Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

A scoping study for a new sporting precinct in Armidale based around Monckton Aquatic Centre will be undertaken at a cost of $400,000.

The State Government grant to undertake a scoping study for a brand new multi-million-dollar sporting precinct that includes the Monckton Aquatic Centre, a new hydrotherapy pool and the adjacent Harris Park, has been announced by Member for Northern Tablelands Adam Marshall has announced alongside Armidale Regional Council Mayor Sam Coupland at the Monckton Aquatic Centre last Friday.

There was much controversy around the closure of the old hydrotherapy pool by Hunter New England health over safety concerns. A $1 million grant to Council for a new pool at the aquatic centre returned after the cash-strapped Armidale Regional Council could not come up with the balance of the funds.

The hydrotherapy pool also became an issue in the last State election, with a KORE CSR Poll of Armidale finding 83% of respondents supporting the construction of a new pool. Many locals who used the facility unhappy at the loss of the health facility, and others unhappy that a health facility was being moved from the hospital to a sporting facility and that the community was expected to pay for what should have been a State Government/Hunter New England Health provided service.

Mr Marshall said he was hopeful council would now crack on with the hydro pool project, which the community had long desired.

“Council will use this funding for the initial scoping and planning proposal, the first step in determining the final design and costings,” Mr Marshall said.

“This is a bold plan that has been on council’s agenda for some time to significantly improve facilities in and around Monckton Aquatic Centre and address the community’s demands for a new public hydrotherapy pool.

“Everyone was bitterly disappointed, not least of all me, when the previous council handed back around $3.5 million in grant funding to the Commonwealth and State Governments, declining to proceed with the construction of a hydrotherapy pool.

“That is in the past now and I am optimistic that this time council will see the project through to completion, along with a major upgrade of the entire aquatic centre, similar to those being undertaken right now in Moree and Inverell.

“Armidale deserves to have the best and I’m pleased council has the same vision and the determination – and now some funding – to get the ball rolling.

“This is a positive first step and I’ll eagerly await to see what the scoping works reveal.”

Mayor Sam Coupland warmly welcomed the funding injection.

“We have been eager to crack the whip on this plan to develop the area as a first-class sporting precinct with a state-of-the-art new aquatic centre including hydrotherapy facilities,” Mayor Coupland said.

“The funding will be the first step in delivering for our community that has expressed a desire to enhance and upgrade our recreational spaces.

“As a governing body we are aligned and focused to deliver on our plans.”

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