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Report shows northern Sydney suburbs facing major shortfall in sports fields

Report shows northern Sydney suburbs facing major shortfall in sports fields
April 2, 2018

The equivalent of an extra 120 sporting fields will be needed across the suburbs in Sydney’s north over the next two decades, prompting demands for the NSW Government to help councils build more facilities.

The newly released report, undertaken by the Otium Planning Group for the Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (NSROC) says there is an increasing shortfall in the supply of sporting grounds across the combined seven council areas of Hornsby, Hunters Hill, Ku-ring-gai, Lane Cove, North Sydney, Ryde and Willoughby.

It suggests an acute need for more sporting fields given an expected rise in population of 200,000 people in the area represented by NSROC by 2036.

Advising that councils do not have the resources or funding to tackle the issue alone, and needed the support of state government agencies, Pam Palmer, Mayor of Lane Cove and NSROC President, advised “sportsgrounds in the region are already over capacity and within 20 years an additional supply of 40% will be required to support the needs of our region's projected population.

“Councils are working hard to do what they can but we need the partnership of State Government to help plan and deliver initiatives which are beyond the capacity of local government.

“(We) require resources and funding while working in partnership with the State Government so that our valuable sportsgrounds can match the intensification of population growth.

“We need to work closely together with government, sporting bodies, community groups and neighbouring councils so that people can keep playing the sports that they enjoy, which will bring better health, social, community and economic benefits.”

“We don't have the income to fund acquisition, and I think councils across Sydney will be the same. When we want to acquire open space, it costs millions of dollars.”

The report found that, by 2026, the region would need the equivalent of 78 extra rectangular sport fields to meet demand. By 2036, the existing playing space would need to be increased by 40%, the equivalent of 120 rectangular fields.

As a short term measure, the report recommended increasing the use of school grounds, upgrading lighting around existing fields, and installing more multi-purpose synthetic fields to address the shortfall.

However, it concluded that, at best, this would increase playing space by 22%, meaning the region would still be at least 10 hectares short of playing space in 2026, and 44 hectares in 2036.

Key findings from the Otium/NSROC report:

• By the year 2026, an extra supply of 26% will be needed (105 hectares in total and area or equivalent to about 78 standard rectangular fields).
• By the year 2036, an additional supply of 40% will be required (163 hectares in total land area or equivalent to about 120 standard rectangular fields).
• The report recommended 15 actions with those needed from NSW Government including sport to be incorporated into active healthy living and ‘liveability’ measures and sportsgrounds and open space to be provided as essential infrastructure.

The plea for greater investment in community facilities comes as the NSW Ggovernment scaled back its controversial $2.5 billion plan to demolish and rebuild both ANZ stadium and Alliance Stadium.

Sport NSW has already called for the savings to be spent on community sport infrastructure.

In a bid to maximise the use of existing facilities, numerous Sydney councils have converted grass fields to multi-purpose synthetic surfaces so they can be used by a range of sporting codes.

In 2017, for example, the Northern Beaches council committed to building new fields and installing synthetic surfaces, as part of a 15-year sportsground strategy designed to address a shortfall of 41 fields by 2031.

It also flagged a future conversion of the Warringah Golf Course to playing fields after a review found the northern beaches had half as many sportsgrounds compared to some other similar sized councils, and twice as many golf courses.

A similar strategy prepared by the City of Sydney in 2016 found that by 2031, an additional 20 sports fields, 18 outdoor multi-purpose courts and 19 indoor multi-purpose courts will be needed to meet the growing demand. It is building a synthetic field at the Gunyama Park development in Green Square.

Both Cumberland Council and the Inner West Council are currently developing strategies to address the demand for open space and sportgrounds in their respective communities.

Click here to view the report.

Images: Youth football in Sydney's north (top) and a newly completed artificial field at Cromer Park on the Northern Beaches (below).

30th March 2018 - SPORT NSW CALLS FOR STADIUM SAVINGS TO BE INVESTED IN THE SUBURBS

29th March 2018 - NSW GOVERNMENT ABANDONS ANZ STADIUM REBUILD PLANS, BACKS NEW ALLIANZ STADIUM

24th January 2018 - SYDNEY SWANS PUT ARTIFICIAL TURF TO THE TEST IN PRE-SEASON TRAINING

21st December 2017 - SEVEN NSW NRL CLUBS TO SHARE $50 MILLION FOR ‘CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE’ 

21st July 2017 - NSW GOVERNMENT RELEASES ‘COMMERCIALITY FRAMEWORK’ FOR STADIA

21st June 2017 - RECORD NSW FUNDING COMMITMENT TO SPORT AND RECREATION

5th June 2017 - SPORT NSW TEAMS WITH RANDWICK COUNCIL AND UNSW TO PRESENT GIRLS GET ACTIVE DAY 

29th April 2017 - NORTHERN BEACHES COUNCIL CONSIDERS SACRIFICING GOLF COURSES FOR SPORTS FIELDS

28th April 2017 - 1.1 MILLION AUSTRALIANS PARTICIPATING IN FOOTBALL

5th December 2016 - NRL CONCERN OVER DECLINING RUGBY LEAGUE PARTICIPANT NUMBERS

21st August 2015 - WARRINGAH COUNCIL OPENS TWO SYNTHETIC SPORTS FIELDS 

15th December 2014 - LANE COVE COUNCIL OPENS TWO NEW ARTIFICIAL TURF PITCHES 


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