Ball Park plan on exhibition

By Robert Muir

The draft Masterplan and Business Case for Ball Park Corowa sets out to demonstrate the park’s capacity for redevelopment, to provide for a broad market and offer contemporary accommodation and recreational facilities.

It is supported by a Business Case demonstrating the projected financial performance of the park. 

Federation Council unanimously agreed at yesterday’s on-line monthly meeting to adopt the draft plan. It will be on public exhibition for 28 days, from today, Wednesday, May 20.

Deputy Mayor Shaun Whitechurch said it is “another big project by council – the other one being the pool”.  “I believe people will be really excited about what’s going to happen,” he said.

Cr Whitechurch said a lot of work went into the masterplan. “I commend everybody involved,” he said. “It will be a great project and will create a lot of talk.”

Cr Gail Law described the project as “very exciting” which will “bring visitors to town and the whole district”. “It’s a brilliant plan – so much better than it ever was,” she said.

It’s an opportunity, Cr Paul Miegel said, “to bring economic benefits to the region which should not be underestimated”. 

“I congratulate the consultants who looked at it in its entirety,” he said. “It will be a game changer to Corowa and the area.

“It’s going to look fantastic. It’s a great location,” Cr Norm Wales said.    

The draft plan also requires review by State Agencies, the landowner, being the Crown, consultation with the public and other stakeholders. 

Council has been presented with various reports over the last several years, to progress the required renewal of Ball Park Caravan Park, in order to ensure the park can meet the requirements of legislation. Council has resolved actions from each report that has now led to this point. 

Following the exhibition process, the outcomes of the consultation be presented to the July 2020 Council meeting, to adopt a final plan. This will allow Council to then consider a funding and implementation strategy. 

The draft Masterplan and Business Case - Ball Park Caravan Park is another very positive and strategic step towards improving the tourism and business assets controlled by council according to Federation Council’s director development and environmental services Susan Appleyard said.

“In addition to a major redesign of the park, the draft plan also offers several other exciting proposed changes; including giving back some of the land formerly occupied by Ball Park, to the general public,” she said.

“The draft plan has been deliberately delayed in its exhibition for some time, as council considered it imperative that an overall whole of precinct strategic planning approach was taken, through this process.”

Ma Appleyard said the Ball Park area has strong synergies and linkages to the overall Corowa Foreshore through this area; the draft Structure Plan for Corowa Foreshore and Morris Park is also being exhibited simultaneously.

In 2019, Integrated Site Design (ISD) was engaged by Federation Council to produce a masterplan for Ball Park Caravan Park that will deliver commercial, environmental and social outcomes to comply with current regulations and encourage increased visitation and economic growth to the region. 

“The masterplan was developed to consider cost, benefit, risk and timeframes to ensure the park, which operates in a competitive tourist accommodation market, provides facilities to optimise patronage and overall occupancies by attracting significant new business,” Ms Appleyard said.

The Masterplan and Business Case is to reflect the objectives of a successful caravan park, which includes, to:

· provide an attractive, accessible and family-friendly park that capitalises on the park’s location

· attain a minimum 4.5 TripAdvisor rating

· attract a broad range of tourists to the park and increase occupancy rates

· optimise the commercial capacity of the park and ensure the park remains financially sustainable in the long term 

· provide affordable and accessible holiday experiences for all visitors to the park

· create an environmentally sustainable caravan park facility, which conserves the natural environment for future generations. 

“This strategy will identify the actions required for the development of the business with the aim of enhancing the park’s market presence and commercial outcomes by promoting growth in revenue and profit,” Ms Appleyard said.

“The requirement is for a practical and financially sustainable approach to the improvement of the park where investment generates appropriate growth in occupancy and income.” 

To ensure that all features of the plan can be completed, a wide range of agencies will be consulted.

Key elements of the draft plan include:

·    reduce the overall footprint of the park to create a public park along Bridge Rd and provide another point of public access to the river as well as opportunity for a new, relocated boat ramp

create distinct accommodation options within the park that maximise the location and in particular views of the river

provide larger sites more compatible with modern vans and RVs

provide ensuited sites, an offering common to modern parks and popular with visitors

provide a layout that allows for flexibility in management and operation depending on demand with sites that can be configured to be double drive through sites in quieter periods but let separately at peak times

all sites being powered as these days even tent campers want power to charge devices

ISD consider council can do far more to capture the key attraction of the Murray River, whilst also, giving back some of the park to the public domain, including an exciting new possible Boat Ramp and access point adjacent to Bridge Road

the plan also shows a large number of larger than current powered sites, along with several areas of higher-class type cabins on prime areas, as well as the provision of ensuite sites, where tourists could have access to these, for a higher rate, instead of having to use the communal park amenities. 

additional amenities blocks. Much of the upgrade costs will also be in the civil works upgrades, with new water, sewer and electrical services, and road works being required through the entire park. 

Ball Park is still operational, although on a smaller footprint now, than what was operational prior to Federation Council managing the park. Council under the current fee structure, has not offered yet, any annual agreement rates. All sites operational, are on normal tourist rates. 

The cabins have been booked on similar arrangements to the previous contractors and up until the COVID-19 forced closure of the park for tourists, were experiencing sound occupancy rates. 

After formal adoption of the plan, Council will consider a number of issues including funding of the project, staging and programing of works and a management model for the park. 

Council has not budgeted for any new works, in the current draft budgets. Council will consider the possibility of attracting grants, and consider outside investment/partners, in the capital expenditure requirements of the renewal of the park.

Council will consider any feedback from the exhibition period and consider adopting a final plan at its monthly July meeting which was changed yesterday to be July 28 in relation to budget documentation.

* In response to disruption to council’s operations, the NSW Government has legislated to allow NSW councils the opportunity to not adopt their next round of Integrated Planning and Reporting Documents until the end of July for implementation August 1.