By Oliver Lees
Construction of stage one of the long-awaited Macedon Ranges Regional Sports Precinct (MRRSP) is expected to start in April next year.
Macedon Ranges council estimates the first stage to cost up to $24.9 million, including a $4.6 million upgrade of the Barringo and Hamilton road intersection in New Gisborne.
As well as an indoor basketball stadium, stage one will include a car park extension, a main turf oval, an outdoor table tennis court and improved safe pedestrian crossing.
According to a council report, works should be completed by August 2023.
Macedon Ranges residents have long campaigned for a regional sports precinct. A feasibility study for the facility was first presented to the council in 2017.
Andrew Condron, part of the MRRSP reference group that has been working with council through the planning stages, said he was pleased to see the plan progressing.
But he was concerned that elements of the consultation had been overlooked.
“The seating around the three indoor basketball courts is not going to be the required amount, it seems they’ve not really taken that on board,” Mr Condron said.
“They’ve also decided not to include the toilets and cafeteria areas in stage one, or the multi-function room.
“We’re reasonable, we understand this is a costing issue, but it’s disappointing it’s taken so long to get here.”
The new precinct will provide court space for the Kyneton, Macedon Ranges and Riddells Creek Basketball Associations, as well as Woodend Basketball Club and Gisborne Basketball Club.
Mr Condron said the need for new basketball facilities was increasing as interest in the sport grows year on year.
“This year our Basketball Victoria under-14 academy had more than 40 kids from the region that qualified, that’s up from around 20 kids two years ago,” Mr Condron said.
“With numbers doubling every two or three years, we’ve had to move some of our teams to train in Kyneton in order to access courts.
“All of the country regions around Victoria including the Surf Coast, Traralgon, they’ve all had new facilities built within the timeframe that we’ve been advocating for ours here in the Macedon Ranges. And we’re still 18 months away from having ours built.”
Mr Condron added that he was disappointed the sports precinct was yet to receive funding from the federal government.
Council has received $3.2 million from the Victorian government’s Growing Suburbs Fund toward the project.