FIELD OF BIG DREAMS

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - AN­THONY GAL­LOWAY an­thony. gal­loway@ news. com. au

THIS is Townsville Dis­trict Rugby Union’s plan to se­cure the fu­ture of the sport in North Queens­land.

Five fields, more than 300 park­ing spa­ces, bet­ter ameni­ties and a new club­house would be de­vel­oped on a 13.5ha site at Mur­ray.

Al­ready at 10 per cent over ca­pac­ity at Mike Car­ney Toy­ota Park on Hugh St, Cur­ra­jong, the TDRU says it needs to make the move and has sub­se­quently started a mas­ter­plan for the site.

How­ever, the move still hinges on whether a $ 15- mil­lion plan to re­de­velop the Hugh St fields into a shop­ping cen­tre – in­clud­ing a Coles su­per­mar­ket and up to 18 spe­cial­ity stores – will be ap­proved by Townsville City Coun­cil in the com­ing months.

TDRU has reached a mem­o­ran­dum of un­der­stand­ing with Park­side De­vel­op­ment for a land swap deal for the Mur­ray site.

Park­side has sub­mit­ted a de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion for a ma­te­rial change of use on the Hugh St site from pri­vate sport­ing fa­cil­i­ties to com- mer­cial. The de­vel­op­ment is fac­ing op­po­si­tion, with five sub­mis­sions – in­clud­ing 162 in­di­vid­u­als as part of Castle­town’s sub­mis­sion – against the de­vel­op­ment.

Plan­ning and De­vel­op­ment Com­mit­tee chair Cr Tony Par­sons said the de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion was still be­ing as­sessed by city plan­ners.

“This is still go­ing through the as­sess­ment stage and I will al­low the of­fi­cers to com­plete the work be­fore form­ing any sort of opin­ion,” Cr Par­sons said. “I cer­tainly see why TDRU is look­ing to ex­pand. They’re land­locked in that cur­rent po­si­tion and two full- sized fields is as much as they can put on that site.”

Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill said she didn’t want to com­ment on Park­side’s pro­posed de­vel­op­ment but said coun­cil would work with TDRU to find a new site. “We will have to wait to see when the re­port that comes back from staff. The staff will judge it on its mer­its,” Cr Hill said.

TDRU pres­i­dent Lach­lan Bell said mov­ing to the Mur­ray site, on the cor­ner of Univer­sity Drive and Stu­art Drive ad­join­ing the Mur­ray Sports Com­plex, would se­cure the fu­ture of the league for the next 50 years.

“At the rate of which we’ve been ex­pand­ing, which has been fairly ex­po­nen­tial over the past five years, we knew the time would come when we had to move,” Mr Bell said.

“The op­por­tu­nity to move to Mur­ray has come out of in­ves­ti­gat­ing the po­ten­tial sites and anal­y­sis of our var­i­ous op­por­tu­ni­ties, and no other sites pro­vide the level of op­por­tu­nity as the Mur­ray site.”

A re­port com­pleted last month by Em­power Eco­nom­ics shows the num­ber of ju­nior and se­nior TDRU teams has in­creased by 33 per cent over the past six years, with the growth likely to con­tinue.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, Hugh St lacks the ca­pac­ity needed for growth and the fu­ture of rugby in the city is at risk if the is­sues aren’t ad­dressed.

Mr Bell said the league was look­ing to fur­ther ex­pand in the com­ing years with un­der- 13, - 15 and - 17 women’s teams, and un­der- 6 and un­der- 7 com­pe­ti­tions.

“Our growth has been a com­bi­na­tion of the nat­u­ral growth of Townsville’s pop­u­la­tion and a strate­gic and proac­tive plan­ning process we’ve im­ple­mented,” Mr Bell said.

“We now have five paid staff to help run and ad­min­is­ter the game for us. It’s cer­tainly been a lot of hard work but we’re cer­tainly very pleased with where we’re at with the level of par­tic­i­pa­tion.”

Artist’s con­cept of the pro­posed new home of the TDRU at Mur­ray, slated to in­clude five play­ing fields.

Pic­ture: WES­LEY MONTS

right)

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