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Helensburgh park plan will allow new community centre and library to go ahead

Rex Jackson Oval, Helensburgh.

WOLLONGONG City Council has voted to move forward on plans for reclassification of Charles Harper Park, Rex Jackson Park sporting facilities and Helensburgh Pool.

Council is seeking NSW State Government approval to broaden the parks categorisation from sportsground, to include general community use and area of cultural significance. This step would allow Council’s proposal for Helensburgh’s new combined Community Centre and Library to be co-located with Helensburgh Pool.

Council will refer the draft Helensburgh Park Crown Reserves Plan of Management to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment – Crown Lands to seek approval to place the document on public exhibition for community feedback, following a decision on Monday July 18, 2022.

Wollongong City Council General Manager Greg Doyle said it’s an exciting milestone for the community as the draft Plan of Management is a key foundation for putting in place long-term plans for the town and its centre.

“We’ve been working with stakeholders and government agencies for some time to progress our plans for Helensburgh,” he said.

“This draft Plan of Management is a major piece of the puzzle that, if greenlighted by the NSW Government, will allow Council to move forward on some key pieces of work.

“The draft Plan of Management sets out changes that enable us to deliver important community, cultural and sporting facilities for this area and complements our current works program and initiatives to make Helensburgh a desirable place to live, work and socialise.”

The draft Plan of Management covers two Crown Reserves – both with the name Helensburgh Park – about 14 hectares in area. The first Helensburgh Park is home to Rex Jackson Park, Charles Harper Park and Helensburgh Pool. The second park includes the tennis courts and cricket grounds.

Together they form Helensburgh’s largest public spaces that include a playground, barbecue area, skate park, mountain bike track, swimming pool facility, netball courts and cricket nets, and an outdoor sports facility and outdoor gym equipment.

“I appreciate that, on the surface, this decision of Council is just us meeting the requirements of NSW State legislation. However, in actual fact, this is a very exciting step forward for the community within and around Helensburgh,’’ Acting Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Tania Brown said.

“The changes we’re proposing as part of developing this Plan of Management are important to the future of the sporting facilities in Helensburgh and a key milestone in planning for a new community centre and library.

“This step is paving the way for some very exciting plans for this community, and continues the work Council has been doing over many years in this space.’’

A Plan of Management is a legislative requirement for Council where it is the Crown Land Manager. Council is required to classify land as either “operational” or “community” land, and then the Plan of Management sets out what existing or proposed uses and developments are permitted for that land.

“We’ve quite a range of plans of management for sites right across this city,’’ Cr Brown said.

“Community consultation is a key part of the process in their development as the documentation sets out the plan for maintenance and opportunities for enhancement of existing uses and developments.

“We have a Helensburgh Town Centre Plan 2020-2045 that proposes an integrated Community Centre and Library, and we’re exploring the opportunity to integrate that into the Helensburgh Pool amenities site. To move forward on that concept, we need to have the right land categorisation and the current classification of public recreation is not appropriate to that use.

“I encourage anyone who is interested in Council facilities in Helensburgh to keep an eye on our website and social media channels for updates and next steps.’’


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About Mick Roberts

A journalist, writer and historian, Mick Roberts specialises in Australian cultural history, particularly associated with the Australian hotel and liquor industry. Mick has had an interest in revealing the colourful story of Australian pubs and associated industries for over 30 years. He is working on a comprehensive history of the hotel and liquor industry in the Illawarra region of NSW. Besides writing a number of history books, Mick managed several community newspapers. He has been editor of the Wollongong Northern News, The Bulli Times, The Northern Times, The Northern Leader and The Local - all located in the Wollongong region. As a journalist he has worked for Rural Press, Cumberland (News Limited), the Sydney city newspaper, City News, and Torch Publications based in Canterbury Bankstown, NSW.

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