Planning for community-focussed centres, libraries and venues - Wollongong

In 2023, Wollongong City Council will be asking our community for feedback on our plans to support our city's diverse social infrastructure from now until 2036.

At Monday night's Council meeting, Council opted to put the draft Places for the Future Social infrastructure Directions Plan 2022-2036 on public exhibition.

As the year is drawing to an end and our community's focus is on family, friends and the festive season, the document will not open for community feedback until next year.

We'll be sure to let people know through our enewsletter (subscribe here…), website and social media channels when we're calling for community feedback on the future plans for our libraries, community centres and cultural facilities.

"Social infrastructure includes things like libraries, community centres and facilities that people use for recreation, learning, connection and celebration as well as our cultural venues,'' Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery said.

"It's important we have the right mix of these spaces across the Local Government Area and that our community all have an opportunity to visit, use and enjoy these spaces.''

As part of Council's planning processes, we consider the provision, distribution and quality of our existing social infrastructure facilities and put plans in place for their future. By having a detailed plan that considers our community's needs and priorities across the Local Government Area, we're able to prioritise areas that need attention as part of our annual planning process and flag works planned for these spaces, as we develop the annual Infrastructure Delivery Program.

"It's widely-known that Council has plans for new combined community centre and library facilities at Warrawong and Helensburgh,'' Cr Bradbery said.

"The draft Places for the Future Social infrastructure Directions Plan 2022-2036 demonstrates what we're doing for big ticket infrastructure items, but also what we're working to achieve for our community through valued spaces like Wongawilli Hall and Figtree Community Centre.''

The draft Plan is one of a number of key documents used to guide Council's asset planning processes regarding the construction, renewal or divestment of social infrastructure.

The draft Plan aims to ensure the facilities contribute to community life, consider whether there are opportunities to co-locate or diversify the use of the assets and to increase their capacity and how they're used.

Wollongong City Council General Manager Greg Doyle said Council had a clear mandate through the Community Strategic Plan to create a creative, vibrant city that provided residents with opportunities and spaces to connect and engage with each other.

"At Council, we're about delivering on the promise and we've these six goals in the Community Strategic Plan that are a commitment between the community and Council and these guide our focus,'' Mr Doyle said.

"Regardless of how they're used by different residents, our social infrastructure spaces are community hubs and can form the heart of the community.

"Our community centres can be hired to celebrate important milestones like birthdays, weddings and other family gatherings, they can be where people learn a fulfilling hobby or push their sporting boundaries.

"Libraries, meanwhile, can be a place to study or borrow a book or CD but they can also be a retreat from the weather, a meeting point for new parents wanting to participate in our Born to Read programs, or a safe space for young people after school.

"We want the right mix of these venues for our community but to also have clear plans in place as to how we can replace, maintain and support these spaces into the future.''

Details of upcoming community engagement regarding the draft Plan will be provided through Council's website, social media channels and e-newsletter in 2023.

In the meantime, the report considered by Council on Monday 12 December, which includes the draft Plan, is available on Council's website.

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