Frequently asked questions

about the Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre

Updated: August 2021

Why is Council building an aquatic and arts facility in Batemans Bay?

The former outdoor 50-metre pool in Batemans Bay was not meeting the needs of the community. It was only open for around six months of the year and being more than 50 years old was nearing the end of its life. 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.

Everyone can benefit from a modern aquatic and arts facility.

Who is building it?

Council awarded the construction contract to ADCO Constructions in August 2020. ADCO is a national company with decades of experience, having completed more than 40 specialist sporting projects around Australia to date. ADCO's projects include the NSW Rugby League Centre of Excellence, Pimpama Sports Hub on the Gold Coast, the Hawthorn and Craigieburn leisure and aquatic centres in Victoria, and the Shellharbour City Hub. They will also build Waves Aquatic Centre in Sydney.

ADCO is using local subcontractors and suppliers where possible and employing a number of local people for the project.

What will it include?

An indoor aquatic centre with:

  • 25-metre, 8-lane pool with ramp access
  • 10-metre warm water pool
  • freeform indoor leisure pool that includes learn-to-swim and toddler areas
  • water play splash pads
  • four waterslides
  • gym, group fitness and wellness area.

An arts and cultural centre with:

  • large flexible, flat floor auditorium with retractable seating for 350
  • 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.

How long will construction take?

Completion is scheduled towards the middle of 2022.

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.

What happened to Batemans Bay Mini Golf?

The mini golf business occupied a portion of Crown Land managed by Council on the proposed site.

Following almost two years of positive negotiations, Council bought the remaining two years of the lease back from the business, and provided financial terms agreed by both parties.

Why didn't Council build the facility on the old bowling club site?

Councillors originally considered two options for the project; a combined aquatic and arts facility on the southern part of the Mackay Park precinct, where the 50m pool was previously, or constructing an aquatic facility on the southern part of the precinct and an arts and cultural facility on the northern part of the precinct (the old bowling club site).

Take a look at the two concepts considered:

Councillors resolved at the Extraordinary Meeting of Tuesday 29 August 2017 to endorse the development of the regional aquatic centre, arts and cultural facility on the southern part of the Batemans Bay Mackay Park precinct (concept plan option one). This left the northern part of the precinct - the old bowling club site - unencumbered, retaining its potential for other preferred development outcomes, such as tourist accommodation and events and conferencing facilities.

Council is currently leasing the bowling club site to Transport for NSW – who are building the new Batemans Bay Bridge – for their construction compound. That lease is expected to expire in July 2022 and the land will be returned to Council ready for sale or lease to developers. Council is aware of a number of companies interested in the site following an expression of interest process in 2016 and will take the site back to the market in 2021.

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. 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.

Seating capacity of the theatre will be comparable with The Q Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre, which has 346 seats and provides an intimate atmosphere popular with performers and audiences. The theatre design will also include scope for a small increase to seating once it’s built.

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, 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 significantly more to construct and operate, with initial 2017 estimates being 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 applications.

Why would a 50-metre pool cost more to construct and operate?

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 have been 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 have significantly increased the costs associated with the plant room’s specifications for water circulation, treatment and filtration. 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 couldn't we keep the 50-metre pool and have a new aquatic centre?

Keeping the existing 50-metre outdoor pool and building the new aquatic centre would have been an added financial burden for ratepayers, not only in running costs, but the existing pool was ageing, needed major restoration work and would have needed 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 are held at Narooma’s indoor 50-metre pool year-round.

How many people use our pools?

Public swimming pools are a service provided by Council to the community. Maintenance and operating costs are much higher than the income received, as is the case 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.

In planning the project, our five-year visitation data showed the 25-metre outdoor pool at Moruya was 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 had more visits per week than the other two pools.

Over a five-year period, 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 was estimated to be 887 in Narooma, 888 in Batemans Bay and 1,154 in Moruya.

How much will it cost and where is the money coming from?

Council has set a total project budget of $69 million. This covers all costs including project management, design, environmental assessment and related studies, legal and professional services, fees and charges, furniture fittings and equipment, construction costs and a contingency of $6 million.

The construction contract is worth $58,082,810. The cost to Council, which excludes GST, is $52,802,554.

The project will be funded through $51 million in grants from the NSW and Australian governments. In March 2018 we secured $26 million funding from the NSW Government to go toward building the centre. On 1 April 2019 then Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis announced $25 million funding from the Commonwealth Government.

To fund the difference, Council is using $4 million of loan funds, along with s94 developer contributions and some cash reserves from infrastructure renewal, real estate disposal, and crown reserves funds, as well as some proceeds from the sale of Moruya Racecourse and Southern Phone. There are no land or asset sales proposed to fund construction of the facility.

What did Council use as a business case to apply for grant funding?

Council applied for funding for the project through several NSW Government and Commonwealth Government grant programs. The business case was tailored for each application to meet the questions posed in templates provided by each funding body. For example, when applying for funding under the NSW Government’s Regional Cultural Fund, the business case focused on the cultural benefits of the arts and theatre components of the project.

The final report prepared by Otium Planning Group was submitted as a supporting document to Council’s grant funding application; it did not form the entire business case. This report was part of a suite of documents that were provided to form the over-arching business case.

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

The funding will come from within the existing Council budget.

Other potential income streams such as the sale/lease of the Visitor Information Centre, Batemans Bay Community Centre and the former Bowling Club site are subject to review and approval through Council.

Have the project finances been independently scrutinised?

Yes. Council's independent Audit, Risk and Improvement Committee has been briefed on the financial details of the project throughout the process.

The NSW Audit Office and NSW Treasury have also reviewed the financial details of the project.

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?

The new centre has a strong emphasis on being as sustainable as possible. This includes rain water harvesting, large solar array on the roof and design features to minimise the use of heating and cooling throughout the facility.

The new centre has provision for three electric vehicle charging stations – all required infrastructure will be included in the build and the current NRMA charging station will be relocated prior to the centre opening.

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.

Read more about the early community engagement and the Batemans Bay Mackay Park Precinct Sunset Committee.

More information

For more information, please contact Lindsay Usher, Director Planning and Sustainability Services: