HORSHAM Rural City residents have by and large given the council a thumbs up for its draft long-term plans for Horsham.
It comes as two sporting clubs, located within the Horsham Botanic Gardens precinct, maintain they do not want to move from their locations as the draft masterplan requires, should it go ahead.
A new 55-page report summarises the 740 submissions the council received from individuals, sports clubs and government agencies. The submissions were made during a public exhibition period from July 4 to August 30.
This marked phase two of what will be a four-stage engagement process.
The report showed 45 per cent of submissions were mostly in favor of the proposed changes to the riverfront - which proposes a cafe, cultural facility and water play facility - compared to 38 per cent against.
Thirty-eight per cent of respondents were in favor of proposed changes in the central activity district - which proposes to include a new hub for government services, among other developments - compared to 34 per cent against.
The report listed the impact on the Horsham Lawn tennis and croquet clubs, the location of sports facilities, and taking business away from Firebrace Street among residents' most common concerns.
Other criticisms included that the plans "did not go far enough", that too much strategic planning was occurring simultaneously, and that key stakeholders were not consulted.
Key stakeholders also left submissions as groups to the draft master plan, including:
- GWMWater said it supported the concept of a GovHub on the block it, the civic centre and Horsham police occupy. It stressed heavy transport needed to be redirected around the city given these vehicles affected the performance of water infrastructure;
- Horsham Primary School said having a sports stadium in Horsham West or Haven would be "disappointing", for reasons including it would "add another level of complexity to maintaining a consistent level of enrolment"; and
- Greyhound Racing Victoria said it was "disappointed" the draft masterplan did not recognise the contribution the club made to the region. The club will have to relocate to make way for sports ovals.
Wimmera Catchment Management Authority chief executive David Brennan hoped the council would modify its plans to recognise the long-term likelihood of flooding in the Horsham Showgrounds area.
"It needs to be done in a sustainable and considered manner. A lot of the area where they're planning to put buildings and amenity use areas are in the floodplain itself," he said.
"We're talking completely inundated in a one-in-20-year flooding event. We've had discussions from council staff that the best place for infrastructure and sporting ovals are in areas that can be inundated."
Mr Brennan said a tourism and hospitality site in the draft masterplan was also located in an area that could flood.
"We also appreciate there can be some good engineering designs to manage the flooding risks, and equally with some smart designs capturing storm water off road surfaces, we could use that to water grasses and plants. That would also improve the water quality in the Wimmera as well," he said.
AFL Wimmera-Mallee "strongly supported" a proposal to upgrade Horsham City Oval and the development of an outdoor multi-purpose sports precinct to provide additional green space for club training. In the draft masterplan, this precinct is located on space currently occupied by the greyhound racing track.
Rod Dumesny of the Horsham Football Netball Club said it had discussed with the council charging patrons to attend matches and provision of car parking.
"There's no funding for anything as yet - you're talking lots and lots of dollars. The amount it's going to cost to shift that oval around is massive," he said. "Another thing is (there's) no grandstand.
"We're happy to be involved with the ongoing discussions of what they're thinking and about what money they've got, as long as it allows us to continue as a club.
"The city council is prepared to talk to us about it, and that's all we need."
Horsham Lawn Tennis Club president Andrew Dorman said the feedback sent a "powerful message" to the council.
"It sends a message that lawn tennis is important to the community and that there hasn't been enough grassroots work to understand what the interests of all parties are," he said.
"We are hoping to work with the council on our shared interests, because we do have shared interests - we want to grow tennis, support volunteers and attract regional tournaments. We intend to stay where we are and we've got the support of the community."
Mr Dorman said the club had not entertained the idea of relocating to a new tennis complex, though Tennis Victoria suggested this in its submission.
Horsham Croquet Club president Betty Etherton said she was "very encouraged" to see so many people support the club.
"People see the need for us to be kept connected to maintain a regional centre," she said.
"We just ran a three-day tournament and we had nothing but praise from people who travelled from Victor Harbour (South Australia) and down from the Murray."
Mrs Etherton said she, Tennis Victoria and Croquet Victoria representatives would meet with council staff on Friday for further discussions.
Acting chief executive Graeme Harrison said the council would continue to consult with key stakeholders during stages three and four of the engagement process, when detailed designs would be undertaken for prioritised projects.
He said the council had not yet decided on how the draft masterplan would be amended in response to community feedback.
"Councillors will have a workshop in November to consider feedback, any targeted further consultation and possible alternative solutions," he said.
Mr Harrison said the council would decide on the final masterplan in December and preparing detailed design options - stage four - in February.
"The engagement process provided some thoughtful alternative ideas, many of which related to specific design elements and location of new facilities," he said.
"We are thrilled with the number of submissions received and see it as a reflection of how passionate the community is about the project."