Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park questions answered

Kempsey Shire Council

Macleay Valley Recreation Park architect's render

Kempsey Shire Council was informed in October 2020 that it had been awarded $11,283,000 under the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund to fully fund delivery of the Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park.

Residents and tourists of the Macleay Valley will soon be able to test their limits at the new Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park.

In the interests of full transparency we have attempted to answer the questions surrounding the project.

What will it look like?

This is an architect’s render of the proposed building.

Render of proposed Macleay Valley Recreation and Adventure Park

Why is Council supporting this project?

The Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park will provide a major attraction to the region and help promote the Macleay Valley to tourists as an adventure sports capital in regional NSW.

Council has been working in close collaboration with the national governing bodies for sport climbing and parachuting on the project. The Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park will be built for use by Macleay residents, visitors and elite athletes alike to have fun, train and compete in the sport of their choice.

The project will create around 64 construction jobs and once complete, will provide approximately 39 employment opportunities, directly associated with running the facility.

What will the Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park include?

The Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park is a multi-functional integrated facility supporting a variety of activities including:

  • Skydiving
  • Canopy Piloting
  • Indoor Rock Climbing
  • Flat water kayaking
  • BMX pumping

To facilitate a world class experience for all these sports, the park will include:

  • A Canopy Swooping Pond
  • Indoor Rock Climbing walls
  • BMX Pump track
  • Skydiving support facilities
  • Training facilities for skydiving, rock climbing and general training such as leadership training etc
  • Dormitory accommodation
  • Associated facilities such as café, amenities and parking

The Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park will have capacity to provide sporting use by the local community, tourists and targeted sports groups. The facility will be able to host State, National and International Competitions.

What is a Canopy Swooping Pond?

A canopy swooping pond is a purpose-built artificial pond approximately 110 metres by 40 metres. The ponds are generally used by parachuters known as ‘canopy pilots’ for competitions who fly close to the ground at high speeds, testing their skills and accuracy by gliding across the water and onto a landing zone. To secure points during competition, the parachuters will drag their body close to/across the water while performing movements or tricks before making their landing.

The proposed Canopy Pond at Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park will be multifunctional and be used to teach flat water kayaking, sailing small crafts and for fun water-based activities for children as well as serving its core purpose for competitive parachutists.

Why host such a facility in Kempsey?

Kempsey Regional Airport was seen as an ideal location for the Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park due to the amount of undeveloped and unused land.

Parachuters will be able to take off, land and park aircraft easily given that it is already an existing airport, particularly those coming from existing parachuting clubs nearby such as Coffs Harbour or Port Macquarie.

In terms of skydiving, Kempsey Airport does not currently host passenger planes which makes it easier for skydiving to operate. The airport has a good runway and land around it so is suitable as a drop zone and the number of days suitable for skydiving is high due to the prevailing wind conditions.

There is no purpose built ‘pond’ in NSW or on the East Coast of Australia. This pond will therefore be a major attraction for the sport’s enthusiasts around the country.

The Australian Parachute Federation (APF) and a local sky diving company have worked closely with Council in the development of the facility.

The APF have visited the site/locality several times in their work to support the project including looking at the location on the Mid North Coast.

How is the Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park being funded?

Kempsey Shire Council was awarded $11,283,000 to fully fund delivery of the Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park project through the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund, co-funded by the NSW and Commonwealth Governments.

This funding announcement was made on 27 October 2020 with the project listed as a prioritised project in the first round of funding.

How did the funding get approved?

In July 2019 Council submitted an expression of interest to the NSW Government Growing Local Economies Fund. This independently prepared application provided an overview for the Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park.

In August 2019, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development, Michael McCormack and Federal Minister for Minister of Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government, Mark Coulton visited Kempsey and were briefed about the project.

A further briefing with the Federal Government then took place in October 2019. Both local state and federal MPs were briefed on the project in this period.

In December 2019 Council received formal confirmation that our application to the NSW Government Growing Local Economies Fund had been approved to move to the second stage of the application process which required a Business Case submission.

A detailed business case was then prepared for the Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park by Council and formally submitted in February 2020. The Business Case identified the total cost of the project to be $11,131,600. At this stage Council was asking for $10,463,700.

Separate to that application, in December 2019 Council submitted an application under the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund. As this stream of funding required co-contribution, this application was for $7,500,000. The application identified that $2,500,000 would still be sought from the Growing Local Economies fund.

It is common practice for regional councils to seek funding for major projects under a variety of funds.

In May 2020 Council was advised the application under the Building Better Regions Fund had been unsuccessful, as it had not met the co-contribution criteria. Specifically, as the Growing Local Economies component had not been approved at the time of submission Council were found to be ineligible for funding under this stream.

The status of these applications was reported to Council through 2020 through the mechanism of the Quarterly Reports, specifically in the Grant Update which was tabled at the February, May, August and November 2020 Council meetings.

In October 2020 the State and Commonwealth Governments announced the new Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund to provide grants between $200,000 and $20 million for projects such as local infrastructure, tourism campaigns and regional events, workforce adaption and training programs, community wellbeing and mental health programs and neighbourhood safer places in communities impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires.

Kempsey Shire Council was then informed in October 2020 that it had been awarded $11,283,000 under the Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Fund to fully fund delivery of the project, based upon its application to the Growing Local Economies fund.

Why is this a recovery project?

45% of Kempsey Shire was burned in the Black Summer bushfires of 2019 and 2020.

Recovery is a process that takes years and involves far more than merely rebuilding structures and repairing facilities.

The economy and particularly the tourist-focused local businesses were severely impacted by the combined impacts of the drought prior to the bushfires, the lost holiday season across the summer and the ensuing floods and Coronavirus restrictions.

The Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park will provide a specific and permanent boost to the regional tourism industry which will assist them in the long-term recovery from these terrible events.

How will it be delivered?

The Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park project will be jointly delivered by Kempsey Shire Council and Public Works Advisory (PWA), an agency of the NSW Government.

The PWA Project Assurance Team have commenced working with Council to establish reporting regimes, steering committees and the parameters of the funding deed.

When will it be completed?

Project timelines will be finalised once the funding deed is completed and Council have received the funding.

It is anticipated that preparation works and potentially the BMX pump track can be completed this calendar year. The Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park is expected to be fully operational by mid-2022.

What are the economic benefits to the shire?

There are significant direct and indirect economic and employment benefits that will arise through the construction phase of the Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park. These include:

  • The creation of 64 jobs across the construction period
  • An increase of approximately $20.47 million in total economic output for the region
  • An increase of approximately $6.21 million in value added to the Macleay Valley economy

Once completed, the Macleay Valley Recreation Adventure Park will also provide ongoing direct and indirect economic and employment benefits through visitation to the region and associated direct employment at the facility. These are estimated as:

  • The creation of 39 new full-time equivalent jobs, 36.2 of these will be directly linked to the facility
  • An increase in visitor expenditure in the Macleay Valley of approximately $3.9 million
  • An increase in output throughout the Macleay Valley economy of $6.47 million
  • An increase in value added to the Macleay Valley economy of $2.51 million
  • Promotion of the region through broadcasting of national and international events

These calculations are based on a five-year ramp-up period with a conservative assumption of 59% new activity. Once the Adventure Park reaches 100% activity it is estimated there will be:

  • The creation of 65 new full-time equivalent jobs
  • An increase in visitor expenditure in the Macleay Valley of approximately $6.6 million
  • An increase in output throughout the Macleay Valley economy of $10.96 million
  • An increase in value added to the Macleay Valley economy of $4.24 million
  • Promotion of the region through broadcasting of national and international events

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