Formerly an RAAF airbase, Williams Landing is rapidly becoming a thriving mixed-use precinct in Melbourne’s west. Owned by Cedar Woods, the project has evolved significantly over the past few years, and UPco has been proud to be part of the project team. We spoke to UPco Associate Planner Holly McFall about her continued involvement, and why this project is so close to her heart.

The project in a nutshell

Situated around 20km from Melbourne’s CBD, Williams Landing was developed on the site of the old Laverton Airbase, which was decommissioned in the 1990s. In 1998, the site was purchased by Cedar Woods who saw the site’s potential, as did the State Government of Victoria and the City of Wyndham. The site was rezoned to a Priority Development Zone, with a masterplan developed comprising four residential neighbourhoods concentrated around its civic heart: the town centre.

The catalyst for the town centre was State Government investment in a new train station – which, together with the site’s direct access to the Princes Freeway, created a seamless connection to the Melbourne CBD. From there, a lot of the residential development was completed, and the first stage of the shopping centre constructed.

Expansion of the town centre (beyond the shopping centre) gained momentum around 2016, and this was when UPco was engaged to assist with the planning for a range of buildings within and around the heart of Williams Landing.

The process (and its challenges)

For UPco’s Holly McFall, Williams Landing has special significance as it was one of the very first projects she worked on when she joined UPco as a student – and she’s continued to be part of the project team ever since.

“One of the best aspects of Williams Landing is the relationship we have with our client, Cedar Woods, and the fact that Council has largely supported its vision,” says Holly. “We’ve worked on around thirteen buildings within the project now, ranging from the new Target HQ to residential apartments buildings. The variety of buildings presented a range of planning challenges, but we were able to really focus on addressing these to get a great outcome for the broader community, City of Wyndham and Cedar Woods.”

Why we love the project

“I think that Williams Landing has eclipsed what people thought it would become,” reflects Holly. “It has delivered so much already and still has more to offer in the coming years. I believe it’s really creating a genuine ‘20-minute city’, where people can live and work locally, without necessarily having to go into the CBD.

“There’s also something special about the way the development is honouring the heritage of the site. When a new street or building is named, it’s often with a nod to the RAAF aviation heritage. Even the name Williams Landing pays homage to Air Marshal Sir Richard Williams, the man many regard as the ‘father’ of the Royal Australian Air Force.

“Finally, as a young planner, it’s been special for me to see a project actually take shape in a way I can see. Williams Landing is developing its own defined skyline before our eyes – and looking at ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos, the difference is incredible. I envisage that this community will continue to prosper over time – and it’s an excellent demonstration of planning policy being realised ‘on the ground’.”

Cover image courtesy of Cedar Woods