Funds to get Northern Aquatic and Community Hub ‘shovel ready’

The Council has launched a fresh pitch for the funding needed for a major redevelopment of Waterworld and Centenary Hall in Norlane, allocating $800,000 to get the project ‘shovel ready’.

Councillors voted on Monday night to allocate the funds for the final design stage of the project, as well as changing the working title of the proposed facility to the ‘Northern Aquatic and Community Hub’.

The previous working title was ‘Northern ARC.’

A report presented to the Council noted that government investment aimed at pandemic recovery stimulus has so far looked to shovel ready projects that can start quickly.

The $800,000 in Council funding aims to remove every barrier to the project being positioned as a top priority for state and federal investment. It will see the last of four design stages completed, meaning the project could be put out for construction tender immediately if it were to be fully funded.

The redevelopment would deliver a state-of-the-art aquatic and community facility for the Geelong region in the northern suburbs, featuring:

  • a 25-metre pool, hydrotherapy pool, water play and learn to swim;
  • gymnasium;
  • multipurpose community hall capable of hosting 400 people;
  • health consulting suites; and
  • public meeting rooms.

The project has been costed at $61.6 million, with the City of Greater Geelong committing $20.6 million – its largest ever social infrastructure contribution.

The City is seeking matching funding from the state and federal governments, with the COVID-19 pandemic adding further urgency to an already vitally important project for Geelong.

It’s estimated construction would directly or indirectly support 111 local jobs and inject $67 million into the local economy, helping to accelerate our region’s COVID-19 recovery.

The new working title is aimed at making the deliverables of the project as clear as possible.

There is no change in the direction of the project itself or the plans created to date.

Independent modelling has forecast the proposed facility would attract 600,000 visits per year – double that of the existing Waterworld – and deliver $111 million in preventative health benefits during its first decade in operation.

The Council has already invested just under $1.4 million to progress through the first three design stages – with the exciting concepts to date, including a fly-through video, available to view here.

Councillor Anthony Aitken, Windermere Ward:

This critical project for Geelong and the north has taken on even greater urgency in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s Council’s number one community infrastructure project and we’ve been told the best chance to get it funded by state and federal governments is as a COVID-19 recovery stimulus project. For that to happen we need to have it shovel ready.

Access to a state-of-the-art facility would encourage more people to exercise, benefitting the community’s overall physical health.

The new community hall would be the best of its type in Geelong, offering a place for group activities and events of many different kinds – in turn creating social connections and improved mental health.

Its importance as a regional facility will only increase as Geelong’s population grows – given it will eventually service large new residential areas to the city’s north and west.

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