“Safe and sustainable access for a secluded Sydney beachfront”
Nestled between Newport and Avalon, Northern Beaches Council (then Pittwater Council) appointed Fleetwood to restore safe access along a steep, narrow and heavily-used path leading down to Bilgola Beach. Under the careful watch of local residents, the dangerous existing track was replaced in two stages, using an elegant and highly sustainable solution modified from Fleetwood’s off-the-shelf Vasey™ Stair System. Blending seamlessly into its natural surroundings, the new stairs have been very well received by the community and now provide easy access for surfers, swimmers, walkers and families to enjoy an area of Bilgola Beach that had previously been difficult to reach safely.
Scope of Work
Discover, Develop, Detail, Deliver
Fleetwood was approached directly by Northern Beaches Council (then Pittwater Council) and invited to propose an access solution for Bilgola Beach. We began by presenting our recommended design, including detailed 3D models and full project costings. On approval of our recommendation, we were registered under LGP 308 and immediately set to work. For budgetary reasons, the top section of stairs was delivered in one financial year, with the bottom section delivered in the next. Construction of all sections was completed at our dedicated off-site manufacturing facility, ensuring a fast and seamless installation process with minimum disruption at Bilgola Beach.
Northern Beaches Council ran numerous awareness sessions, including going door to door, to ensure everyone in the neighbourhood was kept well informed. Council also shared some of our 3D concept drawings with local residents to provide a level of community ownership. Fleetwood also provided regular letterbox drop updates, which the residents appreciated.
Set within an exclusive residential community in a pristine beach-front location, the most important design consideration was for the new structure to blend in seamlessly with the local environment. We had to be very mindful to create a natural aesthetic, rather than something overtly ‘plastic’ or a steel, industrial beast that looked more like a fire escape. Locals were very worried about who was going to design and build the stairs and how the new structure would impact their community.
The main construction challenge was to minimise disruptions to the natural surroundings and local residents of Bilgola Beach. It was particularly important to manage the installation stage in a way that allowed our team to be in and out as quickly as possible.
Bilgola Beach residents were extremely sensitive about the look of their new stairs. In response, Fleetwood’s design team made several key modifications to our standard Vasey™ Stair System. This included specifying timber handrails and capping to soften the overall FRP aesthetic – much to the delight of locals.
- Vasey™ Stair System (with bespoke modifications)
- Hardwood timber landings & handrails
- Fibre Reinforced Plastic (FRP)
- Australian Durability Class One Hardwood Timber (Spotted Gum)
- Vasey™ Stair System
We were unable to completely close off the site during installation, meaning locals and visitors were still using the old track around us. We mitigated the risks by making sure the community was kept fully aware of the installation process with letterbox drops and site signage. As the stairs were installed in two sections, we also had to ensure the footings were kept secure to prevent vandalism and tampering.
To minimise disruptions for residents and beach goers, the stairs were constructed off site and then installed in the shortest time frame possible. Australian Durability Class One Hardwood Timber (Spotted Gum) was specifically chosen for its durability in marine environments. Sustainably and locally sourced, it is excellent at retaining its shape and not warping under saltwater conditions.
The old track at Bilgola Beach was very dangerous. It posed a real risk of injury and, as such, many people were reluctant to use it. The new stairs immediately restored a much-loved community thoroughfare and social connection point.
The new stairs allow residents, locals and visitors to safely access one of Sydney’s most beautiful and secluded beaches.
Fleetwood are interested in growing and stretching with the process. I would say that is because of their people, collaborative practices and the pursuit of better outcomes for all ages.
Jennifer Kelynack Senior Landscape Architect
Maribyrnong City Council
“The guys on the ground knew what they were doing, and as far as safety goes, anything we asked them, they did. The quality of finish & getting it delivered on time were critical parts of the project and the client is very happy with the results."
Lionel Desmond Project Manager
Fleetwood’s attention to detail, the service they provideand the working relationship we have with their teammade this project enjoyable. Their acknowledgement oflandscape architects in their work and how they service usis unique in this industry.
Mark Santangelo Senior Landscape Architect & Team Leader, Distinctive Living Design
Great design is what sets Fleetwood apart and they delivered on all their commitments throughout the project
Belinda Ryan Development Manager, Mirvac
Great communication, quick responses that are clear, open about pricing.
Wally Adams Estimator