequate and useable
communal open space for the benefit of residents.
To integrate the layout of development with communal open space provided in the development.
Standard Developments with 40 or more dwellings should provide a minimum area of communal open space
of 2.5 square metres per dwelling or 250 square metres, which ever is lesser. Communal open space should:
• Be located to:
Provide passive surveillance
opportunities, where appropriate.
Provide outlook for as many
dwellings as practicable.
Avoid overlooking into
habitable rooms and private open space of new dwellings.
Minimise noise impacts to new and
• Be designed to protect any
natural features on the site.
• Maximise landscaping opportunities.
• Be accessible and useable
Appendix B - What is a Raingarden?
The term “raingarden” used in the architect's drawing of the area has an
has lead to an increase in stormwater runoff and subsequent increase
in pollutant wash-off. It has detrimental effects on the receiving
waterways. Due to this, it has become a requirement of the
development to ensure the site adopts water sensitive urban design
principals to reduce the pollutant wash-off from the area. With this
in mind the development of raingardens has become necessary. Building
a raingarden (bio retention filter) is a simple way to help the
environment and the health of our local waterways by:
pollution mixed in stormwater and runoff
groundwater by allowing clean water to slowly soak into the earth
- Maintaining stream flows during summer months<]\
- Providing habitat for butterflies, birds and other creatures
- Layers of soil for filtration
- Gravel for drainage
- Drought tolerant plants
- Slotted Pipes beneath the soil to take away the filtered rainwater and an
overflow pipe on the surface to prevent flooding, raingardens are
designed to collect water from a disconnected downpipe, rainwater
tank overflow or pavement runoff”
Appendix C – Costs
These prices are for components supplied by TK Tables
|4 x 2100x900 3 level planters @ $445|| $1,780|
|2 x 2400x600 2 level planters @ $370|| $740|
|Soil 20cubM @ $63|| $1,260|
|Equipment hire for soil moving|| $500|
|2 x Tables 72cmx1800cm @ $950|| $1,900|
|4 x Bench seats 1800cm @ $600|| $2,400|
|Plumbing for taps etc.|| $2,000|
|Plants (guess) || $2,000|
|Assembly,painting, delivery etc.|| $2,000|
|Total || $14,580|
Other (earthmoving, advice, etc.)