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Frequently asked questions

about the Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre

Updated: April 2019

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What’s next?

Community feedback received about the three concepts during January and February 2019 has been provided to the appointed architects, who are using it to refine a final design. The final design will be presented to Councillors for their consideration later in 2019. Once it’s approved, Council will go out to tender for the construction of the centre.

When will building start and how long will the pool be closed?

We expect construction to start in early 2020, opening in time for summer 2021. We anticipate swimmers will miss one season of swimming at Batemans Bay pool during construction, after which the community can enjoy the facility year-round.

What will happen to Batemans Bay Mini Golf?

The current Batemans Bay Mini Golf is in the footprint of the proposed centre. Batemans Bay Mini Golf has a lease from Council as Crown Land manager. The lease expires on 30 June 2022 and Council is negotiating with the owners to acquire its lease so the development can proceed in the most efficient way.

Council recognises that Mini Golf is an important local tourism attraction, and discussions with the lessee have included consideration of an alternative site, and advice Council could provide through the development application process if the operator found an alternative site on private land.

Negotiations are continuing with goodwill from both parties, and Council respects the lessee’s privacy in this matter.

Why is the proposed theatre capacity 350 seats?

It was a decision made by the architects, based on best practice and consultation with industry,  to include a 350-seat theatre in preliminary concepts for the facility. Council also consulted with theatre companies likely to come to Batemans Bay. They said their key driver was theatre quality over quantity of seats – things like lighting, the sound system, and fittings. They indicated if a performance sold out, they would add another show. Performers also indicated they preferred performing to a smaller, packed house, than a large half-filled theatre.

Council also visited and spoke with operators of other Council-run theatres in NSW and Victoria. All advice indicated a 350-seat theatre was the most sensible capacity to meet community needs, taking into account current and future demand.

The theatre design will include scope for a small increase to seating once it’s built.

Why is Council proposing to build a new aquatic and arts facility in Batemans Bay?

The current outdoor 50-metre pool is only open for around six months of the year. It is 50 years old, nearing the end of its life, and isn’t meeting the needs of our community.

For a long time, residents have expressed a desire for something better.

The arts community in Batemans Bay has also been calling for a purpose-built arts and cultural centre.

We will demolish the old outdoor pool and build a modern aquatic and arts facility that everyone can benefit from.

What will it include?

The detailed design will be guided by the available budget. We are committed to ensuring that what is built is affordable and will meet the community’s broader needs well into the future. Councillors endorsed the following concept in August 2017:

An indoor aquatic centre with:

  • 25-metre, 10-lane pool with ramp access
  • 10-metre warm water therapy pool and spa
  • freeform indoor leisure pool that includes learn-to-swim and toddler areas
  • water play splash pad
  • waterslides
  • gym, group fitness and wellness area

An arts and cultural centre with:

  • large flexible, flat floor auditorium with retractable seating for 500
  • dressing rooms, green room and storage
  • gallery/exhibition space and storage
  • rehearsal/dance studio/music room
  • wet arts workshop space and storage
  • dry arts workshop space and storage
  • meeting room
  • multi-purpose room

Shared facilities with:

  • foyer
  • cafe
  • visitor information service
  • administration offices
  • plant and support services

Why the separate pools?

The various activities proposed require different pool temperatures. Lap swimmers need a pool with water temperature around 26 degrees so they don’t overheat. People using a therapy pool require 33 to 34 degrees so they remain warm while exercising. Toddlers and small children in learn-to-swim classes require a pool that is 30 to 32 degrees.

A 25-metre x 10-lane lap pool can cater to lap swimmers in a 26 degree pool, while activities and programs are happening in the four other pools at the right temperature for each activity. The total pool surface area is proposed to increase from 665m2 (the current 50m pool) to 1202m2 (based on the concept).

Why does the aquatic centre concept have a 25-metre pool and not a 50-metre pool?

We were aware at the start of this project that some members of the Batemans Bay community wanted a 50-metre pool. That’s why we specifically asked our consultants to consider the provision of a 50-metre and a 25-metre pool when providing their advice to Council.

As part of the process to prepare a business case and concept, we obtained independent, professional advice that there is a limited market for lap swimming when compared to the strong demand for recreation, program and therapy pool space. If we provided an indoor purpose-built, 10-lane 25-metre pool for the training needs of swim club members and lap swimmers, we could also provide a warm-water program pool and a leisure and learn-to-swim pool, meeting the needs of more community members.

A 50-metre pool would cost approximately $6.5 million more to construct, and $300,000 more per year in ongoing costs. Given the additional costs, it is likely that the warm-water program pool or the learn-to-swim area would need to be sacrificed if a 50-metre pool was included. This would limit the facilities available to meet our community’s needs. To include a 50-metre pool would have also weakened our business case, undermining the strength of our grant application.

Why would a 50-metre pool construction cost $6.5 million more and $300,000 more per year in ongoing costs?

The costs associated with constructing an indoor 25-metre pool compared to an indoor 50-metre pool are considerably more than just extending the pool by 25 metres.

Circulation space around the pools is required to ensure their effective and safe operation. It would not be possible to incorporate a 50-metre indoor pool without significantly increasing the size of the pool building. Incorporating an additional 26.5 x 28 metres of pool space (includes a 1.5m fibreglass bulkhead to enable the 50-metre pool to be divided into two separate pools, and a minimum four-metre concourse on both sides of the additional water) will add up to 742m2 to the roof structure and additional walls.

The inclusion of a 50-metre pool in preference to the 25-metre pool would also significantly increase the costs associated with the plant room’s specifications for water circulation, treatment and filtration. The inclusion of a 50-metre pool would increase the operating costs due to the additional staff required to supervise the additional area. There are also increased costs associated with maintaining the larger water area such as chemicals and materials, as well as additional energy costs.

Why can’t we keep the 50-metre pool we have now as well as have a new aquatic centre?

Keeping the existing 50-metre outdoor pool and building a new aquatic centre hasn’t been included in the concept because this would be an added financial burden for ratepayers. The additional cost of running the old pool would make the proposal unaffordable. Also, the existing pool is ageing, needs major restoration work and would need to be removed or replaced at additional cost.

Where will local schools and swim clubs have carnivals and meets?

The 25-metre pool will comply with the International Swimming Federation’s short course competition requirements, making it capable of hosting regional and NSW age events. All of Council’s swimming centres are currently used for carnivals and many local schools use Moruya’s 25-metre, eight-lane pool for school carnivals. Long-course events can be held at Narooma’s indoor 50-metre pool year-round.

How many people use our three pools now?

Public swimming pools are a service provided by Council to the community. Maintenance and operating costs are much higher than the income received from entry fees at all three pools in Eurobodalla, and for most council-operated pools in NSW. So the size of the pool in relation to how many people use it is important. What they use it for is also important.

Our five-year visitation data shows that the 25-metre outdoor pool at Moruya is more popular than the 50-metre outdoor pool at Batemans Bay, with both of them opening for about 26 weeks of the year (increased to 28 weeks in 2017). On average, the Moruya 25-metre pool has more visits per week than the other two pools.

In the past five years, 478,410 people visited our pools. Narooma pool accounted for 45 per cent of visitors, Moruya 31 per cent and Batemans Bay 24 per cent. The total average visits per week over the past five years is estimated to be 887 in Narooma, 888 in Batemans Bay and 1,154 in Moruya.

Where is the money coming from to build it?

In March 2018 we secured $26 million funding from the NSW Government to go toward building the centre. On 1 April 2019 federal Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis announced $25 million funding from the Commonwealth Government's Regional Growth Fund.

Where will money come from for the facility’s operation and maintenance?

The money will come from Council’s existing budgets. Detailed operating costs will depend on the final design.

There is also potential for new income streams from the lease or sale of the existing community centre and visitor information centre to meet any increase in ongoing costs, as well as opportunities to progress the development of the former bowling club site (currently in use by NSW Roads and Maritime Services as a construction compound for the new Batemans Bay bridge).

Will rates go up to pay for it?

Council has no plans to increase rates to pay for this project. Council is committed to building an affordable aquatic and arts facility that meets the needs of the community and does not require a rates increase to pay for it.

Will the design be environmentally sustainable?

Council wants to achieve a five-star Green Star rating for the design and construction of the centre. Green Star is an international sustainability system that recognises best practice sustainability outcomes through the design, construction and ongoing operation, indoor environment quality, energy efficiency, encouraging alternative forms of transport, water efficiency and re-use, materials used, reduced impacts from land use, reduced emissions and innovation.

How has Council involved the community in this project?

Council has consulted with the community over many years on a range of projects related to aquatic, arts and cultural facilities. Soon after purchasing the bowling club site in 2016 we asked the community for ideas about its future uses. Later in 2016, Council established the Batemans Bay Mackay Park Precinct Sunset Committee so that community representatives could be involved in helping us plan the project and the community engagement. The committee included representatives from community groups including Batemans Bay Indoor Aquatic Centre, Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce, PerFex, Batemans Bay U3A, and South Coast Pastel Society. Council has met with many individuals and groups about the proposed concept. We also held two community information sessions in August 2017 and information kiosks in Batemans Bay in February 2018.

The architects met with representatives from more than 90 user groups at the end of October 2018 to determine their requirements. These included swimming clubs, arts groups, schools, health, business and disability sectors. We have also talked to travelling arts and theatre providers to determine their needs.

In early 2019, the whole community was encouraged to have a say on the three concepts put together by the architects.

Council continues to provide as much information as we can and we do this on our website, through our newsletters, media releases and social media, and by responding to questions from the community and media.