Huntlee: Why long-term partnerships are critical for long-term project success

A hugely rewarding part of the work we do at Northrop is helping to build and shape our communities while positively impacting our environment – and our long-term work on the Huntlee project in the wine district of NSW’s Hunter Valley is the perfect example of that in action.

Huntlee is a new master-planned community, which will include around 7500 residential homes, approximately 150 hectares of public open space, over 620 hectares of conservation land, and 200 hectares of commercial employment land – which will help create more than 3000 jobs.

Since 2015, Northrop has worked in partnership with the industry-leading urban developer, LWP Property Group, to help create what is the region’s first new town for more than 50 years.

We work in close partnership with LWP Property Group to ensure the product they have envisioned is brought to life,” says Brittany Balcombe, Civil Engineer at Northrop.

“LWP is committed to creating sustainable communities that deliver lasting environmental, social, and economic contributions. LWP’s flagship development, Ellenbrook in Western Australia, is the country’s most awarded master planned community – praised for its environmental sustainability and community development – and serves as a great inspiration for Huntlee.”

Building a new future for the Huntlee community

The Northrop team was initially engaged by LWP to provide detailed civil design for a 42-lot substage of the residential development. Since then, Northrop has worked in partnership with stakeholders on many other aspects of the development.

These have included a further 38 residential subdivisions, six commercial subdivision stages within the town centre, seven TfNSW road design projects, three flood studies, and the development of the site-wide stormwater quality strategy including detailed design of a constructed wetland and multiple bridge crossings.

“Our involvement during the construction phases of each stage has established an excellent relationship with our construction contractors, who provide significant input into our evolving design,” says Brittany.

“Our ability to be onsite weekly allows us to remain connected to the many aspects of the fast-paced progression of such a large development.”  

Northrop is now the lead design consultant coordinating hydraulic, electrical and communication services across the site, as well as transport, landscape and ecology. The team has also worked closely on a new Coles shopping centre, which includes 11 commercial tenancies and a 250-space car park. The Northrop team has also been involved in numerous local parks and two district parks which will provide ample space for the community to gather and enjoy their beautiful surroundings – the first of which opened in October 2022.

“We worked closely with Terras Landscape Architects and our Northrop Structural team to design and deliver a new community space as envisaged by our client and the local Council,” explains Brittany.

“The playground incorporates an extensive range of equipment, including slides, swings, flying foxes, jungle gyms, sandpits and more. The wider parkland includes a half basketball court, BBQ facilities, gardens, picnic areas and shelters, as well as a fenced off-leash dog park.”

Huntlee – sustainability at its heart

The Huntlee project is set to continue on for a number of decades, and as you’d expect from any development of this size, sustainability is at its heart.

Extensive footpaths and off-road cycleways connect the community, and all lots are within 400m of a bus stop, encouraging people to walk, cycle or catch public transport.

The site is serviced by Altogether Group, which delivers potable and recycled water connections to all lots, as well as providing independent onsite sewer treatment.

In addition to the public open space and conservation land, there are approximately 4990 hectares of conservation land that have been offset elsewhere within the Lower Hunter Region, while wildlife passages are linked across the subdivision via a network of riparian corridors and parkland.

The long-term nature of the project means collaboration and enduring partnerships are essential, as Brittany explains.

“We have a great working relationship with LWP who continue to provide wonderful project opportunities for Northrop. We receive continual feedback from all stakeholders, including local councils, existing residents, and new local business owners, on elements across the subdivision that are working well and those that could be improved.”

The Northrop team is currently working on the detailed design of a new sports field facility, a 158-lot medium-density residential release, and a major TfNSW road upgrade package – all elements that will be critically important to the long-term success of the project.

Brittany says, “We hope to continue our role across the Stage 2 project area, providing input from concept through to construction for approximately 5000 residential lots and the array of public facilities that will support the expanding community.”

It’s an expanding community that will enjoy the growing list of facilities for generations to come – ensuring the work Northrop is delivering will have a lasting, positive impact on the world around us.


Group Manager | Senior Civil Engineer
Brittany Balcombe

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