Plans open for public open space and sporting facilities in Augusta-Margaret River shire

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
A damaged section of the basketball playing surface.
Camera IconA damaged section of the basketball playing surface. Credit: MRBA

The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River is seeking feedback on its new plan for the future of leisure facilities while staring down the barrel of population growth creating unprecedented demand.

While the new Leisure Plan and Public Open Space Strategy covers sites across the shire, the Augusta and Margaret River Recreation Centres are the core focus for user groups.

As the estimated $9.25 million re-roofing and upgrades to the Shire’s aquatic centre nears completion — with about $8 million of the cost of that project backed by loans — the local government isn’t eyeing any ambitious new builds, despite demands from residents.

Augusta residents wanted a significant upgrade to their recreation centre, while booming participation in sports, led by the Margaret River Basketball Association, has raised questions about how long the local government can go without undertaking another major project.

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Junior basketball’s last week of games for the season was marred by the closure of one court because of safety concerns around the playing surface, but club president Kellene Harvey said those troubles were nothing new.

Basketball was already drawing on courts at the high school to meet demand, she said, but the situation was unsustainable for a volunteer-driven sport with almost 700 players.

“MRBA would warmly welcome the idea of a fully expanded rec centre,” Mrs Harvey said.

“Any potential upgrade of facilities would align with our commitment to providing an optimal basketball experience for our players and the community.”

The court surfaces were of immediate concern, but MRBA said there was no plan to replace the aged flooring until 2026-27.

The draft plan recognised basketball as the fastest-growing sport, recording a massive 80 per cent growth since 2019.

However, more outdoor courts are identified as the key solution to growth challenges, with the plan recognising population spread across the shire must also be considered.

The draft Shire plan is focused on the next 10 years and considers recreation facilities as well as the future for new parks, playgrounds, and public spaces.

The document provides a locality breakdown for analysis of current and future needs, identifying shortfalls and the strategic planning required to address them.

Shire planning services co-ordinator Matt Slocomb said the latest consultation on the plan would close on January 8 for council consideration in early 2024.

“The Leisure Plan considers existing community and recreation facilities and looks at how demand for these facilities will change in the future, particularly with a rapidly growing population,” Mr Slocomb said.

“The Public Open Space Strategy guides the location and type of public open space to be provided in the urban expansion areas of the Shire and considers how this will influence the use of current open space and facilities.”

Recreation services co-ordinator Seb Miller said the draft plan was already informed by strong community feedback which helped identify “key themes and priority areas”.

A copy of the two plans are available on the Shire’s YourSay page.

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