UPDATE: A council paper detailing the staging and financing of the renovations at Dence Park, following the Masterplan below, has been published and is going to Council for approval on 14th April 2020.
It is excellent to see progress on the project, and confirmation of funding for the new Aquatic facilities. However, the wording of the building of the facilities building does not give confirmation that it will proceed. This is very unsatisfactory as the two elements need to be completed at the same time and are integral to each other.
UPDATE: The final version of the Masterplan is now available and going to Council for approval on 9th December 2019.
There are some important changes in the second version as follows:
1) It is now proposed to rebuild the existing main pool and extend it to a full 8 lanes and 50 metre length. This new pool would ensure longevity as the current pool is over 50 years old!
2) A new full indoor 25 metre multi use pool with roof and retractable side windows. The only question with this (to be resolved at design stage) is the depth of the pool and ensuring that it is truly multi use and will be open to the public when not in use for lessons (unlike the current small pool)
3) Schedule: The next stage will be for the full design and costing of the Aquatic Centre works which is Stage 1 of the Masterplan. That will start in February 2020 but no date yet for the actual works.
NOVEMBER 2019: City of Parramatta Council have now published its draft Dence Park Masterplan. They are inviting comment on this Plan for submission by 4 November 2019. You can read the full Master Plan here
The Trust has reviewed this plan and broadly welcomes the overall vision and objectives of the plan, but has a few concerns.
The vision of the plan sets a road map to achieving a greatly improved and expanded community recreation hub at Dence Park, keeping the key current elements (Epping Aquatic Centre and Epping Creative Centre) but both enhancing these whilst adding extra passive recreation facilities on this important site.
The plan has these important elements:
1. Redevelopment of the aquatic centre that addresses access, develops a new facilities building with change rooms, gym and cafe, a new toddler pool area and a new 25 metre learn to swim pool.
2. New active recreational areas including a playground
3. New passive recreational areas including picnic facilities and garden area
4. Improved pathways, parking and landscaping including preservation of the bushland surrounds
5. Staged redevelopment of the Epping Creative Centre to improve access and give more space
This plan is to be supported as it secures the future of Dence Park as a key recreation hub. But there are two major concerns that need resolving:
1. The new Learn to Swim pool is identified as a 25 metre pool that is not a fully built structure, rather it has retractable walls and covering. This is clearly meant as only being used for learn to swim and is a serious failure of vision. The fast growing Epping population will need a proper 25 metre multi use indoor heated pool that is more than just a learn to swim venue. This will be more expensive to construct but is the only way to add to the current facilities and cater properly to future demand. The current suggestion is a short term option.
2. Whilst two sources of funding are mentioned (but no actual costs covered), the plan says the delivery will be over 10-15 years. This is flawed wording as it would allow council to delay any commencement of works into the future. The plan is staged across three delivery stages, but these should be better scheduled so the plan gets a firm commitment for implementation right from the beginning.
The Trust urges local residents to make a submission to Council and tell them what you think as this is going to be one of the key bits of community infrastructure delivered for Epping. See box of info on how to make a submission.