Posts Tagged “plans”


Merewether’s most prominent sports ground is set for an impressive upgrade after Newcastle City Council unveiled plans to renovate and extend the existing grandstand at Townson Oval.

The $2m redevelopment will be jointly-funded by council and Merewether Carlton Rugby Club and is set to provide a vast improvement to the playing and viewing experience at the ground, also known as Mitchell Park.

A  top-floor glass pavilion which can be opened to the sea breeze tops the list of upgrades, which includes a new gym, change rooms, refurbished public amenities and installation of a lift.

The project will benefit Townson Oval’s other tenants, South Newcastle Rugby League Club and Merewether District Cricket Club.

“I am delighted to announce this much-needed upgrade for Mitchell Park or Townson Oval,” Newcastle lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

“This proposed project is a fine example of how sporting clubs and associations are able to contribute and partner with Council on refurbishing their home grounds.

“The upgrade will deliver an asset for the entire community and provide the footballing, cricket and cycling groups that use Townson a boost.”

Council has listed the project in a draft budget which they are considering placing on public exhibition on Tuesday night, before final adoption in June.

They will fund $1.5m for the grandstand’s base build, with Merewether Carlton set to provide $500,000 from club reserves and funds raised by the Merewether Greens Rugby Foundation.

Merewether Carlton’s contribution will fund the interior fit-out of the new glass pavilion, which will be known as the club’s new ‘Green Room’.

John Davis, a board member of Merewether Greens Rugby Foundation, said the new grandstand and Green Room are a game changer for the club.

“We are extremely grateful to be able to partner with Council to help redevelop the grandstand,” Mr Davis said.

“Not only will it offer our players, members and supporters better facilities, it will give fans a better vantage point from up behind the bleachers and also allow administrators to host in-house presentations, sponsors functions and club events.”

Construction is likely to commence after the football season pending final approval of the council budget.




Newcastle Jockey Club plans to build a $20 million, 508-horse two-storey stable complex to capitalise on its new state-of-the-art course proper at Broadmeadow.

The development was a talking point at an exclusive function on Thursday night at the NJC to officially open the Racing NSW-funded StrathAyr main track, which will host its first full program at the March 17 group 3 Newcastle Newmarket meeting.

The Newcastle Herald can reveal the NJC will try to gain funding and approval for new stables on the Chatham Road side of Newcastle Racecourse to replace the outdated facilities along Beaumont Street. The seven blocks of stables will increase the horse boxes available from 234 to 508 and horses in training at Broadmeadow from 408 to 995 by 2021-22. It is estimated the development will bring an $87.2 million to the Hunter economy over the next five years and create 148 full-time local jobs.

Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys, the special guest on Thursday night, said his organisation would “100 per cent support” the NJC plans “if they can show a business case”.

Mr V’Landys was in the same role in November 2012 when the NJC gained $11.2 million to replace its problematic main track in return for club members voting to accept three independent, Racing NSW-appointed board directors.

Asked on Thursday night if there was scope for more Racing NSW development funds at Newcastle, Mr V’landys said: “Absolutely. You have some quality trainers up here and you have a really big horse population.

“It’s a very quick drive to the metropolitan area, to Randwick, Rosehill etc. and, absolutely, we want to re-invest up here.

“Look, the club has been proactive, they have already designed stables and they are doing a business case to ensure they get a return on those stables.

“It’s got a beautiful pro-ride synthetic track, it’s got the Beaumont track, which has been a revelation in itself, then we have this new track which we hope will be the benchmark for tracks around Australia.

“We want Newcastle to succeed and we want a centre of excellence, and when you have a club that’s proactive and really tries hard, we try hard to support them.”

Mr Barnett said the 508-horse stables were the “basic plan” and “we think we could use that many.”

“We’d be retiring a lot of old stables down on Beaumont Street, and that’s a figure we could manage,” Mr Barnett said.

“Chatham Road end is where our crossing is, so it makes sense to have it down there and they used to be there, but this would be much more modern, environmentally friendly and neighbour friendly.”

The Herald was told nearby residents have been advised of the plans, which are yet to go to Newcastle City Council.

“I honestly believe that, all things being equal, we could have stables going up and using them by the end of next year,” Mr Barnett said.

With Gosford’s training centre facing an uncertain future and Newcastle enjoying its upgraded course proper and pro-ride tracks, Mr Barnett said the time was right to build new stables.

“When you’ve got the facilities that we have here now, why not?” he said. “It lends itself to a lot more horses coming here. I know there are a lot of Sydney trainers who would like to get out of there. Some have stables on land that’s worth a lot of money. They can come here and it’s not far from a whole host of tracks.

“I think that’s absolutely the natural next phase for us, to get more horses and trainers in the area, but to do that, we need the facilities.”

He said while planning had started, funding remained a question mark.

“I think it will be a mix,” he said. “A good contribution from our club, maybe a loan on top of that, and we’re hoping for assistance from the government, because it means a lot more employment in the area.

“I think Racing NSW will be open to a discussion on maybe dollar for dollar. There’s a few ways to approach it, but I think if we got the plan right, we would get funding.

“We have local trainers here who are busting to get quality stables and there’s also the side of it of ‘if you build it, they will come’. We know that from what the trainers are looking for in Sydney. If the stabling was there, they’ll be here.”

Mr V’landys praised the work of Mr Barnett and NJC CEO Matt Benson in overseeing the course proper’s construction.

“They have a very good chairman in Geoff Barnett and Matt Benson has been fantastic,” he said. “I just wish there were 10 administrators like him around NSW because he has been a major asset to this club.”

He said: “The grant was $11.2 million for the tracks, including the pro-ride track. Any other applications will be new, but like I said, we want to encourage, not discourage, and if they can show a business case, we will support it 100 per cent.”

Mr V’landys faced vocal opposition to changes to the NJC board and constitution in 2012 before members approved the move with a 96 per cent vote.

He said the unveiling of the new track “was very pleasing for me because it was only a few years ago that I came up here and they all said I wouldn’t deliver”.

“They all said I just wanted to change the club, but everything we did was a win-win for Newcastle,” he said.

“We wanted a beautiful track here, one that was conducive to competitive racing, one that was even to attract punters, make it safe for the jockey and the horse and we’ve achieved all that.

“We’ve delivered everything we said we were going to deliver and the beauty I like is that we not only created the track, we created a corporate structure for the club which is very beneficial.

“You have three independent directors who bring new skills to the club. Sometimes when you have a popular election, you don’t get all the skills that you need, so this complements the already elected members.

“You got a former public company director in Paul Leaming, a track engineer in Richard Sonnichsen and one of the most experienced racing administrators in Brian Judd, all from the area who add to the elected board. Those skills will be an asset to the club.”




Newcastle Council is seeking expressions of interest for a 5MW solar farm to be built on a closed landfill site as part of its plan to cut its emissions by 30 per cent by 2020, and to help the famous coal port city source 30 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable energy by the same date.

The tender for the utility-scale solar farm – to be located at the Summerhill waste management centre – was released on Tuesday and the council hopes that the project can be completed in 2017.

Already, the council has installed around 450kW of rooftop solar over 9 council sites, including two libraries, two sports grounds, the local museum, gallery and cultural centre, and the city works depot.

It is now looking at a larger scale project to offset electricity consumption at other council sites. Much of the output from the 5MW solar farm would likely be exported back into the grid, but most likely at prices higher than the council pays for street lighting. So it figures it will be ahead on cost.

The EOI is seeking submissions for the design and construction of the solar farm, and for retailing options.

Newcastle is not the first Australian council to go down the utility scale solar path,  with Sunshine Coast Council currently building a 15MW that will generate enough electricity to cover the council’s entire consumption.