Nillumbik Shire Council has given the official go-ahead to an ambitious plan to protect and enhance the recreational values of a large open area in Hurstbridge.
Council unanimously adopted the final precinct plan to transform the old Hurstbridge High School site into valuable public open space.
Mayor Karen Egan said Council approved plans for the site at their December meeting which include a new natural amphitheatre, expanding the stadium and the courts and creating a contemplative space.
The top three priorities identified through consultation were expanding the stadium, improved use of the East Oval and optional outdoor courts.
“We’ve established what the community wants, so now we’ll be able to push hard for external funding,” Egan said.
“It’s a question of putting the horse before the cart. There has been no point in applying for funding until we have an approved project in place.”
Another benefit in attracting state and commonwealth funding is that the precinct will serve as a regional attraction.
It also will serve as the gateway to the start of the Diamond Creek Trail, which when completed is set to attract up to an estimated 360,000 visitors annually.
The current Council overturned the previous Council’s decision to sell this parcel of land for housing.
Extensive consultation during mid-2018 also indicated a number of people wanted the landscape values and natural assets of the area retained to be enjoyed by the community for passive recreation – including walking, jogging and kicking the ball around.
“We see this as a win-win,” Cr Egan said. “The community will be happy to have the former school site maintained for parklands, with Council seeking to attract government funding to improve the site’s active recreation facilities to meet growing community needs as identified by the community itself.
“In this way, we deliver a great community asset without having to burden the ratepayers with additional costs.
“This will help maintain our standing as the Shire with the lowest rates increase in Victoria and officially the happiest municipality in Australia,” Egan said.