A Resident’s Views On The Proposed Provision For Leisure In The PCW PSP

For those that have been following news and rumours in Point Cook, you would be across the proposal to develop the land on Hackett’s lane, into a high and mixed residential development. This development is referred to a the Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan (PCW PSP).  This area includes two ovals and 6-12 tennis courts. It also has space for possibly two convenience stores and roads to future bridges (that there is no funding commitment to build within the next 15 years). They conservatively expect over 5,000 people into this area. To read the full plan check out the Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan – Draft For Consultation (December 2011).

Given that there is really nothing to ensure facilities are in place, not to mention the impact on our roads, I oppose this. I really oppose this.

Imagine not just the roads, but the extra pressures on our schools, childcare, internet, doctors, etc. BUT I do not oppose the development. My caveat – it is done with care of community and planned with sustainable solutions for Point Cook as a whole.

There is limited recreational facilities within Point Cook. Sure we have our shopping centres, gyms, café’s and restaurants, but we do not have a single public space that we can meander to and enjoy a swim or game of indoor sports. Yes we do have school halls around Point Cook and parks too, but the access to these facilities is limited.

We do have the Sanctuary Lakes golf course, as well as private pools and sports ovals, but these are private, not community facilities and do not cater to other sports. Finally we are presented with an opportunity to realistically ask for a space that can cater to other pursuits.

The Growth Areas Authority (GAA) is seeking community input into the development of the land at Hacketts Road. This is our chance to say as a community, and as individuals, our views on the subject.

Need for a community recreation hub

Personally, I am going to raise the need for a community recreation hub, for sports not covered by the Point Cook Road Reserve. I believe it should take on the form of a 9 hole golf course, with a community leisure facility housing a swimming pool and indoor sports centre. Why this combination, well here goes.

Mixed facilities provide greater economic returns for the centre. The facility will need to be viable, and to help ensure that a range of activities will offer more chances to get funds in. Further, each individual component that makes up the facility should be aimed at different needs within the community, drawing together a range of groups to make the centre more viable as a whole. To demonstrate the power of such a facility, there is the Kew Recreation Centre, which includes: fully equipped Health Club/Gymnasium, Group Fitness Studio, Cycling Studio, Indoor Heated Pool, Spa, Saun, and other services.

Why have I chosen this mix of facilities?

Swimming Pool

There is no community swimming pool in Point Cook. This has been raised as a need a number of times. Read the Submission for the Revision of Wyndham Aquatic Strategy developed by PCAG for more details regarding why Point Cook needs a multi-purpose community recreation hub that includes a swimming pool.

Multi-purpose Indoor/Outdoor Courts

Similar to the pool facilities there is no sports stadium within Point Cook, well apart from the halls at schools. This could take on the form of indoor basketball/netball courts that also cater for other indoor activities. Care would need to be taken to ensure this did not compete with private enterprises in the area (who have taken the risk to set up shop here).

Anecdotally, basketball is keenly supported amongst the youth – both boys and girls. I remember following Charlotte Hornets when I was a kid. Netball continues to be the number one sport played by girls in Australia. Despite this and the need identified for netball courts in the Point Cook Road Reserve (Saltwater Reserve) development, there is none planned in phase one of this development. Multi-purpose courts allow for other minority sports also such as badminton, volleyball, handball and table tennis (to name a few), whilst also providing an indoor training venue for some of the outdoor sports already catered for such as indoor football.

Golf Course

A short golf course provides an affordable entry into the sport. For those in the area interested in this sport the only local golf range is Sanctuary Lakes, which may be unaffordable for many enthusiasts (including teenagers or elderly). These grounds can also be used to protect native habitat and provide a serine natural beauty to the western region of Point Cook. Imagine a mini-sanctuary lakes (without the water) on the other side of Point Cook. With the trees and open spaces created, it would enhance the overall look of the area.

By creating a locally owned golf course, we have the capacity to use this space for public events. The Green Keeper would have nightmares over such an idea, but if managed successfully, we could have Carols by Candlelight catering to the thousands. We could use the space to have a mid-year festival to bring the people together and form a cohesive community. Let’s not forget that we are a young suburb and there is a need to define its culture and identity. These festivals would create the hub.

To differentiate this course from others in the region, the design could be developed with Speed Golf in mind. Speed Golf (or Extreme Golf) per Wikipedia “is a sport started in California in 1979 by American runner Steve Scott and which involves completing a golf course in the lowest combination of strokes and time. The sport is played in North America, Europe and Japan, and major tournaments are telecast by channels such as ESPN and The Golf Channel.” We could market this on the world stage, potentially bringing investment dollars into the region and tourism dollars when awareness of the unique in Melbourne experience is raised. We need to ensure that Point Cook is capable of generating revenue for itself, that’s how jobs are made. I suspect this kind of course would be more durable, so damage from a festival on its greens would be minimal.

In regards to a golf course, the plans for the 145 hectare site includes 11% of the land as open space. Interestingly this comes to roughly 15 hectares. According to Pro-W Group, an Executive or Par 3 course (9 Hole) requires 3-5 hectares of land, well within the required 11% of space and allowing for other facilities to be made. This kind of course is either all par-3, or it may have one or two par-4 holes and maybe a par-5 hole. They are designed for the time-poor and beginners alike. Here are some xamples of such a course and the small amount of land they take up:

Why do I object to more AFL ovals and tennis courts?

The proposal for Point Cook West as it stands now, lists the space for 6-12 tennis courts and two AFL ovals. Given the development of the facility on Point Cook Road, why is there a need for these? Surely the ovals and courts being built now, in addition to what already exists, need to be used to make them sustainable. With more tennis courts in the area, I would be concerned about the risk of one or the other tennis courts already in the area becoming economically unviable.

Now I am not against any sports being catered for, far from it, but I am questioning why more of the same when so many other recreational opportunities are overlooked, limiting choice? I am sure that die hard footy and tennis enthusiasts would argue that although catered for there is still not enough. At least they have something! Surely this development is the ideal opportunity to provide facilities for those sports and active recreational pursuits not currently catered for at all. I would’ve thought that would be a higher priority?

Now if the space of land is deemed too small for a 9 hole course and recreation facility, then perhaps the GAA could allow for space for just the community leisure facility comprising of a swimming pool and indoor/outdoor multi-purpose courts. In light of the facilities being built around Point Cook already, the ovals in the proposal could be considered excessive and could easily be reviewed for use as mentioned above.

PCW PSP Provides Opportunities

The PCW PSP provides the suburb an opportunity, I just hope that those in Government and in the GAA undertaking this process consider the needs of the community and listen to us. If you want to be heard, please write your letter to the GAA and raise the matters you are concerned about. Send these letters to the Council and Politian’s too.  For further details on how to lodge your feedback on this plan take a look at A Guide To Writing A Letter In Response To The Proposed Point Cook West Precinct Structure Plan. We only get one shot at this. Once the decision is made and land sold up it will be too late.

Do you think that Point Cook needs a community leisure hub? What do you think of my proposed mix of facilities? If you disagree, please indicate your preferred mix and the reasons why in the comments below.