Sport in Coffs is set to sprint

WHEN Coffs Harbour City Council (CHCC) tonight seeks approval of the Draft Sports Facility Plan 2010, it will leave local sporting culture waiting for the starter's gun, ready to race into the next 25 years and beyond.

Acknowledging the draft plan may not be as well-read among stakeholders as he'd like it to be, well-connected sportsman Phil Crofts has praised the arrangements for consultation put in by CHCC officers.

“Council's work has been first rate and this is the biggest thing to happen since the stadium was built and it should be viewed as a starting point to work from,” he said.

“I'm loathe to call the details ‘pie in the sky' but many things will evolve from this in years to come, circumstances will change and a lot of detail won't be completed until funding is available.”

One of those changing factors is the lighting issue and while the installation of floodlighting at grounds receives frequent mentions in the document, the importance of the topic keeps on growing.

“Even since work began on this plan, standards have been revised ... upwards,” Crofts mentioned.

“Changing times means more sport at night and mandatory safety precautions.

“That's without interest in a variety of sports going up and down over time, changing the need for facilities.

“This is not the final plan but a very good place to start.”

Even in its briefest published form, the Draft Plan is an extraordinary example of future planning for a booming community.

Addressing environmental and social concerns, statutory requirements, the place of civic leadership and broader economic implications may only take up two pages, but reading between the lines and remaining aware of wider political pressures delivers a strong hint these will become massive topics for discussion in years to come.

While 12 key sports were originally identified for consideration, the lack of submissions in several echoed whispers of declining interest.

Their place in the pecking order will likely be re-invigorated whenever alterations to traditional venues or facilities are mooted.

Touch football, equestrian and skate parks were not among the original dozen but by drawing 16 submissions combined – more than ten per cent of the total – more proof of changing sporting cultures was delivered.

Crofts was disappointed certain sports were outside the criteria for consideration.

“Golf, for instance,” he offered.

“They operate under different regulations apart from Council but as Coffs Harbour Golf Club discovered when charges associated with their lease came up, their interests were very much linked with other sporting groups and the rest of the community.”

The racing industry was another important part of the sporting fraternity not covered by the Draft Plan.

There may be anomalies in the plan, such as the proposed development of a rugby field in Woolgoolga when attempts to get a club off the ground continue to hit a brick wall.

But Crofts is adamant there's no problem in this.

“I'm also loathe to call it a wish list but I guess that's what it is.

“Twenty years from now there may be a huge need for a tiddlywinks venue and somebody will point out we didn't have enough vision back in 2010 to consider it.

“Let's just get this on the table, get it adopted and allow the factors in the future develop it as we go.”

Details of the submission including revisions proposed after consultation are on the Coffs Harbour City Council website, listed on the order of business for tonight's meeting.

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