Bordering a 60-hectare nature reserve and ringed by boardwalks, native plants and lakes, lies a community that has been gradually evolving over the past 25 years. Urban Ridge is 22-hectare development that is the brainchild of my parents - Bob and Judy Thorne. Tucked at the bottom of Millers Road, between Brookfield and Bethlehem, the tightknit community has a peaceful vibe, and an authentic one. As you drive through the cul-de-sacs you see people smiling, chatting, and working on projects.
Aerial View of Urban Ridge
Many of the earlier residents at Urban Ridge were drawn there because they wanted to downsize their home, but not down-spec. Nor did they want to go into a retirement village. For many the idea of a smaller site held huge appeal along with the freedom offered by low maintenance living, meaning they could easily pack up and head off on travel adventures. In more recent times, there has been a noticeable shift towards younger families purchasing there. Attracted to the family-friendly vibe, feeling of security and the palpable sense of community.
Developer Bob Thorne
Early stages of Urban Ridge
However, it wasn’t always like this. Originally a piece of underutilised farmland, Bob (Dad), had a vision for what it could become - a vision that almost consumed him. Not just a development of houses, but a community with connection - a community where you knew your neighbours and would look out for one another. The type of community that is now incredibly rare in New Zealand - a community of yesteryear. Nevertheless, not all shared that vision, and it certainly did not develop overnight! In fact, the project will stretch to near on 25 years. Over those years the project brought a great deal of stress to both Mum and Dad, but also a lot of passion and pride. After years of pre-loading, engineering and patience, the Urban Ridge vision became a reality, one stage at time. With each stage consisting of, on average 25 homes, the seventh and final stage is due for completion in 2022.
First Thorne Group showhome adjacent to Urban Ridge 2013: Bob Thorne, Aaron Thorne (Thorne Group Director), Peter Buck (Thorne Group Director), Gavin Morrow (Thorne Group Director)
Sadly, Dad lost his battle with a rare form of cancer in 2020, before seeing the final few sites completed. I cannot emphasise enough just how much Urban Ridge was a part of Dad’s life. In fact, just two days before he passed away, he wanted to see Urban Ridge one last time and say goodbye to Wendy (Sales Manager, resident of Urban Ridge, and friend), who had walked the journey of Urban Ridge with him.