After almost ten years, the Council has come kicking and screaming to an acknowledgement that there is a emerging crisis in lack of playing spaces within the Redlands – but has no vision about how to fix the problem.
Adequate sports fields for our growing population have not been included in the community and land use planning done by Mayor Williams. There are a number of sporting clubs who are turning away potential players – because there is no room for them to play.
This is an area of special interest to me. I am a qualified Sports Administrator, and have worked at the Australian Institute of Sport. I believe that access to sports fields is nothing short of an Australian birthright 🙂
As Patron of the Redlands United Soccer Club, I know that half ‘their’ playing fields actually belong to Cleveland High School. They burst the boundaries of their own space a long time ago, and they have only managed to grow because of the school’s goodwill, and a great relationship with the Principal. But even now, the club is maxing out the space.
Likewise the Redlands Touch Association, which is also spectacularly successful, has grown into what used to be the Redland’s premier event space – the Cleveland Showground. Over 1000 people play touch footy at the Showgrounds each week, but they are forced to share their space with other users, causing great disruption to their legitimate, healthy and worthy activities.
These clubs aren’t, as they say, “on their Robinson Crusoe”.
The shortfall of open space and sporting fields has been known for as long as I have been in Council. The Open Space Strategy of 2004 was probably the first sign that Council needed to act. Nevertheless it wasn’t until 2008 that studies were done. Unfortunately, the area between Cleveland and Victoria Point (South East Thornlands) could not be considered in that study. By then it had been committed for housing and commercial development in the 2006 ‘Seccombe Six’ Planning Scheme. So had many other areas.
Significant progress was made in 2008. In association with the State Government, Council completed a ‘Southern Redland Regional Sports Facility‘ study. Following this report, Council approved plans for a major sporting facility in Thornlands. The cost of the facility was estimated at more than $50 million. It was intended to include a six court tennis complex, and as many as 25 playing fields for touch football, soccer, rugby league, hockey and netball. All stakeholders recognised that this was a long term process, that needed to start with the purchase of suitable land.
According to news reports, the former Mayor (Hobson) said at the time, “We must have sustainable community development, and a regional sports facility…is just one vital component of this”. The then Mayoral candidate Williams said that the proposal was “ill timed”.The project was removed from Council’s Capital Works program after the last election.
Taking the proposed sporting facility project out of the budget has made the balance sheet look good, but it does nothing for the livability of the area, nor for the health and vitality of locals. Redlands is expecting about 50,000 more people to settle in the area in the next 20 years, and at this point we have no plan or budget for how we are going to accommodate their sporting needs.
Development must be accompanied by good planning. Unfortunately, this is an example of how poor priorities has let the community down.
Councillor Division 2