A plan sketching out future directions for Princess Park, Shepparton, and help develop it into a more prominent sports precinct was described as long overdue by councillors at a meeting this week.
Following a period of consultation last year, councillors on Tuesday endorsed an update blueprint for the precinct.
It considers improved club facilities, parking, accessibility and a second off-leash dog park for the city.
In the council’s words, the plan provides a vision for the future of the area, encompassing development, management, maintenance and both current and future community need.
During consultation, 28 submissions were received.
A council report highlighted feedback largely supporting the plan’s initiatives, including an off-leash dog park, upgraded pavilion, second netball court, improved change facilities and realignment of the oval.
The plan proposes a staged development over time ‘‘ensuring implementation of the landscape master plan can be best aligned with funding availability’’.
Items are set to have individual detailed investigations and funding allocations, according to the report, with the estimated cost to implement master plan measures considered to be between $5.5million and $7.5million.
The plan recommended assessing the development of a multi-purpose shared clubroom facility, improving change room facilities and toilet.
It highlighted better and safer accessibility along paths and central business district connections, upgrading entrances, improving spectator amenities, expanding Jim McGregor Oval, relocating and replacing the netball courts, picnic facilities and the development of a dog park.
Mayor Kim O’Keeffe described the plan as vision for the future of the ‘‘run down, quite tired facility’’.
She said the plan aimed to support user groups and to ‘‘bring it up to the standard of our other facilities’’.
She believed patronage of the facility had increased in the past five years, arguing more users meant the need for more facilities and bringing them up to being ‘‘fit for purpose’’.
‘‘They could encourage broader participation of that ground if was up to standard.
‘‘There might be other opportunities to have other gatherings or community events there.
‘‘This facility is in such a great location, but it’s old, it needs to be upgraded.’’
At this week’s council meeting, where the facility’s joint master plan and directions plans were adopted, Cr Dennis Patterson described this action as likely being ‘‘long overdue’’.
‘‘It’s a little hidden gem.’’
He stressed the need for a strong secondary oval for the city.
‘‘That is perfect down there ... It needs fair bit of work.
‘‘Realistically we probably haven’t kept up to pace with what’s happening down there.’’
Cr Seema Abdullah hoped the plan would ‘‘mitigate the risk of ad hoc maintenance and infrastructure upgrades in the precinct’’.
Cr Fern Summer said it remained a plan, and wasn’t ‘‘set in stone’’, and that alterations could be made to what was essentially a guide for the area.
Cr Dinny Adem, stressed that for ‘‘far too long’’ there had been a ‘‘scattergun approach’’ to development in the are.
‘‘It’s been seen as the poor cousin for too many decades’’.
He said it was ‘‘about time this plan was configured’’ with the hope of turning it into ‘‘one of the premier sporting places in Shepparton’’.