Former Bomber behind Melton’s newest suburb

Andrew Welsh during his playing days with teammate Matthew Lloyd.

As a star AFL defender, Andrew Welsh owned the back pocket.

Now the footballer-turned property developer owns a decent pocket of Melton.

The former Essendon vice captain is preparing to release his first venture to the real estate market – a 1300-lot postcode in Melbourne’s western growth corridor.

Thornhill Park Estate, 30km north-west of the city, is one of eleven new suburbs in the flourishing urban wedge between Melton and Caroline Springs.

Artist's impression of Thornhill
Artist’s impression of Thornhill

Welsh’s company will soon release the debut stage of the development.

The proposal by Welsh Developments includes multiple sporting ovals and two schools – one Catholic, the other government-run – and a train station.

The size of Thornhill Park, which is aimed at young families, makes Welsh Developments one of the largest private land owners and developers in the western corridor.

Welsh, a former Essendon Keilor College student who played 162 games for the Bombers, has his feet still planted in the west.

The 32 year-old lives in Caroline Springs, which is just five minutes from Thornhill Park.

Land is not yet on the market, but Welsh hopes to have lots available before Christmas, and new residents moving in by the end of next year.

If the rate of sales at neighbouring estates are any measure, prospective buyers are expected to flood an information day on September 16.

Thornhill Park Estate has been advertised for only a week and already, 1000 people have registered inquiries, even before the 26-home display village has been built.

The swell of interest mirrors the broader demand for house and land packages on Melbourne’s developing fringes, with the uptick fuelled by historic low interest rates and rising house prices in established suburbs.

Ballots, camp-outs and registration fees – like Willy Wonka’s golden tickets – are part and parcel of buying a house in the increasingly popular new outer postcodes.

At the nearby Woodlea estate at Rockbank in March, about 350 buyers paid $1000 each to join a lotto-style ballot for first pick at the land lots.

Welsh Developments purchased the land for Thornhill Park – about 1000 hectares – four years ago, and have final approvals before the Metropolitan Planning Authority and the Melton City Council.

“That is why I bought in that area, because I knew the demand was there,” Welsh said.

“It’s an area that is 30km from Melbourne and there is going to be great connectivity in the future.

“We have a major master planned community which is about to come on sale, which is pretty exciting.”

Welsh Developments has sponsored the local football club at Rockbank so the facilities will cope with the pending influx of families to the area.

“I honestly really enjoy it and work seven days a week,” Welsh said.

By Emily Power,