The Canberra suburb of Franklin has taken out the honour for the country's top master planned community at the Property Council of Australia's annual Innovation and Excellence Awards.

The 256-hectare estate situated in the north of Canberra falls under the aegis of the ACT’s Land Development Agency, and is currently host to over 3,000 homes across a developed area of 132 hectares. The total population of the suburb is expected to rise to as many as 6,000 to 7,000 residents by next year.

One of Franklin’s chief distinguishing features is the inclusion of a broad variety of block sizes and dwelling types designed to cater to a greater range of housing needs, thus ensuring the creation of a more diverse, inclusive community in the north of Canberra.

The suburb encompasses traditional detached homes, terrace and two-storey houses, as well as an apartment complex in the Flemington Road Precinct.

In order to ensure that Canberra residents from greater range of socio-economic backgrounds enjoy the opportunity to become part of the Franklin community, the LDA has sought to provide affordable housing options via its award-winning Ownplace program, as well as its Land Rent Scheme, an affordable housing demonstration project and a charity house project.

Other key features of the master plan include the incorporation of public facilities to cater to long-term community needs, including the Franklin Early Childhood School, the Franklin Recreation Park, and considerable amounts of parkland.

The suburb is host to a 6.5-hectare tract of open space dubbed “Gubur Dhaura,” which in addition to providing a vantage point for the surrounding landscape also harbours considerable cultural and heritage significance for the local Aboriginal community.

In addition to shoring up the diversity of Franklin via the provision of a variety of housing types, the LDA hopes to create a stronger sense of social cohesion via the “Mingle” community engagement program which it is trialling in the suburb. The program involves a range of activities designed to foster social interactions between residents and create a greater sense of community involvement.