Big plans for Bain Park at Wauchope but more consultation required over community needs in draft master plan

From live music to community gatherings, Wauchope Arts Hall has been a hub for the Wauchope community for more than two decades.
From live music to community gatherings, Wauchope Arts Hall has been a hub for the Wauchope community for more than two decades.

CONCERNS about the proposed replacement of the popular Wauchope Arts Community Hall with a new $2 million community centre will see further consultation on a broader draft plan to revitalise and upgrade Bain Park.

Councillors agreed at the July 1 meeting that more direct engagement with four key stakeholders must be undertaken before finalising the draft master plan and placing it on public exhibition.

Submissions were received from the Wauchope District Historical Society (WDHS), Wauchope Community Arts Council (WCAC), the Rotary Club of Wauchope and the Lions Club of Wauchope.

Deputy mayor Lisa Intemann said significant consultation has already been conducted however the draft master plan has not captured some of the key community proposals and suggestions.

Cr Intemann said it's important to get the document right before it goes back out to the community for review.

Cr Sharon Griffiths agreed, saying there are some concerns from the Wauchope Arts community about the replacement of their hall.

"We need to go back and consult further," Cr Griffiths said.

Krissa Wilkinson founding member of WCAC said the proposal to demolish the community buildings has come as a surprise.

The WCAC was established in 1995 and moved into the hall in 1997. It is run by a cross-section of dedicated community volunteers.

The social capital we've built with the community far outweighs the financial contribution. It shows how the place is valued and also provides a cultural service that council neglects to provide people who can't afford or get to Port Macquarie and the Glasshouse for high quality cultural experiences.

Wauchope Community Arts Council founding member Krissa Wilkinson

"It doesn't respect the historic and cultural elements of the site," Ms Wilkinson said.

"We get crowds of 115 people in the hall at capacity, there's no way the proposed new spaces will accommodate that. Our intention is to save the arts hall - it's a very unique building, has great acoustics and it's not just an arts centre for audiences, it's a meeting place for people across the district. It's a gathering place for people in rural hamlets.

"The fire fundraiser we held at the end of last year is a really great example how people feel about the arts hall and its connection to its community.

"The social capital we've built with the community far outweighs the financial contribution. It shows how the place is valued and also provides a cultural service that council neglects to provide people who can't afford or get to Port Macquarie and the Glasshouse for high quality cultural experiences.

"Ideally we'd love to keep the arts hall and if we can't, we want to advocate for a designated community arts space. We participated in the consultation and indicated that the arts hall didn't totally meet our needs and proposed that work be done on it. There are so many options that can be explored."

Bain Park, Wauchope. Photo: PMHC.

Bain Park, Wauchope. Photo: PMHC.

WCAC president Deborah Murrell said it is vitally important council acknowledge the community's needs if the hall is to be replaced.

"We're so grateful to Cr Lisa Intemann who has supported us for 23 years, for putting up the motion and we thank the councillors for agreeing to more direct community consultation," she said.

"There's so many sports and recreation places across the LGA, (the hall) is the only designated art space where creatives can gather. It's a lifeline for international and touring artists and local artists that we showcase and employ.

"It also has incredible acoustics, being a little timber hall, and makes lots high profile Australian artists call up to ask if they can come and play.

"We feel like we've spent 23 years establishing it as a cultural precinct."

The development of a master plan for Bain Park in Wauchope commenced in 2019.

Wauchope Arts Hall is a thriving hub for community and cultural events.

Wauchope Arts Hall is a thriving hub for community and cultural events.

Wauchope community groups including Rotary, Lions Club and the District Historical Society approached council to consider the development of infrastructure to support an increase in activation of the space after the opening of an all abilities playground in 2012.

The vision for the Bain Park Master Plan is to transform the existing space into a dynamic community hub, which provides opportunities for recreation, arts, education and culture.

The master plan proposes to open up and accentuate the northern entry to the park through integration of a small plaza and public art installations. The northern entry plaza also will accommodate a Christmas tree - which will be a prominent feature visible from the intersection of High Street and Hastings Street during the festive season.

The eastern promenade will incorporate provisions to facilitate markets.

The master plan proposes to improve the distribution of activities in the park, re-locating the playground and bike track to the under-utilised southern section of the site, closer to the school in Avondale Street, and away from busy High Street. The proposed revised pedestrian network would also create a larger multi-use open space in the centre of the park for markets and concerts.

It is proposed a new multi-use community centre will replace the existing Wauchope Community Arts Hall, Rotary Youth Centre and amenities block.

The 'Bago mound' will be enhanced with terraced sandstone blocks for seating and with a small covered stage, providing an outdoor opportunity for arts, education and performance.

Bain Park, Wauchope. Photo: PMHC.

Bain Park, Wauchope. Photo: PMHC.

The budget estimate for delivery of the master plan is $6.6 million, which includes approximately $2 million for landscaping, shelters and furniture, $2.1 million for new community centre, $850,000 for car parking and road upgrades, $530,000 for lighting and irrigation, $700,000 for shaded playground and pump track, and $390,000 for shaded a water play area.

A plan has been incorporated to facilitate a staged delivery over time as funding becomes available.

Council has identified the potential use of development contributions to fund parts of the project. This will be further investigated and considered as the project advances.

There are also a range of grant programs at both state and federal level that could support implementation of the master plan.

Four pop up engagement sessions have already identified the need for upgraded toilets, increased shade, barbecue areas and seating, improved playground equipment, a water refill station, improvements to pathways and better access to the community hall carpark.

Report will now go back to council with necessary revisions before the draft Bain Park Master Plan goes on public exhibition.

This feedback will inform the final plan which is proposed to be presented to the September 2020 council meeting for consideration.

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