Planning underway for growing sporting community

14 Oct 2019

Sporting clubs and the broader community will take part in planning this week to ensure the supply of sporting infrastructure keeps up with Newcastle’s growing population.

Ongoing consultation for City of Newcastle’s Strategic Sports Plan will help determine the needs of 13 different sports up to and beyond 2031, when the number of residents is expected to top 188,000, up from around 162,000 today.

A Twenty20 match at a packed No.1 Sportsground in 2007.

Research by the Otium Planning Group found just 27 per cent of the City’s sporting fields were currently utilised at or over capacity, and that more than half were underutilised. It also found that the highest participation rate was in soccer (27.5 per cent) followed by touch football (21.1 per cent) and cricket (13 per cent).

“Understanding and planning for sports and recreation is essential to ensure everyone has sufficient and equal opportunities to live an active lifestyle,” City of Newcastle CEO Jeremy Bath said.

“Early research by Otium has found Newcastle will need another seven netball courts by 2031 and that we’ll need to secure additional land for new sporting grounds in the western growth corridor.

“Otium has also raised potential for more partnerships with the City to upgrade grounds, similar to the Mitchell Park grandstand overhaul with Merewether Carlton Rugby Club, and proposes investigation into modern synthetic turf as a potential solution for surfaces prone to damage.”

Other regional plans and neighbouring facilities, including the Greater Newcastle Metropolitan Plan 2036 and the draft Hunter Sport and Recreation Plan (2018-2023) for Broadmeadow’s Hunter Sports and Entertainment precinct, are being considered as part of the process.

Club representatives have been invited to information sessions on the preliminary discussion paper at information sessions today, tomorrow and Thursday, before another is opened to the community at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday from 12 noon.

“Feedback from the discussion paper will be considered by Otium and not the City, with a draft plan not expected to be considered by Council for public exhibition before March next year,” Mr Bath added.

“The discussion paper is the result of preliminary independent research and stakeholder engagement. Ongoing community engagement will be essential in determining the final plan.”

Sports under consideration in the plan include: athletics, Australian Rules, baseball, cricket, croquet, equestrian, football (soccer), netball, rugby league, rugby union, softball, tennis and touch football/Oztag.