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Council keen to get the ball rolling on new sports and aquatic centre

Council keen to get the ball rolling on new sports and aquatic centre

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

In a win for health and wellbeing for residents of all ages, abilities and backgrounds, Council has endorsed the business case for the construction of the new regional level sports and aquatic centre in Mernda.

Council engaged Deloitte Australia as the lead consultant to prepare the business case which is currently costed at $180 million.

City of Whittlesea Chair Administrator Lydia Wilson commended the comprehensive due diligence and long-term financial planning to prepare the detailed business case which sets out the approach for the design, delivery and funding of the project.

“This will be the City of Whittlesea’s single biggest investment in community infrastructure to date and rigorous scrutiny of the most financially responsible way to deliver this complex project has been undertaken by independent advisers, Administrators and Council officers over many months.

“The approach we have endorsed in this business case will see the project delivered in three stages.”

  • Stage 1: early works including site establishment and detailed design for Stage 2 - underway
  • Stage 2: To include six indoor sports courts and eight outdoor netball courts plus detailed design for aquatic and leisure components. Construction on the indoor and outdoor courts is scheduled to commence in 2024/25
  • Stage 3: To include a 50-metre multipurpose pool, a warm water exercise pool, a learn-to-swim pool and a children’s leisure pool, a gym and group fitness area, spa and sauna, and health and wellbeing consulting suites. Construction on the pool and leisure centre is scheduled to commence 2027/28

“Staging the project spreads the costs over a number of years and ensures Council can continue to deliver other important infrastructure and facilities across the municipality. We are a growing municipality, and we need to ensure that we can meet the needs of communities across our established, new and rural areas – both now and in years to come.”

“Even with a staged approach, the sheer scale of this investment means we simply cannot do it alone. To deliver this project we need to secure the support of the Federal and State Governments and we are strongly advocating to both levels of government to contribute significant funding to deliver this much-needed facility.”

Council has endorsed $48 million funding for delivery of Stage 2 (which includes detailed design of Stage 3) contingent on an external funding contribution of $40 million. Funding for Stage 3 construction will be presented to Council for consideration in 2025/26.

This single biggest investment is all about improving the health and wellbeing of our community. And we know nurturing our physical and mental health is more important now than ever.

The City of Whittlesea has the highest portion of overweight adults in north-eastern Melbourne, the third highest portion of adults with type 2 diabetes in Victoria and the sixth highest proportion of adults with heart disease in Victoria with 44% of adults doing insufficient physical activity. * On top of this, our municipality also has lower rates of participation in formal sports and recreation pursuits than other municipalities *** and we need to shift the dial on this.

“We are 100% committed to this project and fostering a healthy community where people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds can easily access the services and facilities they need,” Ms Wilson said.

“We know that making it easier to access opportunities to increase physical activity and social engagement will improve the physical and mental health of our residents and dramatically lower their risk of chronic disease, enabling them to live healthier and happier lives.”

The staging approach endorsed in the business case prioritises delivery of the indoor and outdoor sports courts. This is in direct response to current community demand which already far exceeds capacity. We know we have a shortage across the City of 43 indoor courts and 32 outdoor courts, with approximately half of registered netball and basketball players having to leave the municipality to play their sport.

The delivery of the sports courts is particularly important for increasing female participation in sports and physical activity. More than two-thirds of adult Victorian females are classified as being sedentary or having low levels of exercise and almost a third of women in the City of Whittlesea reported getting no exercise during a typical week. **

“Removing barriers for women and girls in particular to participate in sport is crucial for their development and their health and wellbeing,” said Ms Wilson

“The effect of the pandemic on global supply chains and the labour market is continuing to impact construction costs. We have built in an ongoing scope review process so we can continue to evaluate cost implications in the changing marketplace throughout the life of the project.”

“As we progress the project, we will be establishing a stakeholder reference group including community members, local sporting clubs and industry peak bodies to ensure the project meets the needs of all user groups,” Ms Wilson said.

Council is looking forward to the support of the State and Federal governments to deliver this exceptional facility to boost a new era of health, wellbeing, recreation and social connection in the City of Whittlesea.


*Victorian Population Health Survey, 2017, Dashboard, selected results and quick statistics for local government areas and time series data (2015-2017), LGA Snapshot.

**VicHealth (2015), Community Wellbeing Indicator Survey

*** Based on player registration data provided by State Sporting Associations