HORSHAM council has endorsed proposed changes to its draft City to River masterplan after receiving community feedback.
The draft masterplan received 740 submissions from individuals, sporting clubs and government agencies between July 4 and August 30.
The council discussed the draft masterplan for almost two hours at its November meeting on Monday night.
Councillors passed a motion to amend the draft masterplan to reflect feedback from residents and groups, and divide the plan into sub-precincts.
These sub-precincts are CAD (Central Activity District) - Renewal; CAD - Revitalisation; Botanic Gardens; City Oval and Sawyer Park; Showgrounds Crownland; Showgrounds Freehold; and Riverfront.
In her report to the council, strategic planning co-ordinator Justine Kingan said concept and schematic design at a sub-precinct level would allow the council to engage with residents and other stakeholders on individual projects.
She also said it would progress strongly supported ideas and capitalise on funding opportunities as they became available; and confirm the location of the multi-purpose regional sporting facility and ultimately secure funding.
"Following endorsement of the masterplan, further work will be undertaken to identify potential projects, their associated scope and estimated costs. The projects will be subject to prioritisation and consideration by the council as part of its annual and long-term capital works planning and budget allocation," she said.
She said community feedback had provided the council with more detailed information about what people did and didn't like about the draft masterplan.
"Among the findings of the engagement process, was that the idea of relocating the Horsham Lawn Tennis and Horsham Croquet Club were among the top five ideas people didn't like about the plan," she said.
"Considerations relating to sporting facilities, how capital and operational costs would be funded and issues relating to movement, including parking and road closures emerged in the top five areas of concern.
"The most strongly supported idea was the idea of a masterplan itself. The idea of a cafe on the riverfront, other riverfront improvement, considerations relating to sporting facilities, movement linkages and family friendly elements were also in the top five things people liked."
Changes proposed, endorsed
COUNCILLORS voted on 25 recommendations at the meeting.
These included endorsing the Horsham Sporting Facilities Demand Assessment subject to the amendment of recognising Horsham Croquet Club as a regional facility, and Horsham Lawn Tennis Club as a local facility in the Botanic Gardens sub-precinct.
It also included endorsing the Wimmera River Precinct and Central Activity District Background Report subject to the amendment of recognising the regional role of Horsham Greyhound Racing Club.
Furthermore, the recommendations also included amending the draft masterplan to show that individual projects were subject to council endorsement, prioritisation and funding, and may change based on detailed concept and schematic design, and stakeholder and wider community engagement.
Recommendations also suggested council sought grant funding for projects in the draft masterplan as the funding opportunities arose.
The council also voted on the following recommended amendments and actions regarding the draft masterplan:
- Botanic Gardens Sub-Precinct - Amend the draft masterplan to show the Horsham Croquet Club in the Botanic Gardens with enhanced integration and connectivity (including removal of permanent fencing), as a regional facility, noting that a number of the lawn tennis courts are used to support regional tournaments.
- Botanic Gardens Sub-Precinct - Amend the draft masterplan to show lawn tennis courts with enhanced integration and connectivity (including removal of permanent fencing), and work with the Lawn Tennis Club, Tennis Victoria and Sport and Recreation Victoria to review future needs and demand for lawn tennis in the broader context of other tennis facilities and proposed regional tennis facility in Horsham, noting that the current footprint is to remain pending the aforementioned review.
- Botanic Gardens Sub-Precinct - Amend the draft masterplan to remove the proposed lake.
- Riverfront Sub-Precinct - Amend the draft masterplan to acknowledge the role of miniature railway in activation of the riverfront sub-precinct and work with the Wimmera Live Steam and Model Engineering Society to explore design options and a viable operating model as part of the design process.
- Riverfront Sub-Precinct - Commence implementation of concept and schematic design for the riverfront improvements, including the splash park and site selection for the cafe/restaurant.
- Riverfront Sub-Precinct - Undertake a market sounding and expression of interest process for the development/operation of the café/restaurant.
- City Oval and Sawyer Park Sub-Precinct - Commence concept and schematic design process for City Oval and Sawyer Park area which considers options for the configuration of City Oval and Sawyer Park layout.
- Showgrounds Freehold Sub-Precinct - Work with the Horsham Agricultural Society to advance the precinct planning and assist in the development of the site, which aligns with their operating model.
- Key Connection Sub-Precinct - Commence schematic designs for the key connection along Firebrace Street.
- CAD Renewal Sub-Precinct - Encourage and support the private sector in urban renewal including preparation of a development plan for the concrete batching plant site.
- CAD Revitalisation Sub-Precinct - Commence schematic and detailed designs.
- CAD Revitalisation Sub-Precinct - Note that the planning for the GovHub will be subject to further engagement with State Government Agencies.
- CAD Revitalisation Sub-Precinct - Note that there are no plans to change the existing angle parking arrangements in the CAD and any reconfiguration will be subject to further consultation with business and other stakeholders as part of the schematic and detailed design stage.
- CAD Revitalisation Sub-Precinct - Amend the draft City to River masterplan to show a series of meeting places in the CAD.
Cr John Robinson called a point of order after the motion was moved. He said the consultation process included receiving survey data from school children and was therefore not valid.
"We were advised that children were to be included because of the United Nations charter on human rights. I'm saying our figures are wrong and 148 of these submissions need to be removed," he said.
"We need to have our data and facts correct. There are 190 of these submissions that don't have any name to them. We had about 450 valid returns, not 740."
He presented a notice of intention to rescind the City to River motion.
Cr Pam Clarke highlighted the difficulty of attracting government funding for council projects.
"We need experts with the latest planning trends and concepts from around the world. 'Why not use locals?', we hear. Because governments won't recognise their expertise; they won't fund us if we don't have external consultants," she said.
"We're not voting on where we put sporting facilities, or whether we're closing McBryde Street. This is only conceptual and we need to talk to the clubs and experts to find the best outcome for each precinct.
"We the council and the community will work through each small part of the planning phase. We have the federal and state governments wanting to help us and spend money on these types of projects.
"With all this insight from the community against everything we're trying to do to improve this city, the state and federal governments could give up and walk away."
Cr Les Power said he believed the plan "frightened a lot of people".
"It shows us what we can do as a community when we pull together and can achieve things," he said.
"This is the future - not now, not 20 or 40 years ago. We need to think about the kids who are coming through - they are our future. Give them something to look forward to and bring them back to Horsham. These decisions will help Horsham develop into a regional city."
Cr Josh Koenig said the planning process had started a lot of conversations.
"The next step will allow us to get into the nitty gritty and look at designs, costings and continue the conversation with the community and key stakeholders," he said.
"Are we happy to settle at Horsham just being comfortable? I want it to be well and truly recognised as the capital of the Wimmera and I want it to be better than just 'okay'."
Cr Alethea Gulvin said the plan needed to remain open and active.
"I see it as needing further engagement with stakeholders and the community. These ideas are yet to be formulated into a formal plan. I think the community needs to know what each of these amendments will mean (to them)," she said.
Mayor Mark Radford said it was important the council had a plan for the future.
"By dividing it into precincts, this will give the opportunity to individualise more detailed plan and to prioritise on-the-ground actions for a timeline. It will also give more opportunities for the whole community to be involved by focusing on one area at a time," he said.
Cr John Robinson spoke against the motion.
"We need to think about this stuff before we put it out into the public arena, and of course we didn't do that. I encourage the council to put this on hold," he said.
Cr David Grimble also spoke against the motion.
"There has not been one single line telling me how much this is going to cost. You are asking this council to commit to a process without understanding what the full ramifications are," he said.
"I would have like this report to be itemised because there are elements that are quite good and others that I strongly don't support. Therefore I can't support all the recommendations."
Councillors voted to endorse the amendments and actions. The motion was passed five to two, with Crs Clarke, Gulvin, Koenig, Power and Radford voting for the motion, while Crs Grimble and Robinson voting against.
Cr Grimble moved two motions that asked the council to revoke McBryde Street as the suggested location for the proposed multi-sports precinct, and conduct a feasibility study independently which considered Crown Land showgrounds site and the Horsham West option.
"The plan talks about developing a multi-sports precinct at that location. We have been told by a number of people that it has soil, technical, flooding and traffic issues. One of the major key stakeholders, being the basketball association, has said they do not support an indoor multi-sports stadium attached to the current stadium," Cr Grimble said.
"We need to work out what the best location is to construct a sports facility."
Cr Grimble reminded the council that there was an active petition set to be tabled at the meeting against the closing of McBryde Street. The petition received more than 550 signatures.
"Without having a clear indication of what might be a preferred location, we will be criticised for our decision making," Cr Grimble said.
Councillors passed both of Cr Grimble's motions unanimously.
User groups speak out
HORSHAM Croquet Club president Betty Etherton said the club was aware of the amendment "show the Horsham Croquet Club in the Botanic Gardens with enhanced integration and connectivity" prior to the meeting.
"We had an apology from the council since the plan came out. We've been in consultation with them recently," she said.
"We're hoping to stay where we are, but only if the Horsham Lawn Tennis Club stays there with us. We work together. It's all a waiting game now."
Horsham Greyhound Racing Club manager Justin Brilliant didn't attend the meeting, but was pleased that the council passed an amendment to "recognise the regional role" of the club.
"They have had no further consultation with us, but have said they will in due time," he said.
"I think they were blind to the scope of the industry's impact in the Wimmera, so I'm pleased to see it recognised."
The club has a lease at its Horsham Showgrounds site until 2035.
Horsham Lawn Tennis Club president Andrew Dorman said it was "encouraging" that the council recognised the community had concerns with the plan's consultation process.
"It's clear from this plan that their consultation process needs to improve. It was poor to make decisions without the stakeholders having a say," he said.
"It is encouraging that they have changed the plan to say lawn tennis and croquet can stay there, but again it's conditional depending on the number of courts that will stay."
The club has 24 courts, with 20 in operational use.
"Our junior program has been growing steadily and we're running out of space. Having 24 courts allows us to attract tournaments. Inter-regional tournaments require at least 28 courts, which allows us to use the croquet courts too," he said.
"If we were reduced to 16 courts then those tournaments wouldn't be able to come here."
Mr Dorman said he didn't understand why there was a suggested proposal to remove permanent fencing around the club.
"I didn't think we were at that detailed stage yet, so I don't know why that idea has been brought up," he said.
See council's full November agenda below
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