Huntley Colliery redevelopment: New $1billion plan for Greg Norman golf resort unveiled

A new $1.02 billion tourism vision for the old Huntley Colliery site has been unveiled by developers alongside Greg Norman at West Dapto.

To be titled the “Silkari Resort at Avondale”, the early stages of a golf resort bearing Mr Norman’s name have been underway since gaining approval in 2011.

However, the Sydney-based, Chinese-backed Visionary Investment Group – which bought the site in 2015 – revealed a new, grander direction for their 556 hectare site on Wednesday.

 An 18-hole championship golf course and a proposed Australia-first golf academy also named for Mr Norman will be the centerpiece the tourism site.

The golf legend was at West Dapto to unveil the plan on Wednesday and said he “fell in love” with the former industrial site ten years ago.

The new direction includes:

  • an 18-hole championship golf course;
  • a club house with restaurants and a function centre;
  • a 290-key resort hotel;
  • two smaller high-end spa lodges with 35 and 20 rooms;
  • a tennis and recreation centre;
  • a sports academy; and
  • a 395 dwelling housing estate including homes overlooking the gold fairways as well as semi-rural blocks.
Greg Norman, right, inspecting the site in 2013. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Greg Norman, right, inspecting the site in 2013. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

VIG is also in talks with the University of Wollongong about the establishment of a hospitality school and sports academy attached to the resort.

The former site of the Huntley Colliery was closed in 1989 and has been subject to a number of stalled development plans in recent years.

Most of this new proposal will be subject to a drawn out planning process – including rezoning and an overall master plan – before it can go ahead.

However, the golf course and some of the planned housing subdivision have already gained planning approval.

VIG says the golf course will be finished by late 2019, with completion of the holes done in stages to allow them to be played. 

Pending council approval, the first stage of the residential component should go on sale in Spring 2018, the developers said on Wednesday.

Legal dispute over homes

Despite the Visionary Investment Group’s grand plans and renewed commitment to develop the site, there remains big questions over whether the development will ever be approved.

Early next month, the developer and Wollongong City Council are due to meet in the Land and Environment Court to try to resolve a legal dispute about the first residential stage of the development.

However the subdivision was knocked back by Wollongong CIty Council, as “the proposal [was] not satisfactory with regard to the applicable planning controls”.

The council also said there would be adverse environmental impacts on the natural or built environments if the housing plan was to go ahead.

Additionally, a number of inconsistencies between plans submitted and consultant reports meant the council labelled the proposal “confusing” and said attempts to clarify these inconsistencies had not been successful.

The investment group has lodged an appeal against the refusal, and a conciliation hearing between the two parties is scheduled for November 1.