Council to consider report to adopt Golden Square Recreation Reserve Masterplan

The Greater Bendigo City Council will consider a report to adopt the Golden Square Recreation Reserve Master Plan at the next council meeting on Wednesday July 17.

The Golden Square Recreation Reserve provides facilities for Australian Rules football, netball and cricket and includes the Golden Square Swimming Pool. It is located within a precinct that also includes the Golden Square Bowls and Croquet Club, the Bendigo Creek Trail and Golden Square Primary School.

The master plan has been developed to identify the future use and strategic direction of the reserve.

A report to Council notes the reserve is currently landlocked with poor integration between the current users and its facilities do not meet current standards and need to be renewed.  Additional facilities are also required to meet growing sport participation demands. The report also notes there is community pressure for retaining the swimming pool versus replacing it with other community facilities.

The master plan has been developed by independent sports and leisure consultants Otium Planning Group following market analysis, background research and two distinct community and key stakeholder engagement processes. The most recent was conducted last month, in June 2020, which consulted on five development options:

Option 1          Retain the Golden Square Swimming Pool and relocate the Golden Square Bowls and Croquet Club

Option 2          Replace the Golden Square Swimming Pool with other community facilities

Option 3          Replace the Golden Square Swimming Pool (with other community facilities) and relocate the Golden Square Bowls and Croquet Club

Option 4          Develop Backhaus Oval Reserve as Golden Square’s main senior sports facilities

Option 5          Do nothing and work within the existing confines of the reserve, upgrading facilities where possible, but not including additional facilities.

Through the research and engagement process, Otium identified Options 1 and 3 as the preferred options for further analysis using a quadruple bottom line assessment of the social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts for the future of the reserve.

Following the quadruple bottom line analysis, the report recommends endorsing Option 3. If supported, the swimming pool would close at the end of the 2022/2023 season and it is recommended Council acknowledge the efforts of the Golden Square Swimming Pool Committee and continue working with it to identify opportunities to ensure the reserve will not only be a space for formal sport, but also for social and family gatherings, unstructured play, activities and community events.

The City owns the built assets on the reserve including the swimming pool, while the bowls facility is owned and managed privately by the Golden Square Bowls and Croquet Club.  If Option 3 is supported the City would work with the Bowls and Croquet Club around relocation, including identification of potential locations and development of a new facility to support the needs of club members.

The Golden Square Swimming Pool is managed by the Golden Square Swimming Pool Committee and the Golden Square Football and Netball Club, Golden Square Junior Football Club and Golden Square Cricket Club have seasonal tenancy agreements for use of the sports reserve. Golden Square Primary School book the use of the sports oval and swimming pool.

The user groups have a long-standing relationship and use of the reserve and all groups have contributed respectfully to the planning process by identifying challenges and their current and future needs. The users have collectively contributed ideas for improvements that have helped inform the development of the Master Plan.

Council will also consider a report recommending the release of the draft Community Aquatics Facilities Strategy at the meeting for public comment.  The draft strategy also identifies the close proximity of urban swimming pools that duplicate services and supports the implementation of the Golden Square Recreation Reserve Masterplan.

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