Coming to a park near you?

Screenshot_20180526-155940Council is seeking feedback on its draft plan for sporting field management. This is an important initiative. As our population is growing at a fast pace, existing fields will be placed under strain unless managed wisely. Due to the high cost of land in Willoughby, a new sports field could cost upwards of $50 M.

The green open space of Willoughby is highly valued by residents. We have 424 hectares of public open space of which 5% (22.6 h) is used for active sport o f one form or another. These grounds are used for a wide variety of formal and informal sport including team sports, group and personal activities. Some of the grounds have been given over to single user sports (golf courses, tennis courts, bowling clubs and the like). For future generations we need to review how grounds should be allocated.

In the West Ward we have the following formal sporting facilities:
 Chatswood Rotary War Memorial Athletics Field (athletics – leased)
 Chatswood Oval (cricket and rugby union – leased)
 Greville St Reserve (half size field – general purpose))
 O.H. Reid Reserve (general purpose)
 Chatswood Croquet Club (croquet – leased)
 Chatswood Tennis Club (lawn tennis – leased)
 Fullers Rd Reserve (tennis – leased)
 Chatswood Golf Course (golf – leased)
 Chatswood Bowling Club (bowls – private)
 Chatswood High School Oval
 Mowbray Public School Oval
 Chatswood West Tennis Club (tennis – private)

Sporting grounds by their nature can stress neighborhoods. Local issues include noise, traffic, parking, loss of privacy, lighting, hours of use and environmental impacts. A major response by Council to increasing demand is to convert grounds to synthetic surfaces with light. Currently, 16 of the 22 grounds have lights. More are planned.

Another major stressor is facilitating greater shared use of facilities. People wanting to exercise when team sports are being played. People wanting to walk dogs (on and off lead). New sports wanting spaces.

The sporting fields are expensive to maintain (nearly $1.5 M p.a), whilst Council does charge some users, they currently only recover 50% of the cost.
There is a current policy that generally fields not be used for organised sports on a Sunday (there are a few exceptions.

Another issue is the partial alienation of fields to sporting clubs by way of lease. This can dramatically reduce public access to the facilities (e.g. when rugby union is being played on Chatswood Oval a febbce is erected and you have to pay to enter the public space).

You can access the draft sporting fields plan on Councils website (willoughby.nsw.gov.au) under the Have Your Say tab. If you have questions, you can phone Julie Whitfield at council on 9777 775q1 or by email (email@willoughby.nsw.gov.au) or post to P.O Box 57, Chatswood, 2057

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