New aquatic centre unveiled, waiting on funding

The final plans for the Greater Bendigo Indoor Aquatic Leisure Centre have been released by the City of Greater Bendigo in a further bid for government funding.

Council is awaiting $10-million from both the state and federal governments before the $30-million project, to be built at Kangaroo Flat, can go ahead.

The schematic plans released yesterday detail an eight-lane, 50-metre swimming pool, hydrotherapy warm water pool and spa and children's splash play centre.

A planning permit application will be lodged in February.
However there has been no federal or state government funding commitments to date.

Acting chief executive Stan Liacos said the cost of the project would escalate every year - so it was important to secure funding as soon as possible. 

He remains hopeful that funding could be secured in the Regional Development Fund, which opens early next year. 

There is also scope to secure state government funding in this year's state budget, as well as election funding commitments later in the year. 

“Construction of the facility is likely to take about 15 months (when funding is obtained) and we expect to be ‘shovel ready’ within about 12 months from now," Mr Liacos said. 

Member for Northern Victoria Damian Drum reiterated his support for the project, saying he would do all he could to secure funding in the future.

Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss has not formally committed his support for the project, with a spokesperson saying his office was not aware of any formal submission or application related to the proposed project. 

The city has undertaken a municipal aquatic strategy, business case, detailed site and traffic analysis and archaeological dig of the site and obtained endorsement from the Victorian Office of the Government Architect.

Mayor Barry Lyons said the project remained council's number one priority.

“The plans give a clear indication of how the facility will be built and how it will appear in the Kangaroo Flat streetscape," Mayor Barry Lyons said. 

“The new centre will be a 21st century facility in design and concept and will be an important recreation and economic asset for Greater Bendigo.”

Business studies suggest there will be more than 430,000 visits to the centre in its early years of operation. 

Mayor Lyons said centre’s accessible location was also expected to contribute to resident’s overall wellbeing and encourage them to lead healthy and active lives.

TIMELINE

AUGUST 2010: Council announced it was proposing to close Kangaroo Flat, Golden Square and Long Gully outdoor pools to make way for a $16 million indoor aquatic centre in Kangaroo Flat.

OCTOBER 2010: Five councillors and City staff toured four aquatic centres across the state as part of a fact-finding mission and inspected facilities ranging in cost from $9 million to $33 million.

FEBRUARY 2012: Bendigo councillors vote on the length of the indoor pool, agreeing that the 50-metre option would be pursued. 

MARCH 2012: City of Greater Bendigo councillors endorse a plan that could bring the centre to fruition. They forecast a $25 million budget would be needed for the development.

JUNE 2012: City of Greater Bendigo councillors consider a $1.4 million tender for the first stage of a Kangaroo Flat aquatic centre. A report to council recommended councillors offer a tender to Peddle Thorp Architects for concept and schematic designs.

MARCH 2013: Councillors vote to proceed with the indoor aquatic centre. Council says it expects the pool to take four to six years to complete. 

JUNE 2013: A team of designers, engineers and expert advisors appointed to begin plans for the new Kangaroo Flat indoor aquatic centre.

JUNE 2013: Candidates for the federal seat of Bendigo Lisa Chesters and Greg Bickley throw their support behind the proposed centre. They met with City of Greater Bendigo representatives and members of the community reference group to discuss the project. 

JULY 2013: Design work begins. 

JANUARY 2014: The City of Greater Bendigo releases its schematic plans for the centre in a further bid for government funding.

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