A near $50 million redevelopment of the Goulburn Aquatic Centre has all but been approved.
The Southern Joint Regional Planning Panel on Monday deferred a decision on the largest upgrade to the facility since it was opened in 1964.
But Panel chair Pam Allan said with only several pieces of information outstanding, the development application would be approved within days.
The project comprises two stages. The first, valued at $29m, includes demolition works, extension of car parking, a new 25-metre indoor pool, refurbishment of the existing 25m pool, water play area, warm water pool, new entry, cafe, steam and sauna rooms, gym, creche and landscaping.
The second stage replaces the 50m outdoor pool, upgrades amenities, adds two zero depth splash pads, a beach volleyball court, a new plant room, more car parking and landscaping.
The panel, which also comprised former Goulburn Mulwaree planning director, Chris Berry, and Upper Lachlan planning and environment director, Tina Dodson, took just over one hour to make a decision.
They have requested a revised contamination report addressing whether asbestos or any other potentially hazardous material was used in original fill for the site.
The panel has also asked for more trees to be retained, enhancing the "park-like feel," and for a traffic management plan to be submitted and approved before any work starts.
They also requested that the council update a plan of management for Victoria Park, recognising the need for special event parking. Mr Berry, a Goulburn resident and now the Yass Shire Council's planning director, also suggested that on-street parking be monitored and "appropriate measures be taken to provide more spaces if and when required."
This recognises the Victoria Park precinct's increased usage, particularly at the Adventure Playground.
In addition, the skate park is being upgraded, a rage cage constructed and a Japanese garden is being planned for Victoria Park.
The council's application initially provided 175 car parking spots, a near tripling of the current spaces, but this was reduced to 125 following the panel's concerns about associated tree loss.
On Monday, the panel agreed with consultancy firm, KDC, which peer-reviewed the council's application, that this could be further reduced to 89 spaces, given likely patronage and the availability of on-street parking.
Operations director Matt O'Rourke told The Post that parking demand peaked in January and February and then dropped. He said the council could increase space numbers on the Verner Street side, similar to work undertaken on Victoria Park's Faithfull Street frontage.
"The smaller footprint for (off-street) parking allows us to retain trees and give it a landscape feel, as opposed having just a large bitumen surface," he said.
As part of the planning process, consultants projected likely patronage and found it wouldn't be as high as the national average when population and a multiplier effect were considered, Mr O'Rourke said.
We are less than half the national average, (meaning) the community is not using the aquatic centre as much. But that has started to increase...and last year was particularly good."
The original application also proposed removal of 72 trees, which an Aborocultural report described as being "low quality and of poor health and structure." The council planned to plant 40 new trees in the carpark and 22 in the grounds as a replacement. Some were also pegged for relocation.
But the panel agreed with KDC that more trees could be retained and relocated. These include two trees associated with memorial plaques.
Heritage also came in for strong mention, given the facility's age. The facility is listed as a heritage item in the council's LEP. Conditions call for a War Memorial commemoration to remain on site, commissioning of an oral history with key people associated with the swimming pool's development and a photographic archive.
In addition, old change rooms that were proposed to be demolished at the northern end will now be re-purposed for storage.
Panel member Renate Brooks said the project would be a great asset for the community and there was scope to achieve a balance between the site's history and the modern setting.
Mr O'Rourke said the impending decision marked a major decision after three years' work, which also embraced extensive community consultation.
"The next step is preparation of the tender document and then going out to the market. We anticipate an 18-month build so completion of stage one could be two years off," he said.
Funding has not yet been secured for the stage two works. Mr O'Rourke said the council would apply for state and federal funding opportunities.
"That can happen at some future point but there are a number of considerations such as the budget, the facility's ongoing use and the service life of the old pool," he said.
"...For now it's not on the immediate horizon."
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