Council report recommends repurposing golf courses, rooftops as sports fields

Councils in northern Sydney say they are facing a shortage of sporting facilities, with a report recommending a range of solutions, including potentially repurposing public golf courses and rooftops for sport.

NSROC President and Mosman Mayor Caroyln Corrigan

A new report commissioned by the Northern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils (NSROC) says there’s a ‘significant and growing shortfall’ of sports facilities across LGAs in northern Sydney.

The report says that based on a projected 11.3 per cent increase in population to 730,000 people by 2036, the area will need to increase sports facilities by 49 per cent, or 222 hectares.

By the 2026 the currently supply of NSROC sports facilities will need to increase by 40 per cent, or 181 hectares.

“This latest report highlights … the mounting pressure of population growth is making it very tough for our member Councils to keep up with the demand,’ NSROC President Carolyn Corrigan said.

Along with the cost of constructing new sports facilities, the report says one of the biggest barriers is a shortage of suitable land.

Shortage of suitable land

The NSROC region, consiting of five members including Hornsby Shire, Ku-ring-gai, Ryde, Willoughby, Mosman, North Sydney, Lane Cove and Hunters Hill, currently has 457 hectares of sports facility land.

It also has 157 hectares of publicly owned golf courses, the report says.

The report recommends investigating “opportunities at publicly owned golf courses to retain golf, yet introduce alternative uses for sport”.

It also recommends the promotion of partnership for repurposing indoor spaces to accommodate indoor sport and “facilitating roof top opportunities, including shopping centres, offices, residential buildings for sport”.

From a fairness and equity position, if we haven’t got any greenfield turf to work with, the next option has to be repurposing what we’ve got.

Caroyln Corrigan

Cr Corrigan backed the recommendations of the report

“From a fairness and equity position, if we haven’t got any greenfield turf to work with, the next option has to be repurposing what we’ve got and making sure every one is included,” she told Government News.

She cited the Lane Cove Country Club, which will keep a nine-hole golf course but will be repurposed as the Lane Cove Sport and Recreation Centre, with four outdoor and indoor basketball, netball and tennis courts, by mid 2025.

“We’re hoping that’s a really good example,” she said. “It’s clever repurposing, turning a single sports site into multi-use site.”

Growing pressure on existing facilities

Parks and Leisure Australia president Les Munn says sports facilities are crucial for the healthy functioning of communities, and while they are usually factored in when it comes to greenfield suburbs they’re often missing in established suburbs.

“Rising populations and an increasing presence of women in some traditionally male-dominated sports are putting welcomed, yet additional pressure on existing sports facilities to cater for the ballooning demand,” he said.

Hornsby Shire Mayor Philip Ruddock says based on modeling in the report, his LGA will see a 45 hectare deficit in the supply of sports grounds.

The release of the report comes as Hornsby Shire is currently working on the Westleigh Park Sporting development which will include six sports grounds including five fields and an athletics track.

Land for the development has already been acquired and construction is set to get underway in late 2024.

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