Australia Asia Pacific

Sunshine Cove, Sunshine Coast, QLD

Sunshine Cove, Sunshine Coast, QLD

Located at Maroochydore on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, the UDIA award-winning Sunshine Cove has forged a new path for medium density master planned communities.

Personalised terrace housing mixed with diverse communal amenities provide a true sense of spaciousness and allow residents to ‘live small’ while reaping the benefits of a ‘big backyard’.

When RPS was engaged by Chardan Development Group to provide urban design for its new community development, the local market was reaching a crossroads. Demand for apartments in Maroochydore was dropping, the cost of larger suburban homes was on the rise, and with the area identified as a key growth centre, it was clear that a new approach to residential development was needed.

Personality plus

While the ‘medium’ level of residential density planned for Sunshine Cove would require well-planned and highly functional servicing, it was important that utility did not come at the cost of looks or lifestyle.

Sunshine Cove’s detailed design provides optimum functional amenity (parking, circulation and servicing) but is aesthetically and environmentally sensitive to the site’s coastal location.

Despite the smaller lot sizes, all houses are offered freehold, giving residents the flexibility to design and build homes to suit their individual needs.

In contrast to many new community developments, personalisation of architecture was embraced as an opportunity, with clever design controls put in place to ensure individual home designs contribute to the overall aesthetic and functional success of the master plan.

Each house is built in isolation and limitations are placed on repeat designs. Building setbacks are small and the facades are heavily articulated to break up the built form. The result is an eclectic, yet cohesive and resolved urban character.

The ‘non-standard’ medium-density housing offered at Sunshine Cove has been well-received by the local market providing proof that such housing types can work well in regional cities and coastal areas.

In fact, freehold, laneway terrace housing has seen a much stronger take-up than the conventional small lot housing offered at Sunshine Cove, with continued demand making it the dominant housing type across the development.

Park perks

The success of Sunshine Cove’s urban design revolves around access to open space. Negotiation was undertaken with Council for approval of more open space options than are normally found in a residential community, and each village offers a series of smaller parks in addition to the lake and planning scheme-required 1 hectare parks.

These features act as a replacement for the large private outdoor spaces offered by traditional suburban lots (the “big backyard”), while simultaneously activating and enlivening the community. They include green streets - a form of linear park where open space takes the place of a traditional hardscaped street.

RPS facilitated significant negotiation and workshopping with Sunshine Coast Regional Council (SCRC) to secure approval for green space amenities that were outside the scope of the existing Planning Scheme and Preliminary Approval.

Similarly, while SCC’s initial preference was for all lots to be north-south oriented, RPS proposed an alternative whereby homes could better address water, parks and views. The resultant design controls allow people to shape their buildings for best orientation.

Negotiation was undertaken with Council for a benefitted rates levy to facilitate ongoing maintenance of a higher standard of landscape treatment and additional parkland for residents. Strong partnerships between SCRC, residents and the developer have been established, and many local residents are now actively involved in maintaining native vegetation patches around the community.

Community character

Sensitivity to the area’s environmental, social and cultural heritage was an extremely important part of RPS’ urban design brief.
A cultural heritage survey was undertaken before any work took place and 18 Indigenous heritage sites were identified across Sunshine Cove. These sites are now recognised and preserved, allowing residents to connect with local Aboriginal history and culture.
Community character has been developed through the detailed control of streetscapes, a diversity of housing options expertly balanced with green space, and the clever connection (and separation) between public and private spaces.
For example, internal courtyards within homes provide daylight penetration, natural ventilation, and visual and acoustic privacy, while such private spaces are complimented by the range of communal areas - from pocket parks and boardwalks, to waterfront esplanades and green streets (where a park replaces the street within the normal street dimension).
Laneways are well lit and the open grid design encourages pedestrian flows and ensures a high degree of passive surveillance – making Sunshine Cove a safe place to live in and walk through.


2016 Winner UDIA (National) Excellence Award - Residential Development
2015 Winner UDIA (QLD) Excellence Award - Residential Development 
2015 Winner Queensland Building Design Award - Best Small Lot Design, Undara Street, Designer Henriette Werner of Principal Plans

For more on Sunshine Cove, please visit

Discover how the RPS Urban Design team can assist you with your next project here.

For more information about the project please contact us via our contact form.