HERVEY Bay's Seafront Oval could lose up to 30% of its land size under the Fraser Coast Regional Council's new development plan for the Pialba Esplanade, which has left some community groups fearing there won't be enough room to hold their events.
Updated development plans for the area obtained by the Chronicle show new concepts for the all-abilities park, carpark and skate park proposed by the council, which substantially differ to the original proposal outlined two years ago.
A total of $3.5 million will be spent on developing the area, with $900,000 to be spent on the building of a new Adventure Park on the oval, along with $975,787 on a new carpark, $688,914 on a new stage and $970,241 on the redevelopment of the skate park.
Development details (clockwise from top left):
- Shelter with BBQ and picnic tables
- Timber edge with seating under shade of existing trees
- Improved stage
- New carpark (approx 100 spaces)
- Retain existing basketball half court and add ping pong tables or parkour/fitness climbing structure
- Major shelter with multipurpose stage/large steps
- Grass space for informal uses
- Car drop off zone, bus parking and marshalling area with seating under shaded trees
- Retain existing fig
- Reinforced turf for food trucks and vehicular entry into Oval
- Remove palms and plant with street trees
- Street parking
- Major pathway: direct, fast travel, used for fitness
But it would result in parts of the oval losing space to the new development, with councillor Denis Chapman saying up to a third of the land could go to make way for the new development.
It's got Hervey Bay Relay for Life chair Kay Nixon "very fearful" of what it would do, claiming the group may have to look elsewhere if the new oval can no longer accommodate their numbers.
"We have around 80 teams in Relay; we use up the whole oval. We may definitely have to look somewhere else to hold Relay, as we just won't have enough room.
"As it's a community that uses Seafront for all sorts of events, it should have gone to the community to see if that's what they wanted.
"The ratepayers are the ones that use Seafront Oval; they should be the ones that have the say."
The new plans were not released for public consultation.
Cr Chapman, who holds the portfolio for planning and infrastructure, said it was concerning to see the community had not been informed about the updated plan, especially as preliminary works were expected to start in four to six weeks.
"We've got $900,000 from the state government to put in an activities playground area, but my biggest concern is the community doesn't know what's happening here," he said.
"I'm not trying to stop the project, I'd just like the community to know exactly what's happening.
"Seafront Oval is an area they hold a lot of functions on, such as rodeos, the Relay for Life, triathlons... Looking at these plans, they're virtually going to knock about a quarter off the size of the oval and round it off, and will block the entrance off at the roundabout."
The original plan was finalised in 2015, with the concepts going to community consultation between August 20 and September 11 of that same year.
While the funding for the adventure park has been provided by the state government, the remaining funds will come from the Fraser Coast Regional Council.
Cr Chapman said he was unaware how the plan was changed.
"This has been happening a lot within this council, and it's got to be stopped," he said.
"If we've gone out and had consultation with the previous plan, why haven't we gone out and had consultation with the next plan?"
Do you support the new development plan for Seafront Oval?
This poll ended on 30 April 2017.
Yes; it will look great for the area and give people much more to do. - 36%
No; too much space will be lost. - 47%
Unsure at the moment. - 15%
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Cr Chapman said he wanted to see what the community had to say about the next plan.
"I want the public's opinion about what they think of this new Master Plan. I don't want to go ahead and build this area here without the public knowing what's going to happen because we will get crucified," he said.
"Getting in and out of the car parks will be a lot harder; you're going to have to come off the Esplanade rather than the roundabout.
"I'm after the community to have an input. This is a massive change, and I want to see the service clubs that use this oval here have their say."
The oval remains a major community hub for the area, with the Professional Bull Riders event, the Hervey Bay Relay for Life, Lennon Bros Circus and many more community and sporting groups using the area.
But president of Hervey Bay Triathlon Shane Walker said he would welcome the new development, stating the car parks would improve parking difficulties.
"More car parks would be good, given that parking is quite difficult. But as long as we can get to the oval and still use most of it and there's good parking, then everyone should be happy," he said.