Wollongong City Council flags part privatisation for Beaton Park

Wollongong City Council is looking to outsource some of the future planning for Beaton Park and has flagged that a part privatisation of the sports precinct could be on the cards. 

At next Monday's meeting, the city's property and recreation division has asked councillors to instigate a "public private partnership" (PPP) for the Beaton Park master plan.

In a report to councillors, staff have also revealed that they are considering a part privatisation "to construct and then deliver the services of the health and wellbeing facilities", once the master plan is complete.

The council announced plans to start a decade-long, multi-million dollar overhaul for Beaton Park last year.

A "needs assessment" said upgrades to the ageing leisure centre could include a new pools, an aquatic program for seniors and a water play area for kids, as well as more commercial opportunities like a cafe, retail space and improved sports medicine and health facilities.

Earlier this year, the council released a draft plan of management to provide the legislative framework for these types of upgrades to happen, and said it would begin work on a separate master plan to guide the design of the new facilities.

Now, staff have asked permission to approach the Office of Local Government and call for expressions of interest from "community focused organisations from the health and well-being sector" to enter into a PPP.

This is necessary, they say, as the council has "little experience" in the health and wellbeing field.

"Council has traditionally owned and operated leisure facilities but has not embarked on the development of health and wellbeing spaces," staff said, explaining why part-privatisation was their preferred model. 

"Expertise in this space is required to ensure the future changing needs of the community can be well planned and catered for and ultimately are financially sustainable."

Councillors have already been informed of the part privatisation plan, a report to the meeting says, at a confidential briefing session held in May.

Additionally, staff have conducted a "general discussion" with the local government office, which advised "that the project will [be able to] form a PPP if expressions of interest are called for to participate in the master planning process".

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